Diggy Digs Deep – Musings of a misunderstood genius

Courtesy - OutlookIndia.com

It has been a busy month for me.  Managing smear-campaigns and weaving conspiracy theories is not an easy job.  But I am “tyre-less” and not a stepni as that retired sanyasin, Uma Bharti would like to believe.  I left no stone unturned to make Rahul Baba’s birthday party truly memorable.   Dressed up as a clown, I jumped from behind the curtains and sang Happy Birrrrthdayyy to yooooo….. in a breathy Marilyn Monroe style.   I ordered the birthday boy’s favourite – chicken wings from KFC but made sure none of them were right wings.  Before I could pat myself on the back for doing such a commendable job, my eyes beheld the ungainly sight of Pranab Da and Chiddy at the party.  I didn’t want to burst into tears and make a spectacle of myself.  Instead I promptly arranged musical chairs.  A fun way to pull chairs from under their saggy bottoms.  It was painful trying to make Rahul Baba win, the boy just stood there smiling and waving rather than run.  But one look at Madam’s beaming face and I knew it was worth the effort.

I will now be canvassing to make 19th June - Rahul Baba’s birthday as Children’s Day.   It’s time to move on to a fresh new face, in all his dimpled glory.  And who wouldn’t want to have a cherubic child like our crown prince!

My own birthday on 28th of February should be marked as National Owl Day.  Many moons back my auspicious entry was marked by the hooting of 72 owls – so loud that all of Raghogarh converged at our haveli to see this one of a kind baby.   And what they saw is still etched in their memory – a baby with his foot stuck firmly in his mouth.    All these years and I have been unable to get my foot out. Someone even wrote that I should come with an instruction manual that reads: Open Mouth, Insert foot.   Funny...

I have always been different.  I was a sickly, snotty kid who no one paid attention to.  So I would keep myself busy digging.  I would dig deep and yet come up with nothing.  So I started bragging about my imaginary discoveries and keep the villagers enthralled.   And thus I came to be known as Diggy Raja – the Raja of diggers!

Of Babas and Babies....

Courtesy - easyvectors.com

I have been acting a little paranoid of late.  A Mexican Scientist has discovered a novel way of breaking down disposable diapers while producing “tasty” mushrooms.  The fungus called Oyster mushrooms can devour 90 percent of a disposable diaper in two months flat!  Try as I might, I am unable to greet this environment friendly breakthrough with unbridled joy.  I mean I love babies as long as they are not mine and mushrooms are my favourite but the thought of the fungus growing on fossil poop and pee is giving me the heebie jeebies.  I have been made to understand that the diapers are first sterilized but I can’t seem to shake off the what if...doubts.  

And then comes the news that the unpretentious upma has shot into international limelight thanks to Floyd Cardoz’s culinary wizardry.  Cardoz, one of the top three in the Top Chef contest held in New York, whipped up an upma with a twist by adding mushroom to it and bagged the coveted $100,000 prize.  I celebrated the news by instantly ordering the dish from Sagar Ratna.  Now that the upma is an international celebrity, it might reinvent itself to become the piece de resistance at a snooty restaurant.  Chef’s special – rava uppamav garnished with softer than a baby’s bottom, Oyster’s mushroom.  I’d rather fast a la Ramdev.


The Hunt is on......

The first thing you notice about New York is the queues.   When in the city you can’t escape one...for a taxi at the airport, to get seating in a cafe, for a cup of coffee, to get into museums, to get your photograph clicked with the bare torsoed model outside Abercombie and Fitch.  So enamoured was Tee with the Abercombie model that she asked whether it was possible get his abs sign an autograph for her. He won’t be interesting anyway so why bother, she snootily informed us.  The mother of all queues was for the ferry to the statue of Liberty.  One look at it and we fled for dear life.   The legendary long legged lasses (LLL) of New York  were nowhere in sight.  Perhaps they were held up too, waiting to get in to one of the famed sample sales?  

Our flight took us under six hours to reach New York from San Francisco and it took us three hours to make it to our hotel thanks to the long wait for luggage, taxi and getting stuck in the traffic.  For the sake of your sanity, please don’t drive in New York.

