Monday, 20 December 2010


I hate to see people off. As they step away, I feel a tug at my tear ducts…that intensifies with the increasing distance separating us. Before I know it, the floodgates fling open and my desperate attempts at batting my eyelids and containing the tears within, FAIL….miserably. Yes, I’m that hopeless :-\  
I remember the first time I saw off my ‘first love’. We were about 18. The hopeless romantic that he was, he drove after my train and we caught one last glimpse at the junction where the train hits the road. My roomies were with me. “Awww… He loves you so much”, they gasped. I blushed. Hell yes, I thought so too! Five years later when we broke up, my world fell apart. The relationships that followed were disasters rebounds. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

By about 25 I used to feel like I had known and seen enough. I was pretty content with occasional rendezvous with the crush-material. But the need to “root” had crept in and just like that father in a certain matrimonial ad, I had my imaginary sehra that I’d try on every admirable man I met. It was a subconscious pursuit. You’d agree the primordial instinct of any woman, at that age, under normal circumstances, would be just that – find herself the “fittest” of her species (from amongst whatever is accessible / available), conjoin, copulate and propagate. But my kind’s definition of “fittest” is pretty skewed. We want this, this, this, that…that…..that and that and also that (and dread dying unmarried). Then there’s parental and peer pressure that increases exponentially as the clock ticks on your age. “Girl, time you get married and made babies!” “Please meet Mr. Harry’s son, Mr. Tom, who’s an engineer with XYZ. He’s just what you’re looking for.” It’s that stage when all of a sudden you find everybody around you assume that they exactly know what you are looking and are on a single-minded mission to get you married as if propagation of the human species depended on it! My mom became especially adept in landing prospective grooms on my plate. And after a while, let truth be told, I began enjoying the attention and of course, the free food… ;-) This blog encapsulates my not-so-funny situation back then.
A friend introduced me to But wouldn’t that me lame, shouting it out loud “I’m ready to mingle & marry”. But again, why do we go to job portals like I saw a point there. 

I hesitatingly created a profile with only few lines of “about me” that read more like a justification of why I am there, doing that. Kid you not, but it seemed to be enough to grab eyeballs, albeit from all the ‘wrong’ people. I didn't know what to do with those run of the mill profiles with ostensibly misleading, photoshopped pictures of men in all shapes and sizes and colors. I considered unsubscribing. 
One of those days I got this message that read somewhat like - if you really want to find somebody here and vice-versa, maybe you go ahead and add some relevant info about yourself. Now that made some sense. I was tempted to check out who this gentleman could be. First impression: This guy looks hot! But not a marriage material! But something about that brazen, unkempt, stubbled look kept me going. A little research and I landed at his Orkut profile. What a show off – was my second impression. But there was this one perfect bonhomie pic with his family that made me bite on the bait J He appeared to be that ideal son, the dear brother. I was intrigued. The next time when I talked to that friend who introduced me to, I found myself gushing about him. That’s the beauty of such sites I guess. Your intentions are obvious and it makes things so much simpler!don3
The next time I went to the cybercafé, I couldn’t resist dropping him a note. “I happened to land at your profile while hopping around at Orkut. And I just wanted to say hi”. I was a chicken, alright and pretty obviously, he didn’t reply.

Now, his brushing me off so unceremoniously was unacceptable. Dear Ego couldn’t take it and compelled me to drop a mail. This time, an explicit one confessing where I came from. Well, I secretly hoped he’d come after me panting, which would turn me off and it’d be a piece of cake getting over him. Women are a bundle of contradictions, no? But wait…that didn’t quite happen.
It was sometime late August, he finally replied. One mail led to another. Both of us were narcissists and could write on and on about ourselves. Thankfully, we also loved reading about one another. I would drop by the cybercafé every evening after work. He started adding his phone number in the mails. I resisted. The mails got longer. He could see I wanted to take it slow but he seemed to be in a hurry. He started concluding his mails with a “Please feel free to call me”.  On one such mail, all that was visible was his phone number – big, bold and colored. I almost fell off my seat laughing. I couldn’t help but take it down. This exchange of mails, waiting to read his mail at the end of the day, discovering him bit by bit, or rather mail by mail, that platonic high was amazing… His English was impeccable. His wit was arresting. His sense of humor was just right. He was perfect and I wanted to hold on to all of that…  

One night, he was driving down from Pune to Hyderabad and I couldn’t help texting him a “safe-journey”. That marked a promotion: from mails to SMS. The mails continued nevertheless, but we were now just a message away. My face glowed and the heart skipped a beat every time I got a new message….literally! I still resisted calling him. It was an unspoken deal – I would be the first one to call.

