December 31, 2008

A Princess Remembers by Maharani Gayatri Devi

Recently I picked up the book A Princess Remembers by Maharani Gayatri Devi. It was one of those spontaneous buys, where I knew nothing about the reviews, or what the book holds. I knew who was Maharani Gayatri Devi and the blurb sounded like a story of a girl who has become a woman through the pages.

I started reading it, was immediately absorbed, and moved through a good 200 odd pages very quickly. Life at Cooch Beher as a young girl in complete awe of her elder brother followed by her move to England for studies and her long courtship with the Maharaja of Jaipur. Interesting to note is that the Maharaja already had two wives whom he married before he turned 18, and they were arranged for him by his father. She was the only one who drew his attention genuinely. How would the two wives take to this love affair of the Maharaja, it is enlightening to see how they accept what their husband wishes of them. They serve to be a guide to the new Maharani after the wedding, and help her in getting accustomed to the new culture and form of life.

We breeze through their young days, her siblings’ weddings, children and deaths. We see hoe the royalty married all across India, in just a search for a perfect match and relationship for their states in many cases. We see their princely way of life, and how they envisaged a change for India and their subjects with the forming of a republic India after the independence struggle. Many of the rulers were comfortable in their positions and interactions with the British that very few managed to surface anywhere near the freedom struggle which was led by men of more humble statures. These royals were very well read, worldly wise, but a threat to their position kept them away from the struggle to free India from being a territory of the British.

Independence and selfishness came hand in hand almost all across India. All important positions fell into the only party existing and the people, who stood with them through the fight, did not see an alternative in front of them. Here we see how the princely states came to their rescue, to the rescue of their people, the people who have forever contributed to their privy purses. It would be too simple to say that they came up in sheer love for their people, I believe they also saw that their say in state and politics was diminishing with each passing day, hence this can be seen as their way of some kind of revolt on the part of the Indian royalty against the Congress rule in their states. I thought of them as selfish in only venturing into politics, when they were stripped of their powers and privileges, but maybe the fact that they saw the way the their states were suffering, did contribute in making a successful opposition party in India. The people were more or less not in the habit of rising in opposition, and even if they did they would surely be represented by some who would only change the ruling party but not the corruption and squander which the country was being subjected to. (Doesn’t it somehow just resemble today’s world? I wonder where and who are going to make a good opposition this time? )

On reading this book, I saw the royal ways of life which were in the past, and how they adapted to the changed united India. It is a good light read, with some thoughts which do rummage through your head as you flip the pages of this Indian history, lifestyle, autobiography mix.

PS: This has been cross posted at Le Books blog, which is a new online book store for book enthusiasts. They have some wonderful features like book lists which offers some great reads.

December 29, 2008

Christmas at the beach

My very first trip to Goa.

Having heard so much about the idyllic beauty and surreal calm of the goan beaches, I was all in to experience this for myself.

I put up here only snaps to do all the talking.

Reached Goa - Sunny and bright

View from Chapora fort
Way up to Chapora fort
Fresh breakfast at Fisherman's shck on Baga
View from the shack
At Anjuna

On route to Vagator
A game of scrabble at Bar Eclipse

A Mumbaikar's tale

I do not know who wrote this article, a Mumbaikar for sure.

I received this as a forward, and for once, I saw a different story unfold than the usual rant about terrorism and nuclear power and so on. This is something which shows how a crack at the edge of a wine glass does eventually leak all the wine and eventually leave just an empty glass.

Here is the article below.

Me Mumbaikar

The gruesome battleground in South Mumbai has left us Mumbaikars fed up, scared, angry, willing to lash out, especially at the politicians.

We now have an incoherent rant against "the other" or "the system". My heart goes out to the victims and this article in no way downplays the magnitude of the human tragedy. Yet as a lifelong Mumbaikar, I have not been able to shake a feeling that people have deliberately refused to grasp the essence of the problem because it is not conveniently gift wrapped with a bow on it.

Simply put, there is no "other" to blame. Mumbaikars over decades of greed and rapacity, have destroyed rule of law and corrupted the systems which should have protected us. We are the system. We are the reality of Mumbai. We are its pestilence. It is convenient to demand action, to demand results, somehow, anyhow.

Can we believe in a fantasy that a bureaucracy, government and law enforcement apparatus which have never delivered anything meaningful which we have ourselves strangled over the years, can suddenly start delivering results in one narrow sphere of security?

AIDS victims don't die of AIDS.. They die because AIDS reduces immunity and invites secondary diseases to feast on the weakened host. An AIDS patient can die from a common cold. Terrorists only descended upon the enfeebled carcass of Mumbai to deliver the coup de grace. They are the opportunistic secondary infection. Mumbai was always a symbol of opportunity and accomplishment, with the accompanying corruptions of any big city. But what is Mumbai today?

It's a ghettoized city of intolerance where Raj Thackeray can rouse lakhs of people into hatred of an "other", where vegetarians can discriminate openly against the "other" in their buildings, where Muslim enclaves make the "other" uncomfortable in their midst, where a parallel economy and a parallel justice system can thrive.

It is a city of corruption, where the police force has been emasculated, where constables have to take bribes to pay off the cost of their postings, where senior officials operate openly in collusion with industrial houses, where human trafficking and child abuse are openly tolerated in plain sight at traffic signals.

It is a city of decay, where greedy and corrupt builders can destroy every last inch of breathing space, documents can be faked, BMC officials bought off en masse, protesters can be bullied and threatened, restaurant owners can dump their daily trash in any quiet street corner.

It is a city of harassment, where kids on loud motorcycles can whiz about unstopped, where loud pandals and religious displays disturb people way into the night, where poor people live in constant fear of harassment by the police.

It is a city of neglect, where we cannot even point to one bylane free of potholes and garbage, not for technical reasons but because it fuels the perpetual motion machine of contracts and corruption.

It is a city where the local governance become an enemy of the people, grabbing parks, destroying open mangroves, dumping huge toxic waste in plain view of its citizens.

Ask a Mumbaikar from the slums what fun it is to get his kid's birth certificate from the BMC, to get past a police check, to get a lawyer who won't cheat him for common things,to get a judge who won't delay his case indefinitely. A poor "unconnected" person or a single woman would think thrice before walking into a police station to get help and even then would not do it.

