Monday, December 22, 2008

My Char-M

To delhi and back.

beautiful weather,
dusty delhi.
metro dreams a few metres above our heads,
early morning mist,
flyovers daring us,
milkmen guiding us,
a u-turn
Back home.

Well, yes, I and Mahesh drove to Delhi to meet Char-Paanch Bloggers. NM, HDWK, Pinku, PinknBlu, and Sukumbho (More about that later) and I come back home and Ritu Charges me with a Char ka Tag. Totally charmed, here I go, spreading about my charms.

4 places I go to over and over again

1. Internet (Lifeline has to go on blinking in the modem, or I am dead)
2. My life size mirror (not that it has a lot to offer, I want it to feel good when it looks at me)
3. My Work Place ( Have to, chotey chotey bachey hain mere)
4. Tennis Courts (in capacity of the White Tiger)

4 people who mail me regularly

1. Sumanta (sigh, he has finally accepted that he has to give me up to the blogworld)
2. Bikramjit Sekhon (He is actually pissed off at my not doing the GNDU Newsletter till now)
3. Kiran Grewal (Remember the baby devil?)
4. My Mom ( till she was abroad)

4 of my favorite places to eat ( apart from home)

1. The Maya, Jalandhar (Though once they brought the bill without our asking and I was thirsting for the manager's blood)
2. Haveli, Jalandhar (The other cronies around cities like Karnal and Ludhiana are nowhere close to the original)
3. Brijwasi Chaat Bhandar, Bhandari Bridge, Amritsar. (I loved their jaggery-tamarind sauce in chaat. Oh Paapi memory…kithey cheta aa gaya, yummm)
4. Sanjha Chulha in Johal Market, Jalandhar (Till I was a chickiterian, I loved their Chicken Irani)

4 places I’d rather be now

1. Chandigarh
2. Watching Dil Kabaddi
3. In Udaipur, leisurely enjoying the rich city
4. Walking on unwalked trails in Kasauli

4 favorite TV shows

1. Tom and Jerry
2. Shamsher Sikander Chuddi-Buddy (Yeah, there is a monkey in it that is totally in awe of his bum)
3. Discovery travel shows ( I don’t know the names honestly)
4. Lizzie McGuire or Shararat (On Disney; I dont know why both cannot be aired)

4 Movies I could watch again and again

1. Sholay (But of course)
2. Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aaata hai ( hehe, sorry it was a white lie)
3. Chupke-Chupke (starring Dharminder, Jaya Bhaduri, Amitabh Bacchan, Sharmila Tagore)
4. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

4 people I would like to tag:

1. Afaque
2. Iya
3. Manasa
4. Zirelda

Edited to add:

Gandhigiri in tags results in Philip agreeing to do the tag. Will wait to hear from you LP.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Now This Calls for a Treat

When we lay our hearts bare before our readers, either as anonymous writers or with our names declared on our blogs, we do or do not crave appreciation. We yearn for sharing our joys and sorrows; we yearn to use the writing as a catharsis. To some, this becomes a compulsive activity, to others it is merely an extension of their personality. Through our blogs, we meet those who live a whole world afar and are yet just a step away from us. Through our blogs, we become the reason for many strangers to meet and talk on a common forum. If nothing else, I feel this is one valid reason for us all to come together through the words expressed on our respective pages.
When these same friends remember you on their own blogs for a reason as good as an award, it is not flattery, it is not mere reciprocation. It is merely a way to remember each other on the blogs and to introduce new blogs through the various links that these awards ask you to put up. It is a validation of what you stand for in your blog-and a validation offered by your blog-mates who are the true judges of your words. Nor are the awards givers any celebrities in the regular sense of the term. They are celebrities in their own right. Some of them make us laugh, some make us empathize with them, some jolt us up to the realities of our day and some just share their day-to-day life with us. We know their babies, spouses, parents, friends, friends-of-friends, colleagues, neighbors from their writings. After all we are all just Six Degrees removed from each other.
Over the past couple of months, I have been blessed with so many awards that I feel humbled. Here they go.

Indian Home Maker
thinks that I am an honest blogger for my approval of posts that do not result in anger, arguments and strife!