My matrimonial meetings were still going on. One evening I met this guy who happened to have the Titanic theme as his ringtone. That was it! That ringtone was like the clarion call that shook me. That day I called D for the first time. We talked for almost an hour. We talked again. And again. I, the believer of platonic, could have continued living that ‘sweet pain’ for few more months, but D was 32. He insisted, “We get married or we end this here and now” and I could see he meant it. The following weekend he came down to Delhi. What happened in those two days deserve a blog of its own. Life changed in the blink of an eye. By November our parents met. By December I had moved to Hyderabad with him. And on Oct 3, 2008, exactly a year after we first met in the streets of Noida, we were bonded forever in matrimony.  
When Boomer and I saw him off at the gate today and just when I was beginning to feel that tug...I ran after him for one last kiss (to the horror of our watchman)…

We are a regular couple. We fight like cats and dogs. We make up. We fight again. I am not a ‘believer’ - not in the traditional sense of the term, nor am I an atheist. I never say my prayers. But every time I feel the way I am feeling right now, I want to turn to somebody I can give one tight hug and thank for one of my best ‘decisions’ in life and for this beautiful HIGH, every now and then… 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

If Marriage wasn’t the way it is

I have, by now, seen at least a few dozen marriages, known double that number of couples. But I have known a few very closely. Take the one I was born out of and the one I am living in, for example.  
I am on Erich Segal’s Doctors – a few pages every night before I crash – since two months or more. It’s progressing at a snail’s pace, but that is because it’s making me mull over what I read every few pages.
Laura, the protagonist’s parents are well past their 50s and will be separating a few pages hence. Her deeply religious mother now wants to spend the rest of her life in the nunnery, while her father, a doctor, wants to devote the rest of his life to the service of humanity. Laura is barely in her mid-20s, is the only child (her younger sister died of malaria) and still graduating from Harvard med school. She feels betrayed and orphaned by this unanticipated decision made by the people who meant "home" to her. While my heart went out for our dear heroine, Erich Segal held me from chastising her apparently avant-garde parents. Instead I admired them for their courage. It needs enormous courage to walk out of matrimony and when couples at Laura's parents' age do it – you know it wasn’t a whimsical decision. They are “parents”, well past their heydays, yet want to make the best of whatever life is left in them. And that is exactly what I admire.
I am not slandering the institution of marriage in any way. Nor am I advocating divorces. What unsettles me is the way we live marriages...especially in our part of the world. 
Many a bride walks up to the mandap with this gut feeling that she should instead elope but “what will happen to the guests?” “My father’s reputation?”. And within minutes she’s married.
You realize you’ve made the hugest mistake of your life by landing yourself in that marriage, but you think “it might get better with time”, “now that we’re married….”.
Your husband is a wife basher / Your wife is in an extra-marital relationship and both have absolutely no mutual respect left. You crib, yell, beat one another up. But you still continue to coexist under that same roof. “What will happen to the kids”!
The marriage is a mess, but you still “reproduce” hoping to find an anchorage in your child. (HOW INSENSITIVE!)
All I ask is WHY?
The peaking graph of divorces do not depress me – what does is the recklessness of the couples when they tie the knot in the first place. Even marriages of convenience where the couples manage to strike an equation are fine. What infuriates me is when couples whine and whimper, download their excruciating traumas on others, expect them to make things better, give them hope when there is none. Why spend a lifetime in misery when you very well have a choice? Which brings me to my conclusion…if marriage wasn’t the way it is (say, in India), we would have known more people live happily ever after. Marriage is an extension, not an end. If you aren't happy - the people you think you are making a sacrifice for - will not be happy either! Get a life for gods sake!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Coorg diary

Day 1: Symphony of the nocturnal; Retro, cozy Home Away from Home!

…Only the busy beetle
Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
The screech-owl's call,
Only the cricket whistling
While the dewdrops fall…

The night has an orchestra of its own. And though Walter de la Mare's Someone wasn’t exactly themed around that, the above excerpt was buzzing in my head ever since I landed there at Club Mahindra, Kodagu Valley. The last time I sat listening to something like this—awestruck at the symphony that the toads, crickets, owls and the tens of hundreds creatures of the night create—was during my Kaziranga trip. And that also had foxes and monkeys and an occasional growl (which we convinced ourselves to be the tiger’s) or two adding more punch to the sonata.

