July 9, 2007

Untitled fiction

This is absolute fiction. I wondered if I had to write fiction what would I write? And then to avoid thinking endlessly about a story, I decided to time myself. I decided to write about
whatever story I could think of in ten minutes, whatever idea I got in the first ten minutes. So this story is about, a young, nameless woman, sitting in her office, on a supposedly good day and what is going through her head.......

begins here-

Is it possible, to be blank. I have been sitting in my cubicle, staring at my computer for an hour now, with not even a flicker of a thought grazing through my brain…while my coffee has gotten cold, my brain has come to a stand still …perhaps its meditation,… which is something I shouldn’t be doing right now, given that I am supposedly giving finishing touches to an assignment that I am actually yet to begin with.

I don’t know how it happened. Today was a good day, my boss is out of station, the office is almost empty, too many people on leave, (and I love it, less people to nag you), and I had been looking outside the glass walls near my cubicle, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, the cute nameless guy from the sixth floor, when the phone rang…

I almost fell of my seat, it was so sudden and loud (have you noticed phone rings are louder when the office is empty). I was surprised to find that it was Swati, my boss. Why was she calling me, did she even know me. And there it was …can you send me the new-customer data by tomorrow morning? She said.

I guess the blankness started setting in right then. I fumbled for words and asked what she was talking about. Of course not in as many words, I politely asked her to explain, since I already had so many assignments on hand :-). She reminded me of some meeting and that since the past ten days I was supposed to be working on collecting data on new customers for my company’s recently launched cell phone service......Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattt? How did this happen?

After stammering for a whole forty five seconds, I managed to blurt out that I was almost done with it and would be sending it to her by the end of the day.

She sounded a little exhausted and pleased, .....I was relieved.

Now what did she mean by I volunteered. It’s despicable; I find if difficult to manage what I have on hand, why on earth would I ask for more. What strain of dumb virus hit me, I know not.

My mind started reeling and it all came back to me.

The staff meeting 10 days back, I was standing right behind one of my colleagues (trying to keep out of view). All the conference rooms were booked so there we were, in the canteen, huddled together listening to Swati. She was explaining something about the recently launched service etc etc and I was totally concentrating on what she was saying until I saw him, the cute guy from the sixth floor.

I mean I just looked at him while still listening to Swati. I don’t know his name, but I have been kind of bumping into him since the past 2 months or so, actually 67 days to be exact. He works on the sixth floor, I guess in the accounting team,( which means he could be one of those high fliers, chartered accountant, definitely brainy) curly hair, glasses and the most beautiful dimpled smile, basically a dream.

He was in the canteen of all places, looking my way, and he smiled. I couldn’t believe it but he was actually looking at me and smiling. And then he was waving his hands saying hello. Before I knew my hand was also up, and I was waving back.

All of a sudden I heard Swati talking to me. She was thanked me, and said that she will get back to me in two weeks. I was shocked by so many things, the cute guy smiling, Swati thanking me for God only knows what, that my smile was still stuck on my face.

I meant to find out all about it but was so swamped with work. Now here I am, apparently with just a couple of hours left to come up with an unknown assignment.

Diving into research, ........there must be some website telling you where to find Mr. Potter's Invisibility Cloak...

I think I will try to continue it and give take it somewhere else...

Curry Crisis

Yet another cooking disaster,…………… I am so over Gutti Vankaya. After the seventeenth attempt at trying to cook the miserable thing, I have decided, enough is enough, no more trying, I am never going to get it right. I mean every single time something or the other goes wrong. It’s like God is sending me a signal, “Thou shall not try the eggplant curry ever again”.

And this is not the first time, there have been many more before and not just Gutti Venkaya. In fact today was a decent disaster compared to what the dear old kitchen has witnessed before. There was that time when I found this can of Sarson Ka Saag in the Indian store. I was thrilled and got it right away. I even got the corn flour, determined to whip up a scrumptious meal of sarson ka saag and makki ki roti.

The roti turned up like ….I don’t know …there is no single word to describe what it turned up like. It was like an absolutely horrendous, and tasteless giant cookie made with corn flour, that was just crumbling into powder when you tried to eat it. And the saag, despite following all the instructions to the “T” (which was basically heating it up in a bowl in microwave-you can’t go wrong on that one, meaning I did it right) it was simply disgusting to eat, to smell and even to look at. I don’t like throwing food away, but that was a no brainer, hands down.

Its like some colours never work for you, they never look good on you. So you just have to get rid of them and try those that bring out the best in you.

I kind of feel it’s the same way with me and the eggplant curry. Time to cut my losses (the innumerous hours wasted in trying to get it right, the stomach upsets after eating what I made and so much more) and just walk away.

July 8, 2007

a pinch of salt

Imagine a world where salt is so valuable that it is used as the currency. There was a time when this was true. The Greeks, Romans, Ethiopians and the Tibetans, all are known to have used salt as currency at some point in history. In fact the word Salary, is derived from salt, it literally means to give a person salt. And sayings like "worth his salt" are a byproduct of the times when salt was the currency. The Greeks would trade slaves using salt, and a good slave was considered worth his salt, or worth the value paid for him.

Today although salt has around fourteen thousand uses, currency is not one of them.

I know the culinary uses of salt, but I have always wondered what would world be like if salt was the currency.

So in today's world if we got rid of the paper notes and got back to salt, how different would things be? If salt costed what it did during the Roman times, we would be paying around eighty dollars per pound of salt. I did not come up with this figure, I found it in a very interesting article online, and believe that a lot of research went behind it.

But getting back to a scenario where salt is the currency, imagine going to Macy's and getting a gorgeous Ralph Lauren dress for a sack of salt, or going to your local bank with a can of salt and coming back with salt cubes in change or getting salt bars for your salary.

All the places near sea shore would be controlled by the government. There would be no celebrity sightings at Malibu and no vacations in carribbean or Hawai. I guess bikini would have never been born. In all likelihood we would not be using salt in preparation of food and would have come up with some substitute. Pepper would be standing alone on table tops. Perhaps there would be fewer people with blood pressure problems.

Chances are salt would come in different colours of different value. A bizarre scenario would be that salt would be somehow waterproofed.

Well life would certainly be very different from what we know now, and perhaps some one would be blogging about the times when paper was used as currency, fantasizing about going to Macy's and buying a designer dress for a sheet of paper.

Dreaming on........

“What travels the fastest?” asked my classmate in eighth grade.
“Airplane”, I replied immediately. She shook her head saying no. I came up with Tornado, the response was no.

I was confident I had the right answer when I said Light,….to my surprise she once again shook her head saying no.

“It is the human mind, can’t believe you didn’t get it” she said.

