Tuesday, May 23, 2006


This song's been playing in my head all day today. It's from the movie Phir Milenge. An album that I've listened to over and over again. My friend and I listened to it almost every time we sat down for a game of Scrabble, or even just for a chat. Maybe I'm thinking of too many things today; things that remind me of what was... of the life I gave up to have the one I'm living today. Maybe I'm just remembering too much. But when people touch your life in ways that you'd never imagined, you tend to remember everything about them, don't you?

Yaad hai woh pehli mulaaqaat yaad hai
Yaad hai mujhe teri har ek baat yaad hai
Woh maheki raatein, saari saugaatein
Bheegi meri aankhon se aansu beh chale
Kisse kuch puraane mil gaye
Rone ke bahaane mil gaye

Mere toote dil mein koi khwaahish na rahi
Armaanon ke sab raaste soone pade
Kyoon dua bhi meri bani aaj bad-dua
Yeh ehsaas chaahat ke sabhi chubhne lage
Kisse kuch puraane mil gaye
Rone ke bahaane mil gaye

Tujhe bhoolna bhi chaahoon to na bhula sakoon
Tu hi bata tere bina kaise rahoon
Tu jaane na sanam gham maine kya saha
Bikhre mere sapne zameen pe tootke
Kisse kuch puraane mil gaye
Rone ke bahaane mil gaye

Yaad hai woh pehli mulaaqaat yaad hai
Yaad hai mujhe teri har ek baat yaad hai
Woh maheki raatein, saari saugaatein
Bheegi meri aankhon se aansu beh chale
Kisse kuch puraane mil gaye
Rone ke bahaane mil gaye

Monday, May 22, 2006

If motorcycles had feet...

This morning, when I returned from class, I took a bus and crossed the road to go home. I was walking on the “footpath”. But I couldn’t walk peacefully there. I had to keep moving sideways to avoid colliding with the oncoming vehicular traffic. On the footpath!! By definition, a footpath is “A narrow path for persons on foot.” In this city, however, it doesn’t seem to be the case. Time and again, I’ve found motorcycles on the footpath. Maybe it is because this is the age of instant gratification. This is where I feel “old” because I’m not one of the “I want this, and I want it now” brigade. I belong to a generation that believes a red signal means “stop”, that when the “red man” gives way to the “green man”, it must be safe to cross the road, that sounding my horn is not going to magically clear up the road ahead!

When I first moved to Bangalore, I was waiting outside my office to get an auto. A guy, proudly displaying the dog tag of a famous software company, was riding on the footpath. I stayed put; didn’t budge. The guy braked and stopped a couple of inches away from where I was. I kept looking at the traffic hoping to find an auto and the man sounded his horn. I looked at him and said, “Education is such a waste” and he said, “It has definitely been wasted on you. Can’t you see I’m riding a bike? Couldn’t you move out of the way?” I almost spat at the guy. I wished that I had a dictionary with me so I could show him what a footpath meant.

I watched the Gods Must Be Crazy over the weekend. In one of the scenes, the bushman sees a man drive up the road and wonders what kind of an animal it is whose “legs” go round and round, instead of up and down. He then goes on to describe the “animal”. I thought that was funny and laughed for quite a while. I thought of it as very very funny until this morning’s incident. Suddenly, the definition seems incomplete. Now, I’m pretty certain that all of Bangalore thinks that motorcycles have legs and feet “that go round and round instead of up and down”.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Language: Is it only for communication?

I never thought of myself as a language person. I struggled with Hindi in school. (Surprising that I studied in a part Hindi medium school and still had a problem!) I was not really able to grasp Sanskrit as a language. I almost always thought of Hindi and Sanskrit as "subjects" and rarely as the "languages" they really are.

When I moved to Pondicherry, I was told to pick up French (it being a former French colony and all!). So, there I was, one fine day, knocking at the doors of the Alliance Francaise de Pondichery. And three months later, I was able to manage more than just a "Parlez-vouz francais?" I topped my batch and then decided that I was going to proceed with this language. This was no subject, this was a beautiful, albeit very confusing, language! Later that year, I had the option of choosing between French and Japanese at University. I decided I must learn Japanese as I'd already started with French. I was not confusing the two languages in my head and I was enjoying the process of learning. After a few months, I got even bolder and landed at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Madras to check out what they had to offer.

Voila! There I was studying French (juggling 2 levels at a time) before and after University, studying Japanese along with my other final year subjects, and traveling to Madras on weekends to study German. I discovered something beautiful. I learnt that there's more to languages than meets the eye. I learnt that it was fun. And I learnt that I was good at picking up languages too.