It was 4ish on one of my Wednesdays. FYI, mine is a Wed-Wed cycle and hence that’s the Mad Day at work. I suddenly realized – I had had it and for sanity’s sake needed a break and right away! D underestimated the gravity of the situation until I put it as: “I do not want to wake up in Hyderabad tomorrow and we must get away. NOW!” A vacation was long due and so was striking that work-life-balance. Within minutes Coorg was decided. With our shoestring budget, Club Mahindra was the only option and Coorg their nearest property from Hyderabad. My Manager was kind enough to approve my unscheduled leave and Pratap B proved a real sweetheart when he instantly agreed to baby sit Boom boy. Within half an hour the plants were watered, the luggage packed and by 5:30 PM I was at the bus stop.

Hyderabad – Mangalore was 15 hours and from there to Madikeri (Coorg’s main town) was about 5 hours. (The best route from Hyderabad to Coorg, however, is via Bangalore unless you’re flying to Coorg’s nearest airport, Mangalore).

Club Mahindra, Kodagu Valley (Coorg being its Anglicized name) is redolent of antiquated mansions tucked away from civilization, typical to plantations. Sloping, red tiled roofs, tall wooded ceilings, antique furniture, replete with an abundance of unkempt vegetation on all sides, as far as eyes can wander… Add to it the soggy weather, the light drizzle, twilight setting in and if not for Club Mahindra’s signature modernistic décor, lively ambience and impeccable hospitality, it was redolent of those bungalows in Ramsay Brother flicks. Not sure, if the epithet still holds true and if I should mention Ram Gopal Verma instead. Such close proximity to nature usually affects queer illusions in my city chafed head and I admit, my imagination was at its fertile best at that time.


The Club Mahindra Reception (above), clicked later in the daylight.


As we walked down to our block through the cobblestoned pathway, inhaling the moisture laden, mountain-fresh air—even searching for a chance waft of coffee beans—I knew I would love every bit of the stay. It smelt so much like Assam.


Loved the interior with its touch of retro!

Day 2: Winters, Eggs and Bacon, unravelling the charms of the green county


Our share of winters we miss out on in Hyderabad where that particular season is literally NON-EXISTENT!


Melt in the mouth bacon and refreshing water melon juice, besides other sumptuous delicacies for breakfast. Simply put, happiness on a platter.


For D, it was kiwi pancakes soaked in Maple syrup and eggs. Delicious, but a tad too sweet for me...


The Club Mahindra Coorg property is a riot of greens, rain drenched and at their aesthetic best. Boomer would have loved romping about. Dang we miss him so much!


Interesting filter kaapi maker at the resort’s Shop, but my fascination with this variety, I had a feeling, wouldn’t last beyond a few weeks after the trip. Hence, decided to go for the cheaper steel one.


The Kodavas have a thing for weapons and as legends have it, every family still possesses a double barrel gun.


A trek followed, but aborted midway due to the incessant downpour. Some of the flora that caught my attention… The staggering variety of Anthuriums went un-clicked as I have seen most of them already.

Day 3: Trek down to Madikeri town; No plastics; Coffee and Spices


Coorg's ubiquitous coffee beans (the ones in the pic are unroasted).


After coffee, Coorg is famous for its Cardamom, Pepper, Honey and Vanilla.


From the abundance of home-made flavored wine, we decided to play safe and pick the traditional grape variety. Raw bamboo shoot was among other things sold at every bend of the street. I regret not carrying few packets back home.


The use of plastic bags is banned in Coorg. That did not surprise me, what did was the fact that the law is followed and stringently. We realized how dependent we had become on something biodegradable and an absolute bane to the environment. [Added later: And I was surprised once again when in just about a week, we got used to paper and cloth bags. Happy to share that we have now completely switched to cloth bags. Had a few from Delhi. Not sure where you get them here in Hyderabad. Any leads?]   


Both of us spent few minutes every day logging our share of the experience. Yeah, words erupted volcanically and we could not help but contain them somewhere. Which is also affirming, I had to get hundreds of miles away to finally find some inspiration and most importantly, peace of mind to be able to rise and walk out of my writer’s block. And those moments spent with the pen and paper was, in a word – therapeutic!

