Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The V-day Bug!

In the run up to the Red Letter Day, I had punched in an hour of impulsive shopping at a mall. Nothing much, I assure you. It was just the usual love for colors, that often gets translated into buying eye-shadows and nail-paints that may or may not be needed :-P . Well, in a retail space like a mall, I can't get down and start painting the walls any shade I like, can I? So I did what I did and thanks to what I did, I got a freebie with it.....I was quite happy to know about the free gift but my toothy smile waned at the sight of it. It was nothing but a cliched mug with hearts on it! I usually like to joke about this day, poke fun at it, maybe even indulge a bit in it reluctantly but can't ignore it. The marketing buzz that surrounds this day is crazy! Red becomes a hated color for a 2nd reason that's not even violent, infact the opposite of it. Flowers become 10 times more expensive. For the V-Day freaks, romantic expectations rise 100 times higher and so does their expression. Sweet to the extent of being bitter, this day gets blown out of proportion, no matter what and the pseudo-fundamentalists get a mindless job to do!

I laughed at the mug, took it back home and presented it with a fake serenade to Deepak (now keep guessing who that is)! Just as he took it and acted out a romantic 'Thank you' ....mid-way through that, I took it back, saying 'You wont like to use a mug that looks like this, so I'll keep it instead!' :-D

No matter how much one ridicules this day, one is forced to think of it! I am amazed at the number of people who take it seriously though. But even non believers like me, like to ask someone ..a particular question on this day, i.e. 'Will you be my Valentine?', and without waiting for an answer, laugh endlessly after that; probably even say, 'Cheers to you, my Beloved Ballentine' ....Heh!

Come 14th Feb and everything takes the shape of the heart and gets colored in red! I just realized how I have contradicted myself by choosing the background theme that you can see on this blog!!.....Quite ironical, isn't it? Nothing to worry. I'll be quick to add that I have been thinking of a new design for the blog :-P

So, try and run wherever you want to, you can't run far enough from V-Day. The bug is out to get us. It is a 15th century concept apparently, but the face that's now been given to it has completely redefined the very concept itself. The word 'expensive' has got prefixed to it and if you read in between the lines 'superficial' too. I would seriously skip this excess and rather stick to laughing about it, not necessarily with loved ones, but strangers alike. There are other dates that are more personal and hence, more precious than the "14th". In any case, the most priceless expressions of love can be witnessed during the worst of times and that's the time we celebrate it without the glitz. I raise my hearty coffee mug to that!

All said and done, celebration really needs no reason.....any day suits. So why leave out this day? To take off the pressure from it and witness hopelessly lovey-dovey sights around, I might go out for dinner too. And to those who are too lazy to fix their dinner and plan to order pizzas instead, you know what shape you'll get them in. :-)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A new year wish...

Yet again we start anew,
yet another chance we stumble upon
The umpteenth new world we enter into,
as this day breaks into a brand new dawn.

With this sunrise our spirits rise ...once more.
We toast and boast of things to come
predicting yet again, the fulfilment of
our ambitions that lie in ambush.

Our soaring hopes build glass palaces
as we succeed in fooling ourselves...this time too.
With abundant optimism, we raise our chalices
to a sense of deja vu that they call new.

Wish good health, happiness, love, success and cheer,
for family and friends, they are way too dear !
I also hope to come into my own
and tread into that 'desired unknown'
I pray the new moonlight, shines on bright
and makes my destination crystal clear.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cats Chaos!

Feeding rice and milk to a cat and her seemingly innocent kittens didn't seem like a silly thing to do, a couple of weeks back. I committed this act of generosity even though I felt petrified by 2 of the kittens. There was no reason why I should have fed kittens that showed their teeth to me, but I did it nonetheless. I don't know why.

