Saturday, February 27, 2010

Back in the Day

  • The only reality show on TV was Krishi Darshan.
  • Blogging was what happened to Malyali noses in Delhi winters.
  • India, China & Brazil were on the brink of becoming superpowers...wait, they still are.
  • People had friends made of flesh & blood, not inch-high FB pics.
  • Taking a flight was something 'rich people' did.
  • Relatives from abroad would return with bagfuls of Marks & Spencers, Benetton & Sony Walkmans...and we'd be excited.
  • Sony Walkman - the era of 'Don't Run Too Fast Or The Tape Will Get Jammed in The Head'.
  • McDonald's was the classiest joint in town.
  • 50p could get you a whole mess of stuff.
  • Boys didn't put more product in their hair than girls.
  • Sting, Tracy Chapman & Bruce Springsteen performed in Delhi and the roads were blocked for miles. Now the Backstreet Boys come and go and there's barely a rumble.
  • People were famous because they did cool stuff. Now there's Rahul Mahajan.
  • Traveling acrobats, snake charmers and folk singers would roam the streets of our colony - remember the tiny ferris wheels & bioscopes?
  • The Bioscope: long before cable TV crowded our brains.
  • We laughed out loud, not LOL.
  • It wasn't cool to diss Indira & Sanjay Gandhi.
  • It wasn't cool to diss Vajpayee.
  • You could see a film and still not file for bankruptcy.
  • Cricketers' jerseys were not walking billboards.
  • Good handwriting was important.
  • Air hostesses were rude but spoke English we understood.
  • Girls had bangs called 'flicks' and wore shoes called 'Baylleez'.
  • 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' was not a marketing ploy.
  • Anil Kapoor was famous for being hairy and teaching us incorrect math ('One-Two ka Four, Four-Two ka One').
  • Sundays were all about Ramayan, Mahabharat, He Man and Molu.
  • America was cool but the USSR was our friend.
  • Games were played outdoors and had weird names like pithhoo and four-corners. Wii was just a sound one made on those tiny ferris wheels.
  • Avatars were things we prayed to, to pass exams.
  • South Indians did not have wedding sangeets.
  • We thought the glaciers would be around forever. Then we didn't. Then we did.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Bitch, you've got a cold heart.

What did you expect? A handshake & complimentary fruit basket?

Is this really necessary?

Here's how it's going to be, sir. In exactly 5 minutes, you will be boarding a plane to an undisclosed location. When you land, you'll be escorted by Immigration to their back office. You will let them scan your luggage . Any citizenship documents pertaining to this country will be destroyed.

You're indicting me for a murder I didn't commit----

Let the law of the land be the judge of your crimes, sir. As I was saying, your passport will be put through a shredder and all data of your resident status deleted.

How much you must hate me. Can these cuffs be loosened? They're killing me.

Officer, uncuff this man.

What's this?

A declaration giving up all ownership rights to this property. Sign at the bottom.

I'm not signing anything.

Sir, that would not be in your best interests.

Fuck you. This isn't over.

I think it is, sir. You see this weapon in my hand? It's surprisingly easy to use. Takes less energy to push back against the trigger than to knead dough. In less than a second, a bullet could smash through your skull, cause a holocaust in your cranium and exit the other side without leaving a goodbye note. Sign those papers.

You never gave me a chance to---

Officer, escort this gentleman to the plane. We are done.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shit. I'm becoming quite the debbie downer, aren't I?


Last night I dreamed I was dying. Not fast and painlessly, but slow. I'd just found out that cancer was ravaging my cells and that my body was gradually, yet uncontrollably, heading towards its own destruction.
It was a long dream, it went on for hours. I walked around the city, unrecognizable, barren and desolate, weeping desperately. I had friends around me - no one I recognized but people who said they loved me. I had a week left to live.
All I knew in this dream was: I want to live, I want to live, I want to live. I want to experience love, I want to give and receive it. It's the one thing I have not done in this life near enough and I can't leave without.
Yet, what do you do when something beyond your control is eating away at you, regardless of what your desires may be?...
Not a fun dream, I can tell you that much.

