Friday, November 21, 2008

Beauty not again ?

What's with women and Facebook. For some reason, they keep commenting on each other's pictures.."So prettttttttty" or "Babe, you look hot!!!!" or "Woman, you look stunning".

Sorry for the grumpy post early morning, but isn't this whole 'looking good' thing being carried too far.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Keeping it alive

I was never one to take myself or my relationships too seriously. I was never frivolous about them, but didn’t obsess over them either. Always doted on; loved like a baby by friends, boyfriends, family and bosses alike, I assumed if they were to leave they will be back. And if they didn’t come back, I’d call, cry, plead but eventually get them back, even if not in the same role. So even when I did break up, I would totally be friends and wouldn’t have it any other way. There were of course, occasions when people left my life and never came back, but these weren’t people I cared much for any way. And in return, I learnt what I now call ‘loyalty’. I knew I was just lucky to have all the love and hadn’t done anything fundamentally right to deserve it. I thanked the universe by developing unconditional loyalty towards these people. I’d stand up for these people before god. I still will.

Obviously as we grow older, things change. The universe starts challenging us more. I now have relationships that I won’t know how to bring back, if I were to lose them. Some people I value the most today, are those that I can be a brat with but don’t really have a claim on. Keeping relationships alive is no longer straight forward. The sense of permanence has been lost.

I was reading Skimpy’s blog the other day. He wrote about love, Jab We Met and dreams and relationships. As is more often than not, I didn’t like what he wrote- the characteristic cynicism, racist remarks and other nastiness. But I loved the note on which it ended. You can read it at his blog, but I’ll type it out again in case this linking thing doesn’t work:

i believe people enter your life exactly at a point when u need them to grow together and exit/fade away from your life at the right time, enabling you to move ahead. its sad but true.

It’s easy to see how this line fits in to your life if you’ve seen a relationship crumble before you, for reasons you still don’t know. I’m not referring to boyfriend-girlfriend relationships only here. A best friend, a temporary boss, a fellow traveler you spend 24 hours with on a plane, a complete stranger who you start a relationship with knowing fully well its going to be around only a month, or some one you think you’re built to last with. Many of these are people you have no claim on. Old friends remain, the best friend stays, family is indispensable, but there other few may not remain- in the same form. But it doesn’t end then. They may leave my life (and I may leave theira), but I continue to live a bit of them, and they continue to live a bit of me.

I’ve met them at a time when I need to know them and they need to know me. their role in my life is significant, but a fleeting one. The physical presence of this relationship may be transitory. And when they leave, there will be closure- closure in what we see and feel today. They fade away. But the rest continues. There’s a part of them I’ll live on. There is a bit of their life I’m already living, and will live all the way.

I’m living their life as I learn to save emails and when I stop myself from responding impulsively to gossip. When I laugh with my family and when I coach the new person in office. When I run 4 kms and when I spend Saturday evenings watching re-runs on Zee Café. When I write honest posts and when I bravely reject pseudo-intellectualism. When I travel alone to remote places, love French food, get regular pedicures and when I say ‘No lah, hardly matters!’

I’m on the road back from Nasik to Bombay. There’s a mild ache in my arms from an hour of kayaking this morning. My body is breathing, having spent a day in a little vineyard in Western India, with a book, the greenest grass and cold water to occasionally dip my feet in. Windows are down, wind blowing through my hair and I’m listening to The Walk of Life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Extreme hot or extreme cold?

18 hours of sunlight or 3 hours?

Little beach shorts or warm wool comforters?

70N or 0N (0S?)?

(To be continued)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Update from the weekend

...dtime at work feels nice

…I've been gaining places without moving at all

…Black coffee with best friends tastes better than black coffee otherwise

…Facebook is a bitch

…email is my oyster

…right now, the world is my oyster

…I’m broke (really really broke!!) but I’m happy

…it’s winter again

…I don’t need new clothes

…I’m looking forward to the dancing at my sister’s wedding early next year

…I miss DU days

…I miss them too often, but with a warm, fuzzy feeling

…I don’t like TDCs (Typical Delhi C****s). I meant Chicks!

…I love Delhi

…and Delhi chicks, who went to DU

…I love Shah Rukh Khan, and can’t wait for his new movie

…he went to DU too

…Peepu and Pinky got me the Victoria’s Secret fragrance from Chicago

…I can’t believe I prefer it to Chanel No. 5

…I used to like Chanel No. 5 a lot earlier, but continue to wear it even though I find it a bit boring now, only because it’s a gift from some one who was very important in their time

…I even wear CK One, which old love brought me from his first trip to Europe, back in 2001

…the week ahead looks boring

…I have a wedding to attend tomorrow

…I borrowed gold sandals from Baby Singh for the wedding

…I’m really broke (sob!)

…I’ve known the couple since 1998 something; they’ve been dating ever since

…the bride’s brother gifted me Gucci Envy on my 19th birthday, and I finished it only last year. It was so expensive!!! He was lovely!! He still is. He’ll stand by me forever

…So many people love me. I love them tooooooo. And miss them all

…Reviews stopped to matter over a year ago, but the one I got last week ended on the best note ever

…I realized today while I spoke to Baby Singh, I gained a big relationship while I lost one (albeit big in its own way, smaller than the one I gained). Actually I gained many, but this one is more- the synchronized timing, the size of the admiration and the exclusivity more significant

…Its 1:00 a.m. and this post is becoming a bit mindless

…Good night, and I wish you all peace, happiness and great music

Music: Some goodness from Chicago (Music and description courtesy, not me)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Me and my capitalism

It was 2nd October, 6:00 am, Bombay airport. It was about Capitalism and the way I’m thriving in it!

The markets have run wild. Crazy times at Wall Street! I’m a poor Consultant and shouldn’t have a lot to do with this. Well, it’s not a lot. Except that when anything significant happens in the world, I find it difficult to keep my nose out of it, and end up feeling left out if it doesn’t have a direct impact on my life. So here’s how I got a little bit of the great banking crash into my life. I’ve met several bankers, brokers, traders in the last 3 weeks. Its co-incidental because unlike you’d expect, I didn’t meet any of these people in connection to employment in my firm (my lovely, safe, happy firm). These were just random meetings, over mail, beer, music and Facebook-- from ex-clients, to old classmates and friends’ bosses. And I’ve changed my mind a bit about them. They’re still the aggressive bunch of gold hunters that I always thought they were, but they’re fun too. Any way, I’m glad to be a part of the mess, in whatever insignificant way.

The other thing that has been on my mind is Affluenza. I was reminded of it when I picked up the latest issue of India Today. Affluenza is used to describe the condition of a growing state when its civil population is running wild to realize the quintessential American dream. Puzzled!

[Pth: I love most things American. I don’t like Bush, fried chicken and American chocolates. I like everything else. Actually I like most things American, European, South Asian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian, and of course, most of all, Indian! On my way back from New York last month, I got into a ‘1 vs. 5’ argument on how welcoming Americans are (Any argument where it’s me against 5 men is any way much fun!) I hear a lot of people Indians face a culture clash when they work in the US. I find this hard to fathom. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the US-- 10 weeks of investment banking in NYC and several one week stop-overs. Apart from that, my interaction with Americans has been limited to random conversations over Beer on Friday evenings. I do have 2 really close friends who are the whitest people I know. So American, but lovely! So I think I understand a bit.

