Sunday, December 29, 2013

Paperback Nightmares

There are two reasons you finish a book in one sitting. 1. It is so gripping that you don't want to sleep before finishing. 2. It is so bad that you want to know how it ends before you sleep so you can wake up and read a better book.

Rahul Saini's Paperback Dreams falls under the second category.  A story about three 'authors', one is a loser, Rohit, because he keeps telling himself that.  He has written a bestseller, and his publisher is cheating him of his money.  Second is Jeet Obiroi, a successful author, who is still basking in the glory of his 'best seller' after 19 months, and still doing book tours, and has a chiseled face, six pack abs and a killer smile.  We know it because Jeet keeps reminding us of his killer smile every time he sees a woman.  And last is a school kid, Karun, who will go to any length to get a book published, because he's so cool and so manipulative for a 16 year old school kid who goes to something called Ting Tong International School.  It's a story of these three guys, all written in first person narrative, on their journeys as a successful authors.

While the synopsis at the back of the book may seem interesting, it doesn't take more than five pages into reading the book that you start cringing.

Jeet describing himself, "They're carrying a big picture of me with my killer smile.." "It's the usual thing - hot chicks check me out whenever I travel."  "It was a good decision to wear this red t-shirt I am wearing today. It highlights my guns and girls love it." "I look at her from the corner of my eye as she catches a glimpse of my six pack."  What. What. What. And these are not even as cringeworthy as a conversation between Jeet and a fellow traveler,

"Do you have a pen?"

A question with a dirty annotation, I like that.

"Of course I have one.  Every man's got to have one," I smile.
 Like, seriously? I had to try very, very hard not to throw up.

And then there is always the quintessential loser, who has a perfect girlfriend, who he whines away to breakup, but she still comes back to her because he is a 'good guy' and he has written a best seller which called "Those Things in Everybody's Life, Big and Small' (and we are supposed to assume that this doesn't have any dirty annotation attached to it, because he doesn't even swear) . No, I'm not giving any spoilers away, because there is nothing like a spoiler.  This book is as predictable as the next Tata Sumo bursting into flames in a Rohit Shetty movie.

And then there is ruthlessly ambitious Karun, who's like an annoying prick, and made me roll my eyes so much that now I can see even from the back of my head.  There is no way I could tell how bad some of the parts of the book were without copying the entire book here.

I'm even more exhausted writing this review than I was reading the book because I just want to forget I ever read this, and cannot wait to read another book because I don't want this to be the last book I read in 2013.

Rahul Saini, it is because of people like you some of us dislike Chetan Bhagat.  Because he pioneered the movement where everyone with Microsoft Word is now a writer.

If despite the review above, you still want to buy the book, please go here.

Book courtesy: Flipkart
Published by: Penguin Metro Reads
Genre: Fiction
Price: Rs. 140 (I wouldn't even give it two phooti kaudis)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Other Ahmedabad

Two weeks back I was driving home from the railway station. Alone. At 2 am.  A friend and his wife were in transit to Ahmedabad, and I picked them from airport at around 11:30 pm, we had a midnight snack at a hotel near the railway station, and I dropped them to the station.  Railway station is about 15 kms away from my house, and is situated in the "old city" (or 'city') as it is commonly called.  This 'city' falls on the other side of Sabarmati river, the river which divides Ahmedabad.  'City' side is the 'communally sensitive' area and other is the 'urban', 'developed' area.

I was driving on near empty roads, the names of which mostly appear in papers only during the communal riots.  After all, these are the very lanes where large populations of Hindu and Muslim families live.  These are the same roads which have not seen a riot in almost a decade. 

Over a decade back, these are the same roads which would see a curfew during Uttarayan because kite flown by a kid of one community was 'cut' by the kid of another community, and things would snowball rapidly.  And every year after the Rath Yatra and Moharram, newspapers would invariably note how the processions were carried out without any hiccups.  No, not technical, but communal.

This was even before Narendra Modi made his presence felt in Gujarat.  

I have never lived in that 'city'. 

I am a city girl.  I have lived in a gated community.  My house is opposite ISRO, and so, this area has usually had heightened security.  Before 2002, my only memory of riots are from newspapers.  I was too young in 1992/93 to remember what had happened.  But I'm sure it was equally bad.

I do not know the plight of those (Muslims *and* Hindus) displaced by the riots.  I have never lived under an assumed identity, to hide my religion, to save my life.  So maybe I could not understand those who have been through the same.  I have never been asked to shut up because I was vocal about giving an opinion on the current political scenario of the country.

Every once in a while a blog comes up talking about plight of Muslim ghettos in Ahmedabad - in Juhapura.  I have never been to Juhapura.

But I have been to the 'city'.  I have family who lives there.  My mother grew up in one of those 'pols' of the city.  These pols are spread like spider network, and are amazingly intricate.  I would completely get lost without someone to guide me through. 

One such pol I went to has a strong smell of overflowing gutter engulf you.  After a while, it grows on you and you stop getting bothered by it.  There are cows, dogs and pigs running lose, and children defecating on the roads.  Sometimes, you will not be sure if you stepped on an animal or a human excreta.  The houses are at least a century old.  The wood is the only material which is keeping the houses, which are all adjoined, up.  Cement, sand and other parts are falling off.  Streets are filled with rats and houses with cockroaches, because there is no place for them to go.  Drinking water is sometimes of grey colour.  I don't see how is this area any different from the ghetto of Juhapura people talk about.  Oh, wait.  The residents living here do not belong to the 'minority community'.  They are not suppressed.  They are living there out of choice. 

But you live under constant fear of living in a communally sensitive area, because you know, that the moment a riot sparks off in the city, your neighbourhood will be the first target.

This is the same place where during 2002 riots, many, many people were stabbed.  Some dead bodies were put on a lorry and the lorry was pushed through one lane such that it reaches an old temple.

Please note I am not mentioning which religion/community the people stabbed/killed/pushed on lorries belonged to.  Nor am I mentioning the religion/community of the people who killed.  There is absolutely NO justification for violence of any kind.

That night, at 2 am, when I was crossing these roads, I crossed 7 police vans/interceptors on my way to the "familiar" location.  There were no known riots in recent past, and none of the newspapers had mentioned any intelligence input on terror threat.  It maybe safe to assume it was precautionary measure to prevent any untoward incident.

Funny thing is, when I told this to a friend, who is a self proclaimed Modi hater, he said, "Modi must have put it.  Because he is now PM candidate, he does not want any more riots."

I am amazed at the cynicism around me.  It is like anything that happens in Gujarat, and lately India has Modi with an ulterior motive standing tall.

When I read blogs at NYTimes, like this one, I wonder how many people have so much to write about 2002 riots.  How most of these blogs have Muslim plight to show.  How most of these blogs talk about Modi and his divisive politics, but themselves create a divide of religion about their subject.  The above story, in its isolation, could it not have been written without bringing the religion? Is the author trying to imply that the residents of Juhapura are suffering because they are Muslims? As a neutral reader, I thought so.  And it made me angry.  It made me angry because there are a lot of people here who have issues of basic amenities, whether or not they are Muslims.

Honestly, I am tired of reading articles on 2002 riots and Modi.  Mostly because he is made a bigger hero and villain than he really deserves.  And if at all, you *have* to write articles on 2002 riots, please, please please try and keep religion away.  In 2002 riots, people were killed, irrespective of the religion.  For once, let the human life be more important than the religion/faith it followed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why would girls like him? He's gay!

A year ago when Mahesh (name changed), a former classmate of mine from school, who I had not seen or talked to in almost 10 years, asked to meet me for the second time in a week to "tell me something important", my heart skipped a beat.

On my way to meet him, I kept praying, "oh, please don't let him tell me he "likes" me".  I was meeting him for the second time after 10 years and "something important" immediately set off the alarms.  Nothing against him.  He's a nice guy, but to put it across without intending to be rude, "not my kind".  I was at a phase where all my friends had moved out of the city (I'm still in the same phase, I really am left with hardly 1/2 friends in the city, who don't meet often) and I didn't want to make it awkward between us by telling him "no", however politely.

The moment of truth had arrived.  As we left the cafe ("I will tell you after we're done with the coffee", he said) he asked, "How would you feel if one of your friends is gay?"

What? What did I just hear? What?

Wait, so he will never have a crush on me? Well, that's a relief.  Really? Oh god, did I just turn him gay?

Jokes apart, I replied, "Well, I don't really know.  To each his own, I guess.  Who am I to judge?"  These were my exact words.

"Why? Are you gay?", I asked.


That came as a shock.  No matter how much you've read about LGBTQ community, when someone you have grown up with tells you he's gay, it shocks you.

It is only when Mahesh, someone I knew personally, came out did I start noticing the undercurrent of homophobia prevalent.  Especially amongst the educated, internet savvy crowd, who think Neil Patrick Harris is awesome, but VJ Andy (one of the contestants on Bigg Boss, and whose sexual orientation is not known to me) is "baaylo" (derogatory Gujarati word for "feminine").