Above all Mumbai is a city of temporary convenience and compromise with no core values left to hold on to. The euphoria of economic growth justified every short cut and every depredation. Beneath the facade, Mumbai fell apart street by street, tree by tree, victim by victim. Mumbai is not an international city, it is an international joke. It is easier to take offense or retreat behind clich├ęs, than to sincerely ponder the truth of this statement. The city cannot provide roads, fire service, ambulance service, police safety to its people.

Those who feel it is "part of the charm" to walk past open garbage and people defecating, to drive on wretched roads, to not have any place to take your child to play, to have parks grabbed by local slumlords, are in denial about their hometown. They add to the apathy which keeps it in decline. We try to talk ourselves into believing that the human vibrancy covers up the physical dehumanization.

Each and every one of these acts is perpetrated by a Mumbaikar. Each incident is like an incident of unprotected sex which takes the victim closer to the fatal disease. Each instance of apathy is just like one who cannot be bothered to wear a condom.

A successful crime reduction effort in New York is called "Broken Windows". Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building. Small crimes, if not stopped lead to large crimes, hence even a broken window should be pursued and punished by an alert citizenry, equipped police force and effective prosecution system. This indicates of the interconnectedness of things.

Sorry to say, neither protests nor candles nor political resignations can help us. Not even an election. Who will you vote for? Throw out Manmohan and bring in Advani? There is no "One" who will sweep in on a white horse and save us. The world is now too complex and too interconnected for a single Obama or some mythical Kalki to come in and sweep clean with a magic wand. That only happens in films.

Until and unless there is a mass movement of self-realization on the scale of the freedom movement, the city will continue to bleed. A corrupt, weakened and demoralized force is not suddenly going to wake up and become a crack squad. A polity used to the easy days and fat life is not suddenly going to snap into action when it has been unable (despite similar outcries) to even keep the Mithi clear or keep the highway free of potholes.

Let's not glamorize the spirit of Mumbai or the beauty. It is purely money power and film dazzle which keeps this image intact. Neither Mr. Tata with his billions nor Mr. Bachchan with his pistol was there to save us on Wednesday night. We were saved by lower middle class jawans who on a normal Sunday would not even be allowed to enter the Taj or Oberoi by the security, who cannot even afford a Thums Up at Souk. Do we even deserve these amazing young men to fight and die for us when every public figure and Page 3 celebrity is on air spewing verbal diarrhea about our fear and trauma? The very same businessmen who pay customs and excise officers to look the other way ten times a day, now want them to be vigilant the eleventh time and catch the arms. We have forgotten the RDX which landed under very noses of Customs in 1993.. The same citizenry which doesn't care if builders illegally encroach approach areas and roadsides, now want to know why fire forces can't do their job. The same contractors, who cheat and embezzle funds meant for equipment for cops, are now furious about the inadequate body armor and .303s. All because "our" Taj and Oberoi are under attack.

Where goes Mumbai, so the rest of the nation. Governance and rule of law are at an all time low. Rights of poor people and middle class urban dwellers are trampled brutally. The backlog of cases and toothless enforcement makes a mockery of the Constitution which has enough teeth in it for many common problems.

We had a window of unprecedented growth where we could have set systems and infrastructure straight.. We did not, instead revelling superficially in our new -found easy wealth and sweeping any honest inquiry and intellectual thought process under the carpet.

Today we find that the much-feted titans of industry and finance were drunk on a global binge of easy debt and bogus stock valuations, and that the real growth has not traveled to the people who needed it, that real fundamental nation building value has not been created to the extent it was believed.

Today we need the army to throw out Lashkar from Colaba Causeway, what will we say when Naxalite cadets show up in Chennai? We always say "Me Mumbaikar Aahe". This is us. We are the ones who whittled away like termites at the gates and then threw down a red carpet of blood for terrorists to waltz in and shoot up our town like some drug-crazed teenagers on a weekend spree.

Only a Mumbaikar can truly understand that feeling of enraged impotence at the sight of these animals strolling down our historic downtown redefining forever the Mumbai taunt "Baap ka road hai" We are not to blame for their inhuman choice to perpetrate violence upon innocents. No secularist, no apologist, no CNN reporter, can justify that action. But we are to blame for our failure to protect ourselves and we are to blame for our inability to change the systems that made it possible from a fundamental level. Unless we re-engage our civic society as responsible and honest citizens of our own free will, we cannot expect better from our institutions.

Let's start with the hard, thankless and unglamorous task of fixing the broken windows and potholes. We have a very long way to go before reclaiming our Maximum City from what we have allowed it to become. Only then can we show the lead to the rest of the nation as we have always prided ourselves on doing.

With regards and be safe,

Anonymous Mumbaikar

December 22, 2008

To Visit # 2 Goa

In quest for the perfect holiday, I am looking up al that needs to be seen in the culture and party destination of Goa.


Aguada Fort: Immediately south of Candolim, on the end of a peninsular region. Built mainly for protection from susceptible attacks. Portuguese for water, and had been a fort where most ships docked for water along their long voyages as there was a spring within the area the fort was built. Also the locale for the famous Dil chahta hai shootings! (I am not certain, unless I visit this place, as some information I found points towards Chapora fort as the one where the shooting for the film happened. This fort is also said to house the Central Jail in today’s time.)

Tiracol Fort: At the northern tip of Goa, this fort houses the statue of Jesus on the rock. This is way north as compared to all the other touristic areas, so maybe you might have to skip it for a later time.

Cabo Fort: This is the residence of the Governor; you can not hence enter the fort. It lies in a peninsula at Dona Paula.

Church of Mae de Deus or Mother of God: Set in a very beautiful locale in Saligao, and was named after a statue which was housed in a convent which does not exist anymore. One of the few churches built in true Gothic style.

Cathedral in Old Goa: This portrays a classic example of the Roman Catholic rule on the shores of Goa. The cathedral houses one of the largest bells in the world, and has 14 chapels. It houses a cross on which the vision of Christ is said to have been seen around 1900s.

Basilica of Bom Jesus: This basilica in Old Goa is said to house the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who was entrusted with the task of spreading Christianity in the Portuguese colonies in the east.

Tambdi Surla Temple: The oldest temple in Goa, built in true Jain style and 65 kms from Panjim.