And there is no place in the world, where I have felt more welcome. Whether it’s the immigration guy at JFK, or it’s the mid-western girl friend, or the big boss who now heads one of the big banks in India. They are all American; I’ve known them all in America and never felt better about being away from India. This against what the 5 men argued at JFK. What they said didn’t sound so wrong either.

“I feel out of place when all people want to eat is steak”
“I hate how they don’t understand my accent”
“They don’t know Bombay from Delhi”
“They are surprised when they hear me speak good English”
“They think we’re only software engineers” (Pth: This one is so true though. I’m at the Coffee Day at Bombay airport, and I bet if I randomly pick a guy and ask him what he does, he’s going to say he’s an engineer. Ok, you know what? I’m going to do it. *****************. Structures engineer from Gurgaon (What’s that?), here to finalize a place for their Bombay satellite office)

There is some truth in all this, but to cut this long story short, I think most of these things become a non-issue the moment you try to fit in. Of course the American in Dallas will not want to have Dal Makhani and Butter Naan with you every day! And if you’re obsessed with hanging out with desis while you’re in the US, cry away. This was my pet peeve in Singapore as well. There is a strong desi network in Singapore, and while that’s great, it prevents you from moving out and meeting other people- Indian, Asian or from any where else in the world. I miss every moment I spent with my friends in Singapore, but I know that my next transfer is going to be in a place which actually shakes me out of my comfort zone, and really is worth taking up.]

So after this long digression, back to Affluenza! The dogged pursuit of more! Addiction to prosperity! A condition of societal stress. Excesses in excess!

This is definitely the American dream, beautifully and seamlessly blending into the Indian mind. Affluenza manifests itself in the Dior clutch, the Armani glasses and the Tumi bag. In the 28 year old novice who destroyed Barings and the experienced men who led Lehman Brothers. In the college boyfriend who snubbed the inexpensive (but highly functional) phone, and in the love that left the rising city for the exalted one. In the first divorce in the family and in the constant questions on salaries. In the nasty one that yapped about her Chloe dress, and in the girlfriends that spent last Saturday trying to find a dress that’s classy and understated. And in a bit of what I do. My Affluenza is about pretty sandals, black blouses, white skirts , multiple magazine subscriptions, books I never finish, Sennhieser earphones, Clinique superdefense cream, 1,300 candles, coffee mugs and peg measures, air tickets, post cards, and lots more. We all have our explanation for it. I have mine. I love it!

Running away from Affluenza seems like an even more disaster-filled alternative. Wasn’t it desire that turned dust to gold over the ages? The idea of reversing this magnificent and relentless pursuit of growth is revolting. Would this airport be much fun if people were all dressed in unflashy clothes, the shiny, transparent blue umbrella at Coffee Day was a black, opaque one, and the economic dream in peoples’ eyes was replaced by a dried look of contentment and passivity? (Yes, I do love airports, and I will continue to do so. And I bought the umbrella. I have 5 transparent ones now. Happy)

My definition of Affluenza is slightly different from the conventional one. What I call Affluenza is probably a lot less acute than the stressful social condition I attempted to describe above. I like Affluenza, as long as it permits me to write, go without make-up, wear un-ironed shorts, love the way I do, tell a lie that I must, speak the controversial word, sing out aloud! The trick is to find a fantastic outlet for all the stress built through these desires. One that pulls you away from every Affluenza-afflicted part of your life! I love letting the desire build up, and then venting it out on Word, at Bombay airport 3 hours ahead of a 9 am flight. My Pink linen shorts, red chappals, hair undone (it’s a holiday!), great music, hot black coffee and type-hungry fingers make me a conspicuous exception to Affluenza in this setting. I love it, just as much as I love the Monday morning attire, when I’m difficult to spot in the sea of people, all dressed in black trousers, white shirts, carrying heavy laptop bags and ambition dripping out of their eyes. With that balance, Affluenza doesn’t feel like a menace. Remove unsustainability and stress from it, and its fun!

Something similar came up when at dinner (er…beer) with a friend the other day. Let’s call him FYI now. He wanted to me to give him a Chuck, or Tony or Warfield pseudonym. I like FYI. He might apply to school soon, and mentioned how he often wonders if he’d prefer taking the time off and working on a farm in, well…the South of France (hehehe, you know that isn’t true), where he’s originally from. I was 2 beers down when this conversation happened, but I’m pretty sure I encouraged him to go ahead with it. I wish I’d be as encouraging to myself. I often dismiss it by saying my job lets me do what I want. Except that I was working on 2nd Oct!

On this note, I love the new Max New York Life ad. They made an awesome come-back after the morbid Sanjoo ad, with the ‘Zyaada ka iraada’ ad. For the benefit of my friends overseas, its start with a cute curly-haired single guy dressed casually, looking longingly at this biker dude, who has a girlfriend holding on to him as he zooms past on his snazzy bike. The girlfriend gets distracted from her boyfriend as she catches a glimpse of a woman who’s spending a playful morning with her children. The woman who appears to be enjoying the kids’ tantrums, gets pulled away for a moment as she sees a beautiful diamond necklace a bald guy is paying for at the jeweller’s nearby. As the bald guy steps in to his car, carrying the diamond necklace under his arm, he sees the curly-haired single dude, and runs his hand over his bald head with hope filled eyes. The pursuit of more!

The music is Doorie (House Mix)! And now I know what freedom is- listening to Doorie House Mix after over a year, singing along, several times a day and not having to change the station when it plays on FM radio, and being able to put it on repeat………. because it means a lot else now!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gaining no place, not moving at all

Friday evening....early evening...8:21 pm....I had desperately been wanting to spend this evening at home, with the folks.

The pride of saying No to the 'wrong' but the disappointment from the unworkability of the 'right' have together deprived my face of all expression, and the rest of me of all emotion. Then there was the joy of seeing some familiar faces, that I could tell were happy to see me. There was the tranquility in the drive back home- no Hindi movie music and no beer this evening. There was the Why not question, fading under the influence of logic, practiciality and some doubt and uncertainty too. No happiness, but no sadness either. Just dazed and confused.

The music....Dazed and confused

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Great music

I've written a lot over the weekend, but don't feel like putting any of it up. Partly because its confidential. But more importantly, becuase its poorly written. I wrote about Affluenza, shopping, weekend plans, house parties, Monday evenings, The Market Cafe and lousy movies.

I'm going to post only about the music....... After the thrill is gone, by The Eagles

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Confidence city

And the day I re-read the 'After Scotland Yard' Chapter, Delhi's shaken. 5 blasts across Connaught Place, GK and Gaffar market have rocked the city. All plans are cancelled, there are bloody scenes all over news channels, women are being carried to the hospital by the locals, cops are selfessly trying find the 9th bomb, messages are pouring in from friends and family , there is extreme quiet in the city. And then there are small things that have us worried.