Hmmmmmmm….. I didn’t think much of it at that time. But later, on a rainy day as I sat listening to my History teacher talking about the British rule in India, I drifted away to a place almost two hundred years back, when Elizabeth Bennet walked all the way to Mr. Bingley’s house, Netherfield, to meet her ailing sister Jane. She walked three miles through the mud to visit Jane. I wondered what kind of boots was she wearing, were they comfortable ?And how did she manage to clean her gown of the mud stains, especially, since in those days there were no detergents.

A split second later, our shrilly school bell rang, the class was over and I was out of Pride and Prejudice and back in the twentieth century. Mind is the fastest, hands down; it can be anywhere any moment. But it is not the speed with which mind can bounce off places; it’s the ability of mind to wander anywhere that fascinates me.

Now if this happens constructively, with a purpose in mind, it would be called thinking, but if your mind is bouncing off, like mine was, imagining Ms. Bennet walking to Netherfield one moment and thinking of detergents the next, chances are it would be called day dreaming.

Unfortunately daydreaming is frowned upon by many, but I firmly believe it is one of the main foundations of human evolution. Think about it, discovery of fire as expected was an accident, but the invention of wheel was definitely someone’s dream, someone who was tired of walking or tired of lifting heavy things. Even when it comes to language, at some point someone among our ancestors must have gotten tired of waving hands and gesturing and would have wondered if there was a way that would make communication easier.

Perhaps in a different world, some one else also, like me, thought of Ms. Bennet's muddy gowns and came up with detergents. Thats the beauty of day dreaming, nothing is off limits; it doesn't make a difference whether you get laughed at or patted in the back in appreciation, in your dreams, you are free.

July 7, 2007

Against all odds

Paul Potts, a car phone salesman from South Wales, has won “Britain’s Got Talent” and the whole world seems to be raving about him. It’s the classic underdog story, an unassuming, slightly overweight, middle aged man with self esteem and confidence issues comes to audition for a famous show, expectations are at a low, and then he sings and floors the audience, hands down. He became the buzz of the competition and the world rooted for the underdog.

Paul Potts is not the first one; there have been hundreds of them before. Right from day to day little league matches to world wide competitions, we have seen absolute nobodies take the field by storm, and create history, and we have seen ourselves rooting for the one who has all the odds stacked against him.

Underdog syndrome as its called is so rampant that it even extends to works of fiction. We can’t stop cheering when Cinderella, the legendary heroine of fairy tales, ends up becoming a princess after a lifetime of servitude, when Rocky Balboa loses the match but lasts the fifteen rounds or even when Harry Potter goes from an ordinary boy being mistreated in his aunt’s house to a hero in the wizard world.

So what is it about the underdog that makes us root for them? Is it because we, in some odd twisted way hate those on top? Those who have made it to the top have in all likelihood used their own talent, effort and hard work to reach there. Perhaps it is not hatred or dislike for those who are already the best in their field but the hope, the faith that the underdog represents, the hope that with hard work and perseverance, it is possible, to beat the odds.

In many ways the underdog’s victory is a slice of success much more within reach.

July 6, 2007

catch phrase

What comes to your mind when you hear “you are fired” or “that’s hot”? Chances are you associate these phrases with Donald Trump and Paris Hilton. Catch phrases as they are called are simple phrases that are recognized by their repeated utterance.

So who uses them and why do they use them? Well anybody who has anything to sell, a product, an image, or an idea. And many a times even by ordinary people not perhaps to sell anything but just out of habit.

One of the teachers in my high school had this habit of using an unusual phrase “Jo Hai Ki” in his normal speech. One day while attending his class I counted the number of times he uttered Jo Hai Ki. It was seventy two times in a thirty minute class. No one pointed out to him, his habit of repeating this phrase and he blissfully continued to utter the phrase every time he spoke. And although he may not have intended it this way but every time I think of him I remember his Jo Hai Ki.

That’s how catch phrase catch on, they help you recall something they are associated with and often they works the other way round, you see something and remember the catchy phrase associated with it. Who can forget jingles and catch phrases like “Mango Fruiti, fresh n juicy”, “Gale mein khich khich, gale mein khich khich kya karoon”, or “Khao gagan raho magan”, they will forever be associated with the product they endorsed.

In fact catch phrases are used more often than we may even realize. It is very common for political parties, companies, advertisers, celebrities, and people trying to get the audience's attention to try to come up with a phrase that will be their signature line. Advertisers are always coming up with a phrase that can become a trademark for the product they are advertising. Many television hosts have a signature line that audiences associate with them. When Katie Couric moved to the evening news, she told the public that she was trying to come up with a signing off phrase and thousands of viewers even sent suggestions.

There was a time when even I tried to come up with a catch phrase; I zeroed in on Go jump and Go take a walk. It gave me immense satisfaction whenever I used the catch phrase, it was kind of my thing but I had to give it up soon. Some people actually started jumping or going for long walks and never coming back.

Good or bad, catch phrases are like labels, or logo, they help you identify the product, person or the idea and set them apart from others.

Reality Bites

To say that reality programs did anything less than explode into television would be an understatement. It was the year 2000, when Survivor was introduced and went on to become a smashing hit. Reality shows had been in existence before, shows like Candid Camera, Road Rules, game shows, etc were already on television, but Survivor redefined reality television as we know today

What happened next was a bevy of reality shows hitting the airwaves year after year. On the Lot, Shaq’s Big Challenge, Age of Love, Hey Paula, Fast Cars & Superstars, Bindi-The Jungle Girl and many more are joining the reality television bandwagon and this is just for this year.

Wikipedia defines Reality television as “a genre of television programming which presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and features ordinary people instead of professional actors”. The operative word in this whole definition being “purportedly”, as in the real(ity) world of television, its all about editing, and exaggerated drama.

So with a celebrity obsessed society, why are people interested in watching ordinary people, people just like them but on the other side of television? One reason could be that it allows ordinary people to fantasize that they can gain fame and money overnight, that it is possible for anyone to become a celebrity. On the other hand the popularity of the show among some audiences could be simply because people marvel at others’ misery, (I think definitely true for programmes like “The Fear Factor”). The reality shows sometimes push the social envelope and that might be attractive to some. At an ideal level the shows are popular perhaps because the audience is genuinely interested in knowing what is happening in others’ lives or have an inherent dislike for anything unreal and fake.

Opinions and reasons aside, the primary reason these shows are on air is the cost benefit ratio. They involve minimal costs, ordinary people who need not be paid in millions and large audiences. In a way it’s a win win situation, the networks save bundles of money, and it allows ordinary people to get fame & money.

It is very unlikely that reality television will disappear from television; it has become a genre in itself. And for those of us who are not really into reality television, we will just have to wait for this phase to fade out if not totally disappear.

July 5, 2007

that's private

Last week I watched Woody Allen’s, "Small Time Crooks". I have always been tickled by the nervous energy of his movies, the hopeless situations and the humor. In some ways they are kind of timeless. But when I saw him, when I saw Woody Allen, I couldn’t shake off the memory that this is the same guy who cheated on his long time girlfriend with her daughter and who is now married to the daughter.

