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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just As You Step Out Today

Hey you....all set to go out? Ready for office? Or all decked up for that party? It's an evening out with friends, is it? Great....You're looking good...have a lot of fun.. n enjoy....have lots of good food and wine, or whatever is your choice of poison tonight....just have a blast...

But hey, as you leave out the door, can you just grab that pack of biscuit maybe? No no, I know you really don't need that....

You could give it to that little girl peeping in at your car window you know...the one who's so hungry and tired n yet needs to beg to eat...she would really have a treat with your pack of biscuit....

Most parts of India are in winters now....its so chilly isnt it? Cant step out of the house without being properly covered.... so you're all ready, aren't you? But one sec, why not pick up that old sweater? Yeah, that one, the one you haven't worn in the last 3-4 years, the one that doesn't fit anymore....stashed in the bottom of your closet? Just keep it at the back of the car will you?
You see that woman under the flyover? She is trying to keep her baby warm. See that spread of old newspapers she has on the road? And see that bundle on it? Thats it...her little precious baby...she has put him there so that the baby can have just a little more warmth, so that it can live just another more day......your old unused sweater would really save a life you know.....

The western parts of India are so so hot now.....the heat is unbearable, its summers here all over love that AC dont you? Bless the person who invented it... and the fridge...where would you be without your bottle of chilled water or cool juice? How refreshing, isnt it?
One sec...going out? Why dont you grab that empty bottle of water and fill in some drinking water in it? Yes yes, I know you dont need have your sipper of cool water all see, its just for that little boy standing out at the traffic signal, waiting for the lights to turn red and come asking for some help to get him his next meal...the sun is really harsh outside your cool car....your one bottle of water would give him much relief from the unbearable thirst you know...

And as you are already out of the door....why not pick up that old pair of slippers that you know you will never wear again? Whether its really hot or really cold outside, someone out there could really do with some slippers on their feet....

Its the season of sharing and that....and be proud of yourself...that at least you do care, no matter what anyone else is doing or not doing, in your heart, you will always know that you did....and that someone did get a smile just because of it, if only to stoke your ego into feeling proud of your own self, if only to make yourself proud of doing something that you should simply do as part of being a human......

- Debolina Raja Gupta

I care for the countless little ones out there....Do you?

am too busy to care, but want to do something. Jaago Re and are helping me do my bit for the society.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gymming Torture...

Now why do I go to the gym everyday? To exercise and be fit, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too……and that’s how it was and still is supposed to be….
But consider this… walk into the gym, all ready to sweat it out, that lean fit image in your mind that you one day aim to achieve and that always seems like such a distant dream….always eluding you like that …..please fill in the blanks here with whatever it is that you have been trying to get and are never really able to get…… go inside the gym with such a passion and energy…
Only to find out…………………………………….
That the aunty there is watching one of those ever-so-pathetic Indian soaps….the ones with the scheming in-laws and the scheming wives and the plotting husbands and second wives and mistresses and girlfriends and boyfriends and lovers out of marriage and lustful neighbours and crazy middle aged Indian aunties and horny middle aged Indian uncles and teenaged giggling Indian dumbettes and teenaged idiotic Indian machos and all those seemingly homely and religious Indian wives in one-hundred-and something yards of designer sarees and twenty kilos of jewellery and only five-six layers of makeup with backless blouses, peeling and cutting vegetables in a designer kitchen (no matter how much their husbands earn, since only the husbands earn in Indian soaps, the wives only chop and peel and look designer even when they wake up in the morning)………………..
Ok… heard it….
Now I really want to know what has any of the above got to do with a gymming session? Anything in common? At all?
If only, if only, those aunties, or even one of them is reading this right now…one aunty reading this will be enough, as she will be kind enough to pass it on immediately to the other ones….you’re getting the drift I see ;)
So yes, now I always enter the gym zone properly armed with my headphones, my ears already being hammered full-blast with hop-hop n some sexy numbers, so that I don’t have to be aware that the background score booming from the television set is always ready to make you go mental….. and a little secret sharing here with you all….sometimes I even hide the remote ;) wicked no? lol
Aaaahhhh aunties….i hope one day I get to meet the aunty of all aunties…yes, Ekta Kapoor herself, I will ask her only this….”What did we mortals ever do to make her unleash such wrath on us, why is she trying to wipe us all out like this?”

