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Showing posts from April, 2007

Down Memory Lane

I got a phone call today from somebody I last met and spoke with 13 years ago. The person was none than my childhood friend Pati (short for Prabhabati). Pati is my friend from my dad's village Ramnagar Tuko in Silchar, Assam. She still resides in Silchar but in a different village after her marriage two years back. She had gone to meet my extended families and on seeing my photos, she said she was overcome by the urge to talk to me. She took my number from my cousin and ran to the nearest PCO. So, I had the most pleasant surprise this afternoon. I called her back this evening and I probably have never spoken with anyone this long. Over an hour!

The gap in our communication being, phones have just come to the village. Besides, who writes letters anymore in the days of the email. I just wish she had an internet connection so we could chat and I could send her pictures too. But that is again a distant dream. Maybe, ten years later, that would be a reality too. Our village has just beg…

The Heat Is On

The onset of summer. Not that I am welcoming it. People everywhere else on earth are rejoicing but we Dilliwallas are slowly facing the hot, arid weather. Two weeks back, I got my cooler fixed and it's working wonders. I had to remove my ancient big AC. The reason: it did not fit in any of the windows, so I broke the wall and had it fixed there. Now, it did not escape the eyes of these NDMC officials, who told me that breaking a government property was against the law. So, I had to promptly remove it.

You see, I live in a delapidated government accomodation, which has been sublet to me by an acquaintance. Illegal again, but that's business for some, home for others. The charm of these government flats is that one, they are so centrally located -- everything is within earshot distance, the airport, the railway station, the offices -- that I wouldn't trade them for one of the opulent, nice houses in the outskirts of Delhi. I think it's insane to drive one hour to work and…

Cheesy

It's the ultimate mix in romance and singledom. While I watch a crazy and mooney-eyed Renee Zellweger struggling it out in Bridget Jones Diary, it's the other news of Kate Middleton and Prince William's break up doing the rounds of the press. Sure, these reporters are really working overtime over a simple break up. My British colleague defends it so. "Prince William is not your normal guy, he is the heir apparent to the throne of England". So, does that mean he can't behave like any normal guy his age and have few other affairs? Besides, that's so common these days!

Meanwhile, poor Kate Middleton is under scrutiny like never before. One report says she is such a middle-class compared to Prince William's other high breed friends. It's a pity if that was the ground of the break up, which I am sure it is not. I saw it coming though. Call it the hunch of the times -- before a man marries, he would have gone through two/three women. Ditto for women. Gon…

...And They Lived Happily Ever After

This one is a teeny bopper experience. I was having coffee in Khan Market's tiny Barrista outlet. It is so tiny that if you don't watch out, you could be rubbing elbows with the person sitting just behind you. (Well, the sitting arrangements are such that there are two cramped parallel rows separated by a thin strip that is the passageway.) And what better luck than this if the person you are actually rubbing elbows is none other than India's most eligible bachelor? So I had!

The man was in his crisp white kurta and jeans, and two friends. I was trying to adjust my chair. Unfortunately, in this case it wasn't the elbows that was the pain. What was, were the chairs so tightly adjusted to each other that I couldn't move for the life of me. A little irritated, I tried to get up and tell the gentleman to move his ass a bit. As I turned, my attitude changed, well, dramatically, at seeing the charming Rahul Gandhi who seemed equally perplexed at the goings-on. He smiled a…

Irreplaceable

The setting: a village called Singerband in Assam. The period:1950s. This is the story of a girl, who like William Wordsworth's Lucy "dwelled among the untrodden ways". Well, almost. She led a simple, uncomplicated life, far from the trappings of city life. It would begin with an early morning dip in the pond followed by an elaborate prayer ritual to the God of the house and myriad others amid lighting of scented sticks, candles and the chanting of hymns. Then it was breakfast and off to school treading the long paddy fields. Her father, the village school headmaster, was a stickler for routine and he believed in the education of women. So, much as she hated studies, there was no escaping from the rigours of it.

The quintessential tomboy, her only giveaway was her long silky mane, which came in the way of her pranks. They would fall on her face as she stumbled, hopped, and ran the fields chasing the birds, bees and cattle. Often, she played truant. Her friends followed su…

The 3 S

About two Sundays back, when Shashi Tharoor wrote in The Times of India abouthow more and more Indian women are wearing less of the sari and more of western outfits, he expressed an alarmist attitude, almost, of the sari becoming extinct. This Sunday, he admitted to being bombarded by mails (obviously) from women who thought his column bordered on sexism. There were some who said his argument was a bit rich "coming from someone who spends his working days in a western suit and tie". Tharoor apologises if his point of view offended anyone but he is not apologising for expressing a point of view. Fair enough!