And then we know, tomorrow those worries will come back. The city will be back and running. Alive and Kicking, as the cliche goes! Women will shop in GK, counterfiet mobile phones will be bought in Gaffar, the metro will run, house parties shall happen, the bodies will heal, may be the hearts won't. Really, will it all be normal soon? I don't care if its Hindus or Muslims, fanatics or normal people....they are trying to stop life in Delhi (Pth: I could go on about religeon, but its enough to say I'm a part of the camp that believes we should go easy on god). This is terror. When you're scared on going for a movie on the weekend, for a fanatic may be planting his next accomplishment there. Isn't that the entire purpose of what they call terrorism- to terrorize the shit out of a perfectly innocent and vibrant set of people! I don't think I want to let that happen to me. I'd rather die of a bomb in a bar, than of fear or boredom at home. Mighty aggressive statement from me! The fun and games shall carry on!

The music.....Khuda Ke Liye

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In one day....

Happiness: Non-straight hair looks good
Sadness: Despite the diet, the skirt doesn’t fit
Happiness: Skin is glowing, all thanks to the toner
Sadness: No good music on FM this morning
Happiness: Find parking in L1
Sadness: Backpack breaks on the way from the car park
Happiness: 6 flights of stairs and no loss of breath
Sadness: Press the option for Cappuccino instead of Espresso, and not to waste
Happiness: Win music quiz
Sadness: Case work re-starts after a day’s break
Happiness: Finalize Wine tasting in Nasik
Sadness: Need to leave on Sunday instead of Monday
Happiness: 5 days in Goa that follow the wine tasting trip
Sadness: Not thin enough for new swimwear
Happiness: Apple pie for lunch
Sadness: The afterthought
Happiness: Sort out nasty email from
Sadness: New supervisor seems hierarchical
Happiness: Thursday beer appears achievable
Sadness: Parents call saying they expect me to accompany them to a wedding; beer plans cancelled
Happiness: The wedding is a friend’s and I get myself excited about it
Sadness: Turns out to be his brother’s, not his (Yeah, I’m not tuned in)
Happiness: Win foosball amateur level-I against 2 big boys
Sadness: Cancel beer plans to attend wrong wedding
Happiness: I like the smile.....
Sadness: I convince myself I’m being superficial. And succeed
Happiness: Leave office early, and drive in the rain
Sadness: Asshole taxi driver smashes the front of the car (extreme sadness followed by sobbing, followed by bawling- in the rain, on the highway, in a skirt, and a wet shirt, and more Gurgaon cabbies savouring the show. Bastards! )
Happiness: Mum and Dad are lovely, especially after accidents. And I am excused for not wanting to go for the wedding
Sadness: Still, the car. All the sweat and blood that went into buying it. Sob!
Happiness: Pizza and diet coke (Thin, whole wheat crust, with extra cheese)
Sadness: The 7 day diet becomes the 6 day diet
Happiness: School friend, who I haven’t met in 10 years, calls twice
Sadness: I miss his calls, and then can’t get through to him
Happiness: Its Friday tomorrow, and weekend fun begins
Sadness: The move is more real
Happiness: Nomadic life continues
Sadness: The sad moments it sometimes brings
Happiness: The excitement shan’t end so soon

The music.....Kiss Me....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Oyster

Sunday morning, 4 a.m, just ended a IM conversation, potentially an asshole IM conversation. You know how when I'm sad, I'm really good to the world. And when I'm happy, everything, including IM is an asshole.

Coco Chanel one said “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”....lets make it three things: Smart, Classy and Fabulous. And the world is your oyster. Go on, and get high, and do whatever you want to do. Sounds familiar, eh? No? Google it!

The surprises...The Cranberries

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And today I want everything!!

So it’s the first time I get to spend 5 whole days in Bombay on this case. Although I had asked for a Bombay case, I got staffed on one that brought me to Bombay every Tuesday and took me back on Thursday. But this was a nicer, longer week in Bombay. And this week I landed here on Sunday. My friends from B school were here for 3 days. Yes, I did have some friends in Business School. While we’re on that, let me explain my relationship with my B school. This is a big Pth:

I wasn’t meant to go to Business school. I wanted to do a Masters in Arts, but as luck would have it, I cracked the CAT and got into this premier school. No mean feat, but I never thought it was my ‘aha’ moment. I don’t particularly like the world of business. So B school was actually 2 years where life went out of track, and I landed in a place where I had very little in common with people around me, in terms of background, outlook, dressing style, and dreams. But nevertheless, I loved some of those people. My job s such that it leads me to believe that life established its equilibrium by getting me this job, where although I talk business, I’m not constrained in any way. I’m free to follow everything I’m passionate about, and even develop new passions almost every couple of months. I’m free to dream. I’m free to not be a slave to time. Sooooooo….. some of those B school friends who I adore, were in town. And that brought me to Bombay.

So back to Bombay- Its Ganpati Puja today, so my client’s office was shut. My team is in Delhi and I’m alone, working (seemingly) from my hotel room. Again, I can never say this enough, I love hotel rooms. I love not having home cooked food. I love the ‘alone time’ I get even though I spent most of it working today. I love how I can always make myself a cup of chai thanks to the tea bags and the kettle. Hey, you know I love kettles too. Through college, I had one in my room (even thought I lived at home). I had one in B school. Mum gifted it to me because she knew it would bring immense joy to me. I had one in Singapore. And Malaysia. I had one hidden in my office drawers as well. It’s a wonderful reminder of the nomadic life I want to live. I find chai made on the stove a bit threatening. I feel domesticated. So back to my hotel room- I’m alone, hungry and full of thoughts.

I love the pillow I’ve rested my chest on while I write, lying on my stomach with this computer in my face. I wish I had such a pillow in my room at home too. I wish for a lot of other things…..

I wish the city of Bombay never loses its energy, and its big city lights that give me a fantastic view from this room
I wish the yellow envelope with the red star that shows up on my phone every time I have a new message, always makes me that happy
I wish I could have spent more time in Delhi University
I wish I was thinner….and my nose was thinner
I wish my curly hair would grow back without much pain
I wish I had a clearer idea of my dream and the way there
I wish all work-in-progress would end: my WIP slides, my client’s phenomenal WIP cost and every other WIP
I wish every parent would learn from mine
I wish every girl would use toner (Ok, I discovered it a month back, and really, wow!)
I wish Indian men would dress better, smell better and open their minds up
I wish the same for Indian women too
I wish there were more firms in the world that kept their people so happy
I wish the 2 year rule, which is actually a 1 year rule, was a 6 months rule. They say it takes 2 (read 1) years to settle into a new city, to settle into a new job and to get over someone you loved. I’d have more conviction about moving to Bombay, would have worked significantly fewer hours in Malaysia, and saved myself precious 6 months
I wish some people on the other side of the world would know, that evening actually ended well, and their tolerance that evening helped me wipe out a long period of sadness and doubt. And that I still think they’re great. And I still think I too am
I wish I was better at Poker
I wish I could post the 3 pages I wrote on the flight last week
I wish my laugh was louder
I wish ‘taking ownership’ was not just a tenet my firm is maniacal about, I wish it were a guideline for life
I wish people would stop talking about markets, bonuses and trades during Saturday lunches. Like some of us really don’t care!
I wish there were more people that appreciation for one’s creation gives far more joy than appreciation for one’s looks
I wish people around me would stop justifying cheating. Its NOT done. Call me uncool- Still not done (in my catty voice!!)
I wish yellow dresses never go out of style. And nor do short shorts. And big round earrings
I wish girls knew make-up is bad for the skin
I wish I understood smoking, even occasional smoking, is worse for women than men
I wish I had gone on exchange and not given that up like a fool
I wish Dire Straits had sung more songs. And U2. And Led Zep. Ok, Led Zep did a lot. So no
I wish Sanjay Uncle had lived longer, and I had been able to meet him again
I wish Shiv would be the same good friend again
I wish I wasn’t paranoid that the ‘I believe’ song is unlucky for me

I could so go on…..but I’ll stop. I’m clearly not clear on the difference between wish and hope….

