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Showing posts from January, 2007

Time Up

I hate being a couch potato, not even on holidays. Apart from that fear of being morbidly obese, I hate being glued to the idiot box for hours on end unlike my sister who does not fall asleep until the noise of television plays on her ears. But this Thursday was role reversal. With a bad stomach and slight fever, I found myself shifting rooms in search of comfort and on a bed bang opposite a 29-inch TV. The experience was worse -- what with three remote controls to juggle with and make sense of -- that of the TV, DVD and the now mandatory new set top box, thanks to the conditional access system (CAS) that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has just implemented in the metros. Well, for all the arguments and counter arguments about CAS, our government sums it up as a consumer-friendly initiative. I call it nuisance value.

Anyway, so there I found myself learning the ropes again, of switching on and setting the TV, then pressing AV1, then clicking on the set box, searching the m…

The Dark Continent

Everybody wants to demystify Africa. Likewise, I had a yen for setting out in the Conradian heartland. So in 2004, I found myself packing my bags for an awfully good break far from my hum drum life. I took off to do some volunteering social work and joined a complete group of strangers from different walks of life -- all bound by that odd zeal to indulge in some philanthrophy, some adventure. That saw me through eight months of bohemianism backed by a zombie-like appearance (well, they lack the expertise to cut straight hair in Africa, it's only braids, hair extensions, hair ironing and shampooing that salons there thrive in. They have the most fascinating of hair though, spiral-like curls. While they envied mine, I envied theirs. Human nature, you see, you are never satisfied with what you have!)

Kenya where I was based for most part of my stay was wild, crazy, and, often, perilous. Kenyans love to drink and chew on 'mira' or khat, a cash crop grown extensively there and i…

Beyond Time

My family, on holiday in Delhi, has just come back from attending a live concert of Jagjit Singh at the Sri Fort Auditorium. They are raving and raving about the ghazal king. I gave it a miss. I think Jagjit Singh has become too adulterated, too commercialised, too common. I am no authority on ghazals, but I have my preferences.

I developed my love for Firakh Gorakhpuri, Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum and Mehdi Hassan sitting in the summer house of the North Eastern Hill Unversity, Mayurbanj campus, Shillong, aided by an Urdu-English dictionary alongside my friends, who I had initially chided for listening to such freaking weepy songs. And like dreamers, those summer house baithaks that followed one another in endless succession over cups and cups of tea, estranged us from our classrooms. Sometimes much to the chagrin of Professor Home Choudhary from our English department, who at the end gave up on us by simply saying, "some people deny us the pleasure of their company by not attendin…

Them Versus Us

Taking off from the Shilpa 'Shitty' issue (I love the surname and that comes from my ever so humorous and intellectual friend Latha or Lotty with love and Angel No. 1 to some :)), here are some reflections on being a north easterner in the capital of the world's largest democracy. Also, Lotty, on a serious note, says I should have a NE angle to what I write. She has a point. I have enough material there, enough to give vent to.

I begin with 'oye Chinky'. When I came to Delhi in the mid 1990s to do a professional course, I wasn't sure what the word meant. Maybe I was too busy paying heed to my new found independence and the certain sense of security -- the fact that I could go to the market even at 10 pm without the peering eyes of the army or the CRPF personnel patrolling the streets and stiffling our existence. It wasn't until my course was over and I got myself a break as a sub editor with the country's premier news agency, that I had my first hand exp…

Colour Coded

And so Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty makes news for all the wrong (or wronged) reasons. She didn't make heads turn at least when I bumped into her at Delhi airport last year. But I vividly remember looking at her and thinking, hmmm... at least she is darker than me. OK racial prejudice begins at home! Apologies.

But what is this Big Brother brou-ha-ha that has suddenly become a justifiable cause for outrage among the national press and Indians the world over? The former we know gets sidetracked too easily from matters of national importance to trivial ones, but building a public opinion on a televison programme that thrives on controversy and provocation seems nonsensical at once. Helping its TRPs, are we?