"Why do you have such friends only? Why do you hang out with him so much? Itna kyun pasand hai usko milna? " asked Kavita (name changed).  Of course, gays do not deserve to have friends, because "woh log hote hi aise hai".  "aise kaise?" you ask? Well, I really don't know. 

And then there are the curious ones.  Like the common friend with Mahesh and I, Meena (name changed) who probably hasn't heard of internet and Google, and chooses to ask awkward questions to him, despite not having met him in last 10 years either.  Only because I meet and interact with him often.  Because I distinctly remember Meena being curious on "how can gays satisfy themselves sexually? kitna ganda hota hai. How can a guy kiss a guy?" Erm. Okay, then.

How do you even go about explaining things to them?  And if they have such thoughts, is it even worth it to explain things? Or just let them spend the rest of their lives in blissful ignorance.

Oh, and how can I forget the quip by a male friend, who had known of Mahesh being gay, and I asked him to join Mahesh and me for a coffee that, "Why should I meet him? What if he hits on me?" Um. Okay. 

And I'm not even telling about the homophobes Mahesh keeps encountering on a daily basis.  From getting looked down upon by complete strangers to the parents showing horoscope to astrologers to ask what is wrong with his stars. 

But Mahesh is taking it well.  Which is funny, because growing up, (and I have told this to him too) that of all people, he would be the last person I would expect to stand up against the entire society and fight for himself.  He always came across as a weak and meek person who would cry at the drop of the hat.  Mahesh tells me, "When my dad showed the horoscope to astrologer asking for when the stars will change, I told him, 'what is the point of asking the astrologer when I'll stop being gay especially when the astrologer never managed to tell you before that I am gay'?"  Point well made, Mahesh.

I'm not writing this post to create any sort of awareness or campaign for equal rights or anything.  It is just that it pains me that people could be so insensitive.  For any human being.

So when two of my male cousins were making fun of Andy for allegedly being gay, a cousin asked, "I don't get it, why do girls like him? He's gay." I asked, "But then, so is Neil Patrick Harris, and you are his fan yourself."

"But NPH is awesome.  Andy is gay.  Look at how he crosses his limit in Bigg Boss.  And he is gay." he tried to reason.

I didn't argue.  Not because I agreed, but because you cannot reason with people like that.

And even though I am not a fan of Andy, I still like him.  He is entertaining.  And most importantly, when he realises he committed a mistake, he apologises.

Most men I know don't.

Maybe that is why girls like him. Whether or not he's gay.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thol - Bird Sanctuary

Relatives.  They are all weird.  There is no escaping them.  So when a cousin messaged the entire "family group" on whatsapp last week, "let us go for a picnic and dinner during Diwali", I was almost sure that the plan will never materialise.  But eventually, plans started to shape.  Only problem is, multiple plans were shaping at the same time.  You have no idea how insane it is to deal with people who have extreme temperaments.  Anyhoo. Without getting into how many times I had to control myself not to yell at people, let me just talk about Thol lake and bird sanctuary.  (ps: I am extremely cool and seldom lose my temper.  It takes tremendous amount of provocation to make me lose my cool.)

There was a convoy of 4 cars and one car killed a bird, a cuckoo, who thought it was a chicken and decided to cross the road.  No, I was not driving that car.  I am a very safe driver.  The same car also almost killed two kites who also thought they were chicken, and one cyclist who thought to save himself from one car, he should ride into another car from other direction.  The point here is, drive carefully on these roads, because even though they are in good shape, animals and people and birds do not follow traffic rules.  Go slow.

Kindly click on image to see if you can spot anything. If you do, leave a comment, Lord Vayu will bless.  This was the first picture I clicked.  We wanted to catch the sunrise at the lake, but everyone else wanted to leave only by 7, and the lake is about 20 kms on the outskirts of the city.  I'd suggest poop well before you leave, mostly because the roads are pretty bad the last 1-2 km stretch.  And you don't really want to poop at the loo there.  You never know which animals inhabit those open door toilets and which one will come and bite you on your behind.  I'm sorry, I just like to give people honest advice about pooping and toilets. 

Moving on.

 Basically, that is the lake. Or as I now call it, Gogaland.  That's the lake.  You can spot birds there, and a lot of migratory birds come there.  A cousin tried to point a pelican to me, but I'm pretty sure those were ducks.   There is a stretch on walkway (uneven) around the lake, which you can walk and try to spot birds.  However, be careful about the thorns.  I have a few scratches on my hands.  A cousin tells me he has spotted flamingos and all also there, but as I said, I only saw ducks.  And while I was sitting on my own, on a log of fallen tree and taking in the beauty of nature, I saw some hooded figure in the water.  I thought it was something, but was not sure.  Few seconds later, the same hooded figure popped up again.  This time I was sure it was a snake.  So I warn people around there there may be snakes in the water.  Cousin confirmed of presence of water snakes in the lake.  But they're harmless.  Okay, then.  But in few minutes, I saw another hooded figure coming out of the water, and few minutes later, it got its entire body out.  IT WAS A FRIGGING DUCK.  So now I was not sure whether I saw a duck or a water snake.

After an hour, I was sitting on another log of fallen tree and I hear a splash nearby.  A FRIGGING SNAKE FELL OFF THE BRANCH IN THE WATER. DUDE. 

Yaar, even if the snakes are nonpoisonous, they are still snakes and they give me the creeps.  After that, I was extremely alert about the surroundings.

4 year old niece was walking too close to the lake where her father, my cousin, tried to warn her by saying, 'beta, udhar mat chalo, udhar goga rehta hai'. 

#FunFact Snakes are called "goga maharaj/goga bapa" by some Gujarati communities who worship snakes.

For reasons unknown to me, I find this incredibly amusing and cackle up every time I think of it.

Point is, be careful, and be alert. You never know when you come across a goga.

 Exotic birds spotted. Almost sure they're crows.

 Dora, the explorer.  4 year old niece. Please note the elephants on her night suit. I want a night suit just like that.  Also, so proud of the fact she's holding binoculars properly.

 I'm such an amazing cameraperson. I clicked this while putting my hTC phone camera on binoculars.  It was blue, and looked like kingfisher.  However, I won't be surprised if it's a stupid domestic sparrow.  But I'm pretty sure its kingfisher.  Maybe he also spotted a goga.

Making noise here is an offense.  Considering how loud our family gets when we laugh, we may have been blacklisted by now.

And we got back an hour back.  And now even though I'm sleepy, I decided to put up this blogpost because I don't want to nap now.

Anyhoo.  Good bye and kiss to all those who have read all the way till the end of this post.

Goga Maharaj will bless.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

7 problems people with short nails will understand

Now if I were buzzfeed, I'd have amazing gifs off the internet or at least picture representation for each of the problems we face.  But since I'm not, I'll just use words to express.

I wish buzzfeed picks it up someday and takes this post on their website.

Problems people with short nails will understand.

1.  Untangling entangled drawstrings.  Especially when your bladder is bursting and you *HAVE* to pee.  It's like, your drawstrings will get tangled in the messiest of the knots when there is super emergency because you held your pee because you didn't want to venture into unknown loos in government offices with lizards (and sometimes other unidentifiable creepy crawlies) staring at you when you do your thing.

2.  Opening tins/boxes.  You do not have claws that can act as your weapon in time of need and rupture other people's body parts.  So you cannot open supremely stubborn stainless steel dabbas your mom's kitchen is full of. So you starve.

3.  Picking your nose.  Now, I know this is gross, but c'mon, who doesn't pick their nose? How else do you clean your nostrils from all the goo that block free flow of air which is essential for your survival? Everyone picks their nose.  Some of us even wash our hands clean after the act, but if you have short nails, you cannot go aaaaaallll the way inside your nostril and get that rebellious booger out of your nose. (I've learnt a trick, I snort some water and then blow my nose to get rid of such stubborn boogers - what? I'm giving survival tips.)

4.  You cannot use your nails to clean your keyboard off the breadcrumbs which have lodged themselves between two keys.  Your only option is to turn your laptop over and pray that the crumb doesn't go all the way inside.  Or you know, ants. #nope

5.  You cannot rub your nails on surfaces like blackboards and annoy the shit out of people.  (while wearing soundproof devices over your own ears of course)

6.  Finding the evasive starting point of adhesive tapes (see my posh usage of adhesive tape in place of the brand sellotape? *raises collar*)  Anyway, the point is, the ever evasive ends of adhesive tapes are even more difficult to find when you have short nails. Adhesive tapes suck.

7.  Scratching that spot on your back which you cannot reach because you don't have 7 inch long nails and you have to find yourself an isolated spot with a rough surface so you can scratch your back and attain nirvana.  Usually, the spot where you want to scratch is just 1/2 mm away from where your short nails could reach. Murphy uncle was a wise man.

Now, it is Diwali already and I had started writing this post 3 hours back and I took a few breaks and now I've lost interest because I got distracted.