I wish if I had just one wish, it wouldn’t be any of these. It would be that honesty never bit you in your face. And all ended well.

The music……Close your eyes…and Count to Ten, Ben Onono

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again

Its 1:00 am. I’m back from work. After a long time, I had a very busy day. There’s a power cut here and my inverter’s run out of battery. But thanks to my Fn Page Up key that flashes a tiny lamp on my keyboard, I’m able to write.

It’s dark… and still outside. All I can hear is generator rumbling at a distance. And strangely enough, the only other sound I can hear is the clock ticking in my room. The clock was a present for my sister on her 10th birthday. 18 years back. Buddy just let out a bark, momentarily breaking the silence permitted by the seconds hand. A whiney bark.

The world’s gotten big, and I can feel an increasing inconsequentiality about the night time.

When I was very young, in Srinagar, after 7 p.m all lights were out. Our world fell asleep and the next sign of any activity was only 9 hours from then, when the army PT would start, soon followed by the bands.

It didn’t change much as I grew older, and we moved to Delhi. The only difference being, in the plains, night fell at 10 pm. But after that, there was no reason any rational being would stay awake. Or if awake, engage in anything productive. My sister and I would play word games for that was all we could do as the darkness rendered us incapable of anything else. There was game where we’d compete on who knew more words ending in –ion. There was another one where I would try to guess my sisters’ friends names. If I insisted on playing these verbal games too long, she would scare me with stories about black cats and 100-days movie cassettes. It was time to rest. All contact was broken for the next 8 hours as the world around me retreated into deep sleep.

By the time I was in high school, and then college, night was 10 p.m, but we pushed the limit to a little later. Actually significantly later. Who am I kidding? I’ve stayed up, studying till 4 am on more occasions than I remember. I’ve had to jump across the wall to pick up an empty pack of cigarettes that accidentally fell out of my window into the neighbour’s garden (Was I scared! I was on the phone with the good friend, and I hung up in panic, and jumped across the wall). But it was still night. There was a reason the time between 10 pm and 4 am was reserved for studying the Marshall-Hicks theorem, practicing and eventually perfecting the art of smoking and long, endless pillow conversations - this was when I was alone. Everyone around me slept. There was no connectivity and again, no rational being had a reason to stay awake. I, of course, did. As did the other end of the phone. And no one to disturb the story.

At business school, the earth spun around its axis and my timing was now in sync with the other end of the world. Only, there was no connection between these two ends of the world for me. You enter business school raw, play a freak for 2 years, and exit polished. I wonder how that happens. Day was now night. I stayed up all night, ‘breakfast’ at 8 p.m., Chai at 2 a.m., Maggi an hour later, turned in at 5 a.m, slept through the day, even during class, and would finally wake up by 6 p.m. A shower would break me out of the lethargy, and several different songs, playing loudly from rooms across the wing, marked the beginning of the productive day. There was always the occasional nerd (Well honestly…we were all nerds) that continued his primitive ways and would be up all afternoon, cramming for a quiz 3 days from then. He was nearly done with his day as he had been up since 6 a.m. Can you imagine?

It was a brief interlude, for when I started work in Singapore, the clock turned back. Night was the old night. Like 11:00 p.m. Only it was two hours ahead of the rest of my world. It didn’t matter much.

It’s different now. I’m back from work at 1 a.m, and as I switch on my computer, I have my friends messaging me on IM. They’re just starting their day on the West Coast, while the Londoners are wondering if they will be able to leave work in time to get beer at a bar closeby. My world, scattered all over the place, is not asleep. Its superficial to sing songs about lonely nights. I’m not alone at this hour. Every hour, for the next 7 hours, I will receive at least 2 messages from my friends who will be cracking through their days in Chicago, or returning from their morning workout in Australia. And of course, the boys in Delhi, who’re still at work, crunching on a PE case (yes, the team I was with before), and will sleep only a few hours before the sun rises. I often get up in the middle of the night, and pick up these messages. So when I wake up the next morning, I’m still connected. I get the morning news in my mailbox before the newspaper boy arrives. I have gossip about the happenings in New York before day breaks in Delhi. There’s been no break from the world. Its a continuum.

The aloneness of the night no longer remains.

I think I want to return to a slightly less connected world. I’m not anti the advances in telecommunications or the invasion of the blackberry. I just want to reserve my night. For great writers, un-related thoughts, special people. And imagine the rest of the world is asleep. And the night belongs to me.

The music: the sounds of silence, among other songs by S&G

Pth: The music now: One..two…three…. , the ballad from the movie by the same name

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happiness in its queer forms

I can't decide what I'm happiest about: new specs... I slept on the old pair, and ended an era of Ali McGraw-style glasses....its a more sophisticated but far less comfortable pair now, since the stores at Atria didn't having anything in plastic that fit my budget; feeling ultra fit after prancing my way through the short trek (my old legs didn't cry); the fact that ITC Sheraton has a room on the 27th floor for single women (with bath oils and sleep lotions....the works!) , or the vegetarian diet that hasn't been broken in 10 days!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

An old on Rajkot

Rajkot (2nd June ’08)

Small towns usually stir up mixed feelings in me. There’s always excitement and curiosity about what the place will be like, and often a small fear of a boring, dry turnout. It wasn’t any different this time, when my client asked me to make a trip to Rajkot on work. If anything, I was a bit more anxious after my eventful and rather depressing trip to Nagpur 4 days back.

After scrambling for 2 flights in a row including a mad highway rush with a cabbie who insisted on staying within 50 (and annoying the shit out of me….. aha, Business class made sure I got on the plane 7 minutes before it was scheduled to leave) and a sprint from KF arrival in Bombay to Jet departure, I finally landed in Rajkot.

So far, I love it.

My travel gyaan: A trip is a trip when there are observations. A short trip is a good trip if it allows you to tap in to the city in the little time you spend there. The excitement of being in a new place is just peripheral.

And that’s exactly what I find here. I’ve been here 4 hours, 2 of which I spent walking around (and another 2…working). It’s small, friendly, and makes me feel like I’ve been here before. I haven’t though.

I was welcomed by a cabbie, who made me wait 15 minutes, so he could fit in 3 more people from the airport heading towards the same hotel. When I finally got to the cab, 4 fat men decided there was no room for me, so left me waiting for the 2nd cab. This was roomier.

I reached the hotel, and immediately decided I needed to go to a chemist store (not taking any chances since I have 3 hours on the road tomorrow). On quick glance, as I walked down to the chemist, there was a gym called powerhorse (I’ve seen power house before), with a group of young men standing outside, who didn’t miss a chance to whistle at the only girl in their vicinity. I feel the office wear factor played a role in that. A couple of kids playing marbles decided to stop and point towards me saying ‘wo dekh’. The background dotted with the sound of scooter horns and Hindi movie songs a few years old. The chemist started to speak in Gujrati, but quickly switched to Hindi as he realized I didn’t belong here.