Monday, February 22, 2010

10 Things I Love About Nancy Botwin

It had to happen. There had to be a post about Weeds. It's been all I can think about, this past week. I've obsessed over it endlessly (people have rebound relationships with other people, I have them with TV shows) and then last night...Last night, I ran out of episodes to watch. Bang in the middle of season 4, at a fortuitous and very telling point in the story. But more on that later.

Weeds is a super-duper hit show in the US that revolves around Nancy Botwin - a suburban mom, raising two sons single-handedly after the love of her life drops dead while jogging. To make ends meet and sustain her lifestyle, she begins to deal drugs, specifically (that's right) weed. Just one of the reasons why I absolutely adore her.

Nancy Botwin is my absolute favourite.

First of all, she's friggin gorgeous. Man or woman, you can't really escape that. I love the stuff she wears, so on the count of fashion, she gets my vote.

Second, she always looks so surprised, so well meaning even as she goes around fucking up. I feel strongly connected to that feeling - "What? What? What just happened? Did I just do that?"

Third, she loves her family, her sons to death BUT that doesn't stop her from doing what she wants, even if it puts herself and by default them, in extreme jeopardy. It's behaviour that would have most women's groups up in arms, but it's also real. Women aren't always these self-sacrificing creatures who live just for their families. Real women are as selfish, stupid and reckless as men - equally capable of making bad choices. I'm not saying that's something to glorify, but it's nice to see a 'real' woman character emerge from the cesspool of television.

Fourth, Nancy instinctively gravitates towards danger and I LOVE that about her. I love how her eyes light up every time there's a scary assignment for her, how disappointed she is when she's told she won't be making drug runs across the Mexican border.

Fifth, she knows what she wants and she gets it before logic and ethical doubts can get in the way. Nancy, I think, is one of those rare women who scratches her itch before she stops to think about consequences. She needs money, she gets it, she needs a lay, she gets it. Not like me - agonizing days, weeks and months over plans and blueprints and strategies to get what I want. Only to learn I never had any control over the situation in the first place.

Sixth, Nancy rolls with a fun crowd and she sucks them into her crazy adventures. I've always been a follower but secretly I'd love to be that charismatic leader, who doesn't need to 'do' much but manages to attract people to her fold, people who'll go along with her hairbrained (but always colourful) schemes. Nancy makes drug dealing looking like fun. Again, not something she'd be elected Citizen of the Year for, but you know what I mean.

Seventh, she is so goddamned classy. It took me 3 seasons to realise that MY GOD, this woman is a criminal. She is doing bad things, selling drugs, having people killed, being a shitty mom. She might just be the smoothest bad guy around but you'd never know it - because she barely believes that about herself.

Eighth, she's got a wonderful violent streak. I have a wonderful violent streak. I get it.

Ninth, she makes deviance look normal. We're all deviant - I know I am - and it's so bloody okay.

Tenth, she sees the light. Sort of. Or at least at the point in season 4 where my episodes ran out. She looks out over the ocean and realises how stupid her choices have been. Choices - not things that 'just happened', not things she 'can't help', not things 'beyond her control'. She gets it. She owns her poor choices. She does not run away or make excuses. She's no role model and she accepts it.

Right now, as I write, the next episode is downloading into my computer and I can't wait to meet up with Nancy again. She makes sense to me.
Of course, I know she's just a manufactured character on TV. I know she's not real.
I know.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Some days you just wake up and the perfect song presents itself to you and no matter what is happening in your life, it makes all the difference between a good day and a bad.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Things I've Been Doing...

Having one's heart broken opens up a lot of free time that would otherwise go in planning babies and EMIs.
I wish I could say that I devoted this time to working for world peace, learning to use nunchucks, writing a one-act play about the joys of menstruation or composing a symphony for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. But no.

What I did (besides bawling) was watch crap films like Valentine's Day & My Name Is Khan and then review them on Twitter (I couldn't even muster up all 140 characters). I even cried a little in both films (when Eric Dane turns gay and when stereotypical black kid starts singing gospel, respectively).

Next, I hung out with a cousin and interfered in his relationship. I'm hoping he'll still talk to me.

I have also been watching the TV series Weeds obsessively. Last evening, I took the show's title a bit too seriously and let the lines between reality and Hollywood fiction blur. It was interesting. I attempted to climb into the screen and introduce myself to Conrad (no one can say 'What the FAACK' like him. No one).