However, I feel that
Philip-for venting out his anger honestly on the current scenario
Balvinder-For bringing out the voice of the Indians in his suggestions post after Mumbai Siege
TheArmyGuy-For taking us with him as far as he could in his paratrooping
Trailblazer-For saying unmincingly what he believes in (though at times I tend to disagree with him)
Imp's Mom-For uncovering the insecurity that we all are feeling for our children
MySpace-For the honesty with which her stories touch the bottom of the heart
Oreen-For the pashbalish humor he likes to spread through his honest posts; for leaking out the well kept secrets of the Bengali people to us lesser mortals
deserve this Honest Blogger award.

Lately, a cute butterfly has been spreading glee in the blogosphere. And it came to see me four times. Mithe, Iya, DeeplyDip, and Mandira sent it my way. IT is supposed to be for a cool blog. I don’t know what makes my blog cool, but it gave a shine to my eyes everytime I looked at it. The shine must spread. I think
Dipali has a cool blog because she writes about everything, from little dogs, to her trips, to her supposed dinosority-and all through, her words are always coated with courtesy, warmth, and above all humor.
Himalayan Adventurer, Dr Khandelwal deserves this cute award for bringing to us the cold of Antarctica first hand. I am simply a fan of his blog. His simple language and informative style is very attractive.
Jagjit is the guy with the red blog. Yeah, I know now he is not using the red colour anymore, yet I associate his blog with Red. So he deserves this cool award for all his wild ‘orgasmic’ humor.
Monika's blog has such a beautiful cool look now as compared to before ( am I mean in mentioning it?) that it is what you call a cool blog.
Parry has been singing such beautiful songs and poems that he deserves this mention and award. Lagey raho.
Parul is my recent discovery but the look and the content of her blog is way above cool. This one is for you girl.

Mama-Mia has been very kind to remember me while awarding her blog mates with the Proximidade award. The award is such a cute beige and pink that I would have snatched it from Abha if she had not awarded me with it. And the bonus is that as I am typing out this post, Monika beckons me to her blog. There she is, with another Proximidade award.
The citation of the award reads that this award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! See I told you…
I would like to remember these friends for the award.
Manish-For sharing with us the warm memories and experiences.
Zirelda- for making us a part of her everyday life, for taking us to walks with Rach.
Jasdeep-For helping us fly with the best Punjabi poetry of our days.
Pinku-For investing her time and energy in cultivating friends par-blogs.
Roop-For sharing with us, her experiences with her charming sari.
Ritu-For being there whenever I need to share a ‘hey’ moment on Gtalk, besides being an excellent author of wonderful stories.
Oceanic Mirages-For her new experimentation with English Ghazal.
Devaki-For being, through her such apt words, a charming presence around us.

A long while ago, Mama-Mia ( I know she has also forgotten it) and Life Begins, and Monika had given me an award that is given only to Million Dollar Friends. Here is it. Thank you girls. To me, apart from these three, and Pinku and Roop and Ritu and NM and all my friends who come to my blog to read my humble mumbles are a million dollar worth.
But especially
Indian Home Maker, because I can reach her even if she is in her kitchen.
Sumanto, because he is my best critic and a great buddy (and because he tolerates me a lot)
Gazal, because we share our Midnight-Cat-Eating-Experiences too. (did I hear eiiww?)
Guri, because of the collaborative meaningless poetry we sometimes scribble for the old times sake.
Mandira, for really sweet "applogolies" (oh my god, I wont let this be forgotten) she sent my way after her Punjab Trip.
How Do We Know-For speaking such cute Punjabi with me.
Sri-For counting his angels, I mean blessings, and counting me among them.

And I had received the Brillante Weblog award and also had done a post on it when I had gotten it. But later, I got it yet again from Monika, and again from MySpace and yet again from Life Begins. So I had to share it with you.
I think the Quirky Indian, Mithe, and DewDrops deserve to be called brilliant. The first because it talks of us Indians and what we are , the second because it shares the fresh talent of a bright new blogger and the third because of the way it shares with us a hope that HIV vaccine is on the way. Here, I would also like to make a mention of PinknBlu and would like him to accept this award. It is for the vehemence with which he had been posting. And it is for that same enthusiasm to be revived. Who knows, the award might do it. Iya deserves this award because of the sweet and the unassuming stuff she writes on her blog.