Mangueshi Temple: Lord Shiva temple, which draws crowds from all over. An interesting fact is that you can not enter right upto the lingam here, unless you are of a particular caste

Arvalem Caves: These are said to be the caves where the Pandvas lived during their exile, hence also called the Pandava Caves. The caves are situated 100m away from Sri Rudreshwar Temple and Arvalem waterfall one of the most picturesque site of the town of Arvalem. 9 kms from Bicholim town.

Apart from the ones listed above, there are many more interesting places which I came across and I need to go and see for myself which are the best of the lot!


Crocodile trips and Dolphin trips: You can take a half day cruise to see crocodiles at the back waters and the dolphins at the sea. It said one can also try to swim with the dolphins!!! I am so so keen to do that. I am not to sure how true this should be. I am sure they are eventually wild and can not be completely let to be with tourists in the vas ocean. Yet to be seen whether the swimming actually does happen.The crocodiles I believe should be closer to the mouths of the rivers, or backwaters. They are mainly freshwater or river water animals and would not venture out into the sea.

Water sports: Water skiing, water scooter, wind surfing- a blend of surfing and sailing

Paragliding: This is available across most locations and if you are closer to any of the resorts then an easy 300 rupees more is what you would have to pay for the same.

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling: These are two underwater expeditions on can have for starting Rs.2000/-. I found Goa Aquatics to host a wonderful Scuba diving discovery experience at the island off the shores of Calangute beach. They provide all the equipment, and give you a brief learners stint also to ensure safety and a true underwater experience.

Food and Shopping

Shopping is an all round activity, which is best done with bargaining and along the Calangute, Candolim and Colva stretch. The art and crafts of Goa predominantly are Creative Pottery, Shell Work, Furniture, Brass Work, Bamboo Work, Papier-Mache. All these contribute to a large extend as the cottage industry sector in Goa.

The staple food of Goa is fish and rice in various forms and spices. The preparation of the same dish will vary in taste at North Goa and South Goa. The shack eating experience is the best to savour Goan delicacies. They will also come and check on how you would like your fish!

Some famous dishes to try out:
utton xacutti
Ape de Camarao

Brittos: This place on the Baga beach is said to be awesome for its food and ambience.

Bobs Inn: Good steaks, again on Candolim- Baga stretch

After Seven and Rustlers: Situated along the Calangute – Candolim belt.

Holiday Street: Situated at Candolim for all kinds of cuisines ranging from Goan to Kashmiri to Greek.
Martins: It is considered an institution in itself, serving authentic Goan delicacies and an ambience to experience

Not to miss

Panjim: The many squares in Panjim, and the houses which line these streets with their tiled roofs and balconies jutting out onto the streets.

December 19, 2008

Excitement & Planning

The excitement of going on a trip
The planning involved in making the trip fun
The list of places and monuments to see
The culinary delicacies to taste
The souveniors to buy

Planning activities completing itineraries for the days of the trip, contribute to a lot of fun in the trip. Many a times when you are visiting a place again, then all these aspects are lost and a completely different sense of comfort and relaxation sets in. Here you would go for a break from routine or a well earned holiday after hard months of work.

With a group who have already visited the place, then this results in a clash of thoughts with each set of people having a different outlook to the trip. The ones who have not seen the place would want to move through the planning and excitement phase and on the contrary for those, of whom this is a repeat trip they treat the trip as a time to chill and in these cases what do you expect will happen?

Will the group move as a whole or would the group eventually split on the basis of activities which you would want to indulge I during this trip?

December 11, 2008

To Visit #1 : Pondicherry

I have been planning a trip for close to 2 weeks now, and I am yet not sure where it shall be materializing. So, I thought why not put down all the information which I gathered for these trips down here for anyone’s benefit.They are not too much and mostly you might find it on you searches too, but then this will also serve as a diary for me in case I do decide to go to these places a while later ;)

When we started, the location was uncertain, so I thought Pondicherry. Then over some time I thought maybe the better option would be Goa, with its better beaches and a larger crowd for a better party. Post that, there was a serious shortage of people who were free/willing to make a trip to Goa during Christmas break, now we start on a trip planning for Coorg and Bandipur.

I shall go over all the various things I had tagged as my to-see places at all the above locations. I am thinking, I love travelling and I have so many dreams to see the smallest to the biggest of towns and cities. I am going to record all the tit bits that I find through my searches as blog entries. I am going to have a list of all places which are worth visiting.

This one is going to be for

Pondicherry/ Puducherry

Plage: 8kms from the town centre, you can see the small quiet creek flowing and joining the sea. The beach is beautiful and you can even pitch a tent on the sea side.

Serenity: 10 minutes away from the town will take you to this calm beach perfect for swimming.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram: This ashram has been set up years back and most of the old French buildings are ashram offices, libraries and institutes. Some shops are also around this area where many ashram produces are available for sale.

Jawahar Toy Museum, Puducherry Museum, Puducherry Art Gallery: I could not gather much information about these, but they are said to be housed in one of the old grand French structures, so I had decided to visit them too.

Old Light House: Build during the French era, and not in use at present but one of the few in India

Aayi Mandapam, Bharati Museum: The first is a huge memorial built by the French for a temple dancer who lived 300 years before the French, and the second is the residence of a Tamil Poet which has been turned into a museum.

Easwaran Koil: An old Tamil temple, with typical Tamil street houses lining the roads adjacent to the temple. The houses have a covered veranda till the street.

Churches: Notre Dame des Anges, Church of Capuchians

Hotel de L’Orient: The best heritage hotel in Puducherry, have heard it is worth a visit, even if too

Hotel Lagreene: This is the convent where you can see intricate embroidery being done by girls

Shopping: Household shopping paradise is what Pondicherry is famous for. Leather, pottery, handmade paper from the factory and handicrafts which are from all over the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu

Food: Boulangerie which serves authentic French pain et croissant is something not to be missed. One can taste some French food, though some comment that the French cuisine is not in its full grandeur in this past French colony. The Chunnambar beach resort on Cuddaloare road has a floating restaurant which can also be experimented with.

December 9, 2008

Realms of romance

Since a while I have been wondering, do all people who are committed/ attached (however, you would like to put it) always feel it so? Do they necessarily feel attached? And if they do, what is it to feel attached? Does it have to reflect in some manner in what they do?

If you are attached, do you go for trips only with him/her? or Would you try to go on a trip alone with him/her?

If you are attached, do you remain alongside him/her at a party? or Would you try to ensure he/she is having a good time?