But I'm gonna post this anyway because why not.

Anyhoo. Happy Diwali, you all. Be good. Send me anonymous gifts and love letters and flowers and everything else you think is moderately creepy. I love getting creeped out. <3 p="">

Sunday, October 27, 2013


So I am not a music person. I usually listen to songs while driving, and mostly the radio.  I do not have a "go to" playlist of songs which I hear when I need to lift my mood.  (usually, browsing kitteh, doggeh and other animals pictures, and memes over the internet, and other wonderful things over the internet does the trick)

So when a friend suggested way back in August to book my tickets for the Rahmanishq concert by Celkon mobiles, I shrugged it off.  The thought of being in middle of a crowd, in Ahmedabad, where there is insane amount of noise made me shudder.  Plus, I'm not a Rahman fangirl.  I mean, I do like his songs, but I've never felt his songs "grow on me" the way most people feel.

But then, when I got invited to attend the pre-event press conference, I kicked myself and wished I had got my tickets.  (on second thoughts, not really, the tickets were oversold, and the thought of so many humans gathered at one place still sends chill down my spine.  Also one of the reasons I'm #foreveralone) But, as everyone says, maybe attending that concert might have been a great experience.  I mean, it's not everyday you get Rahman to sing for you.  Live.

But then, I had my own moment.  I was under the same roof as Rahman and his team, which included (damn, I forgot most names, sorry, not a music person, really, really sorry - see, would've remembered if you guys would've given autographs and all) Neeti Mohan and Javed Ali and Ranjit Barot and Shweta Pandit and Harshdeep Kaur amongst other people.

Sadly, the crowd at the pre-event meet was not well managed.  I especially felt bad for Celkon mobile executives, because it was saddening that the people were busy clicking pictures of the singers while the executives introduced the company, phones and its features. (again, I forgot names of the phones they launched, but they are Rahmanishq series phones) 

So, Celkon people, as someone who is a part of the media, let me assure you, it is not as bad always.  Next time, maybe keep some distance between the celebs and the first row of audience. And maybe a bigger hall. :|

A R Rahman. OMG.
Wish he had sung a few lines for us.  Kya chala jaata agar 2 lines gaa leta. If he would've insisted, I would've totally sung 2 lines for him.  I'm humble like that.
Javed Ali :D
He won my heart. <3 2="" also="" as="" bahara.="" but="" couldn="" driving="" e="" for="" got="" grinning="" he="" i="" jashn="" lines="" minutes="" not="" of="" omg.="" on="" only="" p="" photographers="" playing="" posed="" radio="" sang="" song="" soon="" stage="" stop="" t="" that="" the="" to="" two="" venue.="" very="" was="" while="">
Sigh.  All these singers.

I feel so talentless.

Maybe I'll just browse through stuff over internet and sleep.  It is almost Monday.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Close your eyes, and no one can see you

(Disclaimer: This is based on the observation of younger nieces, nephews and cousins in my family and may not be true for everyone.)

I have a problem with the way current generation of teenagers is being raised. 

Every picture this cousin of mine uploads on Facebook, her mother, who's my aunt, comments, "wow, perfect", "muaaah", "beautiful", "simply gorgeous".  I'm not exaggerating when I say every picture.  My cousin is 14/15 year old.  Most of the pictures have straightened hair, long dangling earrings, make up (pink or red lipstick among other things).  She has a crush on a kid who's her neighbour.  He's also 16/17 year old.  My aunt always makes it a point to "tease" her about her crush.  Oh, and his parents are usually referred to as her "in-laws".  She says she has not even said "hi" to the guy. 

Don't get me wrong.  I have no issues with parents thinking their kids are the most perfect creatures ever. (my parents don't think so, and sometimes go out of their way to point out my flaws)   But is it just me who thinks it is wrong to keep doing that? Are parents that blind that they never see any flaws in their offspring? And have I told you how this cousin of mine is super mean to another cousin of the same age? And how her mother doesn't see anything wrong in it because the other cousin "is dumb"?

And "in-laws"? Seriously? I'm all for being friendly to your children, such that they do not hesitate in coming to you with their problems. (I never approached my parents with my problems, but then, I never approach anyone) But isn't this wrong? Why are parents trying so hard to be a teenager themselves? Aren't they supposed to be mature? Yes, having a crush is normal, dating is okay but this? Seriously? Another cousin tells her 14 year old (when he tells her about his crush) that "she's okay, but she's not as fair as me" and "she likes you only because you are cool." And this nephew of mine is currently in his 10th board, and is flunking in most subjects in school.  Why not encourage him to spend the time he spends in being cool for studying?  And no, he's not Bill Gates in the making because really, his behaviour is disturbing at times and I genuinely think he needs professional help.

And then my four year old niece.  Her staple diet includes chocos, oreos and bread and cheese.  And a pinch of salt and spoonfuls of sugar as a treat.  Yes, she enjoys pinch of salt. And spoonfuls of sugar.  And what is most appalling is that her parents do not see anything wrong in that. They laugh and think it is cute.  Also, know what else she does is cute? almost choking her younger 1 year old sister with a pillow because "she loves her so much, but doesn't know how to express love".  Such situations need to be handled with care, but it can only be handled if people realise that it is a problem. 

You, even though you are a close family member, and the said nieces and cousins love you, and you love them, you cannot teach manners or you cannot say no to them.

You cannot tell them that while there is nothing wrong with wearing makeup, anything that may attract unwanted attention from the opposite sex should be done when you are old enough to handle things. And understand the difference between good and bad attention.  I'm not saying rapes happen because of the way women dress.  Or that you must dress modestly to stop getting male attention. (seriously, what does dressing modestly mean?)  But all I'm saying is that a 12-13 year olds are not mature enough. And they need to be taught how to handle attention and probably be taught that they need to focus their energies on studying.

And once I was privy to a conversation between my 13 year old cousins, where cousin 1 was telling cousin 2 about her friend who "smooched" her boyfriend.  Her mother was also overhearing it.  My aunt said, "I don't think she would've smooched, who would smooch her?"  Wow.  Oh, yes, the same aunt who thinks her daughter is perfect.  I was taken aback and I have replayed the conversation in my head over and over trying to accept that she might not really mean it.  But no. She meant it.

I'm not sure I should forward them this link on Stuebenville high school.  Because really, perfect girls are safe from anything criminal that could happen around them.

Are parents these days really that delusional?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why I don't have friends.

I've been introspecting.  It is the kind of thing you do when you're alone at home, with your parents vacationing and you've to cook your own meals.  Nothing wrong about cooking own meals. I enjoy cooking.  But I don't like cooking just for myself. It is too much effort for one person.  So been having khichdi almost alternate days for meals because it is yummeh, it is easy and doesn't take a lot of effort.

And when you are alone at home, where every time you hear leaves rustle, you expect a psychotic killer waiting to kill you (yes, i love crime drama and i cannot lie) or you invariably check behind the shower curtain hoping and thanking god that there was no one standing there with a knife ready to kill you. (at this point, I already have escape routes planned and also my cry for help line ready when I lock myself into a cupboard waiting for the brilliant Ahmedabad Police to arrive to rescue me. LOLJK, I expect the FBI to save me)

Anyway, so I've been wondering why I don't have friends.

Other than the fact that most have moved out of the city.

Maybe it is because I am way too random and they don't get it why I'm saying certain things I'm saying.  All I'll say is I am a very curious being.  I like asking things and questioning stuff and I have let my imagination run wild.  So what if no one else thinks that these days Lata Mangeshkar sounds like she were a boy who has recently hit puberty and his voice just broke? Not saying I'm a great singer, but if I were here, I'd retire before I start sounding like Annu Mallik. And that is not even a compliment.  So maybe I'm too random.

I suck at small talk.  I can talk for hours otherwise.  I tend to be very chatty too.  But I don't like making a small talk.  So maybe I'm in a wrong profession where I *have* to make a small talk to "network", but I'll get there.

My low tolerance for stupidity and sarcasm.  I think stupidity is one of the stupidest things some people are blessed with.  And stupidity with sarcasm is a lethal combination.  I mean, what makes stupid people think that they can afford to be sarcastic too? You don't have to pretend to be polite when you're friends, but keep that sarcasm under control because according to the statistics I just made up, 95 % of relationships have gone from bad to worse because of sarcasm.  Or maybe being super caustic and vicious about things.  It just doesn't work.  Everyone has their own level of tolerance, mine is dipping everyday.  Sometimes, it is not even worth the effort to tolerate sarcasm to save a friendship.

My super ability to attract people who hate socialising.  Now, for someone who is a recovering from social anxiety (or maybe I'm not recovering yet), this is probably the worst thing to happen.  You try to go out and meet people, but the one or two friends you end up making hate meeting people.  You end up remaining a socially awkward being for the rest of your life. :(

Maybe I am way too damaged.  I have issues with getting emotionally dependent on anyone who's nice to me.  So sometimes, I go out of my way to not get too clingy, but I fail.  This is one thing I really need to rectify.  Mostly because, it usually ends with me being in tears and crying myself to sleep.  I don't learn from my actions, though. :( Well, on the positive side, I know what the issue is.  And though it's futile, at least I'm trying to work on it.