When I got back to the hotel, there were about 8 people ahead of me. One of them, a short old man, probably a seasoned businessman here for some regular trade of his, gave me his place, with a welcoming smile. As I got my room key, he walked up to me with an acknowledging expression, and said “Kaam pe aye ho.....Achcha hotel hai”. He had clearly been here before, but realized I hadn’t. And realizing I was the only girl there, alone, decided to re-assure me I was in a safe place.

My room is small, cozy, and very functional. I don’t have a bath robe, and the room service menu is all vegetarian (the corn cheese chilly toast reminded me so much of business school days). Having separate switches for each lamp (as opposed to the highly convenient single switch in most luxe hotels), twin beds, broadband that needs to be re-connected after every 15 minutes, all such things, the absence of which would probably make you forget you’re in a small town.

Before I speak to soon about this place, I’ll shut down, since I do have 6 more hours to check this place out tomorrow. You never know what could change, 6 times over, in 6 hours. So more tomorrow.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

1 year in Delhi

Today I completed 1 year in Delhi.

This time, last year, I said farewell to a few very close relationships. The farewell gesture by the Office Head, the final evening at Clarke Quay, the last cigarette AZ and I shared, the tears that fell as I saw my apartment for the last time, the last Cappucino with low fat milk at Starbucks Changi airport, and the mixed feelings, of sadness as I left Singapore, and excitement as I was moving to back to where I had always wanted to work.

The memories of this night, one year back, are only too vivid. At about half past mid-night, a couple of hours after I had reached Delhi, the boy I liked, came over and we headed towards Dublin. I had been away from Delhi long enough and imagined Dublin to be an Irish-like bar, where I could share plenty of conversation with the boy. I imagined it to be of the type the boy and I loved, and loved talking about.

But! Dublin! Was! a! Club!!!! ‘Tu hi hai mera pyaar mahiya’ playing as we entered. No Draught beer. Random (and hot) Delhi chicks around us. The boy brought me to a club!! I should have followed the signs that night, my first night in Delhi, anticipated what lay ahead in the city.

Ironical. I had never been as excited about being back in the city.
A few other things that come to my mind, as I close my eyes and think of this 1 year.

Papa and I
Being surrounded my favourite people at my desk in office
The Cancun trip
The time I cried to BB for nearly 4 hours
The accident I had a week after the Cancun trip
My PEG life
The engagement and the entry of Nobster into the family
Getting back to endless email conversations
Flying in the Ghats
Coffee at Coffee Day, every single winter weekend morning
3 awesome books I read
Several photo trips
Gtalk conversations with people I hardly knew in school
The first Bombay trip and the cute American
Friday evenings with Beer and Peepu
Long, and almost always meaningful conversations with BB
Watching Khuda Ke Liye
Meeting old boy the next day, and a nice new one soon after, that night
The crazy TGIF + Ricks + Meridien coffee shop evening (!!!)
The Europe trip that got called off 3 times, and died a sorry death
Papa falling sick
The promotion
Mum, Papa and I watching Ghalib in New Delhi, at the end of this 1 year

I started the post intending to describe the last year. But may be not any further. The year was exciting, and eventful, but not a lot more than the previous years. So I’m just ruminating. What lies ahead? TGIF, home, chai in the summer rain, long road trips, short drives on green Delhi roads, FM radio as I drive, friends from DU, plays at IHC, another Delhi winter, chappals from Janpath, beer at Flavours, ice cream at India Gate, coffee at Coffee Day, books from Fact and Fiction, late conversations at Priya, quiet Sunday evenings at Italic.....

I think I’ll live here, in Delhi. The music….Aashayein……

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I don’t know what I’m in the mood for. I’m a bit of a grumpy asshole right now.

The events in the last few days have, not surprisingly, left me low. After a few crazy days of running in and out of hospitals, I finally got a slightly easy day. Dad’s better now. We chilled together this evening. He’s better but he won’t ever be what he was until a week back. He refused a drink today (thank heavens!). He promises he won’t drive (I don’t believe this one will last). He’s a brave old chappie!

So am I.

I’m off work for a few days. My absolutely wonderful team has taken the load off me, and despite all the crazy weekend work, messages me several times every day.

Any way, I don’t intend this to be a depressing post. There’s calm now. It’s a beautiful night, and although in the middle of June, still not too warm. I don’t have an agenda for this post. I’m just really sleepy. But I’ll put off sleep. There are a few things that are making me stay awake.

The songs of ‘Khuda ke liye’, and ‘Achtung Baby’ alternating as my music player toggles between the 2 CDs. Actually, its just ‘Bandey’ and ‘One’ from the respective CDs. I’m usually a big fan of FM Radio, but there’s club music playing across channels, and I’m not exactly in the mood for “Mere rab ne diya sensation blah’ or ‘Where’s the party tonight’ or Rihanna. I could do with James Blunt though.

The afterthoughts from the first half of ‘The rise and fall of the great empires’ by Paul Kennedy. I’ve read it before, 5 years back. I’ve read a lot on History, but nothing as elegantly written as this piece. It convinces me of the impermanence of what we see in the international political economy today. It’s ironical how in a relatively short period, the axes of power have turned full circle. The first time I read it, it was borrowed from the library. I own a copy now.

The smell of Aloe Vera on my feet. It’s a Crabtree & Evelyn body cream that reminds me of my Singapore days. I’ve owned it since I moved into the little apartment at Darby Park, on Orange Grove Road. The luxury was so new to me. These were my first few weeks of work. I would end each day with a hot shower in the plush bathroom, followed by 15 minutes of slathering my legs with this cream. Then there was hot Darjeeling tea (all I could do in the kitchenette was boil water) and a book totally un-related to everything else in my life. I remember I was reading The Guns of August, those days. Another one I recommend.

My friends relentlessly messaging me on Gtalk. I won’t respond. J They understand. I’ve never been chat friendly. I find people messaging me on the IM at work, the most annoying habit in people. I understand if its ‘Hey, you wanna get lunch?’ or ‘Lets head to the meeting room’. But I have no tolerance for ‘Hey, if we use 2006 revenue per bed day, will that not skew our numbers, since every else its 2007, and the discrepancy will show up in erratic value increases?’ Ok, the guy who does this a very dear friend of mine. So the annoyance is not at the person, it’s at the habit.

My Pig (I don’t have a name for him), with its head buried in the bed and its bum facing the ceiling. I have 14 Pig figurines/toys in my room. Its not a conscious obsession. Rather, it’s a protest against the discrimination against anything Porcine, by toy companies that existed when I was a girl. It was usually stuffed bears and cats and rabbits (I h-a-t-e rabbits!). Pigs have only recently been added to the toy maker’s catalogue. (Pth: Why would a restaurant call an all-chicken dish Porcini. Dad was highly disappointed with his order last week) (Pth: Megha, Porcini mushrooms!!!!!!!!!!! Sic!!! Highly embarassed of my lack of knowledge. To my credit, noone pointed it out. As I built on my knowledge base, I discovered that there are mushrooms beyond Shitake (Spelt incorrectly, I know!)

My Pictures folder, which needs to be organized. I have a photo-blog long due for updating, or rather, bringing to life. Soon.

Now I’m really sleepy. There was no purpose to this post. Just lightening the load.

Pth: The music is now Carry You Home, by James Blunt. ………………..

Sunday, June 8, 2008

25 and red!