By the time we plonked our bags in our hotel room, we were dead tired.  But our enthusiasm was far from damp and like eager beavers we headed straight for NYC’s ultimate destination – the Times Square.   As we came out of the subway we felt dwarfed by the gigantic neon signs stretched across building facades.  No wonder they are called supersigns.  Anybody who is a somebody jostles for space here – New York Times, Reuters, the Conde Nast building, Ernst and Young headquarters.  The list is endless.  The Square, the epicentre of the city that never sleeps, throbs with an energy that tends to rub off on you.  It bedazzles you with its pomp and show and engulfs you with joie de vivre.  Even though it was well past midnight, the place was crammed with people, savouring the spirit of Big Apple. 

Notes from a Traveller’s Diary - I

Time is a pesky thing...when you wait for it to pass, it drags itself like a snail and when you want it to stop, it flies away.  

Our much awaited, meticulously planned trip to California has come to an end.  I am back home, jet lagged, with a woozy head and a heart that feels like lead.  It’s interesting to note how easily we get unused to routine.  A routine that you may consider mundane, yet guard so zealously as if is the bane of your existence.  A month of being continuously on the move, clutching maps as if your life depended on it, aching legs and experiencing the unknown – it was a rollercoaster.  I think I got addicted to the constant high.  

My memories of our trip along the West Coast and New York are still a scattered montage of images and emotions.  They have yet to settle down for me to sort them. 

Our vacation started with a bang.  Our flight to San Francisco didn’t take off at all, thanks to Delhi’s tempestuous weather.  Lufthansa did an Air India on us.   A day after spending the day holed up in a hotel in Delhi, watching over-enthused firang chicks dance furiously around the pool from my room on the 9th floor, we finally took off, albeit a day late.     

We arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and didn’t mind shivering in cold, rainy and foggy San Francisco.  Fog is listed as one of Frisco’s tourist attractions.  I wonder why we crib so much about corruption in India.  Imagine inviting tourists to incredible India with a come bribe a cop tagline!  Or an amusement park that features fasting babas or netas throwing chairs and chappals at each other. Which other country can boast of such a spectacle? And all that San Francisco can boast of is fog and a golden bridge that’s far from golden.  Bahh....

We had quite an ambitious itinerary chalked out for the next three weeks covering the West Coast and New York.  

California Highway 1 is considered one of the most scenic drives along the breathtakingly beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline.  My first sighting of the aquamarine ocean foaming at the foot of emerald green mountains will stay etched in my memory forever.  Northern California boasts of a stunningly beautiful topography.  The flora, a vivid hue of colours, the ocean sometimes a green, sometimes a moody blue, acres of orchards, interspersed with picturesque lakes – it is a treat for your senses.  Imagine walking down the beach and getting startled by the sight of a chipmunk on its hind legs, begging for a treat.  Or a rocky island with hundreds of sea lions noisily sunning themselves.  Hugging yourself for warmth on Pismo beach and watching young boys surf the icy cold water in their body suits. Our senses were constantly doing cartwheels and did we love it. 

It’s Time To Break Free

Courtesy - all-vacation-ideas.com

It’s that time of the year again.  The air feels like a blow-dryer, the sun becomes your number 1 enemy and you look and feel blazing hot.   And like any mere mortal, you start making plans to flee the city.  You can’t help it, can you?  The newspapers seduce you with travel tales in far off lands.  You devour each line, caress the scenic captures with your eyes and end up wondering why you can’t be that correspondent who travels free, binges on roasted duck, sips Chianti Classico and gets paid to gush about it.  But you console yourself with the thought that at least your Geography is far better than it was in school.   Thanks to the many magazines, you know where Hersonissos is and can even spell Reykjavik.  Your friend on FB makes it worse by uploading photos of her recent trip to Istanbul.  You ooh and aah at the pics and cast meaningful glances at your husband, hoping that he is finally taking the hint. 

He finally does even though it takes weeks.  And then you look deep into each other’s eyes and ask - so where shall we go this time, your choice or mine?  You feel terrible that there are so many exotic locales and one measly life but still manage to make up your mind. 

