Showing posts from 2009

Remembering 26/11

I’m not very good at remembering dates, usually – I forget what date it is unless I am writing an official letter to someone, I forgot to wish A on his birthday this year because I just had a complete black out when I woke up…but last year this day has been on my mind all day. Bojjandi was a newborn, less than 2 months old, dad was out of town, and we were all staying at my parents’ place, grandma included, when mom switched to a news channel and we sat, horrified, for the next few days as the crazy, nightmarish events unfolded on national television. It was horrific, it was tragic…and it was unnecessary.

Delhi, where I live, has been the target of terrorist attacks for years now, since the Punjab terrorism began all those years back. I remember, back in 1992, one of my classmates from the South came to Delhi for a vacation and two of us picked him up from the station. We got onto a DTC bus and he was startled to see a sign saying “Watch out for unidentified packages. There could be a …

RTI Works

Well, for one reason and another, I wound up having to file an RTI petition a couple of weeks ago to retrieve two critical documents. Just the day before I set off to the Secretariat in Gurgaon, I had read in a media report that only 23% of all RTIs yield the information asked for and that most citizens are pretty unhappy. Given the popular public opinion about Haryana, I was prepping myself to expect the worst as I entered the Secretariat building. The first ten minutes turned out as visualized – I entered one room, was directed to another, then a third…But then finally one helpful young man (HYM#1) told me the department I was looking for was on the third floor. I clambered up the surprisingly clean flight of stairs and met up with a polite, helpful young man (HYM#2) at the RTI desk. I told him what documents I wanted and he gave me instructions as to what to do – Go down to the Treasury office on the ground floor, pick up the challan form, bring it back to him for getting it filled…

Never buy Whirlpool products

I have a fair share of domestic appliances from a variety of different firms. Curiously as it turns out, only 1 product from a non-Korean company, the Air conditioner from Whirlpool. Over the past weekend, we have had such a truly awful customer service experience that I have sworn never to buy any Whirlpool products and to spread the word out. Frankly, what the company has demonstrated is that once they have managed to sucker you into buying their product, they just don't give a damn. How you manage your life with/ without it is your problem, they are too busy counting your cash all the way to their bank.

Our air conditioner conked off last Thursday thanks to the wonderful voltage surges that are a delightful feature of life in Millennium city, aka Gurgaon, or as a bucktoothed KBC contestant said once, Gud Gaawan. Friday I called the Whirlpool service center, and was pleasantly surprised to find a polite voiced person on the other end who said I would get a call back within 2 hour…

Branding A Country

Today, I was on my way to work and the moon launch by India randomly popped into my head. As I thought about it more and more, I realized what a truly stupendous achievement it was. I mean, which other developing country do you know that just out of nowhere decides to launch a rocket to the moon, and then with much, much less than half the time and resources that other countries have been throwing at the task, just ups and does it. No transfer of technology, no buying, no asking for a loan. Quick, simple and efficient.
What a huge opportunity for India as a country, in terms of image, particularly in business. Also, as the world becomes an increasingly tech-savvy place, it's important to take a good position in terms of capability. Moreover, it would also be a great way to get positioned in global importance.
I admit, I didn't see any of the information flow overseas so perhaps I am not in the best position to comment on this. But I was here, and I thought the information flow w…

The verdict

I am so proud of India's elections, for so many reasons. First of all, remembering the elections from when I was a child, when it'd take forever for the voting and then the counting process. We'd have Prannoy Roy on air for days, as poll data came trickling in. DD would show lots of movies, including Chupke Chupke, so it used to be a fun time. And now, this year, I voted week before last, and the results are already out. Apparently it's one of the fastest counting processes in the world. And when you think about how large and complex this country is, how many things the Election Commission has to manage, and then delivers it so well, you can't help feeling a huge sense of pride in India's efficiency. (Of course, you are entitled to wish it translated into more areas of activity!)
Another thing I'm proud of is that India seems to have voted for performance over polish. The anti-incumbency factor hasn't just swung in randomly as it used to, but has only co…

Journalism and comprehension

These days, I get an ulcer each time I read a newspaper. The level of copy-editing has reached appalling lows, and there are typos on a daily basis on the front pages of various papers and even in headlines of lead stories. But today, tucked away inside the HT city, I found a piece of such poor reporting that I really saw red. The journalist wants to write about the emergency contraception pill but has ended up confusing the reader and herself about which pill. It actually comes across as if taking normal contraceptive pills lead to all kinds of side effects. I don't know whether it was sheer ignorance on the journalist's part, poor writing skills or malicious intent.
The article in question: "Sanyola, 23, is happily in a relationship. She and her S boyfriend of two years have a healthy sexual life. Never the one to shy away from taking a birth control pill, by now Sanyola has lost count of how many she has actually popped in — blissfully unaware of the side effects.
Dr An…