That Feeling Of Something New.......

What a lovely time of the year this is…isn’t it? Im sure you have felt that ‘something special’ in the air too.
Oh c’mon, get your lazy bum off the bed and go take a look at the world out there….you know, that wonderful smell you get as you take a whiff of the outside world and fill it in your lungs…its so screaming about the spirit of festivities and the feeling of joy that is all around.
Diwali is gone now, and the malls and the markets and streets are already gearing up for the arrival of Christmas and the approaching new year. As if we Indians need a reason or season to celebrate….looks like celebrations and festivals have become our regular daal-chaawal now, our staple meal….we simply need festivals to survive.
It’s so nice to walk out of the house and walk into festivities everywhere you turn and look - the stores are all decked up in those flashy little bulbs that keep blinking on and off with those multi-coloured lights, the malls that have already figured out the marketing strategies and are ready with their many events and shows, the stores decked up with Christmas tree already and the lights and mistletoe all in place.
Its as if the place is all buzzing with action and just giving you reason to get up and walk out the door and be a part of all the fun and activity happening out there….
So even though you really don’t need to buy anything as such, you still end up taking a stroll in the mall (yeah, I know you’re smiling or maybe smirking at my mention of the word strolling in relation to the mall, as if I was strolling in the garden, but oh c’mon, isn’t that what we really are doing these days? Like, spending more time in the mall than maybe in a garden?) so coming back to where I was…..even though we really did not plan to buy anything, we still end up taking a walk in the mall and by the time we are out, we invariably end up with atleast one shopping bag in hand…admit it ;)
So it’s really the festive season all around and the season when the pockets and the wallets are gonna show some real weight-loss ;)
Lots of cheer and fun and merry-making…..and a whole lot of good and wonderful things and gifts and joys in life…..
By the way, why not share a little joy with that little child on the street? U game?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Oldest Book And Its Memories.....

I am one of those eternal book-worms who, no matter the place or time, is always found with a book in hand, or as is the case on certain occasions, in the handbag. All my friends have at one point or the other, given voice to this statement.
I have always proudly stated the fact that I am die-hard book-lover. And my house is a testament to that statement. My bookshelf is packed from bottom to top with books – horizontal, vertical, diagonal, wherever there is even a teeny-tiny bit of space left, I have used it all up to introduce a book in between.
My love for books is a little partial – the older the book the more I love it. And I just love the smell of old books, though I also love the ones that are fresh off the press, but there is always a certain charm and story in a book that is old, that has had another keeper before me, and I love to smell those pages, to feel the hands that must have turned these very pages that I am now turning, in a different era, in a different place, maybe in another country altogether.

One of the oldest books that has lived on my bookshelf, is the novel titled ‘Hotel’ by author Arthur Hailey. It’s been almost twenty years now that I have the book with me.