Ask me what I did this birthday. I slept. All day.

Finally rose early evening, and decided its time for a change. My long (well this is the longest its ever been), black tresses are no longer black. I decided to take the bold step of coloring my hair red. Bold enough for someone who's hair has been the cause of 20% of her sorrows (pth: 30%-the weighing machine; 20%- guys, but this one varies significantly, has gone up to a scary 80% in post break-up times; 30%- sitting in one place for anything over 2 months, this one's nearly 90% now since I have no guy problems right now, the gym is showing its effects and my hair looks pretty good- see below).
This giant leap for my-kind actually turned out pretty neat. For someone who fears the sound snip, and has the history of always walking out of a hair salon disappointed, my tipping the stylist definitely reflects a happy birthday.

What do you think?


I’m finally there. 25, super smart, over-worked, VLNWI (very low net worth individual), proud, always trying to lose weight, emotional, loves U2, and history and big cities.

1:20 a.m on my 25th birthday. Having clocked over 90 hours this week, I should be sleeping. I’ll be off soon.

I’ve worked 12 hours today (its Saturday), consumed 2 bottles of beer, 2 glasses of scotch, and decided to sacrifice an hour of sleep to put together my wish list while my emotions are charged and my fingers aren’t complaining. So here’s what I want

Change. I’ve spent 12 of the last 15 years in Delhi. I have Delhi running in my veins. I love my city. But I think I need change now.
All the love I got from friends the last 6 months. I’m much stronger than I was earlier, but I had you by my side. I want this always. I’m greedy.
Time, to travel and read. There was a book sale at the club yesterday. I bought 26 books. I want the time to read at least 13 of them. And to get my UK visa this Monday. And the Schengen next week. And use them to visit Scandinavia and the UK.
More shoes. And I’m going to have it. The perks of busting your behind 5 days a week is you don’t deprive yourself of a single pair of shoes you really really like
Love. Well, there was this one time……………. But nevertheless. I’m convinced I came into to the world with an immense capacity to love. I want to love again. Just the way I did in the past. Unconditional, unyielding and fearless
Work, though a little less. So it’s established. I’m a workaholic. You might think I’m a hard-nosed, business suit clad, ambitious consultant, strutting along in my high heels, everyday. From 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. I’m not all that. But really, I love my job. It’s what’s kept me going despite in a really tough couple of years. I love the work I do, the people I work with, and how I successfully intertwined my work with the rest of my life, to an extent that I can never not be emotional about it. And I haven’t had enough of it. Well, maybe a little less won’t hurt

You know you’re 25 when at 12 a.m. you get fewer calls, but from every one who matters, and hardly anyone who doesn’t. All the guys who once loved (or lusted) for you, and made sure they didn’t miss the chance to call you at 12, have suddenly disappeared. Girlfriends always hang on, despite being 2.5 hours ahead. As do their sleepy boyfriends. Partners in crime who despite being overworked themselves make sure you don’t spend the day alone, and drink to the beginning of your 26th year. Family never misses this day. Old love (very short love) that could never find a way to work, but calls to wish, and , though not intending to, makes you wonder again, if it could have worked. The Partner on your case, who incidentally makes you work through the day, but texts you at 1:48 am. And some people, who somehow always remember to call you once a year, and only this once.

Its 2:15 a.m. I’m about to turn in. Pulp Fiction soundtrack in the background………Girl…’ll be a woman soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Continuing from my post on airports…..its hotels now

There’s always an upside of any kind of business travel- the luxurious light at the end of the dusty, humid tunnel!! After a day of a 6 a.m flight followed by 10 hours of driving from the airport to Mulund to Vashi to Kalyan, and then finding out you have to stay the night so you can drive next morning (6 a.m. again, to Nasik, the final stop is the Leela.

So I’ve been a consultant 2 years, travelled on work to several cities across Asia, and a bit in the US and lived in luxury hotels (or as they call them business hotels; my bar is clearly lower than that of HNWIs) throughout. But even now, the idea of spending an evening by myself in a well equipped, reasonably lavish room, with a view better than that of NH-8, appeals immensely to me. And it helps being alone, with little socializing to do. People warned me when I started life as a consultant that I’d get fed up of this sooner than I’d believe. Still no!

And it’s not like I’m staying by myself in a bachelorette pad, where I have to clean, cook, do the laundry etc myself. I live in my parent’s house, in a lovely little room, which has been made to evolve over the years (by me….I’m not that spoilt) to be exactly to my taste. Dim lighting, a reading lamp, a bookshelf next to my bed with my favourite books neatly stacked up, a little section where I admire myself (twice daily on weekdays, several hundred times on weekends), a small but highly functional bathroom, and a big bed (big enough for my small frame). And I love going back to it, most days of the week. Long evening chats with parents are the best stress buster!

I guess the love for these luxurious rooms comes from a day of work madness. And the fact that I so deserve it after that!

The other kind of room I love is the youth hostel, or a shoddy hotel room, but ONLY WHILE I’M ON VACATION. And this almost axiomatically leads me to dislike luxurious hotels, when on vacation. I loved the little room I had to spend half the night in the time I got locked in a park in South of England. I slept on a rug. At the same time, I absolutely hated the semi-luxurious room my firm paid for on my soccer trip to Madrid.

This one’s cool. No fuss, no gold furniture with over-done Indian carvings (unlike like Le Meridien in Jaipur, which although most firangs absolutely lurrve, I find overly ethnicized). This is plain luxury!

Lehman Brothers wrote a 560 page research report on eating out in Mumbai- entertaining but hardly helpful in choosing a place. Any way, I have an addition to it: Chicken Kathi Roll, Room Service, The Leela. I usually have high standards in food, so totally recommend the greasy, fried, but yummy Kathi roll.

Another discovery: the difference between a good day and a great day is a long hot shower!

Airports and being in India

Its 5:45 a.m, Wednesday morning, and I’m off on a work trip to Bombay. Ordinarily I’d be working on such a trip, but my current case is kind of wonky. Although it spans 4 weeks, I start getting data only in the 3rd week. While it’s always difficult to balance workload in a job like mine, having 2 reasonably unproductive weeks (except for work trips) is a bit much. So any way, I use my ‘unproductive’ time to write.

The one thing I absolutely dislike about being back in India is work travel in India. No, it’s not the weather, or the flight delays, or the one-day travel (thanks to exorbitant hotel tariffs). Sometimes, it’s the fact that all these things happen together. But if I had to put a finger one thing, it would be airports. It’s not the inefficient processes, pushy staff, and crowded lounges. Having spent an overwhelmingly large part of my life in India, I have surprisingly high tolerance for these things. What I find lacking in Indian airports (IMPORTANTLY, Delhi airport), is the airport smell.