The world is so full…

This morning A and I were out for our daily walk and stepped out of the house to find an amazing sight. The Jacaranda tree outside had shed its gorgeous blossoms all over our garden and the road outside. As we walked further, we noticed that there were many Jacarandas in the colony and they had just spilled forth their richness to form a purple carpet for us throughout. Yesterday morning, I noticed a lovely sunbird, its back gleaming blue in the sunlight, chirping to itself. My carnation has finally put out one carmine red flower. The more we walked around the colony, the more we found things to admire, whether it was the showy bougainvilleas which had almost aggressively burst forth into bloom or the dewy subtlety of frangipani flowers, birdsong from the myriad trees and the plumbago flowers which looked almost neon blue against the sober dark green of the plant. The Robert Browning poem, which is a favourite, came to mind, "The world is full of so many things, I am sure we shou…

The Cinderella Myth

I've been doing some thinking about where and why the whole cosmetics/ clothing industry thrives on women. And I think I've got it figured out. The whole thing starts in childhood, when some well-meaning person reads out the Cinderella fairy tale to a little girl. And she starts planning on two things for her future – Prince Charming who's coming to take her away from the drudgery, and the transformation scene with the fairy godmother. So when you grow up, naturally you spend all your time and money looking for that fairy godmother. Each time you go to a gay hairstylist, you're praying for the before-and-after scene.
Same thing happens each time you visit a make-up counter. And especially when they promise you a make-over, you're like "Omigod, my childhood fantasy is coming true at last. Next thing you know the PC will be coming on his white charger/ personal Learjet!" And with my supreme bad luck, you get a make-up artist who doesn't know how to deal…

Women's Day II

Women's Day happens to coincide with Chubbocks' birthday. The first time a big hoo-hah was being made of the day, I was getting my stomach cut open and spent the rest of the day in a comatose condition induced by the general anaesthetic.

Since then, I can give you a breakdown of the standard women's day drill in our household:
1. Wake up early and wish Chubbocks
2. Get started on making his favourite breakfast/ lunch
3. Clean up in a frenzy
4. Be in the kitchen, most likely barefoot, and in my case given the number of kids, pregnant, cooking party food since I'm an oldfashioned mom and insist that birthday parties be at-home affairs
5. Barely get ready by the time half the guest list has arrived
6. Run around like mad at said party, making sure everyone's eaten, drunk and generally enjoyed themselves
7. Organise dinner for in-laws and spouse
8. Go to bed, every bone in the body aching

This year we added one new step:
-1. Stay awake most of the night between feeding and putt…

Women's Day

I went to the mall saturday to buy A a gift, JLT. Being a contrary, cussed man, he insists he doesn't want/ like anything because he doesn't need it. Therefore I end up with 3 pairs of shoes from Nine West ( major sale - got 'em for about 700 Rs each!). It was this woman's day, all right :)

Flowers Flowers Everywhere


The Buck Stops At You!

I found this on facebook today and had to put it up – both out of shock and out of pride that someone is saying, The Buck Stops Here'.
"Yes, everything changes.

The fantastic invisible sweep of time rushes and roars past us every dull and intense second that ticks relentlessly away every day, and all around us things constantly morph. Twin towers crumble, good people die, the good earth turns brown and bare, and old love fades.

And what precisely is your role in the incredible kaleidoscope of change?

A slack-jaw by-stander who barely registers the impact and implications? A commentator spectator who freely critiques but somehow rises above being affected by it all? A fatalist loser who bemoans everything and blames it all on circumstances and other people?

Look around you, you who reside in the so-called mind and knowledge capital of the shining new India. This is Bangalore.

Many of the quiet avenues that used to snake through the wooded shades and fragrant flower-scatters of a tho…

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday we enjoyed one among the free pleasures of living in Delhi. The weather was perfect - sunny but with a cool breeze that made it delightful to spend time outdoors. So we set off on an expedition to Mughal Gardens, my grandma in tow. We sped through the traffic on the expressway and reached the heart of Delhi in barely 20 minutes. Of course, it then took us another 20 minutes to finally figure out how to get to the entrance of the garden, which is attached to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President's Estate.