There are so many questions which I have, and I have seen so many couples where the guy / girl is independent / free bird, who do not seem to realize the paired concept. They nevertheless still are a pair to their friends, but are their counter parts happy / thrilled in this imposed freedom. When two people who are similar come together then maybe this does not seem to happen. They know what the other wants, as it is precisely what they would also want in return. Then why is it said that opposites attract? And, even if they do attract, is it for the good? Aren’t we better off with someone who is similar to us and hence ensuring more commons in our doings?

I recently read MM’s post on how we end up with people who are so different from us, and poles apart from who we always thought we would end up with. Once we do end up with those opposites, how do we remain happy? I am certain so many remain happy, but why is it that they are happy in a place they thought they would never be happy?

Do these small things you wished for as a small kid about your prince/princess creep in and cause some small scale havoc? Or do the bigger and more blaring things in life render them completely buried or forgotten over time?

December 8, 2008


I had previously read Kite Runner and written a review about it too. Now, I thought many had told me that the movie is also well made and hence should not be missed. I decided that since friends were out of town this weekend, I might as well catch up on the movies that I intended to. So I decided on Darjeeling Limited and Kite Runner .

Darjeeling Limited is a story of three brothers, their fights, likes, dislikes, and above all their search for their mother; a look at India through foreign eyes. This has been done before too, but maybe the difference in direction makes this movie a decent watch. There is nothing much to expect from this though apart from the usual shocks that they face on seeing the rural and semi-rural India and the lifestyle of many different sections of society.

I started watching Kite Runner, and I realized that for one, many scenes were cut in the movie. You might say that is expected with any movie, which is being made from a 300 page book. Somehow I felt those small incidents made one realize the true nature of the two boys since childhood. In the movie, I felt that Amir was not shown to be jealous to a great deal, and the incidents which were shown did not illicit the expected emotion/understanding in me either. Hassan is also said to have the deformity on his lips, and that is somehow not visible/evident (to me, maybe). All in all, maybe for those who have read the book, and how it has been detailed in the book, will not stand to like the movie.

December 5, 2008

Content & Nice

At times you feel nice

Other times you feel content

Sometimes you feel happy

And, happy times you need to stretch

As, these times don’t come often

And, for these you wish the most

November 28, 2008

Worrying times

There comes times in my life when I think as to why I end up not doing anything in my life but on the contrary I see that there are so many around me who do have the time to do all what is so perfect looking to me.

Maybe in most cases when I would get down to doing this, they might not seem to perfect as they seem now. Nevertheless I feel at times that I am not happy simply because there is a drag to life, the day in and out things which happen, with not a tinge of difference ever. Whenever I come across any of my friends, I hear stories of where they have been recently, how they did something which they very much wanted to do. And all this only makes me wonder ever more, why is it that I do not ever do anything.

I have tried to not make people influence my life so much and have a hold on what I want to do and how I wish to do it. As I think of this, I remember that I have wanted to go to the Technology Museum which is there in Bangalore, to see what-so-ever it has to offer. Any museum should be a good few hours.

As I write this entry, I wonder, how parents go about with the normality of life, with no changes. They take a holiday only once a year and the rest of the days as far as I remember are never too different. They might have an occasional meal outside, or maybe decide to go to the beach for a barbeque every quarter, but then else it is all quiet. Is it that they have been accustomed to this kind of life or maybe they have given up trying to overcome the monotony!

Once I am done thinking of all the monotony in the world, here comes the Mumbai attacks, and there is nothing worse that can happen to ever to change the face of normalcy in anyone's lives. People who can come on a holiday and on quick business visits have not lived to see the light of day. How do you even take a holiday now? What will happen if your holiday destinations are not safe anymore.? Mumbai was not ever on the be-careful list, but things don't seem to be happening as per any lists. Where have we seen a terrorist asking for UK/US passport holders to be potential hostages? Things are changing, or else they see that the Indian government doesn't seem to have much value for their citizens lives. They might have thought that if we get the rich and more over the rich foreigners, the embassies and the whole world will be roped in with the least effort from their side. And what better place to find the world rich list than at the 5 stars of the financial capital of India.

Now its all a question of wait and watch. Amen.

Something which I have decided to is that I am also going to start (trying) to maintain a daily photo blog. I will also start this blog only once I have a few snaps which I believe are worth putting up. I also need to come up with a good name for the blog too :). Now that I think about it, maybe there will be quite a few cat photos there, but then that is exactly what I wish to have, an album on the web.

Am also thinking blogger or wordpress for this photo blog? Any comments why one might be better than the other?

November 26, 2008

Counting to the holidays

It has been brrr cold in Bangalore and in spite of that, I have kept to my swimming regime. I have tried and I believe that my friend who accompanies me religiously every morning is what has had me going on my daily splashing runs. Whisky has been feeling real cold too and today morning she decided that its time to start using the blanket! (Some pictures are the bottom of the post).

I have made sufficient headway considering it has been a month and I have learnt the breast stroke and also the butterfly stroke. This is a great month considering that I knew just a normal everyone’s free style and also the backstroke (that too not to perfection; I have issues with direction). So anyhow this one month of swimming has been for the start of an exercise regime and also to ensure that I have one such item on my list of activities which I enjoy in my day.

I am also planning a trip to Pondicherry, have heard so much about this ex- French Colony and the beauty of the town, beaches and monuments. The Ashram is also said to be of a very old construction. This is a place which looks peaceful and a perfect spot for a few days during Christmas fever. I do hope that this works out.

Another important update (as per me), I have driven the car three times to office, obviously with someone sitting next to me to shout and scream. But then it is still what I wish to do, to ensure that I do not become a wasted driver (with a driving license and not able to drive).

November 23, 2008

Social World

Today I found out that a girl who has lived a few doors away from me in hostel has now taken up as the City Director for Mumbai with Teach India, this article here, talks about the work and what motivated her to move into this direction from McKinsey & Co.

I have thought of doing so many things with maybe an environment  organization, or with the Animal Protection group. Somehow, things have never been that simple, and they seem to always be some deterent in the path. Deep insise, I believe that maybe I have never really tried enough. 

An interesting thought which popped into my head is, are you fine being the one who is the non earner and just taking care of the social responsibility of the family? I am sure that many couples have just one partner working, and it works out perfectly fine, but what if what your need to contribute is something more, to actively contribute to the family. 