Typically, all I need to do to get excited about a trip is step into the airport. Even if I’m seeing someone off, I start to plan my next travel, just by getting the airport whiff. The perfect airport experience is………let’s see….a mix of the sanitary smell of the clean and not typically crowded check-in counter, clear flight announcements, following a mild musical reminder that goes bing bong bing bong, a melange of perfume scents flowing in from the duty free, foreigners (usually white) running to catch their flights, with their kids running behind them, flat elevators (ok, travelators as they call them), perennial presence but occasional dominance of the smell of coffee, the smell of sandwiches being toasted at a small deli, and close to it, a well-lit bookstore with a friendly middle-aged guy who responds to every most of your queries with “Apologies, but don’t have it in stock”, but still helps you find some good books there, and while you’re paying for them, helps you pick a few magazines out. And me striding towards the coffee shop, in Adidas tracks, an old vest (usually blue or white) and a not-so-large backpack, just about managing to balance its weight with my own, carrying a ~300 pages book, on some silly mildly consequential war, or a travelogue on some random place which no more than a 10,000 people would have visited, or just as likely, a chick magazine, to read about fashion, celebrities and new (correction: old and over-leveraged by the editor) tricks on ‘how to make him forget everything else’.

Now my experience this morning.
The sanitary smell of the check-in counter replaced by my inability to find the check-in counter. In all fairness, my airport is under construction. And per their request, I’ll bear with the inconvenience today for a better tomorrow
Flight announcements- Reasonably clear
Perfume scents- None. May be because it’s the domestic airport, but the only whiff I got was of Ralph Lauren’s Romance, which I OD-ed on this morning
Foreigners running to catch their flights- Oh yes! Especially these 2 women, both very bohemian charging towards the ladies security check line (Pth: How do women travel in long skirts- may be because they’re tall, so their long skirts reach only their shins and give them plenty of room to walk. Sigh, I wish I were tall). I think they’re used to running at airports, because they’re on the same flight as me, and we were well in time for it. Also, I overheard the prettier one crib “Oh for once I wanna be in a more efficient airport”. Bitch! So I’m not unbiased
Flat elevators- No. Domestic airport, so unlikely
Coffee- Finally, yes! The smell, the blend, all there!
Book store- There’s one but I couldn’t go (For the nth time, it’s a work trip).
No smell of sandwiches
Me- Possible the biggest disappointment. The tracks and vest replaces, but a boring, all-black, pant suit. (Pth: Black pant suits are so not for me! I usually pass off as a 6/10 on the presentability scale, and in skirt suits, even a 7. But in Black pant suits, I slide a massive 4 points, down to a 2. I just don’t have the body for trousers. More details on that later, but if you’ve seen me face down, you know what I’m talking about), no book, backpack replaced with a reasonably good looking but heavy laptop bag and other cabin baggage

So it’s not really about Indian airports. It’s a mix of all those things I spoke about initially. And the fact that I’m in an all-Black pant suit. And that I’m shoved around until a final push throws me into my assigned seat on the plane. And that it’s hot. And that I’ll probably be back this evening, all groggy, without seeing Bombay at all, once again.

While in Singapore, I spent 5 months on a project in KL. This meant travelling back and forth every week, for 5 months. But because these weren’t day trips, I could fly Sunday night instead of Monday morning, and avoid the business suit agony. And even if it was a business suit, I’d be wearing a skirt. And not trousers. I could reach the airport 2 hours before my flight, visit the book store, sniff all the new perfumes at the duty free, run my fingers on the lovely Burberry scarf I always wanted but never bought, get coffee, sit on the floor outside the boarding lounge and burn phone cards on calls home. If there is one single thing I miss about being outside India, it’s just that- the airports.

Like a seasoned consultant should do, 3 things I love about some other airports:

· Munich: How they pronounce the airport as flukaafen or something. Spicy pepperoni. Everything else German.
· KL: The aero-train, which is absolutely redundant, but most fun. The Mango store. And the lovely people I’ve met here.
· Boston: The staff that held the Newark-Singapore flight 15 minutes, so I didn’t miss it. The row of chairs facing the runway. All the delis.
· Bombay: The new structure. Coffee Day. Crossword.
· Bali: The immigration counter which resembles a pre-paid auto line. The ubiquitous bali massage flyers. Stores dedicated to Bali oils and teas
· Heathrow: Mango, Zara and the men’s store which sells cute boxers
· Hong Kong: The pride. How everyone is dressed impeccably. And my trip with the folks.
· New York, JFK: Starbucks. Hudson News. And the round seating area in the food court, where you get to see exactly why American kids are fat
· Dubai: The fact that I spent 14 hours there because I couldn’t afford a more expensive flight. The duty free that I bought my first perfume at. The roughly equal split between American expat women, and burqua-clad women at the lingerie store, which sells possibly the sexiest lingerie I had seen until then (and clearly could not afford)
· Cancun. Yes, there eees something I like about the damn town- the airport. Hard Rock Store. Heavily discounted duty free that is temporarily the best solution to a wounded heart. Cheap tequila!
· Delhi. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Not until GMR (Thanks, Nobster) pulls up. No, there’s one thing: being home.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday evening off- I

Getting home by 8 PM on Monday evening, in a week that promises to be a killer-- puzzled, but happy. I suppose this means I’ll be working longer hours the rest of the week, but since I have, in the recent past, reached theoretical maximum capacity, it isn’t something that will worry me significantly. I’m totally rooting for Monday evenings off!

And a few other things, now that I think of it.

  • Lonely places. There’s something about lonely places and lonely people. When loneliness gets addictive, it lends them a charm another person finds difficult to explain but even more difficult to disregard
  • Relaxation of visa requirement for Indians. I’m 5 feet tall, a little over 50 kilos, and my mind, although super sharp, is absolutely incapable of bombing your land
  • Freedom of expression. Speak out!!
    “Here, we miss people who speak out. Those who don’t, sort of fade away” – Megha’s favourite Manager
  • Men who have left their double standards in 1990s. Thank you, thank you, thank you J. Just yesterday this came up in a conversation with someone. He thinks the whole ‘no double standards’ thing is a hygiene factor, not a non-negotiable. I didn’t entirely get his point (and I think it showed), but it’s definitely a non-negotiable, in that there are so few of you out there, I’d pay for it.
  • Loving strong. I’m usually wrong in matters of the heart, but there’s nothing like a story nicely done!
  • Falling hard. The bump on my rear definitely gave me a stronger face for the rest of my life
  • Transparent tops. There’s usually a way of wearing them without looking slutty. And if there isn’t, ‘oh well’ always works
  • Bombay. All the madness- lunch homes, classic rock bars, Blue Frog, old friends (who always raise the Bombay vs. Delhi argument), movie stars, sweaty evenings, the sea, the cute college students who sang ‘aankhon me teri’ to me, and the books the city has inspired
  • Cleaning up my mess. There’s one person who left me to clean his (well, our) mess up, roughly 11,467 kms away, while he built an exciting new life for himself. Every time I see a picture of him, or him (the one time), he looks like an overgrown mouse.
  • At least 30 minutes of exercise every day- Say goodbye to aging skin
  • Non-malicious gossip. Its an excellent detoxifier
  • 3 pitchers of beer on Friday night. And lots of conversation
  • Higher salaries in India. High tax rates + Delhi/Bombay rentals + expensive international travel.
  • Atif Aslam. For the passion, not the melody
  • Water sports.
  • Staying in touch.
  • Delhi. For running in my veins, and for the rain this summer.
  • Water, lime and honey. It hasn’t done anything for my weight or my skin. But its awesome detox. Or is it? Maybe I’ve psyched myself into believe it is
  • Yellow blouses and polka dotted hair-bands. Make for pretty young things
  • Skirts. Seriously, why do some women never wear skirts?!?! Can’t think of how trousers can ever be a better option. Bonus for every inch taken off
  • Saigon Kick, for I love you

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What’s a girl without a pretty purple hat?