Trust me, this post had been bothering me for two days. I was feeling a pressure of not having acknowledged the awards, of not having displayed them well in time. Job done, Mampi is happy now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the Price of a Mountain Dew Bottle

Well, I am sorry for the stupid question but I was feeling so stupid after paying the price that I had to bring it to your court to decide if I was more stupid or the shopkeeper was more insistent?

I had paid 60 rupees for both.

He said if you want it without Tropicana, you get to pay 50 rupees. If you want it with Tropicana, you pay 60. I tried to fight it out with him by telling him ke bhai saab cold drink hi chahiye, bina Tropicana ke chahiye, aur 40 ka chahiye, agar zabardasti Tropicana dena hai toh 50 ka chahiye. But he didn’t pity the damsel in distress. And I failed to understand his logic. I was upset, in fact furious-the kind of furious you turn when you find people either too stupid or too smart to understand your logic. It was 10-30 pm and I was going to Amritsar airport to receive mom. I thought by the time I reach Amritsar, it would be well past 11-30 and I wont be able to get anything. And the Airport shops fleece customers as if there is no tomorrow. So majboori ka naam 60 rupees instead of 50. Guess he knew already that the woman would not be getting anything else for the good part of the night.

And don’t think I took it calmly. I created a ruckus, tried to threaten him with dire consequences, dropped names like ‘consumer court’, and ‘insaaf’ and’ blah blah blah’. After about 3 minutes of blah blahing, I realized that the effort wasn’t worth those 10 bucks that I would be saving. I know, I know it is not about 10 bucks, it is all about principle. But then trying to shove principle into people’s unwilling, unyielding ears at 10-30 pm is not a good idea. They are too sleepy at that time anyway. So all my efforts to intimidate him failed miserably. He said in his Majhi Punjabi “Saanu Vaara nahi khanda ji” (hamein raas nahi aata yeh price).

And I ended up paying 60 for both.

And I was right about the Airport thing. There were two miserable shops, one had a costly Lipton Di Chah; and other had some Haldiram Snacks hanging like dead mice. Me and Rasan were drooling like two hungry cats and couldnt do anything because that shop was closed. We shivered a little and then went inside through practically nothing in the name of secuirty. There was NOTHING inside the airport. We had to sit inside the arrivals lounge. Lounge?? What lounge?? And the Government of my state expects NRI's to go investing and fawning over their blah blahing.

That reminds me, this post was about the price of a Mountain Dew.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Any Clue?

This is the label from a Mountain Dew bottle that I bought recently from a small town on the way to Amritsar. Since you know that I am weak at Maths, can you please calculate the price that I was supposed to pay for this cold drink?? Please click on the picture to enlarge it to see the label clearly.

Later I would tell you what I actually paid.

And okay, this has nothing to do with THAT maths. That was only to add some color to this otherwise totally dull, drab and confused post.

Monday, December 08, 2008

PooranMashi (Full Moon Night)

Jaswant Singh Kanwal is a prominent Punjabi author. Standing literally and figuratively tall among all the Punjabi writers, he has his own niche in the minds of the readers of Punjabi literature. As a teenager, I was, like all Punjabi children my age, initiated into reading the works of Nanak Singh-the father of Punjabi novel. Like Prem Chand, he talked about poverty and idealism and appealed to an impressionable mind like mine. Kanwal, according to popular notions, was a leftist and in those days, I hated everything leftist. So, I didn’t really read him. Later, I landed upon his historical fiction Toshali di Hanso, and other novels like Civil Lines, Sacch Nu Faansi and now Pooranmashi. I admit I had been missing out on a lot of my own heritage by being prejudiced about him. I am going to make up for that and will soon be trying to find all his works and read them.

Pooranmashi (Aarsi Publishers, ND, Rs.125/-) has interesting details of Punjabi culture, rustic life, communication, lifestyle, farming habits and mental makeup of people in general. In a romantic plot, Kanwal picturises the day-to-day life of Roop(its protagonist) and Channo (his ladylove) who never get to marry due to a foolish misunderstanding. They meet a couple of times in the course of years even after their respective marriages. Later Channo is widowed. Roop’s wife is in the know of the things between Roop and Channo. The three of them arrange to marry Channo’s daughter to Roop’s son. The romance between Roop and Channo thus reaches its pinnacle. Shamo, another female character does not get married to her love Dyala who dies lonely and addicted to drugs. And then there is Bachno, a woman married to a much older man. She is constantly looking for pleasure outside marriage and as a result plays havoc with the romantic lead of the novel. Interspersed with observations from the novelist himself, the novel gives an empathetic picture of poverty, needs, and compulsions alongside the rich heritage that it reflects in descriptions of marriages and marriage parties travelling by horses and bullock carts to another village and staying overnight.