Finally, I took an hour long walk from Vasant Vihar to my home. Throughout, I had long, imaginary conversations with the Classy Rejector...mostly suggesting how he could sodomize various members of his family. The traffic drowned out my rants and by the time I was home, the endorphins and cathartic yelling had done their job.
So, I had me a nice Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream. Cone, not cup.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Eric Dane effect

Saw Valentine's Day on big screen with a hallful of squealing young ladies.
I swear to God our collective neural pathways ceased to function the second Eric Dane came on shirtless.
Then just before the entire audience could be declared brain dead & on the verge of being in a vegetative state for the rest of their lives, he put some clothes on.

Seriously - never have I felt less capable of adult logical thought as I did then.

I guess now I know how men feel all the time...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Notes from travels - A guide

I am a little drunk right now because my cousin thought it'd be a great idea to sample some exotic brand of vodka first thing in the morning.
As a consequence, while I have diligently chronicled my travels over the past month in great detail, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to publish them in the right order.

Please read the series of posts in the following order: Goa, Bombay and then Juna Akhara, Haridwar.
Thank you. Not just for reading in the correct order, but for reading in the first place.

Notes from travels - Juna Akhara, Haridwar

Part 3 of my random travel journal, this time from Haridwar.

En route, Haridwar:
Heart is broken but the excitement of the Kumbh and just being out of the house is more than making up for it.
The drive is beautiful, the weather is more so. I have to pee desperately. Back in the day I would've kept my torture to myself. Now, thankfully, I am too old to be an idiot. I ask the driver to stop, sprint into the bushes and have the best piss of my life, deep in the hinterland, overlooking the Ganga nahar.Nicole:
Nicole Jaquis is a tiny powerhouse. We are here to convince her to be in our film and let us showcase her work with the Naga Sadhus. We wait endlessly for her to be free.
Finally, in front of the Maya Devi Temple, she greets us with a question, "Is this your first Kumbh?"
Follow me, I'll take you places.

She leads us through the temple, to the back, where there's a trapdoor. We crouch and enter. On the other side are rows and rows of tents. Each tent has a group of 4-5 Babas, some clothed, others naked, covered in white ash. At the centre is a log of wood burning slowly. The Babas are preparing chillums. A giggling Japanese girl, dressed in saffron, looks blissed out.
As I sit there, inhaling ganja smoke mingled with that of the burning wood, I find myself getting drawn into this strange place.

Juna Akhara:
A baba sitting opposite me is staring at me. I stare back. We're sharing intense eye-contact but I don't feel uncomfortable for a second. It occurs to me that under normal circumstances, I would not be hanging out with this bunch. I would be scared and intimidated.
But my life is no longer normal and I no longer have a clue about who I am.
Sitting there, every label I have used to understand myself - afraid, lazy, inert, unadventurous, uncurious, uncomfortable in new spaces - has fallen away and I want to sit there and be with these sadhus, forever.
I don't know why but I feel very at home.
Yes these people are stoned...but not like the shack guys in Goa, not like my friends at Sunday's party. These people are stoned immaculate. Stoned pure. Stoned simple and divine.

The Invitation:
Nicole seems to like us and the idea of what we're doing. She has a suggestion for me.
You should come stay with me and the saadhvis for a few days before the cameras are switched on.
Yes. Yes. Yes. I will. There is no room for fear (this being my Decade and all). There is no time to think how out of the box this would be for me.
We've established that I no longer know who I am. Agreeing to stay with her, therefore, is a no-brainer.
R and I float back to our guesthouse on a cloud. My travels have found their perfect ending.

Goa released my body from its insecurities.
Bombay released my heart to speak its truth.
Haridwar released my soul from the labels I thought defined me.

Notes from travels - Bombay

Part 2 of my travel journal: randomly scribbled notes.

Screw you, Paolo:
Stuck on the bus from hell. The scenery outside is amazing but the bus itself is a torture chamber, plush with puking travelers and a Govinda-David Dhawan marathon. I catch myself laughing along with the third film. Immediately look away and turn on my ipod.
Paolo Travels has a compassionate heart & still employs buses that passed their prime decades ago. This filly throws out petrol fumes through the AC vent and looks like it's done one tour too many in I-rack.
At Belgaum, we pass a hoarding for a local hair saloon that's endorsed by Keith Urban. I'm sure Keith's anxiously waiting by the post box for his cheque...
Man calls. Poor signal but enough to inform me that we'll meet in Bombay. Whatever. But yay!