It’s Monday morning, I’m in office, and I have a crazy week ahead.

Messy weekend after-thoughts, a million intrusive questions from mum (there’s 10% of the time when I have no tolerance for gossip) and un-reasonable client demands (8 hospitals across 7 cities in 3 states, all in 3 days) made Sunday evening even more difficult to get by. I thought hitting the gym this morning would be a good idea, but I’m still as mentally exhausted as I was last evening.

Last evening ended well though, with a lot of positive conviction. In a queer way, what was right then, a year back, is right even now. And what I always considered wrong is fortunately still wrong. The bar hasn’t moved. I once wondered if it were ‘the right kind of wrong’. Still no.

By the way, here’s what I do when I look like shit run over twice: I buy a pretty purple hat.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Sunday!!

Look what I bought this morning. That’s a 7th to my Lonely Planet collection and a 3rd to my Calvin & Hobbes set.

I love book exhibitions and 20% discounts!!!

Happy happy happy!!

Bars, and other hang-ups

It’s Saturday night. I’m home. Not like I didn’t want to go out tonight, but all my energy got drained this evening. And I didn’t find anyone fun enough to go out with. I typically have very low tolerance for evenings spent with couples. No, it’s not the pressure to de-single myself. Rather, I get very bored. I’m quite a romantic myself, but not the ‘let’s do a romantic dinner, and meet with friends who can we bore the shit out of, with all our canoodling’. I like hanging out with a few couples. Vani is a lot of fun even when Nobby is around. Bharati and Hari are really fun too.

So I decided to stay back and read this book on Bombay city. I also realized I’m adamant about calling it Bombay as opposed to M**bai. It’s a hang up. Just the way I say “Leave this with me” as opposed to “Leave it to me”. I find the latter a lot less credible. This came up a few days back and maybe a certain Mr. Sawhney will relate to this, if he ever reads it.

The alternate plan was to hang out in a club in Saket. It didn’t appeal much to me. Saket, or the club. I would rather go to a bar.

I’ve had this ‘clubs vs. bars’ moot point with my friends for ages now. I don’t go clubbing. I think 2 years of B school partying killed my inclination to plan, dress up, and dance in a group of 400 unknown people. B school partying was very different. Every other Saturday, all of us would finish our work by midnight, after which we’d begin partying at L-square, and old basket ball court, right next to my room. I don’t recollect wearing anything other than old tracks and a grey vest as these parties (will try to dig up an old picture). Everything else, including the shots, babushkas, hook-ups, fights, people passing out, more shots, is the same. The bang for the buck, i.e. the party for the effort, was much higher!

Bars, on the other hand, are different. Now one has to come to terms with the fact that L-squares won’t happen once you’re out of B school. Given that, I like to spend my Friday evenings with friends, catching up over beer (I end up drinking very little of it, but providing a lot of the entertainment). U2, The Doors or Cranberries playing in the background can make it a fairly light start to a weekend.

I rarely find bars over-crowded, with men wearing orange shirts with “Lady killah!” written on them, and women wearing red stockings matched with red gloves (No kidding, that what’s I saw at Agni, one of the happening clubs in Delhi). Plus, Delhi women, when all decked up can give me quite a complex. That lot thankfully is always pulled towards clubs.

It’s a pity Delhi hasn’t imbibed the bar culture well. We had Turquoise cottage, which they shut down because it was not in an ‘authorized’ area (read crowded commercial complex, with multiplexes, apparel stores and fast food joints cramped together, with a little hole in the wall spared for the bar. In short, a highly inappropriate location). I honestly wish the Delhi government would expend its energy in other things.

So we’re left with TGI Fridays now, where I end up spending most of Friday evenings. I do wish one of my enterprising friends in Delhi takes a cue from the Hard Rock Café in Bombay, Mojos in Bangalore, Crazy Elephant in Singapore, Finnegan’s or the standard Deutsche Haus in KL, Chapandaaz in Madrid, or any bar in Munich (this list is clearly not exhaustive- its what's I know from my very limited travels). I’m sure there are at least a few hundred people in the city who like to spend their Friday evenings with friends over beer, chicken wings and Classic Rock.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Delhi and Bombay

What I love most about living in Delhi is how there’s always a fun way of spending a cold Sunday morning. A few Sundays back, I was a little under the weather and needed to get away from my room, which gave in under the cold wave and started to look gloomy. Walking back from the Republic Day parade the day before, I had seen there was a photography exhibition at National museum: A tale of 3 cities, by Pablo Barthlomew.

For those who love Delhi and Bombay and are intrigued by the layers of mystique that lie beneath the outer rough and tumble, this is a compact view into how these cities looked a few decades back. And a refreshing change from typical street photography. Not that I don’t like the latter, but its becoming increasingly difficult for photographers to differentiate street pictures, given how much interest the subject has generated among the amateurs in my generation, including me.

So the photographer dug out all his old black and white photos, and selected a few (not more than 30) which he felt would best describe his youth spent in the 2 cities.
Our lives haven’t changed as much. While the cities look very different from what they are today, the theme was Pablo, his family and friends. It was re-assuring to see how similar his life looked to the way you and I live today. I was always accused of being too proud of my youth, and I didn’t exactly disagree. I think Mr. Barthlomew and I have something in common there.

The curator was nice enough to let me take some pictures (included here).

I had been to Bombay 3 times before I saw this exhibition, and sure enough, I was in Bombay the next weekend.

I love big cities (and even smaller ones). I’m often disappointed at people whose love for one of Delhi and Bombay almost automatically implies a strong dislike for the other. I love Bombay for the sea, the disappearing lines between the classes, Hard rock café, and the freedom to approach a cute guy in a bar without him thinking he’s going to take me home. I love Delhi for its open spaces, the little coffee shops, central Delhi, its limitless art offerings, Delhi University and the option of long late night drives and ice cream waalas.

Will talk about Bangalore (my 3rd favourite in India) very soon!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


It’s sunny March. I love March. I used to love October. I think I still do. I have loved it every year.

It’s been 6 turbulent months.

6 months back, I was in Mexico. I love visiting new cities. Except maybe Hyderabad (and I’m still struggling with why I didn’t like it as much), I have loved most cities I’ve been to. I liked Mexico. I liked Cancun. But I think it’s the only place I will try not to visit again. Especially, since there are a lot of boxes I need to check before that.

When I was in Mexico, I knew I was going to change a lot. I knew the next 6 months were not going to be easy. For the 48 hours I spent on a plane to make it to Mexico, I brought back a lot of disappointment, and occasional tears. I cried on my flight back. The only thing worse than crying 24 hours is a jet lag following that. The struggle has eased now. There was disillusionment, loss of confidence, insecurity, gloomy Friday evenings, even weight loss (which is incidentally not always good), growth, questions, new interests, continuous inspiration, new confidence, great friends, sunny Sunday afternoons, disappearance of the last few traces of fear, more weight loss (and then it is that good), regained faith in romance, and a re-enforced desire to start, continue and end things in style, all in that order. The struggle isn’t over. It won’t be over. But I’ve begun to accept and even like the real world that I became a part of only recently.

I’m getting my passport renewed. I waited 6 months for this. I’m planning a new vacation. I haven’t seen much in Europe.

Much love,