I loved the Punjabi folk couplets at the beginning and ending of almost each chapter of the novel. These songs, these bolies, these tappas, coming from the endless treasure house of Punjabi folk add a flavor to it. One thing that I felt in the reading of the novel was, the generation of today will probably not relate to the feelings and emotions of the characters. That first blush, that unwilling check on your own communication with your loved one, or the one you marry, the little chaa malhar, the little nok jhok of a rustic (pendu) life-all is missing from today’s life.

The characters Kanwal has created in this novel are highly idealistic. Roop tries to convince Channo to elope with him, she doesn’t agree. Instead chooses a life of torture for her own self. Like many Punjabi wives of her day, she falls in love with her man too late. He is an army man who dies on the front soon after his wife has accepted him mentally. Roop’s wife is totally cool about his past. At least that makes her own life easy. It was kind of totally undigestible to me. But then, a writer, like the Almighty, has the licence to play with his characters as he might please.

In all, it was a great read.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hairrible Hair Day

I went for a haircut a couple of days back. It was a parlor suggested by Mudita, my friend. My regular parlor for haircut, AAE is one of the best in the city. But then I wanted to try an alternate parlor too. After a long long deliberation with Mudits, I decided upon going to the SU parlor. It had two floors. The lower floor was for men. The upper floor-about six steps above (thankfully not six feet under) was the women’s parlor. I expected a suave ambience from the kind of locality it was in. But what I saw inside was something akin to a fish market. Six chairs, six clients, six helpers to six beauticians/hairdressers. No attendants were free enough to catch me right at the door to ask me ‘yes ma’am’? Managing to look sufficiently lost (as I certainly am not- maybe I was just pretending I was lost so someone should promptly come to attend to the innocent customer to fleece her of the money in her purse), I looked here and there. They read my intention telepathically; because someone did come; I muttered an innocent, “haircut.” He just gave a small nod. Presently, a senior hair dresser (SH) came. Almost dragged me to the chair. Ok, not really dragged, just gestured me to take that chair. Reluctantly I sat there. Put the book I was carrying and the purse on the glass top in front of me.

On purpose, I threw a sudden glance at the hair brushes lying on the side counter. I jumped up on the chair. The SH (and he was with a small paunch you know, and an overconfident demeanor) jumped up thinking I had seen a snake. “What happened?” Making a very pathetic face, I looked back, “You won’t… u-u-use these (pointing at the brushes) on me, will you?” Unmoved, he said, “Of course, I will. Why? What’s wrong with these?” Same innocent sorry face of mine, now aided by my blinking eyes, “Come on, there are hair in these brushes, and dead skin, and they are dirty.” Now there WERE four/five strands of hair each in all three of the brushes lying there meant to be used on me. “Medem, is time toh aise ho hongey” (Madam, at this time of the day, you will get these only). Did I tell you that it was 5:30 p.m.? I wanted to ask him if I should have come at 5:30 a.m. to be privileged enough to have clean brushes used on my hair. Reading my mind, he looked at me as if I was weird. He actually checked my head carefully for any antennae sticking out. ( I saw him in the mirror checking it out) Not finding any, he dismissed me as just another cleanliness freak and started to start with the job.