I am not sure how I will be handling this, but yes I do have plans to do something worthwhile in this life!

November 19, 2008

Driving Update

Driving on the road is nothing like driving in small side lanes, which is what all novice drivers usually end up starting on. The main difference being that no one decides to stick to their lane when it comes to the open, and the ever so many two wheelers which seem to keep popping up from all various junctions are plain and simple PAINFUL!

More than the driving tension, I feel the tension and the fear build up when the person sitting at the passenger seat start to yell and scream. Not yelling and screaming with next to do steps, but plain ‘Why don’t you look to the right?’ ‘Why don’t you drive beside the divider on the road?’ ‘Why won’t you start to see things which are going to happen?’ ‘Start developing a road sense!’

I would like to ask all these screamers, why do you want the driver to listen to you and think about all these things, rather than concentrate on the road when it is clearly a distress situation? Isn’t averting the situation more important than pondering over all your important questions?

It would be so much more HELPFUL if you decided to just say ‘Calm Down, now keep the car steady and move it a little bit to the right/ left.’

In fact, if the person just screams ‘BREAK!’ that would certainly top the helpful things list !!

November 18, 2008

Almost Wonderful la la . . .

After a very long spell of being at home, and long weekends of work, decided its time for a change and need to get out and do something fun. Being a short weekend, the only possibility was the surrounding areas and going to Wonder La after a good one year in Bangalore is of utmost importance.

Wonder La was a good experience; they had 4 good water rides, and 3 good land rides. Now by the end of it, I was wondering whether it was a good idea to visit it in the first place. One deal that I do know is that I enjoyed Water Kingdom in Bombay much more than Wonder La. Maybe that’s because I happened to go with many friends, and also that it is Asia’s largest water theme park! The rides I felt were many more and some relaxing ones also. Here there were only thrill rides, fast and furious. The wave pool was fun, the waves were strong and the area was also large. All said and done, the site for Water Kingdom is completely useless where as Wonder La has a webpage which is not only functional, but also very informative from rates and rides to the kind of clothing expected to be worn.

Now the water ride thrashing is done with, lets move on to the land rides. Why do they all try to make you go 360 degrees and that too in two planes! I am sure the idea was wonderful for one ride, but why when it is the same for straight three rides. And there, on the park map, these are the rides which are called high thrill. I think the rides should have been called 360 rides.

Anyhow, the drive outside city was good, especially at 130kms/hr and followed by some one-time-good- then- boring rides. A day completely spend out-of-home and then an even more amazing dinner and at
dinner did the deal!

November 12, 2008

* Splash *

I have added far too many kilos onto my frame to be anymore acceptable. I have said this statement too so many times that I do not even remember! But here again I say this and I hope to do something about it.

I thought of joining the gym, in fact I did also for a period of two months. It was so stressful to go and make yourself all sweaty and disgusting. Most gyms I hate also due to the mirrors which they have strewn all around, which just draw attention to your amazingly imperfect body. Why do they wish to torment people? I know some people who walk into the gym only do so to be building up their body, but there are many like me who will only walk in for a tearing down!

The jogging track is another option and I have jogged down this too. It was a tormenting experience when people who are twice your age end up whizzing past you, when all you are trying is to capture all the oxygen available! It is very disturbing to know that you have been doing nothing but sleeping in your warm and snug blanket when so many people have been jogging away and now they are all so much better than what you will be. Secretly I also think its coz I hate running/ jogging myself. I can play a game, do hiking, trekking and other stuff, but jogging seems like a waste of time (No Offence to all the joggers of the world).

So after trying various ways to shed some sitting on my ass weight, I decided that I shall go back to good old swimming. There are so many reasons to love this form of exercise, no mirrors; hardly anyone gets to see you, no sweaty and stinky person at the end of it. I have been having some minor issues with tanning but then I guess I am ready to give a wee bit of colour to regain an identifiable shape.


November 11, 2008

Tid bits to be still done

Most of my friends were travelling this weekend and I decided to spend quality alone time (bored time) doing a variety of things.

I got some nice reading bits done, on the book I was reading, its an interesting look at normal day to day things which you come across and then you wonder how exactly did that happen. Some things come about and then you wonder why I didn’t think of this solution before!

Here is one such case which I have noticed in myself. I always had trouble waking up in the morning and going for a swim, but recently I have been quite regular, and I am very proud of it too! There are many attributing features, one being a persistent friend to wake each other in the morning, another being the monthly membership at the swimming pool which I visit. Being a member calls for an upfront payment and that surely gets me out of my bed! So now I am on the road to a healthier me (yet to see for how long)!

I was to also do some house redecorating, and I am frankly getting nowhere with it, I have been thinking of simple, easy on the pocket things to do as I am not too sure how long we shall be staying at our present home. I have been toiling with the idea of getting some nice dupattas and draping them over places to give the place a warm coloured feeling. I just need to find a place for cheap dupattas, please drop by any place you would know in Bangalore. Any other ideas will also be appreciated.

I happened to catch the recent movie, what happens in Vegas, and I was quite ok with sitting through it with a bag of chips on my lap. Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher in a bachelor loft and their fights over cleanliness and basic household chores are quite hilarious. The plot is but obvious, and I think all of us have a knack of seeing through these romantic comedies now, isn’t it? Anyhow, this is a good enough for a Saturday afternoon.

And yes, my seeds refuse to budge from their covers and become small, frail seedlings!

November 8, 2008

Tid bits to-do

There are so many things now which I need to catch up on, and I thought unless I write all of it down, nothing is going to happen on any one of them. Also allowing for my working Saturdays do not leave any time/day.

A. Recently I started wondering why not try my hand at some small bits of gardening, so went ahead and got some manure mixed soil, seeds and started with my first patch of seeds. Now this was more than a week back and the packing said that the seedlings will start to grow only after 7 days, so I have very conveniently not looked at them for the past 7 days, and now I am slightly worried that maybe I have gone over the day limit. So that is my top priority to do item.

B. I also need to get some reading bits done which have been pending now for over a week. I have been at this book called Fooled by Randomness and it’s an interesting view of trading and randomness in the stock market. Considering I know almost close to nothing in the stocks domain, I decided to give this book a shot.

C. House hold decorations have been another deal which I have been wishing to do, and this is one hell of a slow deal to be handling. I started painting a semi abstract piece and it is yet to see completion. Maybe once I complete I shall put up a snap of that too. I plan on getting it framed for the living room.