However, coming to this potboiler. The setting: a reality TV show on Britain's Channel 4, a special edition called Celebrity Big Brother in the sixth series of Big Brother, starring has-beens of sorts from all fields. And the drama that unfolds is bitchiness plainspeak. The mo…

Diaspora Blues

Thursday. End of production day at work. Time to go through the customary filtering of mails and my most neglected yahoo account (after gmail came into the scene) is choc-a-bloc with over hundred unread mails from the Manipuri Diaspora egroup. Now the MD forum, my main connect to all world Manipuri, is filled with enthusiastic drawing-room intellectuals spread across the globe, mouthing platitudes about human rights, the politics of the north east, the imposition of the restricted area permit (in fact, a favourite topic with some), and about establishing a social intellectual force that can change the face of the state/region. Sometimes, interspersed with a few mud slinging here and there among those who agree and disagree with certain viewpoints, and the discussions go on and on to touch every facet of life.

Now, my little or no participation does not mean I am inferior or superior to the group, but I am still trying to establish affinity with it. That is because I am not so sure what…

Emotional Closure

Lets talk about love, every woman's favourite topic. An immediate line that comes to mind is from a novel I read in college. The novel I cannot recall but the words are: "There is something very odd about looking at the rear of a train as it takes away somebody from you..."

Looking at the rear-view mirror of my life, there have been many such painful circumstantial compulsions of saying goodbye. Painful because emotions remain emotions, nomatter the age and the degree. So, dreams have remained only dreams. It began as a 12-year old when I had my first infatuation of a 25-something bloke. Moved on to when I became a university student, my first step in the world of platonic romance, of letter writings and oh those many an Archies' and Hallmark cards. Then time drifted and so did my romance as priorities were about finding a career, of stepping out into the big bad world, and not giving into the societal pressures of getting married young.

Not that I stopped tugging into…

Bundle of Joy

Silly. But the one of the high points of my life is flipping through Page 3 every morning with my cuppa tea and reading about fiery fashion, the celeb world, fitness... before I wade through the mundane but almost complusory fiscal deficits, mutual funds, hedge funds, GDP growth, etc. urgggggg!!! Complusory because thats my bread and butter work these days as an employee of a business magazine. Anyway... Reverting to my favourite, I am a little piqued by Anjelina Jolie slamming Madonna for adopting a baby illegally. Illegally here meaning Malawi the country from where Madonna picked her baby reportedly does not have a legal framework for adoption. A little trivial an argument I would say, after all think of the end happiness that the adoption ultimately brings -- both to the child and his/her inherited new family. But the joke doing the round is that Hollywood's new must-have now is an adopted child.

Closer home, I just discovered that my friend Shanti has a to-be sister-in-law who…

Cruel Monday

Everyone who has stayed away from home for a considerable period of time fear 'receiving that dreaded call' as a friend once said. That one call that could paralyse and orphan you without a thought. I got mine on the 11th of September 2006. After a lazy weekend, I had resolved to start the week in earnest but was awakened by the incessant calls on my phone at 7 am. I was asked to rush home immediately. Something had happened to mom that Monday morning. 
Without second thoughts I dashed to catch the earliest flight home. From the airport I dialled all relevant numbers... none were forthcoming. All I was told was that something had happened, I found my ears shutting to the rent of wails in the background. Yet, no one confirmed the news. Perhaps they thought I wouldn't make it through the three-hour long flight and a further three-hour drive to my summer house in Shillong. Finally, while still at the airport waiting for security check-in, I managed to get through to a relativ…

To Every Thought...

It's never easy to pen down thoughts at random. But having spent some time contemplating on whether to start a blog or not, it's time I joined the bandwagon. And so this 2007, I gift myself this space to tell it like it is. It's a little funny how the reluctance seems to play -- for what I pen down is going to be nothing fictional but a direct expression of my experiences, my thoughts, my travails. But I give in to 'this little madness in the spring'. Phew, that sounds a little heavy but I guess like all first-timers I am hell bent on creating an impression!!!

First, a little bit about myself. I come from India's northeast region, which has often been described as a "mishapen strip of land linked to the rest of the country by a narrow corridor just 20 km wide at its slimmest and referred to as the Chiken's Neck." But it is home to seven states and many insurgencies. For me, as for millions of others it is where I grew up. The lush green forests of …