Monday, October 24, 2011

1 Year On

It's been a year since we moved cities. Last year on Oct 23rd, Saturday. When we left the crowd, traffic, heat and humidity of Mumbai for the crowd, traffic and fantastic weather of Bengaluru. I remember we had moved during Idea's campaign  of "Now everybody can speak ------". It was Marathi in Mumbai I think. And changed to Kannada on the Bengaluru billboards.

So how has the last 1 year been for us?

We've encountered some awesome weather and some horrendous traffic. We've reconnected with old friends. And got a life. Mumbai was all about travelling to and from work, office in between and running to keep up, the entire week. And collapsing out of sheer exhaustion on weekends. But Mumbai also was friends and family and get togethers and never missing an important occasion.

Bangalore has been about spending more time with the better half. But missing the family back home. Bengaluru has been about setting up house and learning to cook half decent meals and figuring out when to call the gas cylinder guy home. It's been about the not half bad bus transport and the awesomely bad auto rickshaws. It's been about discovering Bangalore, mostly through our taste buds. Fortunate to have foodie friends we were introduced to the best places to square your elbows, from all parts of the world and both ends of the wallet spectrum.

I remember arriving here last October. When we drew out, on tissue papers, every new road we'd seen and tried to connect them to what we'd seen before. When we checked every new route on google maps. When we looked at apartments and met brokers and compared rents with Mumbai. When we moved in to a new apartment. When we cleaned and scrubbed floors, bought mattresses and one piece at a time, made it livable.

When we went to our new offices and discovered our way home. When we actually needed a sweater. :)

I remember waking up the second morning, standing in a friend's balcony with a cup of tea and surrendering to the cold breeze sweeping over me. I remember the feeling of adventure then, as we started a new chapter of our lives. And one year on, I'm thankful we moved to Bengaluru. Coz it has given me so much more than I had imagined that morning on the balcony.  :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Challenging my mind

I miss those people who challenged my ideas from cultural stereotypes to International Politics. Those men who could discuss literature as well as lathes. Those who could talk tech and explain french manicures. Those who believed - "So many Wikipedia entries. So little time". Where have you gone? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Libraries?

I have been contemplating changing my entire outlook to life. Or book buying as we call it. I am one of those wonders, who has a problem with libraries. Don't get me wrong...I love a good library and love to select books in one. My only problem with them is this - they want their books back once you finish reading them.


That I do not like.


Because once I have finished reading a book, I go back and keep it back in the shelf. Every once in a while, I open the cupboard and look at lovingly, bringing back the fond memories. I remember where I bought it from. Or how I came to know about it. I remember the first time in bed together and looking across at the book, the morning after.


After a few months I like to pick it up again and re-read it. On the 2nd read I discover so much I had not noticed the first time. I look forward to reaching certain passages I remember from the last time. And when friends come over to stay, I recommend certain books they can read based on genre, fiction, non-fiction, speed, etc. But only for the duration of the stay. I do not lend books. 'Nuff Said.


But lately I have been coming across different people extolling the virtues of this library or that. I have been hearing cries from different corners telling me that I should join a library. Mates have pointed out sooner or later, other expenses will take precedence, and I will have to sacrifice my book buying habit.


Again and again, the library is being thrown in my path. Metaphorically speaking of course. And it doesn't help that a very good one is present, a stones throw away from my apartment. 


Slowly I have begun to wonder if I need a complete refurbishment to my book buying outlook. A paradigm shift if you will. 


Is it time I ask, to step over the threshold of a library?



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reading Austen

I just started reading Classic Jane Austen : Complete And Unabridged. Jane Austen is not a writer to be taken lightly. That is apparent from the fact that the book weighs 1.24 kgs. It's like lifting one of those weights I pretend to exercise with while staring at myself in the mirrors of the gym. 


So its not a book to can curl up with on the sofa and hold above your head. I'll dare you to last more than 5 mins. It must be treated with respect. It's a book you need to keep on a table with a cup of coffee by your side as you read and re-read that complex beautiful prose.


I'd ideally like to be seen reading this, like Meg Ryan in "You've got mail". Sitting by the window of a coffee shop, bent over the tome, oblivious to the world walking by [unless of course tom hanks passes by].


Instead, I read it in bed. Weight on my elbows, book on the pillow. And I read out sentences that strike me, out loud to the hubby. [Yes, I know you are going to leave me soon if I continue reading Austen out loud to you.]