Sigh.  Now I'm all sad.

And the entire weekend I'll be on my own, with not even colleagues to talk to.  I'm not sure how to feel about it.  I like being on my own when the parents are around.  But when they aren't around, I crave people to talk to. :(

Maybe that is why I don't have friends.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Waiting to be asked

"So what are your plans for Navratri?"

Even before the pitrupaksh/shradh gets over, every Gujarati worth his/her salt (omg. Dandi march/salt law. omg. I love connecting random things) gets asked this question.

Most of the times my answer is.. heh heh I don't dance.

Which is true.

Another fact is that I am a trained classical dancer.  I've learnt Bharatnatyam for 9 years and every Gujarati who takes birth, doesn't cry, but says, 'o haalo haalo'.  So basically, garba is not difficult.  No one can not know how to dance garba.  Except of course, if you are my dad: it is a delight to watch him attempt garba steps.

Anyhoo, coming back.  So why don't I go and enjoy the 9 night long dancing extravaganza?

Couple of reasons:

1.  I don't have a large group of friends.  Even if I did, I would not dance. I am too shy to dance. 

2.  I don't have proper navratri outfit. :( Since I never went out for garba, I never owned a proper navratri attire.  Also, I don't know how to dress up.  I don't know how women manage that.  I do not own make up (except kajal, that too gets smeared most of the times and I look like dakoo haseena or something)  I sometimes envy women who can carry off make up and pretty clothes and walk demurely, lady-like.

3.  Extreme sound on loudspeakers give me earache. :( and also headache at times.

4.  There are too many people. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PEOPLE? and why are they all out of their homes? ghar pe baitho yaar.

5. It is usually humid around this time of the year.  Humid, along with weirdest of bugs who get attracted to the loud lights.  Years ago, when I went to a garba place with my sister (because 'go, you dance well, you will have fun') I saw two flying cockroaches come and sit on the hairdo of a lady in front of me, and it has scarred me for life.  I am always on the lookout of flying things. :(

6.  No one has asked me to.  You know, if you've seen the movie Bollywood/Hollywood starring Rahul Khanna and Lisa Ray, there is this one scene where Rahul Khanna sees Dina Pathak (who plays his grandma) dance.  Lisa has got her to dance.  After the song, he tells Lisa, something like, "I've never seen her dance", to which she replies, "Maybe she was just waiting to be asked".

Maybe I am just waiting to be asked.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why we should all wake up to 2015

2014 is the election year.

In 2004, when Congress came to power, I was naive. I was not eligible to vote that year, but I followed the elections closely.  I was a teen, with high hopes and was still oblivious to 50 crore shades of grey in politics. Of course, the highpoint of the election was Sonia Gandhi's antaratma ki awaaz which asked her to sacrifice her chances of being the Prime Minister and letting Manmohan Singh become the PM.  He was instrumental in bringing in 1991 economic reforms and I was glad that at least we will have a bunch of well educated ministers in the parliament. 

Gujarat was still not that widely hated.  Of course, the wounds of 2002 riots were still raw.  My only complain at that time was people calling from other states and countries and wondering if it was safe for them to travel to Gujarat even after 2 years of the riots.  It saddened me then, but now that I'm wiser, I kind of wonder which place in the world is truly safe anyway?  Maybe State Bank of Travancore branches, because seriously, who goes there?

Anyway, coming back to elections.  5 years got over in 2009.  In a country as diverse like India, 5 years is too less a time to bring about any major change.  One of the important aspect is a stable government.  And the elected members who actually work instead of staging walkouts.  I think most of these ministers stage walkouts/uproars only because they don't want to fall asleep.  Or get caught watching porn.

Also, another reason I personally didn't want BJP to get to power was Advani was their prime ministerial candidate.  Had he not incited the 1992 Babri demolishion, the 1992 riots wouldn't have happened.  The 1993 blasts wouldn't have happened.  2002 Godhra carnage wouldn't have happend.  And the riots which followed wouldn't have happened.  BJP's 2009 agenda was Hindutva.  One of the promises Advani made was construction Ram temple at Ayodhya.  With all due respect to religion, looking at the way people have played politics over alleged Ram Janmabhumi, if Lord Ram were actually born there, he would probably pay Rs. 100 bribe and fudge his birth certificate.

I was most happy when 1/3rd of the land of disputed property of Ram Janmabhumi was awarded to Nirmohi Akhada.  Mostly because I never knew something called Nirmohi Akhada existed.  (apparently, it is a sect that owns temples across India, and not a place for pehelwans.

Anyway, to make matters worse, Advani was contesting from Gandhinagar constituency.  My constituency.  I, for one, did not want someone I hold responsible for 2002 riots representing me in the parliament. I'd rather have Mahesh-Naresh Kanodia singing garba there instead of Advani. (funfact: Mahesh Kanodia mimics Lata Mangeshkar)

But the level of corruption the congress government was sitting on was not exposed yet.  Not denying the existence of corruption in previous governments, but I'm sure it was not of such staggering amount.  I remember in 2004 how 1 ltr petrol was somewhere between Rs. 33-35.  It has gone more than double in 10 years.  The other day I refilled my petrol tank and I consoled myself that at least coffee at my favourite coffee shop is still cheaper than 1 litre petrol. And I can enjoy that 1 cup of coffee for over an hour, while this 1 litre petrol will be gone in under 15 minutes. :(

But last few years have made me angry.  I was angry when the Prime Minister kept his mouth shut over every issue that needed us reassurance that it's gonna be okay.  Corruption, dwindling economy, terrorism (no, condemning attacks is not an answer. at least show us you're angry, and that it affects you as much as it affects us and that you *will* do something to make things better), safety among other things.

And now it is election season again.  One thing that has changed is social media.  Easy access to twitter and facebook and the veil of anonymity lets people get away with almost anything.  And not just anonymous, abusive trolls, even the people who we have elected are not leaving any stone unturned in showing us their worst side.  They've taken mudslinging to a whole new level.  And I don't see this getting any better.

Oh, but social media doesn't really influence anyone's votes. Right? Well, I'm not sure what influences, but it angers me and saddens me that there is so much hatred all around us.  And no, Twitter/Facebook is not just limited to those with internet connection.  Whatever happens on Twitter gets picked up by mainstream media and appears in next day's newspaper.  My mother, who thinks the laptop will explode if she tries to unplug it, knows about Mallika Sherawat wishing Modi on his birthday.  My dad, with his flawed concept of how Twitter works, regularly sends me "hi" on Twitter. (He deactivated his Facebook profile because he couldn't understand how it worked). So, no. Everyone knows about what is happening on social networking sites. And they only know one side of the story, depending on the political inclination of the newspaper they read.  It just gets messy.

I don't see the situation getting any better.  Feku and Pappu are the least offensive terms till now.  Things are only going to get worse.  Do we really want to stoop to the level where we do not respect the elected Prime Minister? I, for one, have lost respect for Manmohan Singh.

And seriously.  How worse can Modi be? (I do not want to debate on 2002 riots, because I honestly believe that people died, irrespective of religion they followed, both in Sabarmati Express carnage and the riots that followed, and those responsible should be punished.  And while Modi may not be completely innocent, I still do not hold him personally responsible, just like I don't hold Manmohan Singh personally responsible for terrorist attacks in India)

Just give him a chance, he has a lot to prove, a lot to clear, a lot to live up to. I'm not saying economy will improve overnight, or that terrorist attacks wont happen in his leadership, but I'm hopeful that some corrective steps would be taken.

And honestly, I'm just tired.  Tired of all the dirty politics.

Let us all just wake up to 2015 where we have already chosen a new Prime Minister and things are on its way to recovery.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How tolerant are we?

Religion is a sensitive topic.

Most people don't like their religious beliefs being questioned.  Especially when they are atheists.

In fact, the more I interact with people, the more I have noticed that there are more atheists who insist that God doesn't exist and ridicule those who believe in God than theists who want to shove their religious beliefs down my throat.

I am not sure of my religious beliefs.  I want to believe there is someone who is watching. I want to believe in Karma. I want to believe that no hope is lost and we are not entirely dependent on human race to save ourselves.  That there is justice in universe which is stronger than our judicial system.  At the same time, I do not visit temples regularly.  I fast on certain festivals only because I don't want to get into argument with my parents.  I'm probably one of those sitting on the fence waiting for some enlightenment to strike me so I can hop over to one side of religious beliefs.

I met a bunch of people earlier today who were having a discussion on religion, faith and superstition.  Interesting topics. Yes.

There were different viewpoints.  A very vocal group of people, a rarity in Ahmedabad.  It was like a breath of fresh air in this hot, humid, dusty city.