Though this uncomfortable snippet of information about his private life did not take away from my movie watching experience, but it always came back to me, it was always there and at some level I guess I did judge him once again.

And it’s the same thing when it comes to many celebrities no matter what field they are in. A single scandal and depending on its severity, their whole life can get defined by it. It doesn't matter what else they have done in their life, the scandal becomes a frame of reference. Perhaps time weathers off some of the effect, but the imprint is always there. When you see Bill Clinton today, you may not immediately think of Monica Lewinsky, but on the other hand when you see Monica Lewinsky, the first thing that crosses your mind is her role in the Clinton scandal.

Media today focuses so much on the private lives of famous people that even the tiniest bit of totally useless information about them is readily available. In fact if you follow the right websites, magazines and TV programmes, you can have day to day update on what the celebrities are doing.

And lot of times even if you don’t want to know, you cannot avoid it. When Paris Hilton was released from prison last week, it created media frenzy; it was diligently covered by all the major networks. Some anchors even apologized for covering Paris Hilton before proceeding to talk about her. But every tiny, silly detail was covered right from the clothes she wore to what she ate to what kind of make up she had on.

So do we judge them on the basis of scandal, do we define them by their scandal, perhaps not all of us and not always, but its always there, it is there somewhere at the back of our mind.

Appearances are deceptive

Growing up I used to watch television religiously. One day I saw Madhuri Dixit in a gorgeous dress; it was an unusual kind of dress, a suit tied with laces on the side, and she looked lovely. I thought it was beautiful and was very excited when I found a similar looking suit in my size. I begged my parents to buy it right away and they indulged me. It was perfect, I had found the dress in my size and I loved it. But when I wore it, I just didn’t feel the excitement, the dress was gorgeous but it looked awful on me. The next time I saw someone wearing a similar kind of dress on TV I didn’t find it beautiful.

I didn’t understand it right then that my perception of the image on TV had changed. I was ten; I didn’t realize that the dress Madhuri was wearing was not looking flattering, even on her. She was my favourite actress and no matter what kind of crazy outfit she wore she always looked good to me.

I realize now, that our perceptions rule over reality in just about every aspect of life. Our opinions and judgments are influenced by the images and appearances before us. And this is true in every single aspect of life.

A couple of months back ABC ran a documentary on just the same, on how our perception affects the simplest of decisions in life. They observed the behaviour of a test group of people and how their perception was influenced by imagery.

In one study, people were tested on likeability of Vodka. The test group was asked about their favorite vodka. Majority replied that they preferred Grey Goose, and some even responded that they can differentiate between Grey Goose and other brands of vodka. Six brands of vodka were used including Grey Goose which is an expensive brand of vodka. The test group was served with the six different brands of vodka, in glasses and asked to identify the vodka, and rate the different Vodka on likeability. The results were surprising; no one rated Grey Goose as the favourite, and no one identified Grey Goose correctly.

Though some had claimed that Grey Goose is their favorite, when consuming other brands they just could not differentiate Grey Goose from others. It was their perception that was telling them a particular brand was the best.

Though this was a study, but our day to day life is full of examples where we put on our coloured glasses and look at the world. Perhaps it is not humanly possible to dissociate our perceptions from the way we look at reality, but we could be, just a little open, to acknowledge that what we see may not be all that is there to see.

July 4, 2007

that's hot...

In the 90s I read about an amusing lawsuit against Mc D. A lady spilled coffee on herself and got burnt and sued Mc D claiming that the coffee had been extremely hot, hotter than what one would expect. I couldn’t help thinking- do we not pay to get hot coffee, and if we choose to have it hot then why would we be upset about it being hot?

The lady at the centre of coffee case was 81 year old Stella Liebeck. She was in a car when she accidentally spilled Mc D’s coffee on herself and suffered third degree burns on her body. Contrary to general belief she was not driving, and the car was actually pulled over, for her to add sugar to her coffee, when she spilled the coffee over herself. Initially she just wanted Mc D to pay for her medical expenses which they refused, stupid decision in retrospect. So she went on to sue and walked away with two plus million in damages, which was later reduced.

Now the National Coffee Association recommends that coffee should be brewed at 195- 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction and drunk immediately (guaranteed to give you a scalding throat or money back). If not drunk immediately, the coffee should be maintained at 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. Mc D were doing something similar, they served coffee at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit. But in the ten years preceding the famous coffee case, more than 700 people had suffered from burn injuries ranging from mild to serious resulting in complaints and lawsuits. The issue was coffee at that temperature was capable of causing severe third degree burns (shocker) and there was no warning to the customers of the risk.

Public opinion continues to be divided on whether it was a just case or not, and where does responsibility for your own actions kick in? But the coffee case definitely left a legacy; it inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous and often successful cases and more importantly it got all the companies to print "HOT" on the caps of hot beverages saving thousands of unsuspecting hot beverage drinkers from getting burnt.

Chasing the trend

Skinny jeans are back. Thanks to 80s and their ridiculous invention, the skinny jeans are back and once again and I cannot stop waiting for it to disappear. The good news is that now, when I go for shopping, hopefully people will be clamoring for the skinny jeans and leave my favorite jeans alone. The bad news is that they seem to have infiltrated all the malls, catalogues, TV channels and it is bugging the hell out of me. Who on earth looks good in skinny jeans?

Apart from skinny jeans things that are in are polka dots, that s cute, fluffy sleeved tops, floral prints, summery dresses, curly hair, silver and gold flats, the list goes on.
It is all precious, the only glitch, it practically makes my whole wardrobe, fashionably stale.

I thought last year was the year of revealation. It was time to get zexxxyyyy, no more sloppiness; I shall be trendy this season, I thought. After years of watching Fashion Police in E! channel, checking out Fashion faceoff in People magazine and endless hours of window shopping, I was officially inspired to dive into fashion.

And so I set out to get trendy. Multiple rounds of Macys, Old Navy, Express, Gap, Guess, Target, Nordstrom and a couple more, and I was ready to face the fashion bravely. Boot leg jeans, solid colors, stripes, gypsy skirts, straight hair etc etc.. I was in vogue. Hell I even had heels, as uncomfortable as they were but anything for fashion.

It was all perfect, and then, a bleep of a heartbeat later, fashion was different once again. In fact practically whatever I had before my fashion adventure or misadventure, with the exception of skinny jeans and some is back once again. Now they are even threatening that apart form skinny jeans, ultra wide jeans are going to get in...... I think I am ready to roll on the floor.

Who decides what is in and what is out? My fashion decision, I am sticking to my wardrobe and definitely not watching those damn fashion shows any more.

July 3, 2007

Why the fuss?