The story of me becoming the proud keeper of this book is very close to my heart.
As a child I have always been drawn to books, even as I was a little girl of three, I remember my ma would sit with me on a cold winter afternoon, the sun shining shyly through the clouds, and me and ma poring together over a book -my eyes wide with the bright big pictures, while ma would read out the story word-by-word. And it was no wonder where my love for books came from. My ma was, and still is, an avid reader, and my maternal grandfather is the one before her who always shared a love, no, passion, for books.
So it was always a treat whenever we used to visit him during school vacations in his home in Assam, his room filled with bookcases that were stacked from top-to-bottom with books, very much the way my bookshelf at home now looks.
It was always my most favourite spot in the house. The bookshelf with all its charming titles was left open to me to browse and go through. As I grew from a three-year-old to a young child who could understand and appreciate books more, I was allowed to open the titles and read books that I could understand. My maternal grandfather never stopped me from picking up a title and reading it, just because ‘I was not the right age.’ He believed that, if I understood the concept and the writer’s point properly, I could try and give it a read. Of course there were certain books that were always off-limit – ‘you will get these when you grow up.’
On one such visit I was browsing through the bookshelf when I came across this red-covered book amidst thick leather-bound books. The red of the cover was what drew me to it in the first place. And the fact that it had a door-knob on its cover with a key dangling from it that said ‘St. Gregory’ was an even bigger mystery. I took out the book and turned to the back cover. It was a story about a ‘hotel’ , ‘St. Gregory Hotel’ in New Orleans to be precise, and the book’s characters were vividly drawn from tycoons of the hotel industry, the guests, the staff, men and women, young and old, the dedicated and the amoral. There is a robbery and blackmail at the hotel, a near-disastrous orgy and a takeover battle and a love story, and many more such incidents that remain etched in the minds of the readers along with the characters.
Of course I was not at an age right then to understand the whole of it. So I took the book to my grandfather and asked him if I could borrow it. The rule that time was that whatever book I could understand I was free to keep, but a book that I did not understand needed to be borrowed from him and returned. He told me I could read a bit of it and try again later, when I grew up a little more. I started reading the pages, but by the time my vacation was over, though I had only been able to understand the first few pages, I had started to like the book a lot. So I begged him to let me keep the book. ‘I know you will take care of it, so take it, and read it slowly. You will understand it better once you grow up.’ And that book became mine. It has been on my bookshelf ever since then, and I spent the initial few years reading it a few pages at a time. As I grew up, the book and its characters seemed to grow with me, and I began to understand their lives better, in a more understanding light than what I had thought the previous year.
The first page of the book has my grandfather’s handwriting on it, his name, Kalibhushan Banerjee, written in cursive with an ink pen. He is now no more, and this sign of his will always stay with me, reminding me of those wonderful visits I had at his place, and the love of books that he has left me as a priceless legacy.

The second page of the book has my grandmother’s handwriting. She had presented it to him on his birthday, and it lovingly reads in her cursive handwriting, in an ink pen again, ‘To K Banerjee, on his birthday, from Bibha. 6.1.79’ she too is no more, and I can only look at this handwriting now to smile at those wonderful years that will forever be cherished in my memory.

As I see these handwritings, even now I can see the way their hands and mine write in a similar fashion.
I can never let this book go. How can I? when it represents to me the love and memories of my grandparents. They are the ones who helped and fuelled my ma’s and my interest in books, and for that I am forever grateful. I can never let this book part from me, it holds too many precious memories, memories that are mine and I will not allow to be shared. Memories of those days spent at the bookshelf, at those evenings discussing a writer or a book, those tea-time chats of who is reading what and sharing our thoughts on varied topics.
I thought I would forever keep this book with me, well, that cannot be. I have to be gone one day, the book will still live on. And though I was sure I would never be able to decide who to pass on the book to, now I know who is its rightful owner.
My little daughter of three is exactly like me. She is a book-worm, and can spend the whole day happily by just reading books. Like me, she too has her own bookcase, already crammed with her many books. And going by the love she has for books, I know she is the right person who should be made the keeper of this book and its memories.
My grandfather never had a chance to meet her, my grandmother did, that too only once, and I am sure this book will give her a piece of all those memories that have been mine over all these years.

To read about my books, you may like to drop in to my book world on

Monday, November 22, 2010

Whats With The Painters And Their Un-Decipherable Creations ???!!!

Yesterday I happened to be at one of the most well-known and respected art galleries in the country. It was my first time inside an art gallery.....and most certainly my last !!!

I thought I would be greeted with walls and walls of beautiful painting, depicting landscapes, or people, or places...or SOMETHING!!!!

When I stepped in I waited at the gallery gate for a moment...was this the right place? The walls were lined with canvases that were filled with...well, nothing!!!!
One creation, for example, was a huge cream canvas, with a huge black L in the middle...thats it...and it was SOLD!! really...I so wanted to meet the person who had bought it...and thank god it was SOLD...others would not have to see it again in the gallery.

Another one was again a cream canvas with a huge black line in the middle...thats all...and no prizes for was by the same guy !!!! Oh....someone, please someone, tell me who this so-called 'artist' is!!!!