But then I realize that really, Austen's lines is made to be read out loud. When one sentence lasts 3 or 4 lines long. Where words must never be less than 3 syllables long. It's a reading exercise that sounds so beautiful when read out loud. With the right enunciation and the right pauses, it is a beauty to listen to. 


Some of Jane Austens characters will always remain etched in the memory. Elizabeth Bennett, the brooding Mr. Darcy [pause to swoon here], Edward Ferrars...and I hope to make this list longer once I finish reading Austen.


Until then folks. 'Tis a long road ahead.

Not yet History

Someday I would like to read the troubled history of India-Pakistan relationships with the advantage of hindsight. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to ever become "history".

Monday, May 02, 2011

Possessed by PotterMania.

On April 5th 2011, I posted that I was on a mission to read all the Harry Potter books. With this intention I had begun to read on 3rd April. Today on 2nd May 2011, almost exactly a month later, I can now announce that I have completed all 7 books of the HP Series.


It has been a difficult month. I have not been able to get a full night's sleep. I have had to drag myself to office. A strange power took hold over me. I would not, I could not let go of the book I was reading. I was a woman possessed. It was frightening. It was a absolute test of will power to keep the book down and cook dinner. I would stand over the stove with the book balanced on the water jug. And when the tomatoes were frying, I was reading. When the curry was cooking, I was reading. Many a onion of have been sacrificed at the alter of Harry Potter mania. 


It is a intense, all consuming relationship that I have had with these books over the last 1 month. I had to take a break between books just so that I could live a normal life for a day. It has been incredible, tiring pouring all my energies into the books. I have been breathless with excitement - willing myself to read faster so I could find out what happened next. My brains have been addled as if by magic. But I have survived, risen from the mist - whole but without purpose. What do I do with my life now that I have finished all 7 books. 


And as some of you know, from the 4th book, the scar on my forehead started hurting very badly. The dark Lord had returned. I withstood the pain through the 4th, 5th and 6th book. And now after finishing the 7th book I am at peace. 


...come now, let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Succumbing to the Harry Potter phenomenon

I started Sunday morning with a emptiness inside - withdrawal symptoms after the Cricket WC2011. With India reigning champions and the celebrations and the shouting done with - suddenly you asked yourself what you would look forward to.


S, a friend was brainwashing me slowly with her continued shock that I had not read Harry Potter (To put the record straight I had read Book1 and have seen all the movies to date). But I had not read all 7 books. And this was shocking! I like to consider myself somewhat of a bibliophile. And like to pretend I'm an elite one at that. So if some of the accomplished literati I have read about, shun the potter-mania, I feel, as a faux literati, so must I.

But then I reasoned with myself, that as an example of its genre, it was supposed to be a shining one. And must one really be so true to ones fake self? Such deep thoughts were inspired by the glorious peans sung to the Potter books by the said friend. 


So I succumbed with a very vague promise to read all the books. And that brings us to the 2nd part of this story. We were hanging out on Brigade road on Sunday evening - and our aimless walking took us outside Blossoms.


Oh you've not heard of Blossom? Aaah, dear reader you do not know what you've missed. 


Blossom is a book store on Brigade road. Inspiration struck and I realized I could pick up all the Potter books at a bargain at Blossom. 


3 floors high and packed floor to ceiling with books, books, books. There are dozens of shelves on every floor chock a block with books. And not just new books. Blossom also sells Used books. In fact its called Blossom - Home of Used Books. Every sqare foot of space in Blossom is filled with books. Of its a fantasy come true. And they have one of the widest range of books you could have. 


So we ask one of the men on the 2nd floor for the Potter collection in Used books. And boy did this man know his books. Remember I already had the first one. So he found me the 2nd, 3rd and 7th. And promised to have the 4-5-6 ready in 2 days. And now comes the kickers. For the 3rd book he had handed me a India published - slightly used - in great condition copy. But then as we were looking around he came back with a UK edition used copy - which he said was very rare to get here. Of course it being India and all. Oh,it felt like such a find. Like it was a treasure I had come upon. A secret. So I came away with 3 Potter books discounted. Used - with the previous owners names - it is so much fun to imagine who they must be and how they must have read this book. And a very special UK edition find in that. 


Lets back up in the story in a bit. Once I had made that vague promise to succumb to Potter Mania - I though I might as well re-read Book 1. To get a sense of continuity. So here's the reading progress so far:


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Sun Night to Mon Night
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Mon night to Tues late morning
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - To begin on Tues night


I'm on a mission people. There is magic in the air. 
And Darkness. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mirchi - 'Tis been a pleasure

A white french beard, pristine white hair with a lock falling over his forehead, sitting on the table and an attitude that made him stand out- Prof. Chandrasen Mirchandani will forever be "Mirchi".