Iphone is finally out. Five months after Steve Jobs, announced the launch of Apple’s latest product, Iphone has made it to the stores. The response has been more than incredible thanks to the genius marketing of Apple and to the insatiable appetite of public for anything fancy & in vogue..

Iphone is being dubbed as once in a decade event if not once in a century event. But more than the product itself, what caught everyone’s attention was the frenzy leading upto the Friday launch. Snippets of interesting and amusing news were trickling throughout the past weekend.

Customers started waiting outside Apple stores even before the Friday launch but some people took the cake. The person who had the number one spot in the queue outside one of the Apple stores in New York had waited there for a week. Another person actually flew in from Norway to New york to buy Iphone the moment it hit the stores. I am positive both have a very fulfilling life and cost effectiveness is one of their plus points.

Some customers paid upto $300 to proxy waiters to stand in line for them and buy the Iphone for them. In New york especially the demand for waiters was extremely high. After the sales frenzy, many of the sold iphones quickly made it to different websites and were sold to the highest bidders

It costs Apple a mere $200 and $220 to manufacture the 4 GB and 8GB Iphone respectively. Market estimates indicate that nearly half a million Iphones were sold within the first twenty four hours. The online orders alone will take two to four weeks for processing.

Some people are speculating that there has been so much hype surrounding the Iphone that the expectations are extremely high and Apple cannot afford to not deliver.

Apple did not go in a marketing overdrive, in fact there was very less information made public about Iphone. The announcement of the launch five months back was followed by strategically placed in events. So why all this fuss, why this craze over an electronic gadget? Why is Iphone destined to be a success?

Perhaps because Apple has woken a sleeping giant, has bent the market and just like Google, created demand for something practically non existent.

July 2, 2007

Mango Madness...

After a gap of 18 years Mangoes are back in America. The U.S government, under a new trade agreement with India, has agreed to resume the import of mangoes. This lifting of the ban on mango imports or as some people are calling it, mango diplomacy, is being seen as another step forward in improving India-U.S relations.

May 2007 ended the ban on mango imports and ushered in mango madness, they going at a rate of $35 for a crate of 12 mangoes as of now. The reason why they were not allowed for so long into America was that certain unapproved pesticides were being used by Indian farmers. But now, mangoes are being irradiated and this makes them fit for consumption.

With a 4000 yr old history, mangoes are believed to have originated in the north eastern belt of India and are now grown throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Growing up in India, mangoes were an inherent part of life and integral part of culture. Mangoes have a considerable presence in religion, history, art, handicrafts, jewelry and very commonly in cuisine across India. Apart from Hindus, Buddhists also consider them sacred as Lord Buddha is believed to have lived under a mango tree. They are also associated with abundance and joy. Many of us must have seen mango leaves being tied at the entrance to bring in good luck. Down south perhaps Banana and coconuts are close contenders.

They are also known to have political uses. In Pakistan, if you receive a crate of mangoes from your enemy, it means they want to reconcile with you and rejecting a gift is considered bad according to tribal traditions. The idea is to replace embarrassing apologies by sending mangoes. Also the mangoes sent to a rival must be from your own farm and not from some market. This form of diplomacy was introduced sometime in the 19th century during the British reign in the Sindh region.

In India Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were known to carry baskets of the choicest of Mangoes on their foreign trips. On one such trip to Moscow, when the mangoes were served during a banquet, they created a sensation with many of the dignitaries taking the mangoes back home to their families.

Whatever their use, they are one of the most enjoyable fruits ever and perhaps “the most waited for”, fruit in India. For me, mangoes are the reason to wait for summer.

July 1, 2007

The complete Idiot’s Guide to Catch a Housefly

I have noticed that there are instruction manuals for just about anything these days. Some time back I had seen step by step instructions to boil a pot of water. Believe it or not, there were six steps listed out to boil a pot of water.

So I got inspired, and decided to come up with a comprehensive set of instructions to catch Musca domestica, our very own housefly. I am sure, all of us, with the exception of bubble boy I guess, have had the pleasure of finding a fly buzzing around our head, refusing to let go and would love the opportunity to get back.

So here's what you can do-

-The swat approach
1) Let the fly settle down, preferably on a horizontal surface.
2) Approach the fly cautiously; make sure that there are no sudden movements.
3) Position both of your hands; Considering the reflex of an average person and that of a housefly, it works very well to position your palms about 6-8 inches over the fly. Keep a distance of atleast a feet between your open palms.
4) Now with a swift motion, clap your palms together. This works better than trying to directly smack a fly.
NOTE: The reason this works is because a fly reacts to a threat by simply flying away, and when you approach a fly from two sides it gets confused.

If you do not want to get your hands dirty, the following two techniques might help-

-Surface - towel approach
1) Take a bath towel, make sure that the one you choose is not very bulky. A light turkey towel is a good choice for this.
2) Hold both the ends of the towel together by scrunching them up. Again wait for the fly to settle on a horizontal surface.
3) Approach the fly cautiously and when you are 3-4 feet away, slap the towel on the fly.
4) Work on your timing and the smacking speed if you don't get it right first time.

-Mid-air smack approach
1) Take a bath towel, make sure that the one you choose is not very bulky.
2) Fold the towel in half and hold it in your dominant hand. Wait for the fly to fly away from you.
3) Swing the towel at the fly swiftly. Watch your swing speed.
4) Work on your timing and speed if you don't get it right first time.

-No blood approach
I tried this and am happy to say that it worked real fine. The initial steps are the same;
1) Wait for the fly to settle down on a plain surface.
2) Take a glass tumbler, preferrably a long and thick one and approach the fly cautiously. Watch the fly closely, and when its relaxed, very swiftly place the hollow side of the tumbler on the fly.
3) The fly is stuck inside the glass, wait for the fly to be near the top of the glass.
4) Now swiftly slide the tumbler on to a plate so that the plate seals the open end of the tumbler. 5) Release the fly outside your house.

I read somewhere that you can try catching a fly with your bare hands as well. You have to approach the fly and place both of your palms about six inches above the fly. Keep your palms about two feet apart and when the fly moves away, cup your hands. With good practice, you might get the fly inside your hands. Now shake your cupped palms vigorously and then release the fly outside. Chances are the fly will never return and if you are lucky might even tell its buddies not to approach you.

All this requires a lot of concentration, and can be very frustrating. But once you get it right, it is very rewarding.

June 30, 2007

a memory in my heart

A couple of days back, I was listening to songs from the movie, Alaipayuthey and suddenly I found myself six years back in time, in my room in Pune, listening to the same songs playing on my roomie's broken tape recorder. It was astonishingly sudden, I was not even thinking of my Pune days, but one moment I was sitting at my computer, at home and the next I was in the past, in a long forgotten day.