Then there was the section of modern art!!!!
A broken hand that looked like it had been wrenched out of a human's why would someone want that???
A head...with a twisted nose and only one eye....what??!!!!
A wrist with five fingers intact (thank god) thats all....I thought it was supposed to be an art exhibition and not a decapitated body-parts show....

In an instant though I was very much aware of what a misfit I was there....I was dressed in a long orange kurta over jeans and had a silk green jhola with me, and chappals....well, the get-up was perfect..But what about the expression on my face?
I think my face reflected realising that this is what is called ART these days! There was this young man standing in the middle of the room, not sure if he was the artist himself, and he kept on looking at me in between talking to others, sometimes gave me a smile, sometimes an exasperated look, sometimes confused, as if trying to understand my reactions or why I was there in the first place!!

It was embarassing...for me as well as for those who I was with...My questions...'What??!!This is ART?" or 'Who made this L? Why?" or "I need to book a gallery too now...if this guy can sell, I will be all sold-out in minutes."

Finally we left....and I know I am never going to be back in this comedy-house again...well, so much for me being a creative soul !!!!

*The image in this post is for representational purpose only, courtesy Google Images.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Potted Palm...

That morning I ran out of the lift
That the watch was winning was already clear, my feet as always late.
That little nursery outside my gate was coming to life
That potted plant in the nursery across the road, the one that always stands in the corner, the one I always see.

I knew Chhotu worked there, I had seen him a couple of times
I knew his name was Chhotu, he used to weigh and buy my old newspapers too.
I saw him now in a dirty vest and shorts, watering the plants, humming a line, scratching his head.
I had been thinking for days of getting a plant, it would look good in my home I knew
I reminded myself again to stop over there in the evening.

Day was busy, coffee-breaks short, and work stretched beyond the given hour
Day was night by the time I entered my gates; Chhotu had left and the plants all asleep.
Day a month back Neeti had told me a plant would look ‘cool’ in my home, Monty had said it would add a ‘literary’ dash to my interiors.
Day was when I had made up my mind I would get a real plant, start having some nature in me. I had been planning to get the plant for long. I made up my mind it would be this weekend.

Palm…its leaves fresh, a lovely green…..swaying in the gentle sea breeze
Palm - I brought it in with much fanfare….the party with friends was due next weekend.
Palm – here in my home. Now the big question – where was the palm spot to be?

My so-called literary spirit required me to put it near the book shelf – but that would block the way each time I headed for a book – no, wrong spot
My nature-loving self said I should place it in the balcony, where the sea breeze would soothe it by day and the pigeons would come down to say hello – but what about the sun who would burn down on it the whole day? – no, wrong spot
My practical self said it should be near the kitchen counter, the green of the palm mixing with the orange and black of my marble counter-top kitchen. What a contrast it would be. But wait, what of the countless mind-numbing drink sessions and the parties that ran the whole night? What if someone tripped over the plant and spilled drinks all over? What a mess it would be!! No – wrong spot again….
My smile grew as I knew where to keep it – of course, the lobby near the hall, no one would be disturbed there for sure….but wait, the costly artificial plant was already installed there, the palm would take away its charm – no, wrong spot….

Oh come on, where would the right spot be? It was just a plant after all – how difficult could it be?

It turned out it was difficult and I was confused
It was late and I was tired
It was night and my favourite sitcom was about to begin
It was dinner time and I hadn’t cooked a thing – again!
It was time to call in a pizza – again!

So I decided to call it a day and end it with a nice movie and pizza
So I decided to postpone the palm-spot hunting for a later day
So I took it out in the common lobby near the lift and kept it there
So that it wouldn’t take up the wrong space in the house and make it a permanent place
So after the pizza was over I kept the box out in the garbage bin and checked the lock on the door
So now that all was done for the day I decided it was time to proclaim my love to my comfortor and go to sleep.

The next day I woke up with the dream still in my eye
The Hollywood crush from my teenage years again bringing back that dance in my steps
The morning awake and ready to head to work
The bath warm, the coffee bitter, the egg soft-boiled
The elevator arrived, stopped on my floor and I skipped in, my heels in matte polish, my bag in place
The hands of the watch trying to win and I trying to win it all over again

Chhotu was watering the plants
Chhotu had told me to water my plant
Chhotu had given me the palm
Chhotu had told me to water the palm – oh shoot!!!!