Day 4: Hallery Estate, Arabica secrets, touch-me-nots, orange-yellow birdies, ghila pitha and back to our cosy slice of heaven

The sun did show up – finally. But from its benign rays we could tell, it never scorches in this portion of the earth the way it does it our Hyderabads and Delhis. We decided to take a day off from the resort and try out the plantation home stays. The owner of the Coorg Provision Store (Madikeri) turned out to be pretty resourceful and he arranged for a night stay at Hallery estate. The next morning, the estate’s accountant, Pravin Chandra volunteered to give us a tour of their 285 acre plantation. The genesis of coffee, its life cycle before it matures its way to our mugs, was described and in the most dexterous manner. God bless the sweet fellow. I regret not recording it and hope D’s travelogue will capture the vivid details of our informative and interesting tour.


The Arabica beans (now green) ripen into a shape of deep red by Nov-Dec, their harvesting season. It is considered to produce better coffee than the other major commercially grown coffee species. Coorg’s neighbor Chikmagalur is also famous for its coffee plantations. [The pic above is from the web]


Black pepper vines. Pic 2: Pepper ‘under construction’


One year old Arabica saplings planted with some other tree for shade. In about five years they will be ready to yield coffee beans for the rest of their lives.


The other variety is the Robusta coffee that grows on short and stout trees, with leaves distinctively bigger than the Arabica’s. But they’re cheaper, yield smaller beans and are easy to maintain, which is why plantations at Coorg are increasingly switching to Robusta cultivation. The one on the right is about a hundred year old Robusta tree.

IMG_8332 (2)

D staring up at what Pravin said was the coffee tree! Apparently, the one that grows our cappuccino variety! A trip to the plantation’s giant pond for irrigation and the coffee processing unit followed.


D checking out if that's lemon and if we can pluck a bagful. Needless to add – at my behest!


Other interesting inhabitants at the plantation! Pic 2 is after I touched it with a twig (the likes of me should be banned from such places, I agree)


Pic two is our share of the freshly harvested ginger. Few acres of Hallery have been cleared for ginger plantation.

Though there were buses every 20 min downhill from the estates to the main town, Madikeri, we decided to walk. I must add Coorg felt like a safe haven and there was traces of civilization every few miles. But 9 km was aiming for too high considering my sedentary lifestyle. Also, it got cloudy after a while and after about 4 km we decided to play safe and take the bus.


But that after we stopped by this quaint roadside “hotel” for a kaapi break and discovered the Coorgi version of our Assamese "ghila pitha". Same taste, same ingredients!!!


And Cloud 9 it was! Haven’t seen Scotland yet, hence do not want to comment on Coorg’s Scotland of India label. It was a sheer beauty and that I can vouch for. 


Back at Club Mahindra…the recollection of Pravin's coffee lore added a dash of a newfound flavor as we sipped our favorite beverage...

It’s 6:55 pm and D is ready for this precious Planter’s Club (the bar) evening and in minutes he’ll bribe me with his sweet talk about how he wished I could join him there, never failing to conclude with a: “I understand you need some time to yourself and you’ll have it baby,”. Well, yes, yes, I understand too :) I feign my innocent agreeing smile and in no time he disappears.

Day 5: Cold, Coorgi cuisine

Flu follows me everywhere and invariably! Grrrr… As I wrote, I could feel the virus settling in…its colony swelling in my choked throat, slowly, but irrevocably.

Didn’t go exploring, instead spent the day at the fun zone…carom, chess, TT et al. Thankfully, both of us are the laidback type and our vacations are mostly about lazying around, talking through the nights. The freedom from the need to be doing “something”, going “somewhere” was just about it. And that made up the top and the bottom-line of the rest of the vacation.


The spicy—in the real sense of the term—Coorgi pork curry did magic to my cold. It was a seeming overdose of pepper and garlic, besides other spices and I bet the Kodavas invented it to make their wintery climate more bearable. Unlike our North East cuisine, the bamboo shoot isn’t cooked with pork here, but with black chana. And though I mostly end up loving all things exotic, this wasn’t really the flavor that tickled my taste buds. Pork curry and Coorgi’s ghee rice pretty much sufficed, while D gorged at the sumptuous lunch buffet spread. We had it at the resort, but I they talk of “East End” and the restaurants at the Mangalore circle for authentic local cuisine.

Day 6: Bangalore and back


I will abstain from describing what ensued. Few hours hence we were in the train trailing back to dear Hyderabad. 

