Monday, January 31, 2011


The crusty exterior that reveals the bubbly liquid inside, the sharp tender curves that swear to tangle you, the orange sheen invites you to come and lift it between the thumb and index and the stickiness that your fingers feel, you must lick off. And then when you put it in your and bite into it, the warm liquid would come bursting into your mouth like a feeling of passion that held itself back for too long and then gave up. Jalebi, is your ultimate fruit of passion.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Culture on sale

pictures for art fairs of Delhi clieked in 2010

colourful objects and articles, art and craft of India dished out with folk culture to firangi styled Indians sold at premium on sale for all. God! I am such a cynic!

will post more of these pictures

Saturday, January 29, 2011

5 ways to chicken out of the chalaan

Here are my 5 ways to chicken out of the chalaan when you are caught breaking the traffic rule…

• Bribe the police guy, he is waiting to help you and then say you have only Rs 100/. More maybe expected if you have a bigger. But you can always you don’t have money. Daddy didn’t give you much cash and you don’t have ATM card and that you need petrol to get back home. Won’t work if you just got a petrol refill. Works best if along with being an irresponsible driver you are also procrastinator who does not get a petrol refill till the last drop vanishes.

• Start crying. The bigger the tears the better. Subtlety doesn't work. You don’t need to be melodramatic, just look hurt and worried. Almost like you just hatched out of the egg and have no clue of the world around.

• Say a guy was stalking you and you were too scared to stop at the red light or had to call an emergency number if you are caught talking on the phone.

• Put a friend/family/kith/kin sick in hospital. Say it is an emergency you are rushing to.

• Or, be a good citizen and follow the traffic rules. It works the best but is very time consuming and boring if you are driving long distance alone and need to talk on the phone to while away the time. Not 100% though, you still may be caught sometimes for someone else’s fault.

If you are a guy, only the last may work for you. The most important thing to do, in that case, is to get a sex change and become woman.

Disclaimer: I love my country too much to take “do good” lessons from others.

Dont tell me to be a soap!

They want you be normal, as in, what they think is normal. Follow the religion like a “normal” person…too much passion or too little enthusiasm neither is accepted. They even fixed times for when you should pray! Odd times just not accepted. Get married to the “normal” guy, “normal” i.e. not too accomplished neither a loser. Somebody they choose of the same caste, same qualification, same religion! There should be nothing exceptional just the normal and regular stuff. Yeah be regular. There is nothing “normal” about it. In fact normalcy is left way behind to make way for the regular. Be the regular and live by the rules of regularity…like the coffee at a chain that must always taste the same with no extra frills, elements of newness in size or taste. Like the bar of soap that smells the same, feels the same, is packed the same each time you buy it. They want you to be the coffee. They want you to be the soap.

I hate the regular. I hate the soap, I hate the coffee. I want anything but the regular the regular is just not me! I’d rather die an irregular death than live a regular life. But the tension is too much to stand. The resistance to “different” from the norm in their mind! They want you to do what they think must be done but it is actually what their parents thought must be done! It’s the “Ultimate Scroll on the Laws of Living” handed over centuries you are up against. You are not fighting the 60 odd years old…you are fighting the 120 years old thought process. The bits and pieces that they themselves didn’t fight and revolt against stayed in them and then interfere with the life of their kids whom they want to be “regular”.

29 Jan 2011, Beating Retreat New Delhi and "She"

She yelled at me saying, “I don’t like the entire corporate culture”, this was the response to my subtle investigation of the nature of the parade ceremony I was “invited” to by my friend who works in the South (or maybe the North) block in New Delhi. I was taken aback for a moment but I didn’t state my curiosity to know what provoked the exclamatory and inflammatory remark. I met her in the evening before the “Beating Retreat Ceremony” at the Rajpath. There she offered further explanation which made it worse. She clarified her bad intentions by saying “I don’t know why corporates are anti-nationals.” “What!” I gasped to myself. She called me anti-national and corporate in one go and this is despite the fact that I make sure I mention how much I hate the corporate world in every conversation that I have with anyone and everyone and despite the display of nationalism and love for “Desh ki Dharti” at the drop of a hat.

She prejudiced me in that moment, infected me with the germ. All of a sudden all the people around heading for the parade seemed to me like they belonged to another world with another culture, part of another establishment called “India Inc.” And they knew who I was and looked at me weirdly! “Just because I was not a sarkari babu with the reputation of being lazy, asking for money under the table was being targeted and branded as Anti-national!” I thought to myself, “and these people with all their scams are nationalistic!”