The 'mom cat' is primarily white (I don't mean British) and she has a few patches of yellowish-brown and black on her. This multicoloured cat, obviously named Kitty, has 4 kittens each of a different colour, you name it: white, brown, black and grey. The last two are pretty notorious. One glance at them and I had realised what they were made of. And didn't they prove me right yesterday! So, talking about yesterday......I returned back home last night to see that to my horror, these two crazy kittens had spent a whole day locked at my home. Scared to enter my own home, I tip-toed through the mess and meows, to discover the kittens had nicely relieved themselves at various spots that they found comforting. But apart from this, there was no breakage etc. These dumb or rather exceedingly clever kittens must have quietly slipped into my home, in the few seconds before I would have locked the door last morning and i had not even heard a चू!

What this event made me realise (as if i didn't already know) is that cats are basically opportunistic, strange and surreptitious. They think they own any place that they like. How convenient right? And yes, curiosity would have actually killed the kittens had I left for a longer duration ...maybe a holiday. Moreover, its quite terrifying when Kitty starts howling at night, soon as the male cat comes to take away the kittens. That's such a wierd thing to do, to abduct your own kids! I just learnt that this could be becasue different kittens in a litter may have different fathers. Weird isnt it? Garfield, I feel is the only cat one can relate to in some ways. He is really so funny and different!

Despite this new found wisdom that dawned on me yesterday, I still felt a little guilty for having separated the kittens from their mom (who waited eagerly, outside the door all day) and for having wasted a day out of their nine lives. To make up for it, guess what did i do ?......
I fed them rice and milk all over again!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Silhouette Stories

Creativity is limitless and it never stops springing surprises!

A case in point, is the story of this unassuming French lady by the name of Beatrice Coron. I recently viewed her talk on TED.com, following a friend's suggestion that its a 'must-watch'. So, who is Ms. Coron and what's so interesting about her? Well, she seems to be an amply-travelled gypsy woman who has dabbled at many professions and lived across Mexico, Egypt, Taiwan and NYC before she turned 40. She travelled extensively across Tibet & Central Asia and then something happened. She decided  to begin telling stories cut out of paper! Simple, artistic, unique, catchy and imaginative are just a few top-of-the-mind adjectives to describe the result of her creativity. Wherever she travels to and whatever she reads, notices, sees, feels ....comes out in the form of this admirable art. Here's what she does.

This is inspiring! I really get enthused to know that people do such stuff. There is a kind of  'setting-free' effect that they have on you. Suddenly, you begin to dream your dream again and suddenly, you become lost and foolish again. Instantly, the holes in your blinkers start expanding and you see that there is a world beyond your current state, that is calling out. It's good to have one foot on the ground; I do believe in that. But, there is no harm in being an explorer. Who knows, you might just stumble on that missing block one day? There is no harm in trying, hoping, dreaming, wanting .....but someday, one has to decide and start working upon the 'doing' to reach the 'being'.

I particularly liked her concept of 'Dead Beats', that shows skeletons dancing, as they groove to music. Then there are other concepts like 'Floating Islands', 'Balloon Houses' and 'Web of Time', that I found unique.

Creativity is the heart of expression, intricacy and simplicity. It can be practical; too simple infact. It is practicality that complicates matters by colouring ideas with questions, desires with fears and freedom with convention. Yes! we need to strike a balance. But in this battle, practicality wins most of the time and that is the reason creativity is so unique. That is the reason why art is wanted. That is the reason we are spell bound when we get to the oasis!

The point is, there are things we won't know until we take a plunge and test the waters. The question is, which ocean should one jump into? Which waters would one be happier in? Which shore is one most likely to be able to swim to? ........

Like Beatrice Coron says, 'Everyone is a story teller and everybody has to make a story to make sense of the world we live in.' Touche and I believe, it's never too late to begin writing!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Radio Nowhere

He introduced 'LA Woman' as a song about Los Angeles and she transferred the credits of  'Hey Jude' to maybe- The Rolling Stones. Yes, I am talking of the humanoids that are designated Radio Jockeys for 102.fix FM. Disaster Andrews is one who can give priest-like sermons and bore us like no other. A 'country songs hour' is anchored by him and God save you if you request for something country-offish. 'Not done my child, not done. You shall pay for this sin.' You shall have to listen to a preacher on air and then be left without the song you requested for. It is against the rules, didn't you know ?! Aah! Putting off people- not being able to break the ice or crack a joke- consistent preaching- sermonizing on air- these are talents, which aren't worth honing or showcasing.