Things are not that smooth sailing.  You realize one of the passports needs to be renewed. You don’t mind the long queues, the stuffy sarkari afsaar’s interrogation at the passport office.  Why, you are even willing to smile coyly at sub inspector Rathore.   The husband spends days coaching you for the visa interview (he expects you to crack jokes rather than answer the questions seriously).  You miraculously sail through the visa interview and collapse with joy when it is finally issued.  

Yessss, we are finally travelling to the East Coast. Err dahling is it the west or the east?  He gives you the “I am so disappointed in you look” while you mumble “Geography was never my strong point”!   The gargantuan Atlas that he had picked up from the last Word Book Fair is fished out and he patiently traces out the coast on the map for you.  

Now starts the real work.  Hotels are to be booked, the itinerary to be planned.  You might think, so what’s the big deal, you just have to decide and click!  Just sign in for a sightseeing tour and relax.  You see, for the Rays it’s never than simple.  And before I proceed, let me tell demystify the Legendary Mr Ray (LMR) for you.  For Mr Ray perfection is not a choice but a compulsion.  And whoever said “let good not be the enemy of perfect” was the biggest fool.   And since people always fall short of his expected standards, Mr Ray ends up doing all the work himself.  His quest for perfection doesn’t stop at his office; it extends even to his home. Yes he has fixed up the geyser with the plumber looking on helplessly.  I dare not ask him to buy veggies because he ends up spending hours looking for perfect specimens.  When we were younger he would refuse to sell junk to raddiwallas who didn’t meet his exact specifications.  Now where on Earth does one find a kabadiwalla who looks honest and has a smile that reaches up to his eyes!  I would spend hours in the balcony scanning the horizon for the elusive specimen.  Now do you get the picture? 

No Country For Old Men.....

Courtesy : TOI
A certain Buddha in Bengal is not smiling.   All the old fogies in Writer’s Building, who spent a lifetime sipping endless cups of chaa and chain-smoking Charminar plains, while rejecting applications for new projects,  are feeling dejected.   Oest Bengal will no longer be a bhillage.   It is ghor kalyug, they murmur – a bhodromohila with a penchant for histrionics and badly in need of sandals has ousted us.  Kee je jontronaa.  All these years we protected Bengal from the clutches of dirty capitalism and now these ungrateful ones are branding us as the new age Mahishashur and Didi as Durga.  Dekhaa jabe, what poriborton she brings. And aren’t we the Bandh specialists!  Cholbe naa....cholbe naa...

The painters have just arrived with gallons of green paint.  Writers building will no longer be red. 

In Chennai, ugly K with too many wives and children with strange names like Alagiri, Dayanidhi, Kanimozhi, Stalin(?) is furiously writing a script for another dud movie.  For the title, he is torn between Aiyyo Amma and Po Po from Poes.  The plot will be simble.  Amma in her cloak is the evil one who flies around the city on her broomstick causing destruction.  The hero, Rajni Anna abducts her and hand delivers her to the Martians.
Courtesy :
J & K are the proverbial Tom and Jerry.  They spend considerable time and energy in masterminding witch hunts and sending each other to jail.  This time K has requested an advance booking at Tihar.  He wants a cell right next to his “prodigal son”.  They will watch G-rated movies together and practise voodoo magic. 

A True Hero......

It was just another cold November morning for Dallas Wiens or so he thought.  He was at the local church, his job site to repair a window.  Just as Wiens climbed up the ladder, he struck a high voltage power line.  His features literally melted off his face as he collapsed.  It took a split second to change Dallas Wiens’ life forever. He was just 23.

Dallas spent the next three in months in a medically induced coma, while doctors performed a series of surgeries on him - 22 to be precise. When he was finally discharged, he left with a face with just slight indentations for eyes and nose.   Doctors expected him to be paralyzed from the neck down and never walk, talk or eat regular food again. His family was told that he would probably not survive. 

When he got back home and saw his face in the mirror, Dallas couldn’t stop crying. 

But not once did he give up on life.  He had his 1 year old daughter, Scarlette to live for.  His strength of will and upbeat attitude amazed his doctors and family.   Gradually he regained his strength and by June 2010, Dallas was walking again.  But this was not enough for him.  He could not bear the thought of Scarlette growing up and facing questions about his deformed face.  He did not want his baby to deal with the anguish of “Why does your Daddy look different”.  


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