Handsome, debonair, witty, classy. The man who taught us that life was about having a grilled red snapper at one hand and a glass of Glenfiddich at the other. The man who taught us Marketing Strategy, Customer Relationship Management and a whole lot more. His case study of a single guy trying to find a woman in a b-school using targeting of a customer group and marketing strategy, was legendary. He brought out a passion in the class that made his lectures incredibly exciting. He always asked piercing questions, forcing us to think beyond the superficial clich├ęd answers that we were ready with.

Cool enough to use phrases such as foreplay and getting laid in class, he was a stickler for getting facts right. If anybody made an assumption  that the market was going to grow by 5% (as MBA students are prone to do) - he'd cut the student down to size by sarcastically asking him to be ambitious and assume 50% growth. Why stop at 5%?! He'd then point out how the market growth rate was mentioned in the case study on the 3 line of the 5th footnote on page 23. Didn't we read the case study?! He taught to us to always, always read the fine print.

Mirchi was the one who encouraged us to opt out of the placement process - begin a start-up, take risks. Most of us were too chicken to follow your advice Sir.

I still remember Mirchi's stories of his time in Jamshedpur. How they had defended a boy who eloped with some girl from a rival college. How they'ed stood up to knives and  switchblades. And how they were all now respected professors, deans of colleges and much more refined men. He had lived, and how!


He had the girls swooning over him in class. I wonder if he knew that the women stared open mouthed as he leaned back on the table and expounded about a case study. I think he's the one who started my fascination of men with french beards. Thanks to him - I'm instantly attracted to any man in a french beard.  
My husband, to this day is convinced that when he gets older, he will as handsome and debonair as Mirchi and will have all the girls swooning over him. Ha!

He could sit down and have dinner, lunch or mebbe just a glass of the good stuff with a room full of students who were half his age and still talk to them as equals. He was a friend, a mentor, an inspiration.

Sir, you have left behind a whole lot of ignited minds and broken hearts. RIP Mirchi.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mysteries and Boarding Schools...

She was racist, sexist, caste-ist, elitist, xenophobic and incredibly politically incorrect.
But she did define my childhood reading. Her books were my childhood. 


Secret Seven, The Famous Five, The Five-Findouters, Malory Towers, St. Clares and who could forget the harbinger of all of them - Noddy!


The love for boarding schools began and ended with Malory Towers. Whatever the realities of boarding school life, to me it was a world of midnight feasts, and lacrosse games and the scatterbrain Irene who loved Maths and Music. A boarding school would always have a firm but loving Matron who gave you disgusting syrups when you fell ill. And it would have a pool surrounded by rocks and filled by the waves from the sea water. And it was always have silly girls like Gwendoline Mary. I still have my "First Term at Malory Towers". It was my book to read during breaks from engineering exam studying. And is still my book to read when I go to my folks home to stay.


I don't remember much of St. Clare - but I just checked Wiki and it brought back memories of the O'Sullivan sisters. You had to be a Malory Towers of St. Clare's staunch loyalist. You could not love both. It was like Sherlock Holmes vs. Hercule Poirot. Sooner or later a 12 year old girl's gotta pick sides.


Of the various adventure series, Secret Seven wasn't much of a draw. I guess if forced to choose I'd be torn between The famous five and the five find-outers. I am kinda partial to The Five Find-outers because The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage was my first "big girl" book. With that book I moved from Noddy and Bed-Time stories to books which were paperbacks (not hardcovers), much thicker and the font was much smaller. And more importantly, it didn't have pictures in it.   I still remember how proud I was when I had started reading my first Five Find-outer book. 


My 5 year old niece now reads The Bubbles series and The Peter and Jane series. I recently bought her "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham". But one thing I know. She still reads and loves her Noddy.


I know all the new editions have tried to remove the inappropriate language and contexts. I hope that allows a whole new generation of readers to enjoy the magic of her books without the stereotypes and racist remarks.


She was racist, sexist, caste-ist, elitist, xenophobic and incredibly politically incorrect. 
But she ignited my love for reading. And for that, I will always remain grateful to Enid Blyton.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The non-story about a car

I've been wanting to watch Do Dooni Char for a long time now. It began, because of well, - Nitu Singh & Rishi Kapoor - you'd be crazy not to want to watch them. It seemed like it was going to be one of those sweet movies that warm the cockles of your heart - remember Rishi and Dimple in Pyar Mein Twist. Anyways - that was my initial reaction to how I hoped the movie was going to be. I read some rave reviews - some reviewers who I respect and follow. Then ofcourse it was majorly acclaimed at the various awards shows as the small movie that made a difference.