It was not the first time it had happened. A colour, a smell, or a familiar touch opens up a memory box. A rainy and windy day takes me to a day at my parents home, an aroma reminds me of a walk in a market, a sunny winter day and I am nine years old sleeping in a park, a taste lingers on screaming something familiar.

It is not as if what comes back was something special, they are just memories of ordinary days with all their mundaneness, and insignificant happenings.

Its as if the time gone by is frozen in my memory, as if a snapshot of a day is somewhere in my mind and an unsuspecting sense on a regular day triggers it off. But the question is why do I remember that day, that person, that incident. If its not important enough, then why my life today triggers these memories?

Perhaps there is no reason as such, the explanation is nothing complex but a very simple one. Perhaps it is yet another manifestation of Pavlov's experiment. When I wear sneakers and put on fast music, I feel energetic and sporty.

Perhaps its an association that I have subconsciously made, my mind registering a mundane routine or a memorable day.

Whatever the reason, but I do find myself stumbling upon memories from times long forgotten, and wondering where did that come from.

alice in wonderland

Ages since I went shopping, I want to buy suits and decide to go to the city. Strange but there are no cabs around. I am on my way now, wind is blasting on my face, my hair is all over the place and I am not in a cab or a bus, ...I am actually flying.

I am on Harry Potter's broom and I am right above the city. It is very windy but I have a lovely view. Everything looks real different from here. No smoke, hardly any traffic, snow white clouds, and I kind of have my hair in control, this is refreshing.

Chennai Silks, a shop that sells suits among other things, is around the corner and I decide to go for it. I have landed and am completely surprised; it is bad enough that despite being such a big store, they do not have parking space, but they do not even have a broom closet. I try to convince the manager to allow me to keep my broom at a corner, he says No.

This is going to be embarrassing; I look like someone from Hogwarts, without the cloak, but decide to take the broom inside the shop. Huge place, and lovelyyyy dresses, cannot stop fancying me in just about everything. After loitering around for a couple of hours manage to settle on four suits to take home. I think people are looking at me, as if they have never seen a broom before. Shopping is done for the day, and I am on my way again. Don’t know where I am going, but flying on the broom is fun.

Next stop, I am at my college. Oh yes, it is examination time. It is English finals today. Wow, for a change, I am actually prepared. My classmates are standing nearby and I walk up to them. Strange but all are holding Chemistry books. And they are asking me if I am prepared for the Chemistry paper. I can feel my stomach getting knotted up, I must be hearing this wrong. How did this happen? This must be a dream, I do not know how but I have jumbled up the exam schedule and prepared for English on Chemistry day. Can’t hear anyone anymore, can hear only buzzing noises.

Trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggggg, a screeching sound, the bell is ringing, all of us have to get to our examination halls, I think I am having a panic attack.
I open my eyes; I am covered in sweat, and completely shaken. What am I going to do now? I am totally blank, I can’t see anything, it s all dark around me.

It is midnight, and I am smiling.

I actually graduated from college eight years back, and didn’t even have Chemistry as a subject. It was afterall, just a dream.

June 29, 2007

Just for laughs

Found some very funny websites, amusing thoughts, questions, quotations…
some of my favourites..

During Marriage ceremony why is the bridegroom is made to sit on the horse ?
He is given his last chance to run away.

Cheese….milk’s leap towards immortality.

In primitive society, when native tribes beat the ground with clubs and yelled, it was called witchcraft; today, in civilized society, it is called golf.

An alarm clock is a device that wakes you up just in time to go back to sleep.

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is.

Many adults drive more recklessly than teenagers. They’ve had more practice.

The seven ages of man have become preschooler, Pepsi generation, Baby Boomer, mid-lifer, empty-nester, senior citizen and organ donor.

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

A conclusion is just the place where you got tired of thinking.

Two cows are standing in a field.One says to the other "Are you worried about Mad Cow Disease?"The other one says "No, It doesn't worry me, I'm a horse!"

Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Whenever I find the key to success, someone changes the lock.

When in a queue, the other line always moves faster and the person in front of you will always have the most complex of transactions.

I earn a seven-figure salary. Unfortunately, there's a decimal point involved.

If carrots are so good for the eyes, how come I see so many dead rabbits on the highway?

Why is it that if someone tells you that there are 1 billion stars in the universe you will believe them, but if they tell you a wall has wet paint you will have to touch it to be sure?

The Republicans issued a statement today demanding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi get back to work. President Bush would have made the statement himself, but he’s still on vacation.

Five people you meet in heaven

Two years back I picked a book "Five People You Meet in Heaven" from the library. To be honest, what initially attracted me to the book was its thinness book and its unusual title, I wanted to know what lay beyond those words and without having to read for a long time to crack the suspense.

I had never read Mitch Albom, never heard of him so expectations from the book were pretty much non existent. But once I started reading the book, I could not put it down, I was mesmerised by his story telling and by the time I finished it, I wanted to tell everyone I knew, about this book.

The story begins with Eddie, a maintenance man in an amusement park, dying in a tragic accident trying to save a young girl, and coincidentally on his eighty third birthday.
He wakes up to find himself in heaven, but heaven is not the expected, paradise, the garden of eden. Instead Eddie finds himself in his past, at a part of his life where he has already been. What follows next is, Eddie meets five people from his past, loved ones and strangers but who have nevertheless affected his life one way or the other.

The five people walk him through his life, help him understand what really happened in his life and how his life was intertwined with others' lives. Each of the five people teaches him valuable lessons about life that he never understood when he was alive. The book uses flashbacks to dwell on Eddie's life and though it takes us through flashbacks to Eddie's life and to Eddie in heaven, it is done moderately and is almost lyrical, the story telling is extremely smooth.

What the book tells you is that no action is insignificant, what we do affects others and our lives are intertwined. Every action of ours sets the ball rolling and culminates in someone else getting affected.

Eddie had believed that his life was not meaningful, he had felt trapped in the ordinariness of his life, but in heaven, through the eyes of the five people, his life appears totally different.

The book leaves you with optimism and hope. At a certain level it tells you to look beyond the surface. It convinces you that you are not alone, that you are connected and that you make a difference.

June 28, 2007

you are what you eat

I am a big fan of Indian food, especially spicy food, and love trying out new dishes. After moving out of India, I had the opportunity to try a variety of International cuisine, and I couldnt help falling in love with many of them. So thought of listing down my favourites. Here's the list-

- Tiramisu
If there is anything heavenly, it must be Tiramisu. I have tried Tiramisu in many places and the one you get in CPK comes out a smashing first.

- Matar Paneer
I just can't seem to get tired of this. I had it first when I was living in Punjab, and haven't been able to give it up since then.

- Sugarcane juice
Sugarcane juice made with crushed ginger, is yum yum, to die for and hands down the best summer drink one could have. My only problem, its seasonal.