D. I also have a long list of movies to catch up on, I keep adding all the good names which I come across and then I never end up going ahead and seeing them! Some of the titles are: Serving Sara, Number 23, Vantage Point, Burn after reading, The sweetest thing, Stranger than fiction.

I shall also do a post on all updates which happened on all these fronts, sometime next week. ( This is the only hope that I shall be getting any of these things done this weekend!)

November 4, 2008

The Knot

Being at that age and born of Indian parents, marriage is a topic which has occupied a great extend of conversations between my parents and me. There was a time, when I was just running from marriage. That was associated with many factors, one that I didn’t feel like it, topped with the fear of an arranged marriage.

Well, now what is different, I think what would be different is that I am not particularly running away from marriage, this is due to age and the fact that maybe now I have a bigger problem at hand. I seem to be in a situation where I need to convince my parents regarding my marriage itself. Some regional problems have landed on my plate and dealing with them seem to be ever so difficult, with no logic at works, and each of us believing in a different set of important ingredients required for a successful marriage. One side believes that two families need to be at complete peace and happily intermingled to ensure full support, and on the other hand, I feel that two people should be left to deal with their own issues and they should be left to intermingle with the two families. I do not deny that families do need to mingle, like at functions and occasions, but that would be a breeze in comparison to what happy intermingling would require.

When I think of intermingling, all that comes to me is the fact that, I do not know anyone amongst my relatives unless they are my parents’ bros/sis or at most their first cousins (by ‘know’ I mean I do know a great deal about them and talk to them at lengths whenever I do). And in most cases I have also seen that eventually you do end up being close and talking to those relatives who your parents speak to. So where is the problem? This means that you should be wiling to make the effort to let your kids know their family and who all they should know.

When I think of how close in laws eventually remain, I am not sure how close they do remain. As long as the link is there, and an effort from both sides, things usually go smooth, but when kids are far away and they keep in constant touch with both sets of parents; I believe both sets of parents keep in touch amongst themselves on a comparatively lower level. I think this is very understandable as they have no other common link other than the two kids who are living away from both of them.

When I think of how different cultures affect a marriage, there are more than enough areas where I feel there might be problems. Be it the wedding itself, or any of the numerous customs and functions at any time which usually surround any Indian family. But, does it really matter, as long as both the people involved are ready to do all the rituals and functions which need to be performed at various points in time. In most cases the functions are revolving around the couple and then in that case isn’t their acceptance more than enough? Cultures might be completely different, but if the families are receptive and ready to understand that their child’s spouse will not know many things, but is willing to do things, that should solve many problems. In the present times, I do believe strongly that not many children themselves know much about all the customs and functions that their parents do, and this seems to me to be a dwindling line ahead.

After these three considerations, I am also trying to understand where the extreme difficulty and sadness comes about from. I know that it’s not the expectation that you had from your child through the years, neither is it the norm as per what you would like the society in general to see your family.

But at the end of the day, why not just leave it if two old enough people have decided to give it a shot?


October 31, 2008

A Journey . . .

I stumbled upon the Hillman wonder list, and it was truly a wonder. I wanted to travel to so many of the destinations, and I in fact started to count where all I have been to till now. I did not manage to amass a great list, but the motivation to see all that which was available in India, certainly grew.

Let me go ahead and list where all I have managed to visit in a quarter of a century, and it should certainly be noted that all of it is all thanks to my parents, who are very avid travellers. Acha (Dad) has travelled far and wide, for work and also on family vacations. Amma never accompanies on official trips, but nevertheless have gone to so many places especially been partially brought up in Malaysia.

Anyhow, here is the list of all visited places till dateJerusalem Old City, Israel – I went to Jerusalem with my parents when I was 13 years old, and going from a Muslim country, did not create any shock in terms of the Muslim population their traditions and daily prayers. I was more interested in the Jews and their prayers at the Wailing Wall. It was the first time I was witnessing their swaying prayer at the Wall, and it was truly a sight to behold. I even went down to the altar where Jesus Christ was crucified; I have come to hear that this visit underground is not allowed anymore, which makes this even more special.

Colosseum of Rome, Italy – This falls part to my Europe trip after my 10th standard exams. We went on a Cosmos tour, and saw a lot in a short period of time. Looking back maybe now I would not want to do that, but I know that I am so so grateful to my parents for showing me beautiful Europe as a 15 year old! When you see it around the corner, you are so struck by the huge size and broken remains. When you walk in, ensure that you take the walkman tour, which is certainly the best as by me, informative and alone with a personal tour guide!

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – The seat of Christianity, the home to the Pope, and a beautiful Basilica is what we see from the St. Peter’s Square. Unfortunately when I visited Vatican City, the Basilica was under renovation, and I did not see it in its true splendour. The dome designed by Michelangelo was visible and also the pillars adorning the square. I need to go back to the St. Peter’s Square to view the Basilica in its full glory.

Sistine Chapel, Vatican City – From the entrance to the exit, you crane your neck, staring at the dimly lit corridors and roof of the Sistine Chapel and marvel at the frescos strewn across the ceiling. The Last Judgement sure topped my list of must stare at items.

Louvre Museum, France – The sheer size (10 kilometres) of this museum will ensure that you spend at least 4 hours in it, and the art, like the only too famous Mona Lisa, which it contains, will ensure another 4 hours.

Eiffel Tower, France – This huge structure in the middle of the city changed from a hideous to the most loved monument in Paris over a few years. The views from the various levels are breath-taking and the best picture of the Eiffel itself can be taken from the terrace of the Trocadero Museum. Another interesting fact is that, if you send a postcard or a letter from atop the Eiffel, the stamp that you get is in the shape of the Eiffel itself. I still have a self addressed postcard from there.

Canals of Venice, Italy – Gondolas, their music, winding canals and the view of Venice are surely one of the most romantic experiences in one’s lifetime. Glass Blowing is also said to be a very refined art which is prevalent in Venice.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy – The not toppling and the science behind it is very good to hear from the guides and the guide books. The cathedral of Pisa is also a wonderful architectural achievement, but with a leaning tower it certainly stands no chance with the typical tourists.

St. Mark’s Basilica, Italy – The dome and the bell tower are seen from square of Venice. The artisanship is seen in all the interior works of this Basilica.

