Wednesday, September 26, 2007

T20 = Tamasha20 ?

Is it only me or was anyone else put off by the ridiculously elaborate reception accorded to the Indian cricket team in Mumbai and the excessive politicising of the event?
Now I am as happy as the next Indian about the team winning. In fact, the day of the final saw me pacing about restlessly and jumping up and down with tension and glee. I also believe that the team deserved to get a wonderful welcome on their return home. But what passed off as the 'victory march' and 'felicitation ceremony' on Wednesday turned into a total farce. Yes, fans would have wanted to connect with the players, to cheer them on, to wave at them; but making the poor jetlagged souls travel in that ridiculous open-topped bus in pouring rain for close to six hours was a bit much.
When will the Indian junta learn to become mature and respect some boundaries and rules set up to make life a little bit easier for others: in this case the players as well as the harassed commuters who may have other urgent tasks to attend to? As if the crowds breaking barricades along the route to Wankhede was not bad enough, in the end the way the people ran out onto the field was toe-curlingly cringeworthy and made me want to hang my head in shame.
Also, most off-putting was the excessive politicising of the event. At the airport, wherever one saw, it was NCP workers who were milling about with their flags, on the dais it was the minsters and BCCI babus who grabbed the centrestage seats, blocking out the players whom the people had turned up to watch. Then, the state governments jostling with each other to announce cash rewards also reeked of political opportunism, rather than recognition of merit. I am totally on the side of the Indian hockey team on this one.
Most of the media coverage was absolutely puerile. The channels seemed to be unnecessarily glorifying unruly behaviour by the masses. The inch-by-inch progress reports of the journey, repeatedly playing the Chak De India song, behaving as though there was no other news coming in from any other part of the country, were juevenile and irritating.
When will we learn to treat cricket as what it was originally intended to be, just another game?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Purani Genes aur Nayi Genes

Last night, was chatting with an old friend about how far we had come from those singleton days of first-day-first-show fillum viewings, mindless shopping sprees, strange excursions to even stranger restaurants. Post-marriage we seemed to have become milder versions of Ekta Kapoor kkkkreations (or kretins, same difference), trying to balance home and hearth while trying to retain some semblance of the fun person we used to be.
My theory was that maybe, somewhere we all have a dormant "bahu" gene (associated with Responsibilities) which suddenly comes alive after we get married. Then, after some days, the now-repressed "Sex and the City" gene (associated with our singleton independence) slowly starts to register protest. Then battle ensues between the "bahu" gene and the "Sex and the City" gene. And what you see below is just one manifestation of the resultant chaos.
(This is a collaborative work-in progress envisaged by Cynic and moi during an afternoon crib session about hunger pangs, lack of chai, nuisance of bais and how all poems about wandering away from responsibilities seemed to have been written only by men and not women.)

(With due apologies to Yeats)

I will arise now and go and make some tea
And a small breakfast built of eggs and bread made
Nine baked beans will I have there and a hive for honey for the toast
And eat all this in some cozy tree-shade

And I shall have some juice there
for juice comes dripping slow
Dropping from the juicer into the tall big glass
Dripping after whales of effort
To where the bai groans

I will arise and go now
For always night and day
I hear sounds of the dhobi, milkman, maid
Banging on the door,
Or moping with low sounds by the floor

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Small Town Saga, Big City Blues

Chhotein chhotein shaharon se
Khali-bore dupaharon se
Hum toh jhola uthake chale...

Back when I was a proud Mumbaikar and loving every minute of it, if anyone had told me that a few years down the line I would baulk at the prospect of having to stay there, I would have laughed, nay, jeered at them. Me and hate Bombay? Wha..?! After all, wasn't I the one who sang paens about the muddy-grey Arabian sea, how at 3 am near Plaza cinema, 'the city that never sleeps' smelt of fresh coriander, the fact that I could take a train back home at 1 am all by myself, the panipuripavbhajivadapavmisalsizzlingbrowniesundaegoldenbutteredbhuttainmonsoons, how I could rub shoulders with actors and actresses while buying bhaji at the local market?
Last week, I tried to revive just a tiny portion of that love for Bombay as I struggled with the difficult choice of either being gainfully employed but miserable in the metropolis or being jobless in a small town. For the time being at least, I have opted for the latter.
I was born in a small town and couldn't wait to get out of there. So I don't know when I turned into someone who preferred the minimal creature comforts of such places as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a boomtown.
People ask me how I find Baroda in comparison to Bombay and look surprised when I tell them that I love it. (Of course, I would love it even more had there been more job openings for me here, but that's another story altogether.) But I do, seriously. I love that even the most distant suburb of Baroda is barely half an hour away from the rest of the city. I love the spacious garden in my house where birds and bees socialise with squirrels, frogs, monkeys and sundry other creatures that I'm happy not to be acquainted with. And I am seriously in love with the tiny, quaint airport.
While I have had my share of Bombay's hep and bindaas offerings, Baroda has almost everything that I would be content with in my old age: nice eating joints, a couple of good bookstores, good multiplexes, a decent amount of shopping, the odd play or two.
Take away the cattle which double up as mobile roadblocks and magnanimously drop their "holy, purifying offerings" outside my gate each morning, take away the motorists who feel that driving on the right side of the road is only for sissies, take away the unique ability of Baroda to transmorgify into Venice or Amsterdam during the monsoons, throw in a couple of decent-paying jobs for me, and you would have a place where I would ideally like to retire.
Now, if only someone could bring the muddy-grey Arabian Sea here, I would achieve nirvana.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Missing Pujo