Unlike the parliament, this discussion didn't see anyone hurl any chairs towards the other.  More or less, everyone thought superstitions suck.  But when it came to religion vs spirituality/other forms of beliefs, the common undertone was one believer trying very hard to prove the other person how his beliefs were misplaced.  More than anyone else, they were atheists who tried too hard to prove how religion/God is not worth all this.

And ironically, everyone wanted a society where no one forces his/her views on others.

So, basically, you want to force your views on others that they should not their force their views on you.

Okay, then.

In my opinion, to each his own.  As long as your beliefs do not cause any kind of harm/discomfort/injury to others, and does not make you a criminal, an extremist or a terrorist.

I really wish we were more tolerant to other people's beliefs.  At least as much as we expect others to be for our own beliefs.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Experience at Mahatma Mandir

So I have been to Mahatma Mandir twice.

Mahatma Mandir is an exhibition/convention centre in Gandhingar where the Vibrant Gujarat investor summits and other meets happen.

If it were not for the profession I'm in (OMG. I'm a financial journalist!), I wouldn't go to Mahatma Mandir.  Mostly because it is in Gandhingar, and who goes to Gandhinagar unless you're out on a romantic drive (or in my case, a solitary drive to clear the head).  And why would anyone go to something called Mahatma Mandir if he/she is on a romantic drive.  So, for normal people, it is like a mystical structure you only read about in papers.

Anyhoo.  The point I was trying to make is, the layout of Mahatma Mandir sucks.  It is so badly planned that I will dread the day I have to go to MM again.

First of all, parking is almost as far as Ahmedabad.  I usually end up parking on the roadside nearby and hope no one tows away.  Anyway, after that, from the main entrance, you are almost always directed to other end of the premises for entry.  Even if you show your Press I-card.  Because people who are guarding the gate have no clue.

"I'm here to talk to the delegates"
"Call them and if they tell us, we will allow"

Yes, Denmark ke minister mere padosi hai.

Then you go to general entry, where you don't have to show any kind of identity proof.  Which is light years away from the main entrance.  And while walking till there is not an issue, it is noon and Sun is particularly unkind towards us Amdavadis.  So, a shed would've been better.

And that's not all.  You walk for like good 30 minutes around the gigantic exhibition halls and come back to the main gate, where the above conversation of calling up Denmark delegate took place.  Just that this time, you're standing inside the gates.

So, the moorkh shiromanis standing on the gate won't let me inside without a "pass" (despite my Press I-card), and I walk all around the structure and stand inside without showing my identity proof to a single soul.  No one even checked my bags as I strolled in the mid-day scorching heat.

I cannot believe how incredibly stupid that is.  The barricades and the structure which make you walk endlessly when you could just cut the distance to 50 mtrs are insane and annoying.  I really don't see what is the point of such badly designed layout.

And walking is fine, but it's just too hot - put some shade yaar.

Oh, and all this walking around wouldn't have been that bad an issue had I not been suffering from the ridiculous mysterious virus making rounds of the city which gives excruciating pain in the joints.  All this walking today has put my healing back by a week.

So please, get rid of those chain barricades and stop making people walk long distance for no reason.  Or if you can't do that, cover the entire MM premises in some sort of tent.  Like Great Golden circus or something.


Friday, August 30, 2013

When Ms Chamko fell ill and it wasn't common cold

Those who have been following me (I'm still not able to decide whether I'm a religion or a cult), would know that I have a special liking for common cold. 

Runny nose and watery eyes are not met with tender loving care at home, but by "take your meds" at home.  While I argue that there is no medicine for common cold, my dad refuses to see my logic. 

But last Saturday, I had pain in my right knee when I woke up.  Hmm. Must have hurt myself somewhere.  Because I am an honorary doctor from WebMD, I immediately sprayed some relispray and popped in an ibuprofen because hey, OTC meds are awesome that way.  "What if I have chikungunya? LOL" I joked with my mom.  Mom replied with a "chup nonsense" look on her face.

Day passed by ok, but when I got back home, the pain returned and such that I could not stand.  Now pain was on both the feet and I was feeling the chills.  I pulled a blanket over my head and lied down at 7:30 in the evening.  In the meantime, dad got home and despite my protests (no, no, I'm ok (I was not ok)) we went to see a doctor. 

One look at me and doctor says it's viral.  He probably possessed some sort of divya drashti.  He prescribed paracetamol for the pain in my body and mild fever (It was about 99 when he measured it) and said if the fever still stays the next day, to get tested for malaria and chikungunya.

Got home, took the meds, and by 10, I started sweating, like you would after taking a damned paracetamol.  I felt so relieved.  Like I could run a double marathon or something. #wheeee

But then at 4, I started shivering.  Speed of fan went from 3 to 2 and from 2 to 1 in half an hour.  Body temperature went from 98 to 99 to 100 to 101, progressing every hour.  In the meantime, the parts of my body - fingers, arms, chest, back, neck, knees, shins, ankles and foot were in tremendous pain.  It took me 15 minutes to walk down from my room.  By the time I could walk down, dad had already called for the pathology lab to come and collect blood.

And who likes getting their blood tested? I hate it. It is one of the scariest things ever. :( Why would anyone with a sane mind let anyone with a needle come near them? The fever remained steady at around 101 for a while, but once the results came in that I tested negative for chikungunya and malaria, it came down.  I spent most of my sunday sleeping.

After Sunday, fever hasn't reached 101 level, but going back to work hasn't been easy.  For my 3rd floor office, I not only take the elevator to go up, but also to come down. 

There is still some swelling on my hands and feet, but I am in a much better position than last week.  Oh, and the meds have created some sort of storm in my stomach. Will spare you the details, though.

I just want this pain to go away. I promise I'll be a good girl. and not make fun of Digvijay Singh, Rahul Gandhi and all.

Good day and kick to the virus for making my one last week miserable.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A bit on arranged marriage

Girls my age are not only married, but some also have babies and some of these babies are already going to school.

I've reached a stage where any male friend is a prospective groom and is met with 'agar ladka accha hai, toh humein koi problem nahin hai' whispers.

But I've not yet gone the arranged marriage way yet.  I've not met any guy/guy's parents to face rejection on that front yet. (I mean, getting rejected from complete strangers would be a new low for me, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that)

A recent discussion with a friend who finds his daily laughs via profile pictures of prospective brides got me thinking about something.

I said how I dread making a profile, mostly because I wouldn't know what to write, and more importantly, having grown on a staple diet of romantic comedies, finding love via matrimonial site is not romantic at all.

He said, you don't find love on, you find life partner.

What? No.

I don't want to settle for a life partner.  I want to marry someone because I want to, because I like him, and because I want to spend the rest of my life with him.  Not because I have to.

And so should the guy.  I mean, the guy should want to spend his life with me, and only then he should marry me because while marriage to some extent would involve adjustments to a lot of things (my mother in law is not gonna mix daal-rice and khichdi the way my mom does for me) I definitely don't just want to "settle" for someone and hope the feelings would develop. Or be completely indifferent to the love part about marriage.

So yes, not gonna spend the rest of my life with a guy who got into matrimony because he found me a 'suitable' life partner and not someone he would love.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jain Butter Chicken

So I just read this article by Zahir on Gujaratis and their food habits.  While I agree that most people here do not eat non vegetarian food, I really do not see how that is connected to the 2002 riots.

Yes, people here (including me) are vegetarian and don't eat eggs either.  While others might have religious reasons, for me (and a LOT of people I know), it is a matter of choice.  I choose not to eat meat.  My parents will not eat at a place which serves non vegetarian food.  Religious reasons and personal choice too.  Having said that, they do not look down upon people who choose to eat non vegetarian food either.

I don't see why people like my parents should be looked down upon just because they choose to lead their lives in a particular way? Oh, because you are assuming that people who leave a restaurant which serves non-veg food is because they are looking down upon your restaurant. Maybe they are leaving because they do not eat at a place which also serves non-veg - for personal or religious reasons.  If you claim that they look down upon people who eat non-veg, then aren't you being a hypocrite by looking down upon people who simply chose not to eat food at that place?

And I see how wonderfully the 2002 riots are brought in because it is Narendra Modi's fault that people here have chosen to be vegetarians since centuries.

Yes, riots were a bad period for us.  I have lived all my life in Ahmedabad and there can be no reason to justify violence of any sort.  But it would be unfair to say that only the Muslims were affected.  Hindus too were affected and so were people of other religions, beliefs and caste.  Why do all riots report specify religion, specifically Muslim? Isn't human life more important than the religion/faith he followed? 2002 were a bad period for all of us. Everyone remembers that.  No one remembers that when just a year before the riots, in 2001 when the earthquake struck Gujarat, the same people, forgot their religious differences and queued up to donate blood.  Why doesn't anyone talk about that?

And domino's, subway, pizzahut - all opening vegetarian outlets - what is wrong in it? It is their business strategy to cater to the community of people who do not eat at places that serve non vegetarian food for either personal or religious beliefs. Why politicize the issue?