Versailles Palace, France – Luxury, royalty, expanse, garden and fountains are what one can hope to see at this colossal palace and its grounds.

Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia – A city scrapper with a sky walk for a view of the city. Malaysia has very few sky scrappers and hence at any time the view from the top always proves to be wonderful, especially with a dinner to accompany.

Golden temple, India – the most sacred spot for Sikhs is the Golden Temple at Amritsar, and this is once place I travelled with my friend and her family. The lake surrounding it, the temple and the cramped interiors show the Holy Scriptures and devotion. The langar which is the daily meal provided by the Gurudwara, is a meal for all and made by the devotees through the day. The langar preparation is also said to be a form offering.

Varanasi and Ganga, India – The ghats, worshipers, cremation pyres, sadus only add to the most holy Hindu city of Varanasi. The extremely narrow alleys which lead to the ghats, lined with small shops make this city seem to be in a frozen place in time. The sweets of Varanasi and the silk saris are a few of the city highlights not to be missed.


October 30, 2008

Airport Security ?

Here, the magazine correspondents relates a story as to how they managed to get passed security at various US airports with the least effort, with banned items, false identity, no identities, wrong documents etc. I do not believe that security is said to be so tight nowadays and yet things like this can happen with so much ease. In fact kudos to them for carrying out such an intensive study on this.

If your security procedures are so technologically oriented and supposed to go beeping and shrieking even for a penny in your pocket why didn’t they do anything for all these said items which could make a dangerous items on board itself! Doesn't that count as being dangerous? Or is only if its in its true and mighty form it shall be deemed dangerous?

Prior to this article, I did not even know about the no fly list and its importance nor how it was being implemented in ensuring higher degree of security ( or so I thought it should be done). The complete no fly list sounds like such a farce on reading this piece. This list of all terrorist activity suspects has been very nicely created. But the fact that it doesn’t get checked at all steps shows that there are so many loopholes to push through for any smart want-to-commit-terrorism terrorists. I am sure they would have done their homework then right?

It is very nicely put that the whole airport security is set up and targeted to catch all the stupid terrorists, but then I really do not think that they are one bit stupid. And moreover, now it also looks like airport officials are just doing a routine procedure and nor ensuring that they do it right always!

October 29, 2008

Change - I

Many a times when you speak with people, you tend to speak about common friends, and maybe in the process also speak about things which were said to you with the underlying understanding that you will not be mentioning the same to others. Unless these understandings are made clear, I think it is difficult to understand what the expected norm is.

It happened to me in the past week that I mentioned to a few of my friends, as a trail in what’s happening, and I happened to mention that my friends are busy with impending career decisions and hence we would be doing nothing much except for the usual Diwali affairs. Now, that it seems is not done at all, as that gives the impression that I am doing nothing as my friends are busy and hence I have no one to hang out with. But, isn’t that the truth also? When my friends are out of town, and I get bored at home over the weekend, everything is fine, but when more touchy issues are the ones gracing the occasion, I am not to mention a word to anyone, all hush- hush! The matter is not that I am not to mention what they are doing, it’s more to do with the impression that this will create about the scenario. I am not too sure whether this is my fault that I mentioned that I was doing nothing particularly this holiday season, or is it that I am not to blame my decisions (of not doing anything by myself) on anyone else, or their plans. Well, if they had nothing to do, then I am sure we would have gone ahead and done some interesting stuff over the four days. Now, doesn’t that make the reason for not doing anything a wee bit clearer?

Anyhow, I am not sure who is at fault, they have their own reasons and I was just bored, and voicing my boredom. I do not know if I was at fault, but I have decided to make an amendment and not speak on anything except solely myself with anyone. I am yet to see what will happen once I start implementing this. I am not even sure how difficult it would be to implement this regime.

October 22, 2008

Official Statements

I came across this very interesting slide show about women's wear and the transformation that it has seen through the years, in line with fashion and also with the nature of work women were involved with through the years.

Some interesting points I saw:

1920: As I infer from the statement, the working women were the only ones who were not wearing corsets

1960: Sexiness is office is what we see from now on, I don't think this phenomenon has changed in any sense, with respect to any profession in today's world.

1970: With the advent of pant suits, I safely assume this was the time when male- female equality battle also started!

1980: There the bold colours, in line with the show of female strength / power at work

1990: I truly think the 90s were the 'short' era!

2000: Stiletto heels, that is the best part of office fashion, wouldn't you agree?

October 18, 2008

Dance Gurukuls

I was looking for some interesting places to go around Bangalore, and not the usual waterfalls and banks of the Cauvery river. An interesting place which I came across is Nrityagram, a Gurukul for various Indian Dance forms. This further led me on a trail to discover all the possible such gurukuls across India. I realized that some common centres for dance schools are the states of Orissa and Tamil Nadu, mainly due to Bharatanatyam and Odissi becoming the most famed dance styles in India. There are some specific forms of Dance which are taught by the great gurus at some small villages and temples; these are usually taken up by very keen pupils especially who wish to advance their present knowledge about the dance and the techniques.

These are some prominent dance schools which I came across in India. Each of them have been set up by a famous dancer and many students enroll in these schools to work towards their passion and simultaneously complete their basic education. Some students who further wish to graduate in Arts, can stay in the school premises and are given complete theoretical and practical knowledge about dance, fts forms, history etc.

Here is a list of famous dance schools in India:

One feature very prevalent in the dance realm is that its still very much a woman's world, very few men venture into this line and very few stay on to gather accolades. I guess something as grace is still considered by the world at large as a woman's arena.

After a comment from Shrav, I thought I should also look into some of the western schools which are famous in India, and I found just very few to start with, and fewer who were into a very long tradition of teaching performing arts like the above schools. These are the few Western schools of interest I found:

The rest are many in number, but not very well known, and not widespread across India.

October 17, 2008

Beyond Arguing

Arguments usually are seen to have quite dire results, one way or the other. Which way would it go certainly depends on a variety of factors, and amongst them I think the most important is whether how close to your heart is the matter being discussed.

