Showing posts from July, 2007


I was in Bangalore on work last week, and a couple of things made me realise, "Toto, we're not in Delhi anymore!" 1. When the cabbie got lost, he actually stopped by a cop to ask him for directions 2. The cop actually replied, and politely too 3. I couldn't breathe as we wove through traffic because of the pollution

Name Trends

Of late, parents in India have become more and more interested in finding unique names for their children. In olden days, a name was very much the grandparents' prerogative to choose, and indicative of either the qualities one wished the child to have or a person the grandparents wished the child to emulate or please. Or of course, there were all the names of the 5000 gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.

Choosing the name was as much a rite of passage as the mundan or thread ceremonies. A south Indian child, even today, is named on the 11th day after his or her birth - the Namakarna ceremony. The first name chosen is a 'fake' name, symbolising various qualities of strength and logevity, essentially meant to hoodwink evil spirits. The second name is based on the star of the child and the initials connected to that. My daughter's initial came out to be 'SH' - the harsher sound, not the softer one in Sharada or Shraddha - in which we were really hard put to …

Monsoon magic

As I've said on my other blog, the monsoon is one of my favourite seasons. There really is something amazing about it, and the monsoon touches the extremes of moods, from the dramatic (torrents of rain) to the awe-inspiring (thunder, lightning, winds and rain) to the bathetic (trickly, drippy rain - as if the cistern is leaking again). India being a largely pastoral society and that too, one with subsistence farms and lack of sophisticated farming methods, the rain is truly the farmer's friend, if it comes at the right time. And rain has always been celebrated here, from classical music - Raaga Malhar - to a number of folk and movie songs. There is even a famous story about how Akbar's beloved court singer Tansen was challenged by jealous rivals to sing a Raaga which would result in him being surrounded by flames if he sang correctly, and how he taught his daughter to sing Raaga Malhar which of course brought down life-giving rain at the right moment.

I suppose it isn't…

India - the time is now!

It seems like a new discovery ( or is that tautology) that the West has made of China and India. Lately there has been tremendous media and political coverage and comment about the vast markets of the East, i.e. India and China, and a genuine undercurrent of fear about what the tilt of economic power might spell for the West.

Within India we have read and heard debates over the last couple of years about the India vs China scenario and which one wins/ will win, with statistics about the length of paved highways and number of airports and ports being quoted ad nauseum. It certainly makes a refreshing change from the former India-Pakistan comparisons and jingoistic comment.

However what we are forgetting is that this ‘discovery’ of the East is nothing new. This happened many centuries ago. Most of the great geographical discoveries of the world happened because someone was setting off to look for the mythical riches of the East, right from Ancient Greek times. Interestingly, most of those…

Music - the food of the Gods

I think most Indians are amazingly musical. They may not always be able to carry a tune or remember all the words, but almost every one of us billion souls rocks to music. My 1 year old daughter starts swinging her hips as soon as she hears music from almost anywhere - me singing, an ad on TV, the music system...

That's probably among the reasons which contribute to the popularity of music-related programming on television. Many of the top-rated shows today (apart from the saas-bahus) are reality shows featuring musical competitions, not only on the Hindi but also the regional channels. And what's amazing is that all of them are doing well. What blows my mind away, of course, is the sheer amount of talent people have - so many, undiscovered, hitherto bathroom singers who turn out to have amazing voices.

I used to get really bored with the song and dance routines in Hindi movies, and wish more people would be like RGV, making films without the music. But now I have changed my tun…



I never realised I enjoy gardens and green spaces until I had a home of my own. Quite a pity when you consider the kind of un-used opportunities that my past is littered with. Years ago, we lived in a tiny government house in Pandara road - A-39. The front looked out onto a green strip between two rows of houses, but the back of the house was really cool. Each house had a small garden - maybe 8 feet by 20 feet - okay, not so small if you look at an average Indian city now. And two rows of backgardens were adjacent, with a narrow ditch for drainage in between the two gardens. The gardens weren't very sophisticated, since most people who lived there were strictly middle class, with little money to spare for a gardener. There was a grass patch in the center, maybe some canna lily bushes on one side and jasmines/ mogra on another. The gardens made a long alley, through the row of 20 houses on each street. What made this green alley exciting was the trees which grew thickly over…

Greed and the under-served consumer

India has to be one of the countries with the most venal politicians and corporates. I'm not sayng all of them are greedy or venal but those that are are capable of going to any lengths.

I live in Gurgaon, supposedly the hip, happening suburb of Delhi. We live in one of the few housing societies which aren't high rise and actually have little patches of garden in front of each house. Some time ago, we became alarmed at the growth of high rise office complexes all around us, which were leaving no green space anywhere, and one of my neighbours went down to the municipal office to check if they could do anything about greening the area. Imagine our lack of surprise at being informed that the office complexes had come up in an area formerly earmarked for residential and green areas. This, when the municipal coding had restricted homes within our colony to 2 floors, claiming environmental concerns. Of course, an office building of 15 floors height at a minimum would pose less of an…

The Joy of Reading

I notice that my food or travel blogs are going much better than this one - maybe I have fewer opinions than I thought?

Anyway, today I thought I'd write about books and reading. I truly believe that reading is a gift and I feel sorry for people who never discover the joys of reading - there's just so much they are missing out on. My favourite activity is to curl up with a good book and a mug of tea. Mind you, the definition of a good book is pretty elastic, and I have been known to curl up with a cup of tea and the back of a cereal box for lack of anything else to read. I love shopping for books too - bookshops are magical because they carry so many hidden worlds inside them, and then you look at the back blurb and flick through the pages of each one that you consider, wondering which one you're most likely to feel at home in...

I love going into second hand bookstores – almost more than first hand ones, because there’s such a feeling of discovery over the process of shoppi…