Friday, February 26, 2010

February Unleashed

Our generation played with the Frisbee (Rubik’s Cube followed slightly later). Usually bright yellow, it looked more like a plate. The Frisbee was something we never forgot to pack, be it a picnic or a summer stay at a hillside cottage. It had a mind of its own and never followed the intended direction (especially when it was my turn). If throwing it correctly was a challenge then catching it was even a bigger challenge, making us scamper in confused frenzy. We mostly ended up losing it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Frisbee had an inventor, Walter Fredrick Morrison who died at the age of 90 on the 13th this month!

Haldiram left an unsavoury taste in our mouth. Prabhu Shankar Aggarwal, proprietor of this iconic brand, was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to kill a tea stall owner. If he didn’t like his chai, he could have just said so. The Bhujiya baron is now earning a princely amount of Rs 21 tending to hapless shrubs in the jail premises.

Meanwhile the climate could not make up its mind between Ice Age and Global Warming. While most of North America, Siberia, Mongolia and China faced the most brutal winter in a century this season, Delhi witnessed the warmest winter in 55 years. Was it that warm? Then why was I shivering most of January?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Laid back in Brussels



Never arrive in Brussels on a Sunday, you will be disappointed. The city looks dead, deserted as if hit by a plague. Why Brussels, of all places, you would ask. Well, some years back when we took a whistle-stop tour of Europe courtesy SOTC we quite liked this quaint, vibrant, not so expensive (rare in Europe) city. So, we wanted to explore it a little more when we were Europe-bound again last summer.

Our flight to Brussels was longish - via Munich - but we don’t mind stopovers or scurrying around like lost rabbits looking for gate B57. We smiled at nasty immigration officers, glugged bitter coffee and even tried to read German newspapers on the way. We had planned meticulously for this trip. Planning, deliberating, weighing options is our favorite pastime. We downloaded endless lists “Top 10 things to do in Brussels”, “What must you to eat, what to avoid”, “What should you expect”. The husband brushed up his French. We surveyed dozens of hotels. When you book online and take virtual tours, the hotel looks snazzy, the rooms spiffy, the bathrooms alluring. When you check in, you realize photography is an art. Cozy, we murmured as we dumped our bags and freshened up for an evening out.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Confessions of a Facebook addict

I blame the Aggarwala brothers. Had they not created the eminently buzz worthy Scrabulous on FB, they wouldn’t have featured prominently in the papers, and my interest would not have been aroused.

It was two years back that I read about this exciting new word game on the block that had taken the cyber world by storm. Am not much into gaming, the dexterity required eludes me. But I am hopelessly hooked on to word games. The joy of discovering new words (khi, titi, dado, apod)is unmatched. The game can get ruthless at times, but showing off your vocabulary has never been this fun. I wasted no time in creating an account on FB. Thus began my dalliance with the world of social networking.

So far I had successfully (well almost) managed to evade the lure of such sites. I had joined Orkut briefly. But the lack of privacy always rankled. My mailbox was inundated with enquires from strange males curious to know whether I was the elusive Purba they had been looking for years. All these years I was under the mistaken impression that mine was a unique name, until now. Within a few weeks I had managed a few stalkers and men desperate to have an affair. Disgusted I deleted my account.

Jaisalmer Jottings II





The first thing you notice in Jaisalmer is the Golden Fort sitting proudly atop the Trikuta hill. A handsome structure, it is visible for miles around. Made from yellow sandstone it glows an ethereal glow in the morning rays of the sun. No wonder Satyajit Ray called it the Shonar Kella. And then you notice the cows… Dozens and dozens of them, dotting every street, infesting each square, pooping away without a care in the world. Every time we traversed the length and breadth of the town (which was quite often) we did a complicated hop-skotch to avoid cow dung .The sight of a busy posterior of these bovine creatures brought out the latent athlete in us. We almost broke Olympic records in long jump.

Located in the heart of the Thar desert, Jaisalmer boasts of one of the largest fortress in the world and beautifully sculpted Jain Temples. The town is divided into the fort area and the expanse around it. The fort built way back in 1156 A.D is now tragically listed as one of the most endangered sites. It is speculated that the leaks from the sewage system is eroding the fort’s foundations. The tourist boom has made it worse. The hundreds of mushrooming restaurants and shops drawing gallons of water are stressing the already overstressed open drains.

We mostly discovered the town on foot. The people are friendly, the shopkeepers aggressive. The displays in most shops looked like rags. How is it that the same skirts, shawls, kurtas with same prints and colors are available in all tourist destinations? Is there a “Great tourist con manufacturing industry” that retails all over the country with a statutory warning “To be sold to gullible tourists desperate for shopping”? Also spotted some innovative advertising. Stuck to an oversized kurta, “Makes your boyfriend look less ugly”. Excuse Me? I’d rather get a new boyfriend. On a bed sheet “Works better than Viagra” . Viagra makers eat crow, colourful ugly embroidery works better.

Jaisalmer Jottings I

How about Jaisalmer this winter? I asked excitedly after futile attempts to book in Coorg, Pondicherry, Singapore (exactly in that order). Thanks to online booking, other people start booking months in advance and by the time we mere mortals wake up to the need of a vacation, the best hotels and dates are already taken.