My limited knowledge or current awareness of 102.nix FM is through the times when I have mistakenly pressed the forward button on my car stereo console. Even this mistake has taught me that music can't JUST be learnt. There is something about it that is inbuilt, that comes to you, grows on you and takes you along. There are some songs that one has grown up with, and no amount of information about those songs can overshadow the way you would talk about them through your own experience. I can see it RJ. I can hear you. The worst thing in life is to be a 'wannabe', and a wannabe music aficionado for sure is a complete no-no I say.  Am not saying I haven't enjoyed listening. Yes, I have toppled off my chair, when you took the credit for Tom Petty's rendition- 'Learning to Fly', saying ' Now Tom Petty and I make you air-borne'. Believe you me, Bob Dylan is not a sardar from the Tillawn clan (if there is one, and here the 'n' is silent) neither is Enrique Iglesias a rock singer. That made me roll on the floor too. There are times when you may not remember the year in which a song was composed| sung| and hit the high charts of Billboard Top 100. There are things you may not know about the songs you play. It's okay! Take a deep breath, don't make incoherent noises and begin sentences you can't complete. 'I am going to play you a song by ....ummm .......ee oo aa ..........whoever ....sung in the nineteen.........errrrr ......whenever.' Whoa! That's some insight dude! The truth is, no one really wants much information. They want to live through experience. There are two kinds of people who listen to music, ones who know it and ones who don't. And both the categories of listeners would rather enjoy the songs you play and live that experience, than be burdened with facts they know better, or don't need to know.

Rock legends may have got their music right ....but why has their bequeathed property landed in the hands of lemurs posing to be RJs? This is dangerous ...to 'ears' and to 'world peace'. Jimi Hendrix may have taken a 180 degree turn in his resting place on hearing that 'Foxy Lady' is  being introduced as a song dedicated to the Animal Kingdom. Golden years of sweat and toil, unbridled talent, being washed away by a careless concoction of mindless RJ-ing. You know Pearl Jam neither sings about precious stones nor jellies. Tracy Chapman is a woman, Moby is not a cartoon character and if you don't know the full form of CCR, no worries, just don't try. It is humor that listeners long for in between songs. Music related information is 'by the way'. It can add a charm to a music show, if meted out in concise and correct proportions. Humor too can't be learnt-  it is inborn, it is a state of mind, a way of being. If both music and humor are not your cup of tea then save that attempt. Moreover, both are endless and no one can master either completely.  Not sure if you should claim to. Shobha nahi deta :-P Articulation issues and social awkwardness make matters worse anyway.

Basically, Sarthak on 95 FM contrasts you folks in a manner that's unbeatable and this gives a solid context to this blog post. I only intend to make fun of what I truly, honestly, sincerely, found funny on that frequency (the 102 one) which no longer matches mine. The days of Shamsher are over. The accented days are here. I can put a face to your voice and I know you would be the guy wearing a tight tee or a tight tucked-in full sleeves shirt on a tighter pair of pants and pointed light brown shoes to boot. I know you would flaunt a cigarette to act cool or talk in a self-invented accent, something in between an American and Australian one.  Don't know any of the 102.kicks RJs personally anyway. With all due respect, I think you all must have a chat with Sarthak and learn a trick or two from him. You'll know why he rocks on air.