I figured that the methods used to teach us languages at school weren't the best. I perceived the languages as subjects because that was how the school treated them. We jumped into prose and poetry even before we comprehended the basics. Maybe that's why I thought of Hindi as a painful subject. Today, I can appreciate Kabir and Bachchan a lot more than I ever did at school.

I've been asked why I have this thing for languages. Did I come to be this way because I have a multi-lingual background? I don't know... and I really couldn't care less. I lived in Hyderabad, a city where Hindi is spoken more than Telugu. Yet, I chose to learn Telugu. In Bangalore, I can get by with Telugu and Tamil, yet I choose to learn Kannada. I'm even trying to learn the script. A language isn't meant for communication alone, is it? There's so much more to it. And I've been wanting to dig deeper.

I've given up procrastinating. I started Spanish classes today. Even though I'm forcing myself to go to class early in the morning, I'm on a high. I'm determined to complete my higher levels of French and German later on. As I embark on yet another journey of discovery, I'm filled with enthusiasm. My thirst for knowledge is going to be quenched a little, but it will leave me begging for more. And it is with regret that I will say, "So little time, so many things to learn".

Monday, May 15, 2006

Double Standards?

I was at the grocery store hunting for mushrooms and maple sauce. (I have come to believe that I will have to bring maple syrup from my trips to Hyderabad or Madras if I ever want to eat pancakes for breakfast.) I found 3 packets of mushrooms (they’ve suddenly disappeared from the supermarket shelves) and picked them up. After I gave up on the maple syrup, I decided to go to the express checkout counter. The board said, “10 items or less, cash only”. I was third in line and waited as the people ahead of me completed their billing. A couple stood behind me and two places ahead of me was a lady with a cart load of groceries. The lady behind me said to the man, “This is an express checkout counter and that lady has so many items” to which the man replied, “Oh come on, this is India. What did you expect? To have things like they are abroad” I was rather shocked to hear him say that. The couple looked Indian, maybe it was an NRI couple, but there was no doubting the “I” factor.

The lady at the counter was very polite to the customer and asked her to stand in the regular queue as this one was an express counter. The lady apologized and moved to the next counter. Then the man behind me shoved the three items he was carrying in front of me and told the lady at the counter, “I only have 3 items. Can’t you bill me first?” I turned around and said, “So do I, do you mind?” (Maybe I do look like a behenji, but that doesn’t mean he could just get away with anything.) He immediately said, “Oh well, there’s no need to make such a big issue about it. I was just asking.” Talk of double standards!! We’re all in an express checkout counter. Why did he even think the lady would let him in ahead of me? And if he thought it was OK to do what he did, then why did he bother commenting on the lady who was ahead of me? I really had half a mind to turn around and slap the man, but my good upbringing came in the way. If the bloke knows what its like abroad, what’s stopping him from behaving the same way here? Is it an Indian way of life, a mentality: to have double standards? I wonder!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thoughts of love

A friend mailed these to me today. I've read these quotes a thousand times, and I still like reading them over and over again.

  • It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what is more painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let that person know how you feel.
  • Maybe we have to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.
  • Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, and the romance in a relationship and find out you still care for that person.
  • A sad thing in life is when you meet someone who means a lot to you, only to find out in the end that it was never meant to be and you just have to let go.
  • When the door of happiness closes, another opens but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one which has been opened for us.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Good Morning Bangalore!

I wake up in the morning and roll on the bed for a little while, trying to remember where I kept the remote control for my music system the previous night. The rays of the sun come streaming through the windows and make me squint a bit because they hit me straight on the face. God! I must remember to turn the bed the other way or at least draw the curtains when I go to bed at night. Finally, I find the remote somewhere between the sheets and turn the radio on, just in time to hear my all time favourite RJ Vasanthi say, "Good Morning Bangalore". That's the only thing that gets me out of bed on a weekday!

I send in messages, answer questions, sing along, and just enjoy my morning until its time to get to work. And when I leave for work, the Matinee show is on with Sindhu. She plays old hindi film music and I get transported to a different world. Its almost like I don't want the journey to end because once I'm inside the office, I can't listen to the radio. Sometimes when I leave work early, I listen to Darius and Sunaina on Route 91 and Top 8 at 8. But it's a rarity and I haven't caught these shows in a long time. I'm not even sure they're still on air.