Now I got rid of the wretched demeanor of mine, and went into the essentially Durga mode, “What the hell do you mean this time of the day? I will have nothing of these sorts.” “Aapki marzi,” he said in a go- to-hell tone. I actually got up from the chair, meaning to go out. He didn’t imagine a woman could be so stupid to go out just for a petty reason like a dirty hair brush. I said, “fine.” We all know, fine in a woman’s terminology means, “dekh loongi” (I will see you). Not that I wanted to see him anytime later. Now he was a little appeasing, “Arey madam, sit, I will cut your hair, and meantime they will clean the brushes.” “Yeah Motu, now you are talking in my lingo,” I thought; but said, “Okay, get them cleaned first.” Giving up on me, he yelled to an attendant (who I know will ultimately grow to be like him-pot bellied and apathetic to the customers’ need of clean brushes). The boy came, SH told him to go clean two wooden brushes. Duly obeying, the fellow brought two clean brushes. The SH asked him contemptuously to show them to me. I know he actually wanted to shove these ‘clean’ brushes into my face. Not reacting, I checked the brushes. I again found a few strands of hair sticking out. And he rubbed the brushes together. A lot of dead skin fell off those ‘clean’ brushes. YUCK. I was totally put off. And I blurted, “Sorry, I don’t want a haircut”. Now the SH was genuinely irritated. But at the same time, he was not willing to let go of me. The fact that I was carrying Indira Gandhi’s biography with me didn’t help my cause at all. He possibly thought I was one hell of a Nari Mukti types. Or worse, I was perhaps a Press correspondent on a sting operation to catch hold of all dirty hair brushes in his parlor. He told the boy to clean, CLEAN, really clean the brush. And I was suddenly worried about the haircut now. He might snip snap, snip snap allllll my locks and do a Mr. Bean on me. But then the die was cast. Upon instructing the boy to go clean the brushes with dettol (I could sense the sarcasm in his voice), he started his job. Before that, he brought a well scrubbed and clean Dark Pink comb. Usually I like to mentally go to sleep while the job is being done. Today, I couldn’t afford to. I kept my eyes open. He did look antagonistically at me. I wanted to think that he was doing a fine job. He took 10 minutes in re-doing my steps and he was done. DONE. And I was left gaping. “Ho gaya?” “Yes medem ho gaya,” he was already pissed off. So glad to get rid of me he was. Meantime the boy brought those two wooden brushes. I doubt the parlor had seen those two brushes in the color that I saw them in, ever since they were bought. I had a look at them, said “yes,” and three people who were attending to me heaved three separate sighs of relief. I swear, I could hear their distinct sighs. The SH was thinking, “Medem ko pasand aa gaya, brushes ka janam saphal ho gaya.”

I wanted to do a Pappu Dance on my minor victory. Now my head won’t catch any infection and lice (ab ismar mein kaun nikaalta meri juyein?). And then they used those clean clean brushes on my hair. I had originally planned to get a straightening job done after a blow dry. But now I was scared because I had upset too many people. What if they scald my scalp in retaliation? Lene ke dene par jayeinge. I heard SH speak, “Medem-straight or outward curls?” I said without batting my eyelids, “Outward curls.” And thought, Motu, at least you won’t get to threaten me with that hot straightening irons stuff. The three of them then worked on giving me outwards curls, with that big hair dryer and those two brushes of ‘mine’. But they did have their revenge for sure. Pulled my hair once and pulled my hair twice and pretended it was by mistake. I, too, had to do my bit by pretending that it didn’t make any difference to me. Why give them that morbid pleasure of knowing they had given me pain? I wanted to open my Indira Gandhi to forget this pulling at my hair, and intimidate them a little in the process, but with the pulls and the whoosh of the dryer, I don’t think I could have, even if I had pretended I could.

SH did a fine job, with two assistants – and my hair looked awesome. I went downstairs to pay up. “Trimming,” he announced to the receptionist madam and she said absentmindedly, “Three hundred.” I took out three hundred-rupee notes and left NO tip behind…I could sense that the SH was lingering behind for that. I was acting mean, but I meant to be mean. The SH, and the two assistants looked out of the glass doors as I went out. I know they were checking if there was any space ship to take me back to Venus. Relieved, they went back. I am sure they wished they had a life size picture of me to hang in the parlor-just to warn the posterity. And I am sure they didn’t wash any brushes for the following entire week in protest. After all, my hair won’t grow back for another 2 months and they know the weird creature is not coming back for two months at least.

But I know I am not going to go there at all. AAE zindabad.

If you think it was not horrible enough, and if you have more hunger for horror, you can devour some Phool Horrors or Pool Horrors.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai Blood

Rana Bose is a multifaceted personality - aware, awake and alert to the times that we live in. You can read his brilliant take on the Mumbai Blasts here.