Bombay, at last!:
Retarded bus conducter tells my friend to pick me from 'bridge ke baaju se'. Which bridge and at what point on the bridge are factoids he cannot provide.
I get off 'somewhere near the airport' and immediately fall in love with Bombay: it is 12:30 am and the city is wide awake. There are at least 35 autos waiting to take me to my destination.
I feel safe and alive.
Give my friends the longest hugs.

Take a long walk along the sea. Carter Road, Jogger's Park, Abhi-Ash's ex-home.
Weather divine, tan still bizarre.
Walked along Linking Road that I keep calling Linkin Park.
Sight Karisma Kapoor at Costa Coffee and die of alliteration.
Sight VJ Anusha at Mango. Ho hum.
Sight Sachin Tendulkar's under-construction home and V informs me of crazy fans who come and yell "Sachin! Sachin! Bahar aaaa!" outside it. Am tempted to do the same but desist.

Mumbai or Bombay?:
I can't bring myself to call this city Mumbai. That's not how I relate to it.
This city is constantly buzzing. I get why they compare it to New York, which roars.
Before you know it, it's midnight. I'm loving the energy but have no idea when to go to bed.
If you have money and live in Bandra, I'm told life can be quite good.
Finances have spiralled out of control. Walked into optical store to get V's contacts, walked out with Rs. 3,000 shades.
Good thing, I'm a highly impractical person when it comes to material things.
It's official: friends make the world go round.
Another theme has been The Confession. Must have the conversation soon. Bombay, it seems, has become the designated location for it.
Young & struggling in Bombay:
Many of the people I meet here are young and struggling to make it in show business or the arts. They all seem to be in a perpetual state of exhaustion yet they won't stop.
Could I do this? No, and I don't regret it for a second.
These guys are some of the sweetest people I've met and they look at me and say - "you'll be moving to this city in no time..." I laugh and say, "We'll see" even though I know my answer will be no.
Andheri to Bandra: the longest auto ride in history. Two and a half hours to get home.
Shopped on Hill Road, to which I have lost my heart. Bought the world's most awesome outfit for Rs. 200. This would be unheard of in Delhi.

Part-ay:We're having a party. BYOB: Bring your own boy. Plan is to invite men we have crushes on but who don't know how we feel. I'm going to wear a miniskirt, a boa and shades. Am feeling reckless, crazy and brave.
Musing: I want my own home. My own space to be own authentic self.
Bunny ears and booze have been purchased.

Post Party Post Mortem:
It's been declared the strangest party ever. Men in masks and boas, music that couldn't be played loud because of the cops, weeping hosts and passed out party planners.
Had the conversation. Made the confession. Heartbreak comes in waves. He won't have anything more than friendship but I have to say - it was the classiest rejection in history. Also the shortest, lasting all of seven minutes.
I broke my TA lifescript.
Movie star at party broke our 500-buck whiskey bottle. Then stormed out because we forgot to kiss his feet.

Last Day:
Much weeping, then laughing then weeping again. The stress of the last year is melting away. The conclusive outcome of the situation hits.
Sweet friends offer to drop me to station but I want to take the taxi ride alone.
Worli sea link becomes site of more crying. Then, see poster for film called 'Don't Break My Heart'.
: If you break my heart, I will break your bones.
God, I love this city.

Agast Kranti Rajdhani:
Continuing theme of crappy journeys.
Am really sick and can't cope with upper berth. Ask co-passenger and Veer Savarkar lookalike if he'd give me his seat. He refuses.
Luckily two gentlemen getting on at Borivali are more than obliging.
Next seen, Veer Savarkar is surrounded by loud, smelly Gujju family with obnoxious children and woman who periodically whips out her breasts to feed her spawn.
The Classy Rejector calls to ask me out to dinner with his friends. He's forgotten I'm on a train and he pretends that nothing happened last night. I tell him I'm in the middle of nowhere, hang up and cry.

Bombay opened me up. It fit in beautifully with my Decade of No Fear. It freed my heart. How can that be bad?