- Mozzarella Cheese Salad
Discovered this one at a friends place, tried my own version with a lot more crushed pepper and I can't stop eating it once I start, in an odd way it is addictive. Yummy when made with tender corn and grape tomatoes.

- Tapri ki chaai
Tapri ki chaai, in a glass tumbler, and at sometime around midnight. Possible only in India, and the best thing to do if you have an exam around the corner.

- Sizzlers
Don't know if there are many varieties in vegetarian out here. The best I had was in Juhu, Mumbai. Out here I have seen the vegetarian ones only in Mexican restaurents.

- Chinese Hakka Noodles with sweet corn soup
When I was a student in Pune, Chinese food was one of the few things I used to look forward to. I was a student, so money was not exactly in free flow and any opportunity to have Chinese was always sought out. Pune has some of the best Chinese food I have had and Chinese is available in just about every nook and corner.

- Italian food
Am still discovering Italian, not familiar with everything. But whatever I have had convinces me that this is not something I will be giving up any time soon. Favourites are Mushroom Ravioli and Shells (small ones). I actually prefer the dishes that do not have too much of cheese. Too much of cheese and I start gagging over calorie couting.

- Hyderabadi Baingan
Mamma makes the best Hyderabadi Baingan. Never thought eggplant could be this tasty, but its heavenly. Some people also call its Guthi Venkaya.

- Tamarind and Tomato Rice
I love most of the South Indian food, especially Iyengar food, but favourites are Tamarind rice and Tomato rice. Mouth watering when served with appalam, or vadaam..

Jane Austen

I was ten when my mother got me a copy of Emma by Jane Austen. It was an abridged version with illustrations on every alternate sheet. At that point my reading extended to Famous Five by Enid Blyton, kiddie magazines and comic strips. So Emma was like something from outer space, an unknown world of dance parties, cottages, and horse driven carriages and I was not sure if I wanted to venture in.

I did and I was fascinated by her world. I read the abridged version of Emma about fifty five times (yup I counted). Well after all the readings I decided to move on to the unabridged version of Emma and I was still hooked on. I read and reread all of Jane Austen’s books except Northanger Abbey.

It was a completely different world, an era long past, but the characters, were somehow real and believable. Over the next few years I moved on to other Victorian classics, liked a few but always came back to Austen.

So what was it that always got me back to Austen? The only thing that comes to mind is “simplicity”. If you read any of her stories, they are all about ordinary people, living in a world, when even the smallest of words or actions could change your destiny, but who have believable emotions, aspirations, and insecurities.

There are no fantastic situations but her style of writing renders the commonplace, ordinary characters and events of day to day life, interesting. For me another thing that stands out in her work is the wittiness and cleverness of the women. It was a time when for women, just about everything depended on the conformity to an unforgiving social code, and it’s a pleasant surprise to find intelligent and witty heroines hidden behind those pages.

There are no horribly vicious villains, no larger than life characters or situations, nothing fancy, just a normal set of people, living in the nineteenth century middle class England, but their stories are universal, contemporary and just timeless.

June 27, 2007

Things to do before I die

1. I love Paris-

Paris the city of my dreams, I don’t know when the fascination with the city started, but it has been there forever and ever. Definitely want to live there for some time and not just travel, walk down Champs Elyse'es , wear something atleast remotely fashionable, meet Mon-a- lisa, speak French and the list goes on…

2. Sleep on a hammock on a sunny day-

Always wanted to do this, a nice and comfortable hammock, in my own backyard, a beautiful day, an interesting book and meeeee….and of course something to sip and munch on...

3. Find Surabhi G –

Am on a mission, track down my bitchy classmate from eight grade, Surabhi G and her superbitch of a mom, and give them both a tight slap, left, right and centre. Have already told “A”, not to interrupt me if someday he finds me slapping a complete stranger, 99.999% it would be me slapping he and am totally waiting for that day..

4. Get rid of the flab-

If history is any indicator, this one is going to take just about a lifetime or more. Have always been on the plumper side, so don’t even know what it feels to be thin and it’s a good goal to work up to. Get a flat stomach, with abs (J wishful thinking to the extreme) like one of those people on TV.

5. Chop sticks-

Learn to use chop sticks, eat noodles with them, and do it extremely gracefully.

6. Its a rich man’s world-

A man is taller when he is standing on his money, couldn’t agree more. So get “A” to make tons of money, and keep it all in our joint account. Absolutely want to get out of the middle class and break in upstairs …

7. Dance-

Don’t know if I want to learn classical or western, but I definitely want to learn some form of dance. Had tried to learn odyssey, gave up after two sessions, and couldn’t take the sore legs any more. Tango seems interesting. Decide on a dance and learn it.

8. Fire-

Start a fire, with only grass and stone. Have always read in history books that this is how our ancestors discovered fire, but I have never been able to get this right. So want to do it some day.

9. Wine and cheese

Learn about different kinds of wine and cheese, and definitely try all of them, go to a vineyard, crush the grapes, make wine, get drunk, sing a song, create a ruckus, and say cheese.

one fine day

May 14, 2006, our anniversary, could not believe that it was three years already. I don’t know how but they just seem to have zoomed past us. We didn’t plan anything special, it was a Sunday morning and I was at my lazy best.

The weather was awesome. I love rains, especially when it’s just a light drizzle and not a heavy downpour. Everything is alive, fresh, as if the whole world has just had a shower. And that’s exactly how it was, outside. I wanted to get out and go for a long walk. We decided to go out for breakfast, to IHOP and drove down. With the awesome weather, I was glad that we were out.

So here we were at IHOP and there was this huge crowd queued up waiting to have breakfast. IHOP is usually crowded over the weekends during breakfast time but I had never seen so many people before. Turns out it was Mother’s Day, and there were many families waiting to be seated.

We had just reached and were wondering what to do next, with so many people ahead of us, we were sure that we would be waiting for atleast an hour or so. And then suddenly, our names were called out, they had two seats for us, yipppeeeeee…. Since almost everyone else had come in large groups; they had a tiny booth for two, available. It was just perfect.

Food was fantastic, I ordered cheese blintzes with blueberry topping, and they were yum. The place was extremely busy and lively. We were sitting right next to a window and spent time sipping coffee, talking about just about anything under the sun and looking at the traffic outside. I don’t know how long we were there, but after breakfast we just roamed around the complex doing window shopping.

The rest of the day just breezed through. We watched a couple of movies, cooked food, spoke to friends and family and just lazed around.

There was nothing fancy, nothing special, was just another day but it was a perfect one.

June 26, 2007

What's cooking

Last week tried out some recipes. I don’t know if it happens to many people, but when I am cooking something new, or baking, especially baking, I find it oddly relaxing.

So coming back to last week, I was in a creative mode and tried out different recipes. Internet is where you find just about anything these days, so I started with internet to fish out something interesting to try.