When I called D, last Wednesday, he also added, “Ready for some adventure?”. To which I excitedly quipped, “Hell yes!!!” And an adventure it was. Bitter, sweet, but all’s well that ends well. And I am glad I am hitting “Publish” in the next few minutes after almost a year of hibernation or god knows what!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

For the love of Rushdie

From the confines of my strictly business writing as a Corporate Communications professional, I look at Salman Rushdie’s Indian English and drool. Literally. His style is forbidden; not for the logically correct, grammatically quarantined, absolutely to-the-point English I write, or am expected to. Not that I want to go Rushdie at work and hand myself the pink slip, where my manager would have included a note with the city’s best Psychiatrists’ contact, being the caring fellow Cancerian.

All I am saying is this is not the writing that I want to eventually see myself doing. The current form lunges me to the sea of writers — analogous, stereotypical, one impossible to recognize from the other. Like the slew of feature writers in the newspaper supplements, for example. You cannot tell who's who the way you can make out a Jug Suraiya from a Bachi Karkaria. But when it comes to signature styles, nobody can beat Rushdie - I bet. The way he dives into the infinite ocean of adjectives and determiners, pronouns and verbs, punctuations and idioms — to emerge with an English of his own; impregnated with his Indianness; chiseled to such impeccable perfection that sounds completely different, yet surprisingly 'correct'. And how effortlessly the man does it — unlike my obtuse description here! And that, during the 1981s, when the Indian English genre was still grappling through its nascent stage — he had the nerve to 'tamper' with the a “borrowed” language - take it, slice it open, chop it into fine pieces, blend it with his Indian spices, dry it under the Indian sun, bottle it and stamp it with a "Rushdie".
So while I breathed my first in some nook in the Solar System part of the Universe, Salman Rushdie published his Midnight Children…that went on to become one of the greatest influences in my life.
For a Corporate Communications person, to relish such libertine fantasies of meddling with the language is sheer profanity, I agree. But carve my thumbprint style, unique and completely mine, I must before I lose myself in the murky waters of stereotypical business writing.

Conclusion: I must continue to blog!

P.S.: I wish I could declare "I am back". Not yet. But I will, and very soon. The sabbatical is beginning to weigh down heavily upon my blogger's conscience---more so, because I deliberately shrink and deflate my thoughts these days to squirt them at Twitter. If you have read this, thank you so much for coming back. Pray for me!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Hell's closed...Rot in Heaven :P

Wish I did, but I take it..I could not have written something so thoughtfully hilarious.. So with my limited capacities, I could at best Copy-Paste this amusing Forward (Courtest: Santosh, a dear friend) for you guys.. It also does good to my sense of guilt for not Blogging (only Twittering all day) for a long time now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The following is an actual question [so say all Forwards] given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term exam. The answer by one student was too "profound" to miss out...

Q. Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it cannot leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:
1.. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2.. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa (a girlfriend of mine during my Freshman year) that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you", and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is Exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


PS: The pic's one of my favorite and when I found it while searching for Heaven & Hell pics, couldn't resist using it although it doesn't suit the content perfectly.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Book ya Movie?

If I am to publicly announce I AM A POTTER FAN and also quickly add I have read none of the Potter books – will the True Blue J K Rowling fanfare gag and spear me for trying to slither into their Treasured Territory? Why is it that after every Harry Potter movie, I come out of the hall all euphoric and ready to get onto a broom and fly, while my True Blue Potter clan holler and whine at what not the book had that the movie did not? With due respect to J. K. Rowling's dexterous presentation and her expertise with graphic details (so I heard), I'd like to remind my dear Potter book lovers that it's plainly unjust to expect the movie to be the book. I've been thinking about it for quite some time now…

Movies being two dimensional allow the closest depiction of the Makers' imagination. But to churn out that exact desired effect, the Maker is dependent on diverse factors (actors, animation etc.) – the "end product" might not be the "intended product". Again, there's the time constraint. And isn't the Maker yet another artist and would he/could he breathe easy till he has made his own additions and subtractions? The Book, on the other hand, is a two man show – if the Writer is the God, so is the Reader. One describes, the other imagines. Besides, words can engulf details the eyes might miss on-screen. What a turn of head and batting of an eye-lid did in 2 sec, in the book it might be two pages with everything from the length of her lashes, her ambrosial smell, to how she heaved under his stare and the exact thoughts racing through her mind. In the end, both are work of art and to the respective artist, we should give it.

Take one of my most loved novels, The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker, for instance. One of those Most Challenged Books of that age, The Color Purple is a Feministic novel made of a series of letters, that sum up the dire straits of black women in Southern US, that of the black natives in Africa and that of women, in those time, in general. Stephen Spielberg's star studded movie had Whoopi Goldberg (as central protagonist Celie) and Oprah Winfrey (Celie's foil Sofia), and although it looked shrunk and barely touched upon few core themes like female homosexuality – you end up loving the film just as much. Please listen to Miss Celie's blues. It played in my head the whole week thereafter and is, even now, as I write it.