Notes from travels - Goa

This past month has been about the traveling. I started out in Haridwar for the Kumbh, then Goa, Bombay and back to Haridwar. Threw in a bit of Rishikesh and Dehradun for good measure.
Throughout, I journaled furiously - mostly one liners that captured the moment like the millions of photographs I took. Here are some snippets from Goa...

On the flight from Delhi to Goa:
Plying myself with Vitamin C as I pray to the Gods that I don't fall sick.
I suspect Goa will be overrun with newly-weds
Overheard at baggage claim: Aisey tho koi bhi, kisi ka bhi bag chura ke lejaa sakta hai...

Horrid head cold kept me awake all night.
First glimpse of Anjuna and got tipsy on first beer of the trip.
N and I can't stop chattering, we're still buzzed from the big city life.
Made poor jokes about fat Indian men in their VIP chuddees.
Turns out, seeing Rock On's director was not the highlight of the trip, because guess who called?

Swam in the ocean for the first time ever. Indescribable feeling. Must make friends with the waves in order to not get thrashed around. Took some time. Have wicked gashes on knee from early attempts at keeping balance.
Cow attacked our fake hash browns.
N & I have never looked hotter.
This was supposed to be my Decade of No Fear & letting go. Am sincerely trying to do both. Therefore having more fun.

Anjuna 2
Walked along the length of the beach dressed in next to nothing but I couldn't care less.
Cries of 'Come look my shop' punctuate the perfect setting.
I feel right for the first time in a long, long time. Perhaps, ever.
Out on a bike! :)
Exorcised demons on the cliffs of Vagator.
Long haired man yet to appear.
Morning starts at 7am on an empty beach. Suprabhatam.
Absolutely overshot my budget. I am now poor.
Baga, crowded, is no fun. Must venture beyond the staple tourist spots.
Goa has a soundtrack. Everywhere you go, there is music. Never incongrous, always suiting the moment.

Snorkeling at Grand Island:
We board the Prince of Tides. It takes us past the mansion estate of Jimmy-The Diamond Merchant. My inquiries about his marital status invite laughter but no concrete information.
I wave at 2 gentlemen perched on the wall of a building overlooking the ocean. Capn of our boat informs us I am making friendly gestures to inmates of the Goa prison, who are "drug dealers, murderers and kill-lers."
We sail past the Governor's residence also known as 'Goa's Prime Minister's House'.
Crazy Russian lady yells at me because she thinks I'm stealing her fat husband's snorkels. Bitch.
Snorkeling was fun. This time was rookie lesson. Next time I'll be one with the universe.

Arpora Night Market:
Crazy overpriced shit. Nice music everywhere. Strange tension between desis and firangs. Or is it my imagination.
N and I have been told that if we look cool enough, we'll get invited to a rave. We walk past the guy with the pamphlets. Twice. I guess we're not cool enough.

Om Cafe, Anjuna:

Perfect black coffee. Perfect music (a cover of 'In My Life'), perfect scenery and sound of the ocean. Enough fuel to keep me going for months.
Congratulations God, you did good.
N & I have done Goa with a minimum of intoxicants in our bloodstreams. Yet, the mind-body-soul connect could not be more complete. I feel Whole. Bliss....
I'm beginning to sound like Sunny Jetson, so will stop here.
Mildly bothered that he hasn't called but too sunkissed to dwell on it.

Riding to Arambol:
It comes highly recommended as a beach where 'Indian tourists don't go'. So, we set off to find it.
The drive turns out to be longer than imagined. 45 minutes away from Anjuna. It is stunning.
For women who have been raised in the North and are trained to be paranoid about traveling alone at night to strange places, the ride is the most liberating one imaginable.
On the way back, long after the sun has set, we put the fear in our pockets and look up to see the beautiful star-speckled sky.
Something inside both N & I has changed. It's allowed us to redefine our notions of 'safe' and 'unsafe'. We ride in perfect ecstasy.

I leave Goa with a bizarre tan brought on by beach head-massage oil and sunglasses. Bombay up next.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Internal Medicine

Chum pain and heartache make for a killer combination.
I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Ouch. And I mean Ouch.

(Mimi HeartAche - Michelle Spiziri)