The Mantra is- Be your self, keep it simple, have no airs, know your stuff, deliver the intended result, exude a positive vibe and bring a smile to our faces and that is it. :-) Quoting from 95 FM, 'Bhagwaan ka diya hua sab hai humaare paas, bas ghamand nahi hai '...:-P

So 102.mix, please pardon the satire and exaggeration- it has come out of forgotten love for the channel that I used to sing out loud with, the jingles included . The music isn't bad, esp. on the Hindi shows, but the RJs....umm....eeerrr.....are hard to listen to and so, the current form of the frequency is quite .....ee oo aa .......I don't know what to say.

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Letter from Paris

Couple of years back, I was in Europe for a few months of MBA & I still distinctly remember the travelling I did during my stay there. Lovely memories! Here is a letter that I wrote to some of my friends after returning from one such short trip to Paris. Stumbled upon this mail while searching for something and realized how much I love to travel and write about it. It brought a smile to my face and now it's edited albeit extended version :-P finds a little space on this blog. Going into a flashback -- Voila!...

Hello Everyone!!

How is everything at your end? It'd been a long time since I tested your reading stamina. That's how this marvellously long e-mail is here before you today. Now since you all are so many in number, I think I would basically (conveniently) talk just about myself  <lol>,  easier that way na......Arrey!....You all must tell me wassup at your side when we get to chat or talk.  Deal?  So here is an account of my weekend trip to Paris.

It was 6.30 am on the Belgian morning of 14th of October 2006, when Isabelle (the lady whose house I resided in Antwerp), left me at the bus stop. I was amazed with the punctuality of all my fellow travellers & the driver, through out the trip. Everyone stuck to time and that was great! 8'o clock meant 8 & not 8.01. The bus was driven so fast, yet it was such a smooth journey & it took us some 4 hours to reach Paris.(The point is that the roads weren't decorated with pot holes:-P) Amazing feeling to enter France! Our arrival was signalled by the appearance huge signboards, broader flyovers & all that jazz. Moreover, the radio (on my cell phone) switched its language to French & I tell you......I almost hate this language now, what with all the juon shion stuff. It is such an uncomfy way to speak. That deep nasal chatter is hard to listen to and I am sure it would take a lifetime of practice to perfect those 'hard-to-make' sounds that we call Francais. No pun intended but laughter's allowed people :-> ! The alphabet that needs to be stressed on, may not be written and that which is silent, seems like a prominent part of the word! Ok so moving on, the songs were in French too & therefore, it was confirmed we were in Frankenreich (lemme flaunt it a bit, that's France in Deutsch). Am I complicating matters? Not to worry, the rest of my mail is in English.

Achcha toh then we first went around the city, and reached the river Siene which is at the heart of it. Paris at first sight, reminded me of the Fort area in Bombay or Cannought Place in Delhi. I thought Paris was quite populated and that people broke rules pretty often and the Police failed to control the cars from driving at any side of the road at anytime. (I saw a WagonR there!!) Then the roads were full of autumn leaves and a bit of muck. That for sure made me feel India has an awesome chance. I had a memory flash of the stellar roads around India Gate and Rajpath in Delhi. That area is amazing to say the least. So coming back to the river Siene, we went for a boat-ride across the historic spots in the city, and it is then that all the stories about France, the heritage, renaissance architecture, expressionism in art and abundant opulence of lifestyle.......(deviating a bit here - I did see a beggar lurking on the side of the road) everything seemed to fall into place coz they have so much of history preserved in all those buildings which are architectural marvels - the Pantheon, La tour Eiffel, Notre Dame, the museums of paintings, the City Square which is hugeeeeeeeee,  the gardens, prisons, Champs Elysees ....the list goes on, but the boat ride didn't. It was absolutely worth it. I wish I had Russel Crowe or someone like that for company, but never mind that. One irritating thing was that, since we were on the boat, we couldn't go and touch those buildings and really 'be there', but could only admire the beauty from a distance. So close and yet so far!..... I did have a bout of romanticism right there, the setting was such. But how much can one ask for on a 2 day trip? It was well worth it anyway.......