I would not know how was my favorite Forest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader, Big Fish, Shrek, and needless to repeat, Harry Potter, worded in their Original versions. But if someday I happen to settle down with their novel, would I will love these wonderful movies any less? I think not.

P.S.: Here's a list of Books turn Movie you might want to surf through.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Birthday Diary - II

(Contd. from Birthday Diary I)

13th July, 2009, Monday:

It's amusing, how different the past looks every birthday. Like last year, when D didn't know me enough and thought I'm not the cake-"wrapped" gift type and when Ma was here, 13th July ended with this blog "Just another day called Birthday" and I piled it up in "Drafts" with my other intensely senti ones.

This year, it was nostalgia.

When I was a kid, the 'birth day' would typically start earlier than other days. Ma wakes up about the same time as crows (since I always hear the crows first, me-thinks they're the earliest risers) and being in India's North-East, it means her day begins at 4 am. On birthdays she wakes me up by 5 with a deluge of wet greasy kisses. I was in Assam Board (Jan-Jan cycle) and Julys and Decembers were vacations – so I could never relish hopping to school in my Bday dress (Bdays & Children's Day were no-uniform days) with my bag of toffees and flitting from one bench to another distributing them in the class. Only once, in my entire schooldays, vacations got postponed and I went to school wearing a super-frilled, white 'umbrella' frock and Pa so bloated my bag with toffee packs that instead of one, I distributed four per head.

By evening, guests would begin to pour in and after all important ones have arrived, I'd cut my Mani Mahi (=Mousi/Aunt) made cake (still the bestest in the world) and blow the candles exactly as many as my age. The entire evening would be spent scuttling about the entire house amidst people. All the while I'd also be waiting patiently for everybody to leave so that I could open the gifts. To my dismay, no Barbie doll, box of chocolates or teddy bears ever came out of those wraps, but almost always came out books and comics, Legos & board games, dresses & tiffin/pencil boxes and the likes. Much later I discovered that that was MaPa's doing – advising people WHAT NOT TO gift me.

That was the ideal-case-scenario – birthday bashes and all. More than often it would end at that greasy kiss, a hug from Pa and my favorite roasted chicken for dinner. Advent of telephones made birth days important.

After I hit mid-teens I even began to secretly imagine I am a princess waiting for Charming and would most unabashedly accept just every gift that came my way on Birthdays (from you know who all). Besides the usual soft toys, chocs and by-default Archies cards, there were few interesting gifts in my compilation, I have to mention – a silver ring with a moon-stone (whether that implied I need to calm down or that I remind him of the moon, I could not tell), a dog-collar (he must have taken my love of dogs and the fact that MaPa wouldn't let me have one, too seriously, and meant he'd let me have one if we got together. Second thoughts, did he call me a "bitch"?) and a Jaipuri quilt (presumably from his father's shop, but when he brought that to my hostel, on a hot July day, that quite made history!).

Kamrupa's (my Hostel during Grads) birthdays were special. Like we dressed as gypsy women for Shaheeda Ba's (=elder sister in Assamese) and as vampires for Nilanjana Ba's. Along with other gifts, the Birthday bonus was a hand-drawn, super-vulgar greeting card, with the obscenest thinkable message. But for me, once again Julys were spent home, as Delhi University opened every 15th July and MaPa would let me go never before July end.

Next came this phase when I'd plan special birthdays for those close to me ("exes" mostly). But as luck would have it, I was almost always home or un-engaged just when it was my birthday.

This year, 13th July was spent at work. Varsha & Harleen (D's colleagues) came over with a bag of my favorite Chocolate Hut chocs, just when I was sighing and Twittering – all books, no chocs for me. Boo Hooo.

Where to for dinner was again a surprise. I was expecting Lebanese, but it turned out to be the pool-side Mexican joint at our neighbourhood Novotel. We were only settling down when the manager came with a cake and a bouquet. Over-kill – I thought. Besides, more than half of my Bday cake was waiting back home, and I'm trying to lose weight for gods sake. I was little embarrassed at first, but when the waiters began the birthday jingle and everybody turned to see who it could be – I got back to being 16 and gave D a quick kiss right across the table. Had I dared that on any other day, I would have got a nice one on my rear there and then. Later found it wasn't D, but the divinely chocolicious cake and the bouquet were complimentary and D had no clue they're coming. He just happened to mention it's his wifey's bday when he reserved the seats.