I felt the people in the queue were pushing me harder, the security personnel was handling me more roughly my seat was dirtier and wobblier and pavement that I walked on was shoddier because I was from the world of money sucking profit focused private sector. While she enjoyed the perks of being the government babu and part of the establishment that “serves” the nation.

Of course, I didn’t tell her all that. I was too scared to tell her what I was thinking. I did not want to get her all worked up. I was too glad for the passes she got me. I did not want her to take back her invitation and not take me along. Hundreds of people queued up. We were pushed through the security checks by the crowds who wanted the better seat for a better view.

We went and sat in the second row from the front. Barely anything visible but we knew all that was happening. An eager father gave an enthusiastic commentary to his uninterested son. He mentioned all the elephants, camels, horses, instruments carried, their uniforms, their pace of marching, the music in the background, the drums. He made his little son notice everything making the parade look much rosier than it was. Unlike the little kid, we dint have to put with the super excited father for too long. The private sector attitude to find the best seat in the theater doesn’t go away so soon as she observed. We, then, sat in the stands where the uncles jis were too pissed off to stand and make way for us. She persisted, made her way and had us seated.

The typical hindi film drama of families losing and finding each other followed. Through the one hour ceremony, family in the row behind our's, kept locating members of their family, family of family, friends of family, family of friends lost in the crowd and joining them later. The group kept getting bigger, comments louder and patriotism faded to return at moments when a familiar tune would play. I could have missed my lenses at home and yet seen the complete parade. No matter where you sat people would always describe the proceedings to each other seeking assurances that they are all watching the same thing! Oh look that’s where the bells are ringing! oh look their uniform is blue! oh the camels are lovely covered in orange! oh look they are playing drums now! The obvious was stated like it was a revelation to one, ensuring no one misses a thing. To tell you the truth there was nothing to miss. Well dressed men from armed forces playing as a band and marching, breaking into circles and then coming together again.

As for me, I was determined to enjoy the parade. I had to like it! It was to be proof of my nationalism. In my fervor, I stood up in respect of the retreating armed forces playing the national song. I was politely informed that you must stand only when the anthem plays. I then started clapping to the tune of “Saare jahaan se acha”. It was fairly loud and people around looked at me awkwardly (must have been private sector job again!) so I toned it down. I even pushed a few people to make my way thinking that was the norm of "Nationalism"

Then finally, it was followed with the little waving from the limousine window by Pratibha Patil. I can claim to have seen the President now, although I could not spot her but I was looking in the direction I knew for sure she was in. First the bullet proof enclosure 300 meters away and then in the car 100 meters away. She was right there! So I technically saw her. I even saw a tiger cub once while on a jungle safari exactly this way where I could not spot him but I definitely saw in the direction everybody was looking in.

My dear friend has been referred to as “She” in the entire post because she did not want to be named…yeah she is a real person with beautiful Bengali eyes and voice that heals.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I love this word “wannabe”…I just love it…there is just so much potential to “be” in this “wannabe”. Every time you are doing something “cool” (or so you think!), the word makes the moment stand and makes you stop and notice…hmm… wannabe, so wannabe is it, huh? Wannabe is who I am. And then you think about why you want to be that which makes you a wannabe and then you realize the source of your “wannabe-ism” if I may call it. And then you finally acknowledge that you really wannabe and you are a real wannabe.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dhobi Ghaat is by far the best Hindi movie...ever! At last, someone dares to make a film true to her sensiblities not guided by the nonsense presumptions about what junta wants...after Golmaal, tees maar khan and yamla pagla deewana the movie restored my lost faith in Indian cinema! Kudos to Kiran Rao....she is definately more than just Aamir Khan's wife...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rock my world

“Is it real? Or is it a joke of some kind?” Am I still dreaming or the vigorous shaking in my nightmare permeated into my wakefulness? I knew now that I was fully awake. The fearful tremors should now go away just as it does every time you wake up from your nightmare. The book shelf above my head still making clattering noises, my bed was moving and I could feel the building rock back and forth just like I rock my nephew to sleep. It took a few seconds for me to perceive that it was an earthquake and that God wasn’t particularly mad at me. I was reminded of precautions that were much advertised after the Bhuj earthquake in 2006. Stand away from glass objects. Stand in the corner where the pillar of the building is and etc. etc. But when you have just woken up in the peak winters getting out of the quilt is not all that easy. Besides the earthquake seemed so powerful that I was sure that we won’t make the day if it carries on this way for a few seconds more. I joined both my hands in prayer and started my chants. I started with “Waheguru”, “Waheguru”. The mantra I am brought up with. But one word mantra seemed insufficient in the face of such huge calamity. So I went on to “Om Namah Shivaye!”…the next moment I got a grip on myself and I could hear my father yelling at myself…”Now where did you learn that from?”Must have been the documentary on Mansarover and Kailsha trek I saw some time ago. The next chant that came was “Om mani padme hum”. This was the Dharamshala trip hangover. But I approved of the chant since it seemed pretty universal and sufficiently long for the situation. My mind then wandered again. I started thinking about my parents in the other room wondering why mom hadn’t started yelling yet. I wanted to shout and ask them how they were doing but I didn’t want to do anything to aggravate the earthquake, the childhood tendency to lie low in the face of danger. I thought it was best to talk directly rather than use words and lines I don’t know meanings of, “Ok, big guy calm down now! This is enough.” I said and it worked. The next moment the clattering of the book shelf ceased. I grabbed my phone to call my boyfriend and checked on my parents…