Growing up in Jamshedpur, I realise we used to observe a lot of traditionally non-Tam festivals. Which is the reason why even today Durga Puja is very special to me, although it has been almost 16 years since I actually celebrated it. It's just that the memories attached to it have a surefire way of tugging at the heartstrings.
Still remember how every year on Mahalaya in the wee hours of the morning, Amma used to switch on the tiny radio in the kitchen to hear the Mahishasura Mardini incantation on AIR. She would keep the volume slightly low so that we did not get disturbed. But inevitably, I remember I used to wake up somehow and would walk in somewhere towards the tail end of the piece. For some reason, Amma would be so moved by the rendition that she would get all misty-eyed, and looking at her so would I.
I remember my parents used to buy me at least three sets of new clothes to wear when I went pandal-hopping with my friends. In retrospect, I realise how lucky I was. Diwali would be just around the corner and that was more important to us. They needn't have bought me the stuff for Durga Puja, but they did only so that I did not feel left out. I am still thankful for that.
Walking from one pandal to another with friends, trying to figure out which locality had the best pandal and idol, gorging on the yummiest bhog ever, hogging on gol-guppas as well as ice-creams and packet "pepsis" on the sly; in the night, piling into a bus with my folks and other families from the colony to check out the pandals in far-off localities like Sonari and Burma Mines_all these and more formed the mainstay of my life for those 3-four days from Shashti to Bijoya. In between, going to Sabuj Kalyan Sangh with folks to attend the fun fair, trying to gather up courage to sit on the giant wheel, especially after that one year when Anna and his friends were stuck on it for a while after the electricity went off. On Dashami, shedding a tear or two when the idol would be taken away for immersion but by evening recovering well enough to go to houses of friends, many many friends, and feasting on sweets.
Of course, in parallel there would also be the Navratri celebrations at home, Tam-style, full of chundal and kolu and dreading going to the houses of some maamis for vettali-paaka as one would be forcefully invited to sing and one's repitoire was limited to Hindi film songs, not something which befitted a nalla ponna!
When leaving Jamshedpur, never realised that I was really leaving behind a very formative part of my life and that Durga Puja in the years to come would never be the same for me.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Macavity Macavity, There's no one like Macavity

For the last few months, I have had a stalker. A female stalker, who has even managed to invade my bedroom!
I never even noticed when she first started slinking into the house. It used to be quite spooky, to suddenly feel somebody's unwavering gaze on me and then turn around to catch just a glimpse of her swooshing by. I had absolutely no clue how she managed do do it night after night without fail. Then one day, determined to catch her in the act, I waited and waited till I saw her come into the garden. I quietly followed her. First she clambered onto the karuvepelai (curry leaf) tree in the garden, then she leapt onto the ledge above a ground floor window which is at least 6 feet away from the nearest branch. Then, and this was the best part, she did a Spiderman and actually scaled the wall to my bedroom window, which is a good 5 feet above the ledge. I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.
Not particularly desirous of a threesome, I tried to keep the intruder out of my room by putting up a makeshift screen apart from the curtain and securing it to the window grill with clips. I close the window but don't bolt it. In the middle of the night, I heard rustling noises and, lo and behold, this shadowy entity jumped onto my bed and ran away. She had managed to actually open the nearly-closed window, find a gap through the screen and squeeze through.
I have no clue how and why I became a victim of feline fascination. What's worse is that I am a dog person, not a cat person. That being that, I would have managed to tolerate this entire fatal attraction except for a teeny-weeny fact: I draw the line at cleaning up crap left behind by my admirers. Which is what I have been forced to do of late. Wonder which of its nine janams ka badla the creature is taking from me.
Speaking of janams, I'm sure she must have been a Russian gymnast in at least one of its lives. That, or she must have been really moved by TS Eliot's Macavity the Mystery Cat, one of my all-time faves and I suspect that of many ICSE students as well.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law,
He breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare
And when you reach the scene of crime
Macavity's not there.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yay, it works!

For the last few days, blogger was blocked both at office and home. And today, when I finally decide to wander over to the old blog to see if it was still alive, my blogger emerges from a deep slumber.
Any-veg, I shall hopefully try and make sense of all the nascent posts that were floating around in my head in this duration and put them down here soon.
But, yay! For a non-regular blogger, I never realised I would miss blogging so much.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

C'est la vie

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

Robert Frost