Gurgaon On Foot? Broom Through It!


This article was first published in Gurgaon Times dated 30 November, 2014


In Gurgaon, if you'd rather walk short distances than drive, people assume that you're either poor or mad. After all, the millennium city is India’s very own America where the majority prefers taking out their car, even if it’s a five minute walk to drop their child at the school bus stop. Little wonder the city’s roads during weekdays with bumper to bumper traffic resembles a very long parking lot where motorists honk and swear at each other for entertainment.

Sadly, the number of parking spots in Gurgaon has not kept pace with the number of vehicles that has been growing in leaps and bounds unlike our country’s GDP. Getting a decent space to park during rush hour is like winning a lottery. One vacant spot and at least 5 cars rush towards it gladiator style, unmindful of basic courtesy or consideration for the unfortunate soul who was the first to sight the bounty. If you’re not aggressive, chances are you’ll keep circling like a planet in its orbit.

It doesn’t help that the city’s transport system is a wonderful opportunity to get groped and to exchange sweat and BO with random strangers. The autowallahs think you’re Ambani’s twice removed cousin and quote such exorbitant rates that you’re forced to stage a walkout, much like our revered Rajya Sabha MPs.

So, when you move to a neighbourhood with wide, tree-lined avenues, with markets within walking distance, the air just the right kind of nippy, you give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, bid adieu to parking woes and take out your walking shoes.

History repeats itself when you’re not paying attention the first time. Your memory loss aided by the few years you’ve lived in a quiet city in Australia with shaded walkways, where pedestrians enjoy the right of the way and cars don’t try to knock them over for daring to cross the road. When you move back home, you’re optimistic that the good times will last, unlike Kingfisher. You’ve conveniently erased from your memory the times you’d decided to embark on a Padyatra to your local market and got cat-called by idle Romeos, knocked over by playful piglets and feral canines, hopped, skipped and jumped over potholes filled with foul water and narrowly missed getting run over by vehicles that mistook your locality’s alleyways for the Buddh Circuit.

It’s your Birthday, make it 75 feet large



A cake so ugly that you can have your cake and eat it too

It was a celebration that the Kingdom of UP Yours will remember for the rest of their wretched lives. After all it was not their money that was used to fund the grandiose birthday celebrations of their Mulayam King, the one who refuses to retire. Reports that the horse driven Victorian style buggy used by the king and his merry men to ride to the venue of the celebrations has been imported from London, is nothing but bullshit being churned out by the good-for-nothing-press besotted with Emperor Modi. If unreliable sources are to be believed, Fairy Godmother Azam Khan had turned the pumpkins leftover from Halloween celebrations into Mulayam’s sparkly carriage. The horses were Fairy Azam’s lost and found Jersey buffaloes in makeup.

The procession was a sight to behold as it passed like wind through 200 welcome gates, especially erected with flowers. Bunches of red and white balloons were strung on spruced up roads, while the surroundings glittered with electric lights. King Mulayam looked luminescent in his pristine white dhoti and kurta specially designed for the occasion. The subjects, who only read about development in full page newspaper ads but have yet to see any, were seen applauding wildly, their chests swelled up with pride.

So what if the land of UP Yours is steeped in poverty, at least their rulers are rolling in riches. Also, this was the first time they had seen so many electric bulbs burning for so long without any power cut.

Nobles, serfs and rascals of the Yadav clan had all assembled to be part of the cake cutting ceremony. Since size is all that matters to men, unlike women who are content with 3.5 inches as long as it looks like a credit card, the cake was as big as the King’s ego. King Mulayam had to swing from a rope from the ceiling to cut the 75 feet cake.

OMG, Look at that L-Ass

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Women have come a long way from the days when the sight of a waddling posterior brought out the sniggers and a secret prayer to Goddess to never be that ass. If Nicki Minaj is to be believed, 'his Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun’.