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Travelogue: The little Himalyan town that is more than just mountains

“Am I returning in the next two years?” The crystal answered “No!” “Will I return with him?” the crystal answered, “No!” Both of these answers left me bitter, worried and scared. I am not returning here in the next two years meant for me that I am not going to be travelling and not returning with him again meant the end of the world in another sense. It was 5th October 2008.

Well, the bad news turned into even better news on January 7th, 2011 as I sat by the window covered in mist, the vistas of Delhi barely visible, I leaned on the pane and saw my two companions looking at me. We exchanged smiles and the thrill of what we had undertaken and what lay ahead - Our first all girls’ trip in India.

If you are a girl, the idea of travelling alone on an overnight bus will scare you. But it was the discussion around this trip with my colleagues which made me realize that the idea baffled guys even more. Tones of advice some welcome some not so welcome, suggestions on alternative destinations, last minute glitches and changes in plan, invective outbursts of an angry Tibetan travel agent who told us “Shame on you never seen more bad people” and kept scaring us of the Karma which will bite our asses for last minute booking cancellations.

The first night of travel from New Delhi to Dharamshala I was told by him would be “worst night of my life”. I was ready for the bus to topple in the extreme cold weather and fog of which our colleagues had warned us. We peacefully slept through the night and woke up to the call of “Kangra!, Kangra!”. The three chattering chickies who did not sleep a wink discussing the cute guys, lipsticks, facebook and their blackberries and everything else pink in the world got off. And then perfect silence ensued. I pasted my nose to the window staring at the beautiful views of the Kangra valley and the enthralling sights of Dhauladhars. The freshness of the hills was so much better than the smell of urine that pervaded the ISBT Kashmere gate bus stand. Ruchi and I exchanged glances while Sukku slept through till Dharamshala.

We got off at Dharamshala running wildly from point to point on the bus stand looking at the fantastic views of the views of the valley. Then we got some grip and got on to a bus to Mcloedganj, 10kms from Dharamshala, @ Rs 10 per person. Then started my favorite part of travelling, hunting for the right hotel to stay in. We covered most of the Mcloedganj market area on foot looking for the right place to stay in our budget. You will get all kinds of rooms in all price ranges. Starting from rooms with hot water facilities for Rs. 400 in off season costing around Rs. 10000 per month. You could also live with the club house by HPTDC for Rs 1500 per night. For on-season prices you can check their website and book in advance.

The view of the mountains and the cleanliness was of prime importance to us so we decided on a room with the “Mount View”. We had an open balcony in front of the room that merged with the mountains. A heater, hot water, warm blankets, clean bathroom and very warm hospitality for three at a steal of Rs. 700/-. In the night, it looked we were blanketed in the stars.

Our first day, we walked to Bhagsu falls then further up to the much hyped Shiva CafĂ©. The place was shady and we spent as much time there as a yawn would last. And there lies the one of the many gender differences. A must visit place for the guys was just enough to look at for a girls’ group.

The overrated Shiva (NOT SHIVA's CAFE)

We then returned to the main square and ate at the famous Jimmy’s Italian kitchen. The food
was good Italian food you would get in Delhi. But what made it awesome was that you paid for it a third of what you pay in Delhi. For a grilled chicken salad, pasta in Carbonara sauce, Tomato basil soup, baked pasta with mozzarella and a cup of honey blended latte cost us Rs. 415/-.

The next morning the highlight was truly our breakfast at Carpe-diem, “Seize the day!” My food plate was as always most experimental with assorted meats and scrambled eggs, toast, butter, marmalade, potatoes, coffee and juice of my choice. The other dishes on the table was a chicken sandwich with fries, baked beans on toast and mixed fruit pancake. The total bill was Rs. 385/-. Can you beat that!