Came across many recipes for Shrikhand and its varieties and decided to try one of the simplest ones. It was for mango shrikhand. I have always liked Shrikhand but never thought of trying it because I thought it would be very cumbersome to make. However, it was hardly so and I loved making it. So this is what I did-

Take two cups of yogurt, (home made is preferable), tie it in a large cotton handkerchief and hang it. If you do not have a place to hang it from, then the knob of a kitchen cabinet or the faucet of the kitchen sink is a good place. Try to use a white or light colored piece of cloth to hang the yogurt. So now leave the yogurt hanging for atleast three to four hours or more, a good time to do so is in the night before you sleep. After three-four hours most of the water from the yogurt would have drained off and it would be creamy. Now mix sugar and mango pulp according to your taste. Can whip it with a spoon or use a hand mixer. And voila you Mango Shrikhand ready. Its enough for atleast two people.

Another thing I tried was with mini idlis. If you have ever gone to Saravan Bhavan in India you might have heard of sambar idlis, where they take a bowl of sambar and put mini idlis in it. I had gone to India recently and got the mini idli plates. This is purely my own concoction (and feeling damn proud of it). So here it goes-

Start with the mini idlis, steam the mini idlis and keep them aside. Now take four spoons of ginnelly oil, (in tamil its called nallai yennai) and heat it in a frying pan. Add mustard, and when they splutter add chopped curry leaves, asafoetida, and Mulaga podi (what some people call gun powder). Now add the mini idlis. You can add salt according to taste. Remove the idlis once they are roasted. They are absolutely yum yum and a wonderful snack.

Both the dishes are really simple and worth trying and they definitely taste great when you make it yourself.

a moment of clarity

Some days back I happened to read “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri. The novel follows a newlywed Bengali couple, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguly, through their journey, from India to America, through their struggle coping with the foreignness of their new home, and their half hearted assimilation into America. While Ashoke adapts to the new country with relative ease, Ashima finds it difficult to overcome the dichotomy of her life.

The turning point comes, when Ashima goes shopping for gifts before going on a trip to India, and forgets her shopping bags in a local train. To Ashima’s surprise, the bags are found and returned intact. She cannot help but acknowledge that had she lost something in her own country it was unlikely that she would have recovered it so much ease. Though she still continues to struggle with the cultural differences of her two worlds, but this incident makes her a little open to her new surroundings.

When I read it, I suddenly realized that many of us have had one of those light bulb moments, moments when you no longer have to squint to peek at something but can see everything with perfect clarity.

I could relate personally with the incident described in the novel. Like thousands of people from all over the world, I also moved to America leaving behind my own world, in India. Though I was excited and ready to explore my new surroundings, I was not ready to let go of the life I had left behind. Then one day, a tiny incident, a little act of courtesy changed me, without even me being aware of it.

I was calling my brother in India, and while dialing the international code for India and the code for the city my brother lives in, I ended up dialing the number 911. I did not realize that I had called emergency and continued with my call.

And then, within minutes there was a knock at the door, and I found a cop standing at my doorstep. I was perplexed as to what a cop was doing at my place. The officer at my door explained that they had received a call from my number, and wanted to check if I were alright. After getting over my initial surprise, I apologized telling him that I was on a call and that is how I must have ended calling up the emergency. It was a genuine mistake but since it was an unnecessary call, I expected him to be annoyed. But instead of being annoyed, the officer spoke to me with the utmost courtesy, and told me, that if I had any problem I should call the emergency. He didn’t even show the slightest impatience at being called unnecessarily. I never forgot the kindness and respect he had shown me.

I guess that was the moment for me, it triggered a new found appreciation for my surroundings and I saw everything in a new light.

June 25, 2007

Reasons why America still amazes me

I was born and brought up in India. My father had a transferable job and we moved every couple of years to a new place. That way I got to see almost the whole of India, and loved every bit of it. So four years back when I had to move to the U.S of A, it was a hard decision to leave everything I loved, behind and to move to a completely strange, unknown country.

However, within months, I discovered that I had come to a very unique country with its own nuances and a tremendous exploration potential. Initially I expected, I would get over the amazement with time, but it is four years now and this country continues to surprise me.

Over the past couple of years I have noticed certain unique, different and sometimes strange things in America, that amuse me. Perhaps some are not even worth mentioning but nevertheless they still amaze me and amuse me….

  • When you are in a restaurant and want to get a box for the food you ordered, you don’t get it packed, but you get it “to go”.
  • There are actually more varieties of butter substitutes than butter itself.
  • People rarely honk when they are driving.
  • A paddle (group) of ducks can stop the traffic; people actually stop their cars and let the ducks cross the road.
  • You can actually sue your dry cleaners for 54 million dollars for a pair of pants and still see your case make it to court.
  • Wearing trousers at hips rather than at waist is actually in fashion.
  • You can begin with a paper clip and barter you way to a house.
  • And finally people always try to pronounce “A’s” fourteen lettered last name and actually get it right.


Last week, our friends’ six year old daughter M, spent a morning at our place. To spend the morning judiciously, I got my painting sheets, water colors and crayons out. With no great idea hitting me, I doodled around while M drew flowers and mountains.

Then suddenly out of blue, she asked me, “Are you making an abstract painting”?

My eyes went up in amazement and my ears strained hard to know if I had heard it right, if I had heard a six year old asking me about abstract art.

I asked her, “How do you know about abstract painting”?

She gave me a lucid explanation of how she had once gone to an art gallery with her class and seen abstract paintings.

I couldn’t decide what amazed me more, a six year old in an art gallery, describing perfectly, her trip to a gallery or a six year old connecting that what she was seeing was abstract.

I couldn’t help remembering the time when I was a six year old. I had a schedule packed with attending school, getting back home, playing with friends, eating food on time and sleeping before eight in the night.

I was in first grade, my favorite color was white and pink, and I had recently discovered that the mirror on the wall of my room was too high for me to reach.

My biggest achievement was when I figured out that I could reach the mirror by moving a stool next to the wall and standing on it.

And here I was sitting with a six year old who spent her days attending, not only school but also, piano lessons, dance sessions, singing classes, swimming classes and what not and who knew of the existence of something as vague as abstract painting.

The world had jetted on to the new age, the kids had got smarter, and I had failed to notice it all.

And then just as randomly as it had begun, the moment ended, M asked me for a popsicle and if I would help her color. I was with the child once again and spent the rest of the morning painting all the flowers and all the mountains.

June 21, 2007

It happened one night...

Half past seven, I have already had my dinner, and finished reading filmfare, stardust and tinkle…a couple of magazines are still left, but I cannot read anymore. Everyone around me is chatting, munching on food, reading something or just looking out.

I look out the windows trying to catch something interesting, but its all darkness outside with a few flickering lights appearing occasionally. Sleeping is the best option, and I climb under my sheets.