This comes as a big ray of hope for women who spent a sizeable chunk of their life surreptitiously looking behind their back, wondering if their buns were becoming too ripe for comfort. It is a known fact that a woman can’t pass by a glass window or any shining exterior and not turn it into a rear-view mirror. And why not? It’s the only way that the annoying thing that follows us everywhere we go, but visible to the rest of the world, shows its cheeky side to us!

Now that it’s official, having disproportionate assets is the new booty – oversized, fleshy buns instead of drooping with low self-esteem – and they are perking up, cocking a snook at conventions. But here lies the catch. Not every woman with a humongous butt has a great future behind her unless it’s perched behind an already successful diva who loves flashing her twins for the frenzied cameras. A booty that she has nurtured to perfection, pushing it beyond its boundaries and raising it to greater heights. Once she’s raised her butt like her own babies, lavishing it with care and attention, like any doting parent on Facebook, she becomes her twins’ number one fan and expects the rest of the world to fall for their charms.

Just like Kim Kardashian, famous for earning her millions doing nothing. 


A Fishy Affair

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Like most Indian kids, I was brought up in a family that constantly ‘encouraged’ me to study harder and do well enough to make our relatives jealous. Marriage, love, boyfriends were taboo subjects, so much so that I was convinced that my parents had no intention of getting me married and would make me study for the rest of my wretched life. The only time my Mom did mention marriage was when I refused to eat fish. She’d bemoan my un-Bengali like habits and prophesy that I’d get married to a rice and fish loving typical Bengali boy.   


I did get hitched to a guy who loves his fish as much as he loves me. Since marriage is all about trying to change each other for the ‘better’, I have now evolved into a fish loving person and he has his baigan ka bharta without a murmur of protest.

Over two years of having the freshest seafood of all sizes and shapes from the seas of Australia, so under-spiced that you can taste the salt water that your dish ingested, I consider myself a sort of connoisseur. In fact, the last time when the husband kept the Salmon almost raw, because it was so fresh, I forked it into my mouth without going blue in the face.

Whole Red Snapper

Last week, when Sangeeta Khanna, a friend I admire and whose food blog is the holy grail of healthy eating asked me to join her for a fish degustation lunch hosted by Le Meredien, New Delhi, I promptly accepted her gracious offer.

We were a cosy group of six including Anasuya Basu, Le Meredien’s Director of Marketing Communications, high on shared camaraderie and a belly full of expectations, once we had gone through the menu for our luncheon. The restaurant, Le Belvedere, on the 20th floor of the hotel, gives a panoramic view of Lutyen’s Delhi. Despite the smog, we couldn’t help but admire the view. 


Black Is The New White

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Everyone has heard about her, engaged in salacious gossip about her existence but has yet to sight her. She’s like the mythical G-Spot that scores of men have fantasized and written about and have even embarked on expeditions to unearth, but have met with as much success as Christopher Columbus had with discovering India.

In fact, she’s is India’s B-spot.

It is rumoured that Bee vacations in exotic foreign lands like Mauritius, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland; her trips sponsored by her rich benefactors. When she exits the country, she leaves with a blackened reputation and spends months, sometimes years in dark dank chambers to get rid of her ugly tan. According to unnamed sources, B-Spot prefers flying Hawala Airlines.

Now that Indians are finally getting ready for achhe din, they are impatient to relieve Bee of her Non Resident status and want her to come back to her roots. After all she’s India’s wayward Diva whose return will be the much needed Viagra for our limp economy.

As she continues to slither away from the long hands of law, the common man does what he does best – express impotent rage. Surprisingly, she finds firm support from legal experts and leaders who in the recent past had much fun, mocking the previous government for allegedly shielding B-spot and her benefactors. Now that they have been elected, they are singing the same tune as the ones they mocked. With new found power they have transformed into the chivalrous who are now ensuring that Bee gets the Fair and Lovely treatment as they go around town claiming being black is not a criminal offence, holding the protective umbrella to shield her from prying eyes and further tanning.