The next stop was the Ghallu temple the starting point of our trek to Triund. We took a cab from our hotel to the point. I was not hoping we would make it to the top but we had decided that we will get to the snow and be back. We were greeted with snow sheets and a frozen pond in front of the tea shop next to the temple. The tall mountains, the views of snow clad giants that I know I will get to sooner than later stood there waiting for me. I will come back for a tight hug later I said. The snow did not let us go any further. We then turned back to the main square after a little strolling.

Back to the main market now, endless shopkeepers selling ornaments, incense, winter wear, rosaries made of yak bones, sandalwood, and souvenirs for tourists to take back home. The air was full of the smell of incense and the little murmurs of “Om Mani Padme Hum” and the colors against the backdrop of mountains covered in white. Religion such a strong part of everyday existence was a sight to savour with people of all ages telling the beads.

Come back you might in 2 days from the but the peace that blankets you in Mcloed will haunt you and pull you back for more. And the call for "Free Tibet" will resonate in your sub-conscious like the deep ringing sound of "Om" from mouth of a monk.

Things to do in
• Religion: Spiritual Retreat for close encounters with the Tibetan culture and Buddhism
• Trekking: Trek to Indrahar pass, Day trek to Triund, can couple with a night stay on Triund, Trek to Chamba Valley
• Alternative therapies: You can learn Reiki, Chakra awareness, Hypnotheraphy, Yoga, meditation. I particularly like this
• Drink and Make merry: Not beer Dude! Sometimes a cup of coffee with a book will give you all the intellectual high needed to carry on! Drink to the beautiful views of the valley at the Mandala coffee house
• Shop till you drop! for the little knick knacks such as silk scarves, junk jewelry, shawls, incense, Buddhist chants, the list is endless…
• Read your book: Mcloedganj is truly a book reader’s paradise with over 5 bookshops in a little area. Books on spirituality and ancient wisdom of India and Tibet are easy to find

Tips for accommodation:
• If you want a peaceful stay and have a cab at your service, look for a place near Dharamkot, a few kilometers ahead of Mcloedganj
• Better places to eat and cheap places to stay are around the Mcloedganj Main Square area which is also closest to the Dalai Lama temple

Links for places to eat:
• Well go and explore! There is plenty that is good and more than worth your money
• Definitely try food at Carpediem. It’s a big hit and a “must do”
• Do not miss the local street food. To go away from Mcloedganj without tasting the Tibetan specialties is a gross injustice many commit

For booking buses: Go for the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporations buses. They are safe, reliable, on time and comfortable. The only AC Volvo we found from Delhi to keep our feet warm in cold winters.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I am unable to get over it...a man killed another one...ran his car over him 4 times...all for a scratch on the car...a son is not returning home today and mother is going to wait forever...why is the world such an awful place!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Celebrate 'Singh' Size: Procession in New Delhi

You witness colossal chaos, colossal traffic jams with colossal hysteria as Sikhs get together thrice each year for a cultural extravaganza and grand community celebrations on important dates in Sikh history. These pictures are from the 02 Jan 2011 procession to celebrate Prakash Utsav, (literal translation: day of illumination means birth anniversary here) of tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh.

The parade marked with devotion, feeling of community, sharing and giving where tones of food is distributed by devotees who either set up stall on the roadside or move along the crowds in their cars carrying candies, biscuits, juices, tea, water, beans and rice, bread and lentils...almost anything! You cannot walk two steps without being offered something to eat. But it is just not food.

With people singing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib as they move along in thousands, some telling stories about the glorious past and martyrdom of the Sikh heroes on the microphones, if you are a sikh, you can feel your chest swelling with pride and heart pounding with humility. To mark the spirit of military faith, young students of all ages and both gender display their martial skills in the art form of Gatka. It was a perfect culmination of the ‘Sant-Sipahi’ Saint & Warrior ideology of the Sikh religion. To be a part of the whole scheme all you need to do is cover you head, get a bag of candies to share with all and sing praises of the one God. Well, just the act of the being around will ensure you have food thrust into your hands with a smile or a polite sometimes aggressive and hurried “Waheguru ji”.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Darling...Oh darling...where are thy pants!

What do you do if your boyfriend has super hairy legs. Well, that is alright you know. You are the old school where the male hair on the chest peeping out of the shirt seemed oh so manly! Unlike the new age "metrosexual" agenda to make our entire species hairless! Ad that show men with skin that is smoother than the leading models wearing "Jockey" underwears and you ask yourself "Is this what men look like?". Exactly what Tyler was aked in Fight club...Ah well... NO!

But honey, I am the conservative kinds. Dont show off the skin ( Cover those legs!

Darling...Oh Darling...where are thy pants!