We then went on a long drive with Boom. I was high and we sang aloud like madman&wife. And it was drizzling.

Tell you the truth, dear readers....this was my grandest birthday. More than the events and incidents that spanned that 24-hour, it was the contentment – there's somebody who takes my little wishes seriously, tries hard to decode my subtle hints, loves and respects me with all my imperfections and now when I'm terrified at turning 28, he does everything to preserve the child in me.

Here's to all husbands who make their wives feel 16 all their lives.

And to all wives who groom their husbands' right and make it possible. :)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Birthday Diary-I

12th July:

The day before 'the day' is most tormenting – the bouts of anxiety and excitement, in turns, make you want to drop dead and wake up straight at 12 am. Anxiety, because, if you're married to a geek of a husband like I am, you never know whether to "Expect" or "not Expect". And Excited because, there's this faint ray of hope that a surprise might be waiting at 12, triggered off by a belief – MAY BE he remembers he's married to a hopeless romantic.

With the love of my life - D, the Pain of 12th July doesn't end at that. I have to go through this another tormenting exercise of suspending curiosity – my faintest expression of wonderment might make him give in and explode, if he is planning something at all. He's just not the "Surprise!!!!!" type, like most men. But our honeymoon made me reassess – he, at rare and special occasions does walk the 'Extra mile' and when he does it – boy, you're swept off your feet – Really!

So even though I saw him messaging secretly, hush-hushing to people over the phone and sneaking outta home around 5pm – I feigned total ignorance and thought – let this one go….next, I am grooming him on "How to SURPRISE your Wife on her Birthday".

10:00 PM: Seeing D still with the godforsaken Stargate and I had to re-consider my guess. I like the series too, but on a day like today when I am almost sure "something's" happening at 12 and at home, I was expecting him to clean up the house, charge the camera cells, ready Boom (food, poop) etc. May be he's planning it out somewhere else, may be at Firangi Paani, like we did last year on his Bday! Knowing him, I still volunteered to do all wrap-up work and since I wasn't sure where exactly the party could be tonight, as a precaution, I also tidied up the house. ["Birthday Girl" with a broom…Sigh!].


D: Let's skip dinner and check out Irani Chai. You love that creamy thing with Osmania biscuits, na?

That sure is a catch. Sacrificing DINNER for cuppa and biscuits, not even something I'd die for – that's not D!
And since we came back home soon after, it was confirmed, it's a house party. If not the guests, the cake and food are coming for sure.

11:30 PM: To give D the "I did it" feel, I gave him a 'good night' yawn and retired into the "lounge" (a low-lying arrangement I hype up by calling it a lounge) with Booms, switched off the lights and tried hard to catch some beauty-nap. Btw, I didn't change or wash off the make-up. :P

11:45 PM: Booms sirens off.

12J: Rachita-Santosh, Scarlett-Sharanya (he was another surprise, coz I had no clue he's back from Hong Kong), Geetu ba-Poohar da, Vikas-Ajay, Rajoo, Pritish, Ady – all walk in one by one, and along comes the cake and food. And we've a blast till 5.

(To be contd.)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Ice Age Fiasco

Our Hydie does not have many cinema halls where you can sink in the seat comfortably and glue on to the screen undisturbed, munching buttered popcorns, without the fear of some runty bug crawling into your shirt or your neighbor startling you out of your trance every now and then by his hooting and clapping at every ‘hit and miss’. PVR, Prasads & the IMAX, Gold Spot, newly opened INOX (GVK1 Mall) and Cinemax, and our neighborhood Talkie Town – barely six. The agonies of a Hydie movie addict does not end there.After you guys in the Delhis and Mumbais are done ‘eating and digesting’ the fresh releases, we in Hydie race for the ‘stale’, a week later. Happened for few films of my much awaited films, in the past! Again, the non-Telegus also have to bear with the order of preference – Tollywood comes first followed by Bollywood and Hollywood.

Hence, my MUCH loved Ice-Age 3 was released in only THREE theatres and since I did not book it way in advance, on Friday I see all seats, for the entire weekend, booked. Usually, in such situations I thrust my claws out and spring at D – a woman has to vent her anger somewhere right. But this time, I decided to gulp it down and remember to book tickets way in advance of films I can’t wait to watch.

I could not wait for another weekend and come Monday and I set it up with D and our friend Scarlett.

Me: Ice Age?