And who are these people who look down? If they are strangers, their views shouldn't matter, and if they are family and friends, then dude, it's your personal matter - do not generalise the people who live here.

Oh, and about the letting out of property - it is not something that happens only in Gujarat.

People need to stop making a bigger hero, or villain out of Narendra Modi than he really is.

Gaah.  Talking about it with Zahir in person would be much more fun.  Maybe if he agrees to join me for a cup of coffee. Oh, and I wouldn't mind Sandwichworkz either.

PS: I have heard of places in Ahmedabad which serve Jain Butter Chicken - it comes without onion and garlic.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A bit about roads

Raaste mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hai. Naam hai Ricky Martin.  I think the only being cows allow to use roads, for which we pay our taxes, are rickshaw drivers.  There is something crazy about them, as if they're perpetually high.

I mean, even if a bunch of good samaritans give way to an ambulance, all a Ricky Martin has to do is stretch out his leg to indicate he's going to take a turn and just move in. Like a boss.

And there is no more anyone can ever talk about the cows on the roads.  Yaar, why is Narendra Modi even promising a Congress-mukt Bharat.  All we need is cow-free roads in monsoon and even congress will vote for him.

But today as I was observing traffic from a bench on the road, I observed a completely marvelous phenomena.  It was women who sit sideways on two-wheelers.  Now, even my mom is one such women who sit in such a position, but I've never sat sideways myself.  Always sat with one leg going all the way across the seat.  And it has been a while since I sat that way either.  Mostly because ever since I started driving on my own, it would always be me who would take others as pillion riders.  (#ProTip: you do not want to sit as a pillion rider with my mom on her activa, no, even if she was the last person who could give you a ride.  I, on the other hand, am an amazing driver)

Anyway, so today I observed a couple of ladies, especially in saree, sitting sideways.  HOW DO THEY BALANCE? Especially on a bike?

How do they sit sideways on a moving two wheeler without losing their balance.  If I were to look at the road moving sideways, I would fall only.  All these women (and some men, like why would men sit sideways?) break science every single day and no one has thought how.

What sorcery is this? I am now looking at ways to decode this mystery and nominate Nobel for a Nirwa Prize. Or something like that.

And I realise the post has nothing to do with title. Or maybe it does. Because bikes would work on roads only no?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I have always liked solitude.  I don't go about looking for reasons to be alone, but I wouldn't mind being on my own for long periods.

Having said that, I do like people.  Not a large group of people.  They are intimidating, but a small, close group of people.  Mostly, being out with just one more person.  It helps me give my undivided attention to that person.  Because if there are more people, I will invariably end up being more of an observer, and zone out most of the times.  Unless I am asked to be an integral part of a conversation, I will refrain from participating. 

This, of course, leads you to being more lonely (not alone). Sometimes, even when I do want to reach out to people, I will hesitate because, hmm, what if I am disturbing the person and he/she doesn't really want to meet.

And no, going out and meeting new people does not work. Dude, I don't even know how one does that.  And in that one rare instance if you do end up making new friends, they are the ones who prefer even more solitude than you do.

Today the weather was so lovely, I wanted to just sit with someone and maybe sip a cup of tea.

What did I do? Came home, saw my parents go out with their friends to watch Chennai Express (like seriously, despite zillion warnings, they choose to go watch it - well, then, they deserve it, and yes, they have much active social life than I do), had dinner by myself and now I'm writing this post. (I can still give much more details of my current state, but it will be too much information, and the lone reader who might be reading this post is not really interested in knowing that I have yet to wash my face and change into my home clothes - heh heh see what I did there?)

Anyway, the point is, I didn't reach out to anyone to meet. Even though I wanted to. Because a, I had promised I wont ask to meet. and b,  no other reason. :|

Tomorrow I might actually go sit on a roadside bench and watch the vehicles pass by to get away from solitude.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Half past midnight

It is half past midnight and I have nothing much to say.  Like every other day.

Except wonder whether it is me who is sending wrong signals to the universe or it is the universe which has a perception problem and is interpreting them incorrectly. 

Or does this whole sending out signals to the universe, positive thinking, law of attraction actually work? or it is one of those fads. 

If everything that was to happen and everyone that we happen to meet is for a reason, how long before we figure out what that reason is.  I mean, I don't really care much about knowing my purpose of life.  I know mine is to spread awesomeness around and I'm doing my job right :P but seriously, do we ever know? Or does the answer seem apparent only in the hindsight? I'm now getting tired of the word hindsight. Must look up thesaurus for alternate words.

Having known someone for almost a decade, only on the internet, but knowing the person better than their real life friends.  What is the reason behind this? I don't think we will even ever meet, and haven't talked in over two years now.  But he had heard me cry and told me to be selfish when I needed to be.  He had told me to not lose myself and my identity because people around have needed me.  Not to give myself so much that you cease to exist as an individual.  I didn't stop caring about others, but I started caring about myself more.  He perhaps doesn't know how much I needed to hear that at that time to get through some of the toughest times.  Maybe some day, if we do meet, I would want to hug him and say thank you.

So do we really come across people for a reason? If destiny tries multiple times over a number of years to get you together with someone, but you never got to know the person till now, is there something more to it? And why would destiny bring two people together only to take them away from each other, bringing pain along with itself.

Can universe come with a FAQs with it? 

More than that, can the stupid universe just stop talking in sign language and give clear instructions instead? I'm tired of your shit, seriously.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

इश्वर का अन्याय

"स्वामी, सब लोगों का अगर निर्माण ईश्वर ने किया है, तो सबको सामान सुख और दुःख क्यूँ नहीं दिए?" पार्वतीजी आज उदास लग थी।
"आपको ऐसा क्यूँ लग रहा है, प्रिये?" शिवजी ने मुस्कुराते हुए पुछा।
"अब यह देखिये, ईश्वर ने इतनी सुन्दर दुनिया बनाई तो उसको देखने के लिए कुछ लोगों को आँखों की रौशनी नहीं दी।  किसीको इतना धन दिया की उनको उसकी कदर नहीं, तो किसीको दो वक़्त की रोटी भी नहीं मिलती।  इतना ही नहीं, कुछ लोग तो देख के भी दुसरो का दुःख अनदेखा कर देते है। कई लोगों के पास अधिक धन है, लेकिन वह दूसरों की मदद भी नहीं करते।  तो उनके विशेषाधिकृत होने का क्या मतलब हुआ?" लगता है माँ आज कुछ ज्यादा ही परेशान है।
"अगर ईश्वर सबको एक जैसा बनाते तो सब एक दुसरे से क्या सीखते? एक दुसरे के लिए हमदर्दी, प्यार, अपनापन कैसे आता?" भोलेनाथ ने जवाब दिया।
"अगर हमदर्दी होती तो इतने सारे लोग भूखे सोते? इतने सारे लोग आँखों की रौशनी से वंचित रहते?" पार्वतीजी और गुस्से हो गयी।
"हमदर्दी का मतलब सिर्फ दुसरो की मदद करना नहीं। सिर्फ दान करने से किसीका दिल बड़ा नहीं हो जाता।  लोग दान किये बिना भी दया भाव रख सकते है।" शिवजी ने बड़े प्यार से बोल।
"अच्छा? और किस तरह हो सकता है?" माताजी ने क्रोधित होकर पूछा।
"किसीका अच्छा करने से कई ज्यादा अच्छा किसीका बुरा नहीं करना है। अच्छाई की मौजूदगी से कई ज्यादा ज़रूरी बुराई की अनुपस्थिति है।"
"आपका नाम भूतनाथ नहीं, अदभुतनाथ होना चाहिए था।" माँ मुस्कुरायी। 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why I don't relate to my school friends anymore

I've always been a loner.  Ever since I can remember.  I've always had one or two friends, and those friends would have zillions of friends, but I always had those one or two.  I think from 5th to 7th standard, I didn't even have friends.  Guess it was the awkward age when puberty hit and I got embarrassed about the physical changes happening in my body.  In fact, I even remember being ashamed of confessing that I wear a bra.  Those were pre internet days and government of India was busy worrying about constructing Ram Mandir at Ayodhya than banning certain websites with explicit sexual content. In the hindsight, both the time they were far from the issue on hand.

Anyway, most people recover from the awkward teenage phase, but I never did.  When I passed out of my school, I had two friends.  After boards, though, we hardly managed to keep in touch.  We were in different colleges, doing different courses, and honestly, I'm not proud of never managing to stay in touch.  I think we just drifted apart.  But yes, whenever we would meet, every once in a year, we would talk as if we meet everyday.  There was no awkwardness.

And rest of my classmates? Well, I would get to know their updates from this one friend who would keep in touch with them.  Their updates mostly consisted of who got married in last 6 months, and who's getting married in next 6 months.  Oh, and who's now having a baby. 