The parking was pretty haphazard and the queue seemed endless so we had nightmare visions of standing in line for hours. But luckily the line moved fairly quickly, the only hitch being no mobile phones ( or cameras) were allowed, so once they separated the men and women, you could end up lost inside. In fact, as we queued up for the many security checks, we kept hearing announcements of lots of children separated from their parents, husbands missing wives and so forth.

Once …

Delhi 6 Review

'Try to realise it's all about within you, And only you can make you change' The Beatles The music of the movie has had me hoooked for a while now, be it the atmospheric 'Yeh Dilli hai meri jaan' or the traditional romantic song, 'Saiyyan cheed deve' and of course the completely joyous 'Masakalli'. I even wound up coming up with a chaat-ey salad dressing to celebrate the movie. I think Delhi 6 is one of Rahman's best scores, with an astounding range of music, from a qawwali to a traditional bhajan, a jazzy-bluesy title song that riffs mellowly on the streets of Delhi. And the picturising of Dil gira Dafatan is amongst the best visual renderings of a song I've ever seen, seamlessly moving between Dilli and New York...
The movie was...interesting. I have to start out by admiring the way Abhishek Bachchan inhabits the characters he plays in whichever movie, and Delhi 6 was no exception. He was Roshan Mehra to the core, and one could feel every nua…

Rules of Indian Culture circa 2009 ( as per Ram Sene and the like)

1. Indian men shall at all times scratch or otherwise interact with their gonads, at five minute intervals
2. Indian men shall assume that all women, from the age of 8 months to 80 years, are asking for lewd attention even when they’re just walking by minding their own business. She’s breathing, isn’t she?
3. Public displays of affection – hand holding or couples sitting together in public places – are against Indian culture. What about Khajuraho, you say? D-uh, that’s Public display of lust, silly. Plus that’s in a temple. So PDL in a temple is A-ok.
4. Of course you should slap, kick and otherwise molest any Indian woman who dares to exercise free will and go out to public places. Hang on – some idiot is saying how is that Indian culture, we worship goddesses. Well, the goddess is just sitting inside the mandir, innit, not going out to enjoy herself?
5. Women drinking is just not Indian, traditional texts and ancient recipes for Som Ras be damned. Men drink…

Freedom For All, not Some of the People!

I remember the phrase 'Draconian laws' being bandied about way back in the late 80s when the then government wanted to pass laws restricting what the media could cover and what they could say. The media made a spirited defense of the right to free speech and eventually managed to prevent the law from being passed. sad to say, according to media behaviour, it looks like the principles of free speech only seem to apply to the corporatised, powerful media today.

Indi blogger Chyetanya, after the Mumbai attacks in November, had more than a few pithy things to say about the media coverage of it. Of course, many journalists have taken up this issue since, and it seems quite clear that if on the one hand the government was stupid to not orchestrate the media coverage of the event, the television media in particular left no stone unturned in covering every minute detail of what happened, to the extent of endangering the rescue operations. Television channels competed with each other to…

Ram Rajya

I don't know why all mention of Indian culture seems to consist of subjugation of women and denying women their right to lead independent lives bounded by their own choices. The so-called guardians of morality don't think that the so-called Indian culture they supposedly venerate also includes showing respect for women or not molesting them. I notice that not one of the moral police was out protesting against the gang of men who molested two young women on 31st Dec 2007 in Mumbai as they emerged from a hotel. Well, of course, stupid me. I forgot this was 21st Century India. Of course the women must have done something to cause what happened to them. I'm sorry, I must have missed it – just what was it that these women were doing that was clearly wrong and that gave these men the right to molest them? Oh, right – they were exercising their rights as independent young women to go out and enjoy themselves. Or was it enjoying themselves that was wrong? Or was it that they offen…

But why, Mama?

So this Faberge exhibition was on at the National Museum in Delhi. It's been on since December and just wound up this Sunday. I happened to read an article about it in the newspaper supplement but with one thing and another we didn't manage to make it over until the last day of the exhibit. Interestingly enough, despite such a unique exhibit, there was so little publicity that most of the friends I contacted to ask if they wanted to go were not even aware that this exhibition was on.

The exhibits were fabulous. Each and every piece was crafted so delicately, with such precicion, love and attention to detail. What I found heartbreaking were the pictures of the Russian royal family - one of the eggs was a 15th aniversary present from Nicholas to Alexandra with three miniature photographs, of himself and two of the children, who both looked under 5 years old. It was presented barely a year or so before the revolution during which they were massacred. I just can't understand wh…

150 things to do before 40...and time is running out!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa 17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possib…