  • When things regarding which you have very set notions, or seem to have experience, always tend to make you overdo the ' I know this' a tad too much!
  • Then there are also some occasions when you happen to be very healthily arguing a matter and then you start to feel that the other person is only aimed at shooting down what you have to say! Its not about thoughts or about opinions, its just to prove ' one up' ! This certainly happens to put anyone in a foul mood and then you start to watch the retorts more than what you are saying, and eventually the matter of concern is soon lost.
I have come across some who always seem to maneuver arguments in manners which suit them the best. You say something and a completely different connotation is drawn on what you have said. And in spite of all that, when things do not seem to go their way, they move on to the jovial and ' passing it off' as a stupid conversation routine. When you ask them why they do this joking routine the moment things are not going in their favour, they promptly deny it, and pass along a statement about over reacting! ( I really am not over reacting!)

I am not too sure how I handle these things, well the fact is that I know I handle it terribly. And by terribly, I really mean terrribbly! I just stop the debate / argument and start doing something of my own, something which is usually so unrelated and unimportant that anyone would know that I am clearly irritated. This makes the other person usually pretty bugged, but then I can't be bothered with someone who has time to only listen to what they have to say and not hear something which might just make a wee bit of sense.

Well, it might also be that I am just not seeing the point, or the sense in the point what is being made, and hence that is why I find it maneuvering/twisting of words. At times things do make sense when seen in the wholly sense, but that is not what I would go by. I know that what you would like others to believe have to be right in the worldly sense, but then I am arguing what I believe, what I stand by. I believe that, the argument was started between us, then why dont we just stick with our opinions and view points, why do we tend to generalize to the world, everyone and what not?

I do not know what should be done about such occasions, it truly puts me in a foul mood, and following that I need to virtually pat and kiss myself to cool down....

Something I am very proud of myself for is eventually after a few days, I never ever remember these arguments I have with anyone... Its just a part of some happening on some day, and I have better things to think about now!

October 16, 2008

Fashion Magazines

Today has been a deep down understanding of all women/ fashion magazines which are there in India :D :D It started with a thought to subscribe to Vogue India, then I decided against it simply based on the fact that I wanted to come home to some bit of simple reading and flipping through.

Anyhow, here goes...

Cosmopolitan: Sex talk + faltu + total time pass+ clothes and fashion

ELLE: Something that you can follow- they have a complete array of stuff from music, movies, books - fiction and literary, fashion - obviously , travel, cookery, horoscope, numerology and all that stuff, interviews (usually fashion people). I think the variety is real good, and the fact that there is books, movies, music makes it a more rounded read....and with the fashion centric bit too being there.

Elle is also said to have a good editorial board!

Marie Claire: A little cosmoish with the beauty/fashion dos and don't s, love and career stuff, sex talk, some global affairs ( a wee bit, well I would have read the newspaper if I wanted this) They have some travelogues also, which looks like a real good fun part.

Vogue: Total Fashion for the rich, by the rich. I couldn't really gather whether they dealt with anything other than FASHION. It covers all the fashion weeks and latest trends all over the world. I am not too sure how I would feel seeing everyone so much more rich and beautiful than moi!

Femina/ Women's Era: That's like the home + mommy magazine... tips and tricks, kiddy issues, cookery, family issues, some on going stories in parts, slightly the old line of a magazine.

It has been a fun day... reading loads of sites :) leafing through some online versions.


October 6, 2008

Driving: Tumbling along

Yesterday I braved out to drive on the road, at 5 in the evening, so I would say that the roads were decently filled but not bumper to bumper traffic. I am not too proud of the whole trip, now that I think about it. The starting was fine, the roads are not cluttered, so I am still doing fine. Now the issue starts when the roads are packed or close to packed and this leads to a form of driving where the vehicles are a bit too close. I tend to judge the distances a little wrong for the normal comfort level. Nothing did happen yesterday, but that is certainly nothing to follow by, as I myself felt that things were a bit too close for relaxed breathing once I had parked the car back at its spot.

Once I happened to take the car a notch too close to a walker by, and the second time around I happened to move in a little too close again to some one standing just at the edge of the curb. In both cases I was within myself, confident I would not touch, but as my friend said, what if the person happens to move an inch to the right or left? That is what I need to start looking in for.

Here I remember the saying that Leos are risky or else (slightly) rash drivers. I was thinking once parked that maybe that is what they meant. I try to take that risk factor a bit too close for people's liking. As they say in this page, we like to take the close call!

But, one thing which I saw that has certainly improved was that I am not tensed, or stiff by just knowing that fact that I am amidst all these vehicles!

October 4, 2008

Whisked Away

I have noticed that in the past few weeks, I have not been giving due importance to Whisky, and she has been very irritated too lately.

Here goes a string of her latest pics!

October 3, 2008

Future of daily wage labour

Most developing nations are seen to be an ideal place to put up production units for all major world giants, predominantly due to the cheap labour which is available. Most parts of the population is trying to move to the towns/ cites from their rural lifestyles in hopes of giving their children a better lifestyle and future. This is has been happening for some years now, and now all of a sudden there is this huge uproar of a shortage of labor in China.

I am not too sure whether the government has an accurate account of the population especially after reading about the Hukou system. This system is very much like a SS system in the US, but a more rigid and region specific. This system does not allow anyone to even travel to another region without a temporary residence permit. How can anyone be required to have a residence permit requirement within one's own country? This would mean that one is ideally only the citizen of a state and not of a country. Here is an interesting read from someone who knows about this first hand.

In 2006, the NY times stated that the shortage in labor in China would end up pushing up the wages and hence make products made in China not the bargain prices which was the case during those times. The Chinese wages/hour in 2006 were alarmingly low at a urban - rural average of just 64 cents, and the present rate is approximately 2.67 USD with 1 USD being spend on living expenses by the workers. These wages are mostly what is seen by a sweatshop worker in the most industrially inclined districts.

We hear that there has been a certain shift in the outsourcing of production work, be it from the car manufacturers or the dress makers, the number of items that you see in a common market place, with the tag ' Made in India' are far more common now. There are so many export rejects which you find at Sarojini Nagar of 'good' brands all available at dirt cheap prices, and all of them carry the ' Made in India' tag too.

On poking around a little more on the web, I came to know that the Indian daily wages are almost 2-3 times what a Chinese person would be getting for the same level of work. India is also seen to serve more in the service market rather than in the manufacture segment, this might also have a very strong link with the higher minimum wages recorded in India. As per the country, there is not a single minimum wage prescribed, but there are some set standards which are set on a state to state or industry to industry basis.

Now with China's increase in wages, the next best option as seen by many are India, even though it might prove to be a slightly more expensive bet than what China was a few years ago.