So all in all I've been wanting to watch it for a while. I finally got the DVD (yes, an original) from a cousin. Unfortunately she gave it a bad review. 
That was it for the hubby anyway. Always wary of my choice in movies (I tend to watch even the dumbest rom-coms) - it was the final nail in the coffin - and his mind was made up that it was going to be a ghastly movie.


So last night, as we sat down for dinner, I forwarded the suggestion that we should watch Do Dooni Char with dinner. Ofcourse all the hubby's defenses were up and blistering. And he reminded me about the one bad review we had heard. But I was not to be dissuaded. 


Besides which I had watched sat through 3 (or was it 4) Rocky Balboa movies last month - I don't remember whether it was 3 or 4 - they do tend to blend into one another. And to top it all I had also sat through a viewing of the crappiest movie ever - The Book of Eli... all for the hubby. (Marriage...you sigh. Only one TV I say)


Anyways, in view of the supreme sacrifices I had made last month, it was only right that he give in to the demand, nay suggestion of Do Dooni Char. So with much sighing and posturing on hubby's part and excitement on mine, we started watching Do Dooni Char.


By "End of Disc One", he was in tears... that there was a Disc Two that had to be watched. And I had to whimper-ingly admit that it may have been a bit boring. By the end of Disc Two, my heart shattered and hubby's apparent glee at the failure of the movie, I had to admit it that it fell way short of my expectations - and was in one word BORING.


This is going to make it much harder to make him watch the DVD of Dhobi Ghat I've managed to get. With the reviews anyways being less than favorable and Do Dooni Char not living up to my hype - it going to be an uphill climb convincing him of the next movie I choose for us. 


Oh... I almost forgot about the World Cup. Good-bye movie watching....sniff sniff.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Airport Bookshops

Ive been having a run of bad luck with the last few books I've bought. Or actually the last few times I've visited a book store. I hardly ever come across an interesting book and have been sorely disappointed during all my sojourns to  book shops high and low in the last few months. And the one or two times I've grabbed courage with both hands and picked up a book that looked half interesting, let it suffice to say - I never managed to get through even half of it.


But it all changed this week. And how!


Was travelling with the hubby and we were at Mumbai Airport's Terminal C. [As an aside, that terminal deserves a whole separate post dedicated to it - but that's another day's writing]. With hubby also fast becoming quite the book junkie, once we past security, we made a bee line to the book store. 


I was almost expectant of another disappointing hour, but boy was I wrong! In the first 15 mins, I had already short listed  3 books:


  • Stephen Fry in America: I've been hooked on to travelogues since Bill Bryson - and add in Stephen Fry - who really is the wittiest man on British television [Have you seen QI?!] - the British wry humour and I was sold!
  • East of the Sun: Notes from the NorthEast: By Siddhartha Sharma: It was a travelogue. Described as quirky. And I really needed to increase my travelogue reading to India locales. Otherwise I'd feel like such a fake.
  • The Case of the Exploding Mangoes - It was a fictitious account of the story behind the assassination of Pakistan's president Zia-ul-haq. It had South Asian Politics, Mystery and was supposed to be dark and satirical. How could I put it down?!

See, before we go ahead, you, dear readers must understand one thing. The hubby dear is a chief proponent of ecommerce and he believes with fervor that books must be bought online. Something about getting 20-25% off. He may be right, but it just doesn't feel the same. So I try and buy most of my books online. The savings and all. But once in a while I get uncontrollable urges in book shops and then I cannot leave without buying the book.

So after much puppy faces, puffed cheeks, batted eyelids and the works, after which he was ready to buy me all the 3 books himself... I decided to be a nice girl and settle for just one book from the bookshop to tide me over the plane ride back home. And would buy the other 2 online.

Ofcourse then the heart breaking decision of "which book was to be bought" needed to be made - really folks its like choosing between your kids...I finally decided on "The Case of the Exploding Mangoes", paid for it and immediately dove nose first into it.

For the next 3 days, I have barely surfaced to breathe. But with office, food breaks, some sleep and such... I finished it in 3 days. And what a page turner it was. 

Fast paced, funny, satirical portrait of  Pakistan's military leadership and their bloody history. Its a political thriller, a dark comedy and a South Asian story - all rolled into one. Go read it!