Living in Delhi, I would like to remind Mr Tharoor that whoever invented the sari did not have 21st century lascivious north India in mind. While I love the sari, I cannot imagine getting into a crowded DTC bus with a sari on. Or for that matter, walking in crowded Pragati Maidan with the sari or running for my life wearing a sari. These are few of the reasons I can cite w…

Fabulous Act

Some years back, while on a study tour of malnutrition in the 24 Paraganas and Sonagachi in West Bengal, my sponsors, the Unicef, put me up in Hotel Hindustan in the heart of Kolkata, from where, of course, I would begin my journeys at 7 am everyday for the week I was there. And every evening, when I returned, sapped of all energy, disturbing my sleep would be music coming from below my room. It was choreographer Hemant Trivedi teaching young guys how to walk the ramp for the Mr India contest. My immediate thought then was: don't these young men have anything better to do in life?

Now, as I watch the Femina Miss India contest live on TV, I think I was wrong. From Jhumritalaya to aamchi Mumbai, young India nurtures a dream -- to be crowned India's beauty queen or king. The money, fame and glamour associated with these pageants is stupendous. And so today's progamme, India's most coveted beauty pageant, repeat the anchors, has taken Indian beauties to global heights. It i…

Pet Peeve

These days my house resembles a pig's sty. Some days, it's even worse. (Like the place has been ransacked and burgled, God forbid!). No prizes for guessing this one. Dylan has become a force to reckon with. The chappie has grown, and grown in width not height. I still don't know his breed, not that I care anymore. My vet, looking at his feet, skin, patches of colours, says, "Oh he is all so mixed but maybe more of a Mount Hill." Whatever that means. He is a government vet, so I chose not to get enlightened.

But Bunny, my maid, is convinced he is a desi. Except for his regal skin and cute looks, his mannerisms are all too familiar, she rues. Not without reason. She is the only one he has managed to bully. He pulls her by her dupatta, gets into her way and gives her a hard time when she is with the broom. And he loves to dig the dustbin which she clears everyday. So lazy Bunny has to work twice as hard. Together, they can ruin anyone's peace of sleep."Didi…

No Damp Squib

Good Friday, and a holiday. I woke up and read the papers in leisure. Last night, I penned some thoughts on the Namesake. I forgot to mention that the movie was such a deserved breather far from the typical diaspora spoofs. I mean, while I did enjoy the likes of Monsoon Wedding, Pride and Prejudice, Bend it Like Beckham and so on, they all reminded me of VS Naipul and his House For Mr Biswas and the common satire about Indian life. Come on, its OK to laugh at ourselves but beyond a point, it gets a bit too much. Which is why I think most Indian writers in English and Indian filmmakers have their works generously peppered with jokes and cynicism about the home country that they become a thicket of sterotypes.

I say, even if Namesake did have sprinklings of it, it was all done in very good taste. But today's HT had a write-up by some Swapan Seth, a Punjabi who grew up in Kolkata, married a Bengali, and who called the film a "damp squib." I totally disagree with the finer s…

Namesake

I watched Namesake, Mira Nair's film based on India born American Jhumpa Lahiri's novel. The movie is about a Bengali family caught between two worlds. Everything about the film fell right including actors Irfan Khan and Tabu. With their impeccable Bengali accent, they were right on, portraying the quintessential middle class Bangla couple with their values, simplicity and patritiotism intact. Raising two kids born and brought up in the land of freedom, the US, they manage to instill some of those values, eventually, to their otherwise wayward children. That, in essence, is the film's story.

I came out of the multiplex a little nostalgic. Nostalgia, someone said, is best shared from the outside. I share a strong sense of familiarity with everything Bengali. Most members of my family speak, read and write the language. We love their food from Ilish maach to muri ghonto,chorchori, et al, and we enjoy the Durga Puja too. This stems from the fact that my paternal family is from…

Cheirouba

Lat weekend heralded the dawn of the Manipuri new year, at least for a few of us. The new year officially falls on the 14th of April every year and coincides with the new year of the Bengalis, the Assamese, the Tamilians and the Keralites too. But the diaspora in Delhi chose to call in for an early celebration for matters of convenience. I was woken up by an enthusiastic relative who came all dressed in the traditional wear because the invite said 11 am sharp. I managed to convince her, going by past experiences, that nothing would happen before 1 pm. So, lured by the idea of a typical Manipuri lunch, we found ourselves seated at the venue – the conference hall of one of the lawyers’ association in Tilak Lane, Delhi. Well, just before lunch.

As predicted, only half the guests had turned up. Manipuris generally don’t socialise as do the Nagas or the Mizos. When I asked one of the active members why the turnout was poor, he replied, rather ruefully, that the original Delhi Manipuri Socie…