I wanted to buy a phone with FM, but my friend conned me into buying a plain vanilla phone. I won an iPod last year and she told me that having an iPod is better than listening to the radio as I can at least choose my songs. I think not. I would rather have the suspense that radio offers. The thrill of not knowing what song is coming up next and then humming it along. Radio is addictive and I'm completely addicted to Radio City 91 FM. I connect with the shows, I connect with the RJs, I connect with the music. What more can one ask for?

Just when I thought I had it all, competition had to come in and play spoil sport. Enter Radio Mirchi. This is a channel that calls itself "Sakaath Hot Magaa". According to them, hot music is the latest Hindi film music. Their RJs do all the bak bak in Kannada. Not the elite, nice sounding Kannada, but the cheap version. I don't understand most of what they say, but I do know that its not pleasing to the ears.

Now whenever I get into the cab, the cabbie plays 93.3 and I think its because it appeals to him. Nothing on this new channel even remotely appeals to me. The RJs sound like wannabes, the fillers are terrible and the music is almost always Himesh Reshammiya's. (Can someone tell me how this man came to be India's hottest music directors and playback singers???) I have to request 91 and then as soon as I get a call, he switches to 93.3. My blood boils but there's nothing I can do. Just as I finish my call, I hear "Aap ki kashish" coming my way from every speaker in the car.

I think Radio City has a certain appeal. Maybe its not for everyone, maybe it is an elite channel, maybe my tastes are sophisticated. A friend in Hyderabad said to me once, "You live in Jubilee Hills, so you've become a snob". When I think about it, maybe I am one. But you know what, who cares? All I care about is that I can wake up every weekday morning and turn the radio on, and know that I will have a wonderful day ahead, just because I woke up in time to hear Vasanthi say, "Good Morning Bangalore!"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Restless Mind, Random Thoughts

Today, thoughts seem to be crossing my mind at a pace that I'm unable to keep up with.

Some thoughts:

I took my parents and a friend to see "The Pink Panther". I quite liked the movie, but couldn't help but compare it to the Peter Sellers version.

One of the movies slated to hit the theatres soon is The Da Vinci Code. I'm debating whether or not to watch the movie. I liked the book and am wondering if the movie will do it justice.

Jayalalitha will not form the government in TN. If the anti incumbency factor is so strong in the state, why bother with elections every 5 years? Why not just ask each party to rule for 5 years? Why waste taxpayers' money, raise our hopes, and go through this drama? Now the state has the good fortune of the DMK government again with KK on the throne. The people of TN have brought this upon themselves. I can see the excited coffers of a few individuals... excited in anticipation of the wealth they'll see in the next 5 years!

But amidst all these thoughts, I'm also thinking about the weekend, about my parents, about Mother's day, about my brother's birthday, about unfinished projects, about my trip to Kanpur next month, about my vacation in Singapore last month, about decorating my home, about making sashes for my curtains, about fixing my broadband connection, about getting the telephone directory, about closing my loans, about starting workouts, about losing weight, about learning Spanish, about learning tatting, about studying further, about a vacation Down Under, about finding that special someone, about getting married. Then I realize this: My phone hasn't rung in a while now. And I'm beginning to wonder why I have to go through this all over again.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The many incarnations of God

Hinduism is known for the many incarnations of the supreme power, also known as God. For most part of my life, I’ve swung between being a theist and an atheist and have now reasonably settled down as a believer. I am definitely not religious or ritualistic, but I’ve developed a deep sense of faith. And despite this, there are several times that I question things.

My sense of faith has been shaped by several people. My parents and my close relatives. As a child, I used to be good at reciting slokas and one of my aunts made me recite the stuff everyday and give me a goody in return. I spent most of my vacations in Bangalore with my uncle and aunt. I remember that when I stayed with them, an evening prayer was mandatory. Everyone who was staying there would just get together in front of the puja room and say prayers. In a couple that had been through more downs than ups, I saw unshakable faith.

My aunt had been unwell for almost as long as I’d known her. A woman of great talent and intelligence, she had to rebuild her life after one major illness, and she couldn’t have done it without the support of her husband, my uncle. He took care of her like no one else could or would. His life revolved around her. And last year, she suffered a stroke. My first thoughts on hearing the news were, “Why her? Why him?” I couldn’t bear to see her suffer and more than anything else in this world, I really couldn’t bear to see what he was going through. But even during times when I broke down, he would cheer me up. He was always smiling, always hopeful, always the one with the faith that there was someone above who would wipe away his cares. Soon after I moved here, I lost my aunt. I rushed to my uncle’s side, hoping to give him one small bit of the strength to go overcome the grief. But he was the one who had to give me strength by telling me that she was in a better place now.