It’s a not so well-known fact that the elusive B-spot’s desi counterpart Big B is the real McCoy who funds India’s great democracy, where all Political parties rely on her largesse to fund their mammoth rallies, publicity campaigns and chartered flights. If our Politicians expose them, they will end up exposing their doublespeak. After all, laws and taxes are only meant for fools and meant to be flouted by those who create them.

The Homecoming

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We were a bunch of school girls fresh off the hook from the tyranny of XIIth board exams, when we first sighted him at a music camp at Nainital. It was hard not to giggle at the antics of this fresh off the plane NRI, trying to live up to the Utopia that nostalgia creates. When we went for treks and long walks, this strange creature would sniff appreciatively every time he spotted a clump of bovine waste he’d look heavenwards and exclaim in his most melodramatic voice – this, my friends is the aroma of Indiaaah! Had it been the age of mobiles, I’m sure he would have taken a selfie with it. Anything and everything; a humble plate of jalebi, the sight of a dilapidated rickshaw would send him into paroxysms.

I guess, he couldn’t contain the excitement of coming back as a tourist to a country he had been in such a hurry to leave. We found him plain annoying. He was the perfect example of what we didn’t want to become.

It’s been three weeks since I came back from Brisbane, a city that was my home away from home for over two years. It was not easy for a hyper Delhiite like me to fall for its quiet charms. A city so laidback that the driver of the city bus will happily stop to give directions to a lost tourist; the customer care executive will engage in a long leisurely chat with a guy looking for a good mobile deal while you look impatiently at the clock. Horror of horrors, no one honks, the raised middle finger is the height of indecency and the most action you’ll get is the sight of drunk kids puking.

I was horrified to be in a city whose markets pull their shutters down by six in the evening. Weekends were worse. You are thrown out of the mall by the time the clock chimes 4 and Sunday evening looks as if everyone is in deep mourning. The food was bland, the meats almost undercooked and my Indian palette was screaming for spices. And I’m not even going to talk about the shock of shelling out over a hundred dollars for a perfectly mediocre meal.

The news channels that covered forest fires, local accidents and inebriated men ramming their cars into private properties made no sense. Things became so bad that I even started missing Arnab’s histrionics! I knew I had to make friends, so I dragged myself to meet-ups and socials and mastered the art of small talk. I even tried mixing up with an expat group that preferred calling itself the network for American women, appalled that Australia is blissfully unaware of the existence of Philly Cheese Steaks.

Fifty Shades of Dust


graphicriver.net


Each house is as cluttered, colourful, messy, freakishly organised as its inhabitants. More often than not, since it’s the female species that takes a psychotic interest in the colour management of the cushions with the carpets, expresses displeasure at the highest decibel level when she discovers a well hydrated toilet seat cover and is far from appreciative of various articles of clothing strewn around the house – let’s conclude for the time being that a home is more an extension of a woman’s personality than a man’s.

Men are a highly evolved species and they know exactly what they want. Unlike a woman, he has accepted that a clean house is a state of mind - all you have to do is close your eyes. He doesn’t break into tears when the maid doesn’t turn up for three days in a row and is perfectly at peace with the unwashed pile of pots and pans and grime stains on the kitchen slab.

It didn’t take him long to realize that the key to happiness is selective blindness.

Unfortunately for the woman, God didn’t just give her eyes but an X-ray vision that can spot dust under the table-lamp just as she’s about to sleep, under piles of books when she’s about to cuddle up with a book, on the blades of the fan facing the ceiling when she’s searching for the meaning of life. The sight of unwashed utensils gives her the sinking feeling. It's as if those smelly pans are not in the sink but on her chest, making it difficult for her to breathe.Try throwing crumpled wrappers and papers on her floors and she'll come charging at you like a bull.


She may be dog-tired, ready to drop off dead, but she’ll ask for a 30-minute grace so she can tidy up the house before she can die. It’s a curse she has to live with. If she’s about to leave for a vacation, she makes sure she leaves behind an immaculately clean house, in case robbers decide to drop in. 


She knows everything we see will turn to dust and has quietly accepted that everything she sees will have dust.

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