D: Sure. But I have a meeting till 7:30

Scarlett: Yoga from 6-7.

Me: Great. I’m booking the 8:20 show.

D & Scarlett: Done.

So the plan was D and me will leave office at 7:30, go home, go pick Scarlett and we all leave for INOX and 50 min was decent time to wrap it all up.

7:30: D & me leave office.

7:40: Reach home. I take Boom down. I wait patiently for him to do his ritualistic sniffing before he could bring himself to poop, but he seemed to be in his sniffing-on-and-on mood. We leave home praying he does not relieve himself in the house and give his poor mother a nauseating time ahead.

8:00: Scarlett calls D to say she’s stuck in a jam and that we should take the other road to her house via Novotel. That said, D’s mobile conks off and we lose touch. I realize, in the hurry I had left my mobile and purse home.

8:10: We reach her house taking the choked, but shorter than the other, road. There was no trace of Scarlett. I raced for her house. But she wasn’t there. And there was no way of contacting her. D and me wait. [I swear to God to never ever leave home without mobile and purse]

8:20: [Movie starts. BOOO HOOOO] Scarlett finally reaches. Seems she took a ‘U’ from the choked road and ended up spending more time travelling. [Scarlett could have gone on her own, but GV1’s parking is spiral and “the most difficult in the world”, as she says, and it’d be late by the time we’re back and we stay close]

8:40: Petrol pump [Wahi baaki thaa…the car was already in reserve and looking at the time I did plead with D to go in Scarlett’s car, but D insisted we take ours). Scarlett suggests we take a new route to dodge the mad traffic at Jubilee Hills Check-post.

I ask D to slow down so that "Ice-Age" ke chakkar meh we do not reach the other Ice-Age [heaven being up there, must be cold, which is why the Angels wear as less as possible and disperse some warmth]

9:00: Apparently, all this while D was thinking Cinemax, whereas our destination was INOX, GVK mall. Which means we travelled around the entire KVR park, which was a short-cut to INOX, only to come to Cinemax, a place only a stone-throw (if it’s a giant throwing the stone) from the Check Post because of D’s misunderstanding. And Scarlett and D starts off with their “What an adventure this will make”, while I lose it and begin my “tum logo ki wajah se” melodrama.

9:10: We FINALLY reach INOX. D goes to park while Scarlett and me race up. After losing our way at least thrice, we reach the Box Office. Thankfully D also joins us just in time [but not without losing 10 more secs checking out the flock of hot babes just outside the hall].

9:15: Trio enter hall. Ellie, Manny, Diego, the two possums and a new character with a pirate-patch on one eye (Buck) were doing the Ice-Age’s characteristic pun and the hall was roaring with laughter. Quietly, we join in….and in no time we crack up......clapping, howling, hooting, falling off our seats…..That’s how we enjoy movies here in Hydie…[even when it is the last 45 min]..

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

OOOO Why did I see THIS

Though the best of my Bong friends defy my not-so-listenable opinion about Bongs in general, I still can't let go of my bias...but I have to confess I absolutely DOTE on their ROSHOGULLAs (besides Jhal-muri, Tagore's songs, Bong beauties, to name a few).

O why did I decide to sit and blog hop so early in the morning and land at Bongspeak. Hilarious post and an admirable attitude to go with it (very un-Bong-ly), but just as I was jotting my comment and closing that tab, I had a second full look at the pictures.....roshugullas.......and I kept looking.........helplessly.....where in Telegubad would I get authentic Bong least I never found the ones of my taste till date.....Even the ones in Delhi were better. Back home, my hometown is flaked with Bongs, Marwadis and Bangladeshis. Though dal-bati-churma could be had by invitation-only (at Marwadi friends house), the Bongs had made their Roshogullas pretty ubiquitous and along with the local Bongs, we Assamese think of it as our staple dessert. Just that we have it with yoghurt (doi-rosogula, as we pronounce it, without emphasis on 'sh' and 'll'). This time when I was home in April, I had this finger-licking-great Khejooror Rosogula (made from dates). And man, it was something tellya. But I have never tasted Kolkatas Roshogulla and it'll be months before Reah-from-Kolkata will come Hydwards.

Good's 10 am and I've to wake D up, switch on the geyser, take a shower, pack my lunch, have breakfast and head for work. And I do not have TIME to go surf the city for my Roshogullas. He Bhagwaan aj ka din kaise bitega without Roshogullas.......Boooooo hooooooo
[Just why I steer clear of Bongs]