We had suddenly all grown up, and my friends also got married and one even has a baby.  Of course, I don't remember the last time I met her.  Am sure it was more than a year ago.  We don't even talk on whatsapp, or Facebook.  (I don't even log on to facebook because I am afraid I may have to talk to people I have not talked to even in school)  And surprisingly, I behave differently with different people over different communication channels.  Some people I can talk with incessantly over mails/chats/sms (In last one week, the number of SMSes I've exchanged with this friend, I don't remember the last time I so much.  I'm sure Vodafone (and probably NSA, HI OBAMA) are surprised with this sudden burst of activity over text messages (yes, in the day and age of whatsapp, jai ho Nokia N70 ki :P, yes, such people still exist who use this phone)  But at the same time, I don't go beyond hmmm and oh okay and hehehe with another friend I went to school with.  She's mighty upset with me over my lack of communication skills over messages, but I really don't know why I am wired that way.

And what about other school friends? I don't know.  I haven't talked to them in over a decade, I think and if I were to meet them, I don't know what will I say, especially because now they are married. 

While talking to a friend this evening, both of us concluded friends don't remain friends once they get married.  Somehow, their husbands/wives know all about you and its just not you anymore.  They aren't around when you want to crib about your job, or when they do have the time, the moment is gone.  Not that they're at fault.  No one is at fault.  Suddenly, time that brings two people together has made two people away from each other.

A lot of people in my friends list are on limited profile on Facebook.  Not because I don't like them (okay, I don't like some of them and I have them in the list only out of politeness - OMG I AM SO HUMBLE) but I don't relate to them anymore. I don't want to answer their awkward questions on when am I getting married, and if my parents have started looking for a suitable match for me.  They are awkward because if you were my friend, you wouldn't need to ask these questions in the first place, you would know the horror stories already. (no, to be clear, my parents have no hopes of finding a groom for me because my dad has expressed disbelief at the fact that someone may actually want to spend his life with me, and in case anyone wants to elope with me, he will even fund my elopement. As usual, I digress)

So yea, we've grown up, we've grown apart, and suddenly you are left with no friends. Single friends, at least.

Oh, and the whole thing about going out and meeting new people is just truckload of lizard poop. (have I told how i've seen a lizard actually take a dump? like, in the process of pooping? I know I've seen weird things) How do you meet new people anyway? And how does a generally social awkward being walk up to stranger and talk? Maybe I need to learn. 

I need my time.  I need to be left alone for a while, no questions asked. It's not because I'm bored of people (ok, maybe a little, but not always) but because I like being by myself for a while. And then not everyone understands this need.  They all misunderstand that part and think you don't want to talk anymore.  No, I don't want to talk anything at this time.  At times, all I need is 20 minutes of solitude. But my love for solitude has cost me friends.

Having spent over two hours talking about absolutely nothing to a friend today, I really don't know what to text.  And I'm sure similar is the situation in his case.  And I feel strangely happy about it.  I suddenly don't have to worry about explaining someone over lack of messages.  I also feel that even if we were to talk/text all night today, we could easily do that.  But we won't because we feel the need to recover. :P OMG. HAVE I FOUND MY SOULMATE!!

Ah, well, the point was how I don't relate to my friends, and I'm sure neither do my school friends, mostly because they never could relate with me even when we were in school.  And I'm sure half of them don't even remember I exist.

And on that note, I end yet another absolutely pointless blog post because the effect of caffeine is wearing off and I'm feeling sleepy.  Not really, but it would be a good idea to sleep, because it is already 11, and the bed is singing baahon mein chale aao to me.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

You've Got Mail

So it is raining in Ahmedabad, and weather is lovely.  It has brought down the temperature too.  My toes are feeling kind of cold and I would like to curl up under the blanket and go lie down and read.  Pride and Prejudice.  Yes, it is that kind of weather.  I have read the same book so many times, I now just flip through the book and jump to my favourite parts in the book.

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

This part, where Darcy proposes to Elizabeth always, always gives a funny feeling in my tummy.  But I didn't do that.  Instead I just went through first 3 episodes of BBC series (forwarded to my favourite parts) decided to watch You've Got Mail instead.

Watching it gave me goosebumps.  I could totally relate to the anticipated arrival of the email in my inbox and the general excitement that has surrounded me last few days.

I just paused the movie where they get to know about the Fox bookstore.  Because just before that, they discuss Pride and Prejudice in their emails exchange.  What are the odds. *winks*

Know what? I honestly do not care if people think I am way too filmy for my own good.  I mean, I know my life may not be like the movies I watch, and how they build up way too many expectations, but the reality that I've seen around, and the cynicism that surrounds it, I'd rather be happy hoping for eternal romance than live my life cynically and angry at everyone.  I don't know if the person on the other end is equally anxious? Or whether the only time the person thinks of me is when he sees the new mail? Or has the person spent the day in agony over not being able to check mails? How does one even know the answers to these questions?

Now, you guys, go ahead and brace yourself for a wonderful week ahead, because my instincts tell me this is going to be an eventful week.

And it is 2013. About time we come up with something that lets us see real-time reactions of people as soon as they read message/mails/answer phonecalls.


Friday, July 26, 2013

The one where I ramble at 7 am

When a cockroach thought it was an opportune time to die and fall into my mug of milk yesterday morning, little did I know how that the day will end of a high note with a lot of good things happening almost throughout the day.

And then I also had 2 cups of coffee, so I was also riding high on caffeine and well, I haven't slept well.  Which is okay, because weekend.  Yes, these days I look forward to weekends because it kind of gives me a break from people.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate people, but so much socialising over the course of the week drains me and I need the solitude to recover.

That, or non-work related socialising. LOLJK.  Ever since most of my friends moved out of the city and/or got married, I haven't felt so lonely as I do these days.  And I had very few friends to begin with anyway.

That and a lack of the special someone who not only wants to doobofy in my jheel si aankhein, but also the dimple on my right cheeks.  And then, even the weather is such that you kind of crave for some company to..

... walk along the riverfront and sit on the bench, munching on peanuts, as the light breeze brings a few stray strands of my sathya sai babaesque hair playfully over my face and talk about anything and everything under the sun. (okay, not sun - it gets so hot here that Ahmedabad should declare itself as a part of the sun already - but we can talk anything and everything under the sunless sky, okay?)

... sit on one of those concrete benches the municipal corporation has put up all across the city.  I really want to do that someday.

... coffee-pizza-movie nights. C'mon, who doesn't want one such cliched date nights? Okay, maybe I am filmy.

... omg. surprise flower(s).

... bike rides. (yes, I'm still waiting for the 2 am bike ride)

... holding hands, and finding one of us has sweaty hands, followed by ewwws and threatening to rub the sweaty palm on other person's face.

Omg. I'm so gross at most all  times.

Is that the reason I'm still single? :|

Sunday, July 21, 2013

In fond memory of my Baa

Rava Masala dosa was my Baa's favourite dish.  Ever since I can remember, every Rath Yatra (Ashaadh Sud Beej), we would have a family dinner at a South Indian food joint in Ahmedabad - Sankalp.  Rath Yatra was my Baa's birthday.  We never knew the date, because she always said she was born in 1920, and doesn't know the calender date.  We never tried to find out the real date either because it was always Rath Yatra.  Oh, once her health deteriorated, we would pack dosa and eat it at home. 

She passed away in February, 2003.  This Rath Yatra marked 10 years without her.  In these 10 years, we have always gone to Sankalp for Rava Masala Dosa.

Few days back, my dad got a call from his cousin in Bharuch.  My Baa grew up in Bharuch and moved to Ahmedabad after her marriage to my Dada.  My kaka had found an old bank passbook.  The bank account was opened when Baa was a minor and it had her actual birthdate.  Not Ashaadh Sud Beej.  He was visiting Ahmedabad and dad requested him to bring the passbook along.  This is how it looks:
The only proof of my Baa's birthdate.
It is The Bharuch Co-Operative Bank Limited bank, and the account was opened on 17(or 12, I'm not quite sure) January, 1928.   I was holding a piece of paper which came from pre-independence era.  I'm not sure of you, but I felt a lump in my throat. 

Closing Balance. Re. 1, 8 Annas.
This is the closing balance.  The last entry was on 27th July, 1939.  Closing balance was Re. 1 and 8 Annas.

Again, before independence.

And that brought back a lot of stories she used to tell me when I was a kid.  How she used to ride a Victorian cart with a horse, and how she saw the Tricolour being unfurled at the Bhadra fort in old city of Ahmedabad on 15th August, 1947, and how she used to play dice with her cousins.

And watching Mahabharat and Ramayan every Sunday morning at 10 am. And the distinct smell of sandalwood paste wiped on her saree after the Puja, which I could still smell when I'm under stress or emotionally disturbed.

Her last coherent words were to me.  12 days before she died.  She told me 'fateh karjo' - be victorious. 

Today when I saw this, I cried a little.  It made me miss her more than I usually do.

And as I type this, I can again smell the faint smell of sandalwood paste. 