So…how are we going to Jaisalmer? asks my 15 year old daughter, a day prior to our trip. Hmm, we are taking the train, I murmured. Train!!! comes the horrified response. Does it mean we have to go to the STATION?? Stations stink… she announced grandly. What kind of a child are we raising!! I fumed to my husband later that evening.

On D-day we had yet to start packing. Husband was running helter-skelter in quest of a charger left behind in office, medicines to be bought, cash to be withdrawn….With barely an hour left we finally got down to packing and managed to reach the station just on time.

Love is in the air

Love is buzzing in the air. Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has declared to the world and whoever is willing to listen “It’s no secret, Kiran (Desai) is my girlfriend” The lovebirds will soon be heading off to Goa. It should do them a world of good. Apparently sunbathing jazzes up a man’s sex drive with good ole Vitamin D coming to rescue. According to scientific studies it perks up the testosterone. I love scientific studies. You are forever caught in a quagmire of indecisions. One day eggs are harmful, the next they are supposed to be good for heart. Do I need to drink eight glasses of water? Is it okay to go nuts over nuts? Dusting increases chances of fertility! Ever since I read that I gave up stress for good. All I need to do is take off my glasses and the house looks much cleaner.

Jacob Zuma, South African president is busy propagating love. A practicing polygamist, he has sired his 20th child. Now that’s taking sowing your wild oats to the extreme. But I am a bit tensed up. Not because Zuma at 67 can still do it. I have a list to make of people I have to say “I love you” to. And I barely have a week. You see, the entire year I will be too busy working, living, entertaining myself and others and I will get just one measly Valentine’s Day to profess my love.

A month served shaken not stirred

The year started on an interesting note. Jyoti Basu threatened to die at the ripe old age of 96. The country got impatient and many started writing his obituaries, albeit a bit prematurely. But the tenacious fellow refused to let go. Finally on Jan 10th the man left for his heavenly abode leaving his organs behind for donation. He now rests in pieces. Jyoti Babu has many distinctions to his credit. But what was indeed unique was the media actually started dissecting his legacy and discovered to their horror that it was covered with blemishes. So instead of glowing tributes along expected lines we ended up reading his misdemeanors, how he single handedly managed to sabotage the future of what could have been a great state.

It became fashionable to go blue in the face and prance around in G strings. It helped if you were over 9 feet tall and spoke the Na’vi language. James Cameron managed to do it yet again. After making the greatest tear jerker of the century, Titanic, he comes along and makes yet another spectacular tear jerker “Avatar”. But this time around we all looked rather foolish sobbing our hearts out in anguish over the mindless destruction of Pandora with 3D glasses perched on our noses.

We realized nerdy scientists are star stuck too. In fact they went over the moon this time. The International Lunar Geographic Society named a crater on moon after Shahrukh. So when tourism on moon finally becomes possible and affordable we all know where to head to get our photos clicked.

The five lettered four letter word

It is a word we women dread the most. We try to avoid it yet there’s no escaping it. Many of us have learnt to live with it, accept it as our final destiny.

I vividly remember the day when I first heard this word. Of course, I had been using it all my life but someone using it in my context caught me unawares. I was barely 24, married for just over a year. It was a usual weekday morning until the door bell rang. Outside stood our neighbor’s teenaged son with yet another missive from his overbearing father. “Aunty, your cooler is………”

AUNTY ???

My entire neuro-sensory system stopped responding. My world came crashing down. All I could hear was the sound of my sobbing heart. “Does he think I am old?” “Have I aged overnight?” “Is this the end of my youth?” “Why me??” I was an anguished soul seeking answers from anyone who cared to listen.

Driving myself Crazy?

Live each day as if it’s your last. That’s how I felt when I took a six month sabbatical from a job that had started getting on my nerves.I had a blank canvas before me that I could fill with as many colors I wanted. I wanted my life to take unexpected detours, I wanted to feel rejuvenated with myriad experiences.

The first few days I simply luxuriated in the sheer joy of having nothing to do, no schedule to follow. Finally “I could do whatever, whenever I wanted!!” But when you have been a working woman most of your adult life it is tough to come out of the quagmire of targets to be met and lists of things to do. So, along expected lines, I was soon craving for challenge. My head was brimming with the longest list of must do’s and can do’s. I definitely did not want to look back and rue about the months I wasted.

I could take on my long neglected role of “domestic goddess”, I mused. I definitely needed to brush up on my near extinct driving skills. I could pick up some basic dancing skills and stop making a fool of myself on the dance floor. After years of writing stiff reports about school events, I could now channel “my writing skills” towards more creative stuff. I wanted to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, join a book club…. Phew!!! Simply thinking of all the juicy possibilities gave me an adrenaline rush.

My domestic diva phase began on a promising enough note. Like a brave warrior I climbed atop ladders, cleaned fans with grim determination, brought down curtains, vanquished imaginary cobwebs, re-arranged closets. I nearly killed myself trying to perfect my act.

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