Thereafter, we went to eat out. The 2 days that we were with the bus, they would take us to places & tell us the time when we had to get back. And each time, all of us, 15 travellers would be back on time...before time infact. I liked that understated sense of shared responsibility. The bus actually leaves you & goes if you are not there on time! We happened to stumble on a Mc Donald's restaurant and there we were, holding the tastiest fries in the world, inspecting them from every possible angle for their consistency. And there were just the same! Hats off to Uncle Donald. After that quick meal followed by window shopping at Printemps (which is a departmental store that seemed like a fabulous mall to me), we went to our hotel. It was cute, small but posh. Yours truly..."Her Highness' if you so insist, had a single room with all the amenities. There are some things that particularly catch my fancy for some vague reason wherever I go .....and those things are - tea & coffee sachets. Strictly between you and me .....'I innocently stole a few '....sparing the little bottles of cream and soap this time. Well you win some you lose some. 'Dariya mein se ek lota paani lena koi paap toh nahi hai......hehehe . You wont understand !....It just gives me a kick that's all.'

We also went to two churches - Notre Dame and Momatre. At the former, we took snaps at the centre point of the city and at the latter one we saw painters making portraits of people. Then we went to the 3rd tallest building in Europe- Montparnesse Tower, to get a bird's eye view of Paris. Oh! The lift went 56 floors in just a few seconds like a rocket. It was so cold and windy up there and we figured Paris might be even/much bigger than Delhi !!

The next thing on our agenda was to go on a bus ride to see the illuminated city. The Eiffel Tower has lasers that keep moving while beaming and they illuminate the city wonderfully. It's a great sight at night. The red light area there was so 'out there', right in the middle of the market and all brightened up with lights....just like the wine & beer shops in Goa at night...a lavish & unabashed display of the agenda. For sometime I left my batch mates alone, while I walked by myself in that market, feeling quite different, an independent 21st century girl and all, and making all sorts of plans for the future......thinking there is so much too see & experience in life ...so many places to go to | people to meet | cultures to discover | ideas to debate on | concepts to imbibe & realities to fathom ...(breathless) my own concept about people abroad completely got a reality check. I realized the real nuances of difference and similarity between them and us. I 'll just give a simple example - I mean even here people live in families and have certain rules, share responsibilities, have meals together at home, take care of their elders just like we do. That was nice to notice. This coupled with the experience of living with a Belgian family for around 3 months and studying at the University, added a different perspective to the stay.

You know I was thinking that one major point of difference between us and them is that- we in India are conditioned to be a certain way. We are oriented to following convention over and above our own personal style. We get accustomed to following a lot of things & at times get pressurized by society norms. But here, people have a lot more personal choice to exercise. I don't think they beat themselves down too much with the pressure of comparisons. I might be wrong. But, I only mean that people have a bit more of freedom to really think and make their own true choices. And that's one of the most precious things I feel. In a couple of pockets in India, one can feel free, but most of the times, one has to keep too many external considerations in mind which should ideally have little bearing on the choice in question. This is a much bigger debate so let me save it for later.

Bas that's more or less all of it & if you guys have reached this far, I salute your stamina ..:)

L'amour vous tous


Pondering over this letter (euphemistically 'chewing the cud')-

The last bit of this letter talks about making true choices wholeheartedly. There is no one you can please and nothing to gain if you are uncomfortable in your own skin and if you are untrue to your own self. I genuinely believe in the freedom, clarity and peace such choices bring along with them.

Another thing that comes to my mind right now is how interesting it would be to go back-packing across Europe! Actually, it would be so much fun travelling extensively across India and then the whole world. Why make it feel left out!  :-P

And finally, I realize how unique days are remembered so clearly, forever. Like this Paris trip for one and numerous such journeys and moments. I remember the kurta & jeans I was wearing when I first met the guy I am incidentally married to now. And if I am vaguely sounding like that character Subodh from  the movie 'Dil Chahta Hai' then please ignore it!

To sum it up- I believe every weather is perfect for- Following your heart, Going beyond, Exploring something new and Cherishing it!