Some people don't really go from your lives, they're always around in our thoughts.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I have a problem with your music

I do not understand music.  I mean, most of my music related experience is limited to radio while I drive.  I do not wait eagerly for the next Rahman hit to come out and I don't really have my go-to playlist of songs which I listen when I'm feeling down.

I'm not trying to put music lovers down.  In fact, I'm almost jealous of people who live by it.  I have tremendous respect for those who create music and those all who can sing.  I don't even sing in my head while taking a shower.

However, I do have a problem when your listening to music creates problem in my life.  Let me explain.

You thought jaywalking pedestrians are annoying? Imagine a jaywalker with earphones in his ears, listening to music.  They are oblivious to the world and since they cannot hear you honking at them for thinking the road belongs to their pappa, all you end up with is anger.  Oh, and if he would've walked into regular paced - rules obeying - properly driven car, it is still your fault because there are no rules for pedestrians.  It's like, you pay your taxes only so that they make roads and cows can sit on them and remaining for music-listening wtf-is-zebra-crossing jaywalkers.

And then, they will coolly walk into the dedicated BRTS route, without seeing a speeding bus come towards them, and when they meet with an accident, it is the bus, which is part of Bus RAPID Transit System, which is at fault for speeding in its dedicated lane.  I'm not justifying buses here, because seriously, the only things I'm afraid of on roads of Ahmedabad are municipal corporation run buses, which are conspicuously tilting towards left for reasons best known to them.  But then, you cannot blame others when you are not really following basic sense.

And no, listening to music while walking isn't the only problem.  There are bravehearts who have their iPods plugged in while driving their two-wheelers.  Because they are so cool.  And they cannot hear any other speeding vehicle which may be trying to overtake them because fuck safety.  Of course, the concept of blind lane turning also doesn't scare them because they'd rather listen to music (dammit, I cannot even come up with names of bands because I don't even know any - I have no clue about English music) instead of a car honking which is slowly taking a blind turn from the other side because who likes *that* sound?

So I have a problem with people listening to music.

When it creates nuisance for me on the road.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why mothers are awesome

Mornings in the Mehta household are never a quiet affair.  Everyone, including me (though I realised it late) are morning people and we are incredibly chirpy every morning.  Even if dad and I have had argument the previous night, all is forgotten when he tells me I look like Lalita Pawar with one one sleepy droopy eye.

Our neighbours don't need alarms.  When my mother talks, she could be heard in even pachaas kos door gaanws.  Every morning she will wake up our domestic help's 3 kids and ask them which birds and animals came home the previous day to eat the grains and drink water.  After a satisfied answer, she will send one of the kids on the roof to refill the grains we put out for birds.  All this happens by 7:30 am.  At this time, our gardener will arrive and she will try talking to him in broken Hindi (she has not learnt a thing from the Hindi serials) and tell him not to trim a particular tree's branches because a bird has created a nest there.

Randomly, she will make a 'koooo' sound.  This sound is similar to the cuckoo's singing.  That's my signal that the kitchen is available to me for making my breakfast.  We give cuckoo signals to each other.  Sometimes, I go 'koooo' to tell her that I've taken and shower and she can stop giving me dirty looks.

She is the only person who watches Sasural Simar Ka on Colors Tv religiously.  She even knows the repeat timings so she can catch up on it if she misses the original episode.  Oh, and when she watches Ekta Kapoor serials, and if you're sitting with her, she will spot a glitch in the storyline and say aloud, "Ekta gundi, she thinks I don't know anything? I am one smart ladies." (ladies is pronounced as ladijh - I think she heard someone say that and picked up)  This is usually followed "Ektadi nonsense."

Even when I would tell her not to keep waiting for me for lunch or dinner, she will invariably stay up and wait for me.  This makes me feel incredibly guilty and now I am going to use the brahmastra - I'm going to give her my kasam.  Mothers can never overrule a kasam. 

She has been in Bangalore since Wednesday last week, and she comes back today.  I was all on my own and I missed having her around.  I see piles of unwashed clothes (yes, I'm going to wash them now before she comes home and decides to wash them in the night) and having to make my own meals, I just realise how she just makes things seem easy. 

She just magically makes life better.

And so, you just forgive her for embarrassing you by calling you 'baby' and 'cookie' in public.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers' Day

When I was awaiting my 12th board results (don't ask how long back, makes me feel older :( ), I wanted to be either a criminal lawyer or a journalist.  But then, my dad never wanted that.  "What do you want to be criminal lawyer for? To help the criminals? And who pays a journalist anyway? Such bad lifestyle they have.." were his arguments.  And I had an elder sister who had just returned after finishing her masters in the US and I had a lot of expectations to meet.

Having always been the younger, stupider daughter, I usually gave in.  Obviously, daddy knows what's right for me.  (NO, he does not)

So, it was that one moment of insanity when I took up the chartered accountancy course.  But then, since I liked writing, I started writing reviews on this website called (if anyone has been on that website, I was crimemastergogo) and showing solidarity with a friend who got into some sort of fight with the management there, a bunch of us quit writing there and that's where I started my first blog.  When my dad got to know of my blog, his first question was "why would anyone want to read what you write? Well, I still don't know an answer to that.

Oh, in between, I even took CAT.  But didn't prepare for it because my dad wouldn't let me apply to MICA. (communication is not for you - stick with finance)  I scored 68 percentile, where I scored 98 percentile in Verbal Ability.  Of course, I didn't get through the IIMs.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, I gave all my heart and mind to CA.  I interned at one of the best audit firms in the state (Deloitte, one of the Big Four) and learnt a lot from the mentors I had.  I worked on some of the best assignments and a lot of times under tremendous pressure because of reviews from institute (I was interning in a big four during the Satyam era - what else can you expect?) and there were months when I would reach home post midnight. 

I lost touch with most of my friends.  I still used to update the blog regularly.  Never too busy for internet, right?

And then the failures set in.  One final attempt after other.  I would miss clearing exams by a whisker.  I cleared one group and the second group kept bugging me. 

I had been sitting at home, preparing for the exams, appearing, getting hopes high, and seeing "fail" written on the marksheet.  The cycle was unbreakable.  It was over a year of the drama.  And I'm leaving out a lot of personal drama that happened in all these years.  Dark, dark times.  (I would tell you about it if you promise not to run away from me because you think I am damaged beyond repair.)

In January, I tweeted (oh, Twitter has always been around - you should check out my tweets sometime, I think I'm kind of funny) at 4 am. "It is Brahma Muhurat. Time to wake up. LOLJK, time to sleep before the stupid birds wake up". (okay, it wasn't exactly that, but something on those lines) and I laughed. At myself.  And then I cried to sleep.

I decided I don't want to get on anti-depressants.  I have to take control of my life. (I'm also skipping a lot of personal drama shit here, mostly because it is hurtful to talk about it)  I decided to apply to publication houses, media, newspapers - because I wanted to write. 

After lot of tears shed, I got a call in March from the editor of the Gujarat/Ahmedabad edition of a finance newspaper, if I would still be interested in joining. I agreed.  I was told to wait for a call confirming that which might come from Delhi.  No one in the family knew about it till then.  Except my mum.  She was told about it because I had to tell someone or I would have gone insane, I was seriously losing my mind.  I had already lost all my confidence.  The only thing I had with me was self deprecating humour.

In May when I finally got the call that I'm hired, I cried like a little baby.  Someone was finally willing to bet on me.  Maybe I'm not such a failure I thought I was.

Then I told my dad that I'm going to be a financial journalist.

He was suddenly happy about it.  Going about telling everyone how I am with so-and-so paper.  He has no idea how many nights I cried myself to sleep because I had no idea why I missed clearing my finals by 3 marks.  For him, it was always a joke that if I ever wanted to commit suicide after not clearing my exams, I should just go to Vastrapur lake because it is nearer to house.  He thought it is lightening up the mood and easing the tension of result.  Well, I never had (and still don't) the courage to tell him that the thought of running away from the house crossed my mind many, many times.  And no, it was not the access to internet that kept me home.  Or maybe it was.  Every time the results were out, I was letting him down.  Because you know, the elder daughter is the stronger one and has done brilliantly in her life, fought all obstacles, and I'm the weaker one, who couldn't even clear an exam.

Today, 3 weeks into financial journalism, I am slowly getting my confidence back.   I am afraid if I meet some big corporate honcho, I would probably ask a wrong question and would embarrass the newspaper I represent, but as my editor told me, even if I try, I couldn't come up with a wrong question. 

No, the years I spent as a chartered accountancy student are not wasted.  I probably understand companies better than someone who doesn't come from a background like mine.  I may not have a formal degree in journalism, but I am finance literate and can probably read an annual report better. 

Maybe this was meant to happen.  And even though dad couldn't get me to take up a hardcore finance job, he will have to deal with it that some people actually pay to read what I write.

And what about CA? Well, I don't know.  For the time being, I am enjoying what I am doing.

For the first time in years.  Let me enjoy it while it lasts.

Oh, and dad, happy fathers' day.  No hard feelings.