If a person believed in God, had unshakable faith and did nothing wrong, then God must take care of that person. Where did God disappear when one needed him the most?

I visited my uncle as often as I could. I took him to social functions just to get him out of the house. I cooked for him, gave him company when I could, and even sat down for a drink with him one day. A man who was otherwise so full of life, he started to withdraw. Taking care of her was his life’s work. A few months later, he joined my aunt. He left so that he could spend her birthday with her. Today, wherever they are, they are celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary and his 79th birthday together.

I know that I cannot dial a number and hear a voice say, “How nice it is to hear your voice so early in the morning!” Today, I don’t question the existence of God anymore. Sometimes, I question his intentions. Does everything happen for a reason? And when I ask, I figure that (as Tennyson put it) ours is not to question why; ours is but to do and die. That was his motto in life. I am fortunate to have had the unconditional love of this man. I am fortunate to have seen an incarnation of God in my lifetime. Today, more than ever, I miss him and can only wish him the very best.

Bappa: Wherever you are, I want you to know that I love you!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Of summer weddings, kanjeevaram silks and menu cards!

Monsoon wedding: the title of a famous movie. I should have shot my own and called it "Summer Weddings". Two very close friends tied the knot one after another and I had the privilege of attending both weddings.

Before I left to attend the first wedding, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend and she said, "South Indian weddings are so boring. We North Indians know how to have fun at a wedding!" All the while, I kept thinking, "How condescending!" And when I was at the wedding, I couldn't help but think about what she'd said. I had a lot of fun at the wedding. I met old friends, made some new ones, ragged the couple, talked about the old times, sang, played... OK, I didn't dance and there was no booze at these weddings. So does the absence of these things make the wedding boring? I fail to see why or how. I've never associated weddings with dancing and alcohol, and as a result, I don't dance even at weddings of North Indian friends (OK, I don't dance at all... so what?).

I'd picked out the saris that I would wear at these weddings well in advance. Printed silk, Tussar, Kanjeevaram, Kora Silk, Mangalgiri and even a Paithani. I could manage the silks in Bangalore, but Madras was a different story. I unpacked and kept looking at the heavy silks but to each function, I ended up wearing a light silk or cotton. I knew I wasn't dressed appropriately enough, but I didn't want to suffer at the venue. (Looking at women in their heavy kanjeevarams made me perspire even more.) I saved my heavy kanjeevaram for the reception and then at the last minute, switched to a hand embroidered Tussar. I knew I shouldn't have, but my friend told me I was looking very nice when she dropped me off at the venue. Even the bride told me it was a pleasant sari and said she was glad I wasn't as uncomfortable as she was. But then I got talking to someone at dinner. And the lady said, "The groom is like your younger brother, and you didn't pick a grand sari to wear to his reception! If not for an occasion such as this, when will you wear those saris?" That did it. She told me exactly what I didn't want to hear and made me feel like a worm. Someone, who means a lot to me, tied the knot. I went all the way from here to there to attend the wedding. I think that says a lot, but I guess it really doesn't.

In between the functions, I had to kill time. So I dragged a friend to the Chennai Citi Centre. First impression: It’s a badly planned place. Maybe, with time, it will get better... or we'll get used to it. As soon as we entered the building, I needed a drink. We walked to a juice and gelato stall. I was astonished at the prices. So we walked across to another stall. The guy promptly handed me a menu. I pored over it and then decided to have a Peach Iced Tea. When I placed my order, the guy said, "Only lemon available, nothing else." Why bother with a huge menu?? Then we went to Coffee Day. Again, as we were seated, I was handed a menu card. The two of us went over every item and then decided to have a Cranberry Granita each. Shouldn't we have known better than to order an iced drink on a hot summer afternoon? How stupid of us to want to order a granita when CCD was out of ice. I just couldn't believe it. Three fourths of what CCD has on offer in the beverages section has ice as a main ingredient. Didn't the guy think it was necessary to tell us before hand... I suppose not. Lesson learnt for CCD? NO!!
The following evening, I went with another friend to another CCD. Again, we're handed a menu... and after I asked if everything was available, the guy said, "Everything is available. Except for...!!" What's with these places? Can they not stock up on ice in summer? Or is it deliberate? To make sure the lower priced drinks are made unavailable so that we'd have to pick the more expensive stuff.

There will always be things that will remain beyond my comprehension. And, as always, I bow to the powers that be!