A scream, muffled noises, a woman frantically crying…… I peep out from under my sheets trying to figure out what is going on. It’s ten in the night, and most of the people are sleeping. Suddenly a cop rushes through the corridor. I am in a train on my way to Mumbai, on my own and surrounded by strangers. A woman in my compartment has been mugged.

Within minutes the whole compartment is buzzing with activity, everyone is awake, everyone wants details and much like Chinese whisper details start pouring in everyone hears some version or the other of the incident.

“Someone snatched it right off her neck and jumped out”, says the lady next to me.

“Snatched what”? I ask her.

“The gold chain, she replies, it seems it was brand new, six pounds. I don’t understand why they should wear expensive things”.

Another passenger agrees, chipping in, that the thief was in the compartment for an hour or so and knew that the lady was traveling alone.

Some protest that even in a reserved compartment anyone can walk in and snatch anything and run off.

Some are talking to the lady in question, consoling her and trying to get a first hand account of the whole incident. Similar incidents are being recounted to anyone willing to listen.

An hour or so, things have cooled down, some have rechecked the locks, secured their bags, some are relaxing again, and many have gone back to sleep.

I have lost my sleep, and am staring at the blue lights on the ceiling.

Chaiii, chaiii ,,……achhaiii… achhaiii .. morning already…

June 20, 2007


Saw a couple of movies this week. The much awaited one was Sivaji with Rajnikanth in it. I have heard that in places like Bangalore, India people have paid Rs. 16000/- to watch the movie in theatre and in some places the tickets are already sold out for the next three months.


Out here, Sivaji was screened by Tamil sangam in a theatre nearby and I went to watch it first thing Sunday morning with a bundle load of expectations.

When it comes to movies all I want is a simple story, and anything above that, like glamour, catchy songs, and larger than life aura is a bonus. Over the past couple of years big budget movies like Anniyan, Chandramukhi, Vettayadu Vilayadu have delivered in every aspect, so a movie with Rajni is bound to have everything and hence the expectation I guess.

The movie is definite yes for masala loving fans, the stunts are very different from what I have seen Rajni doing in his movies, lavish is an understatement for the sets, especially in the songs, and from his coin catching to candy popping, Rajni is at his stylish best.

He completely dominates the movie (surpriseJ) and he also looks a lot younger than one would expect. The first half of the movie kind of passes on but it’s the second half of the movie with Rajni in the revenge mode that drives the movie. And it would have been perfect if they had kept it simple and not tried to cram too much story into the three hours.

The movie has the glamour, the larger than life aura, and Rajni definitely lives up to his reputation, but there is just too much disconnect.

The love angle is uncomfortably jutted in, it need not even be there, there are too many tangents to the story line, and not enough time, the screenplay, though for a big budget Rajni movie, is passable, only a couple of songs are above average, and the ending is hurried. Vivek has been funnier in other movies, but he holds his own, next to Rajni. He definitely has a presence in the movie. The main villain does not have enough time on the screen; there is not enough time to hate him. The movie has all the masala, all the fancy clothes, elaborate sets, etc but you get the feeling that something is amiss.

Though I loved watching Rajni being Rajni, the movie was not a hit with me.

I do not see myself going to the theatre again to watch Sivaji, but I guess I will be watching it again sometime on the small screen. And I am once again waiting for the next Rajni release.

June 19, 2007

working out

6:30 p.m. ---- me sitting on my comfy couch, eating butter pecan ice cream straight from the tub, and watching TV. “A” has not come home yet, which means I have the ice cream, the TV and the couch, all three to myself. This must be heaven…

6:20 p.m. ---- bee gees are screaming out haaa haaa haaa haaa staying alive...staying alive …I am awake, and lying on the floor. Bright stinging light is staring into my eyes, “A” has left the blinds open, yet again and sunlight is hitting through, right onto my face. I am shaken and exhausted. I am still in the exercise room, the music is blasting off and the treadmill is nearby. I get up, and head towards the bath room. Am going to freshen up and watch TV and yes definitely eat something healthy tonight.

6:10 p.m. ---- I think I can see death around the corner. I am on the floor, my heart is beating violently, trying to run out of my body, sweat is running down, my stomach is twitching and turning from the insides, my legs are feeling lifeless, my eyes are watery, pain is rippling through and the room is spinning around me. And yes of course the white light, I can see it now. I don’t want to go to heaven in shorts and sneakers.

6:09 p.m. ---- Oh my god I cannot believe this is happening, the treadmill is trying to outrun me. I am running at 3.5 miles an hour, “A” says it is like walking (whateverrrrr), but my legs can’t keep up with the treadmill. Me thinks it is because I have been running for quite some time now and I am getting tired, and so after all it perhaps is not the treadmill. I must stop, “A” says never try to run more than your body can handle. He is right, am so getting off…

6:06 p.m. ---- That was fast, I am already in my running shorts and on the treadmill. “A” will be proud of me .

6:00 p.m. ---- Did you know, exercising for just 10 minutes a day can keep you fit…yippee. They are saying it on TV, and if it is on TV, it must be true. No more flab, no more loose clothes, no more tucking in the belly and just 10 minutes a day. God seems to be listening to me….I am inspired.

New York ..New York..

Manhattan, the big apple, home to sky scrapers, immortalized in movies, Carrie Bradshaw’s muse and a city that never sleeps. It has been four years since I first came face to face with the city and I still cannot stop obsessing over it.

My love affair with the city began when I was 12 years old. I was visiting a friend and she had a huge New york city poster at her home. It was the first time I had seen anything that extraordinary, a concrete forest, and a jungle of sky scrapers. The buildings almost felt as if they were live beings with a soul of their own.

Over the years I caught fleeting glimpses of the city in movies and western songs but nothing gripped my attention the way that poster had done. Years later I would find that what I had seen was an aerial shot of the Brooklyn bridge and Manhattan.

My first experience with the city, it left me speechless. I was surrounded by an expanse of tall imposing buildings and I suddenly felt very tiny. It was like Gulliver in Brobdingnag. An evergreen forest with no sunlight except that the forest was made of concrete buildings. I wondered, was it even humanly possible? The tallest building I had seen was 14 storeys high, somewhere in Mumbai. What I saw in the city was beyond comprehension, I strained my neck trying to get a glimpse of the top of the buildings.

And then beyond the buildings were the people. Europeans, Asians, Africans, Jewish, Catholics, Artists, Hawkers, Tourists, Brokers, Models, White, Black, Brown and even Yellow etc etc, people diverse in all respects from each other, but held together by the city. I spent the day walking through the city, in a daze, my eyes trying to register everything around me. Strangely everyone seemed to be moving, there was a constant hustle and not a moment when the city came to a standstill, even for a split second. How could a tiny island like Manhattan hold it all?

It was as if the world had been shrunk into a city and somehow it felt home.