I told myself it was okay
I knew the plant would be fine when I came back home in the evening
I would water it then.
I told myself it was a plant and would sustain itself for the day
I closed my work and headed to the party – the one Nikhil threw as a surprise
I was sloshed by the end of it
I crashed in with Niti and slept off another horrible hangover – the ones I keep promising I will never have again
I borrowed her shirt next morning and went to work straight from her place
I finished the deadlines
I was dead by the time I reached home
I headed straight for the couch, then the call-in number, then the shower
I ate and fell asleep on the couch
I dragged myself to bed and slept

Next morning I ran to work
Next moment I remembered the palm – wasn’t I supposed to water it?
Next thing I thought was, it was out in the common lobby
Next-door neighbour would surely water it once at least
Next time I stepped home I would first water the plant
Next day next day next day….the week was over and my palm had stood alone, waiting…..

And I was out on a work trip
And the next I would be home would be two weeks later
And the one time I remembered about my palm was when I remembered I had forgotten to water it
And the only thing I could hope for was that my neighbour would water it

Chhotu was sitting in the lobby weighing the papers
Chhotu put the old newspapers in his bag and extended his hand to hand the change
“Chhotu, come back after three weeks” my neighbour said…..uh…what was his name?
Chhotu replied in the affirmative and looked at me as the door closed….

“Didi, can I take away the pot?”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beauty - Not How You Look But Who You Are

Was switching channels late night yesterday and came across this documentary on the Indian actress Freida Pinto, though really not quite sure if she still considers herself Indian or not, given her inclination towards all things Western and her sudden (smart move though) adoption of Hollywood and the Western film world.

The programme mentioned Freida Pinto as ‘The Ultimate Indian beauty’…ummm….welll….uhhhh……really?

Slumdod Millionaire was a nice movie…no doubt about it, but was it the only great movie that India has ever produced? And were the cast and crew who were a part of the movie the only good ‘talent’ we have in India? Come on, we all know we have done way better than this……agreed it was a nice movie, but I feel all the brouhaha surrounding it was quite too much, almost bordering on the point of being insane…..
Now who really thinks the ‘Jai Ho’ song is Rehman’s best till date? Well I wont say much about his talent or compositions here, but the fact is, listen to five songs of his and you have almost heard most of the work he has ever done or will do…
And what about the amazing singer Sukhwinder who actually sang Jai Ho? Did he even get the credit for the superb performance? Poor guy did not even get the visa clearance to travel for the Oscars…what a shame!!!!

I was watching the documentary and it was obvious the western movie people are much besotted with Ms. Pinto. Which is a great thing given the fact that in India, being dark or wheatish is considered an insult and unless you are fair, you are not really beautiful and capable of success (as per the #$%-headed fair and the lovely people in India) While someone tended to her hair, another was applying make-up, asking her in-between if she was happy with the look, someone was arranging food, someone water, someone procuring an umbrella to cover her when she walked out in the sun. There were people all around her, tending to her, looking after her, making her look good for the way it is needed in front of the camera and for the many glamorous shoots – it was all fine…But what I felt was not fine was the description of Freida Pinto as being the most beautiful face in India – a great body, yes, but the most beautiful Indian woman? Well that she seriously ain’t.

I have been born and lived in this country all my life and know for a fact that India is brimming with beauty. Agreed Indian women may not be of the slim build as many women in other parts of the globe – but when did beauty have anything to do with your waist size?

Look around you and I am sure you will see many beautiful faces. Why go elsewhere, look within your home first, what about your mom? Well, you may not think she is the typical ‘beauty’ now, but take a look at those old family albums and the B&W and sepia faces peeping out, you will soon know what I mean.
Or look at your neighbour, yes, the one who stands quietly in the lift each day as maybe you are all running out in the rush office hour. Isn’t she beautiful? She may not be the anorexic size-zero that is now the fad and definition of being beautiful, but catch her giving that good-morning smile to the watchman or sharing a candy with the kid standing out on the road and you will know what I mean.
That chubby mother buying vegetables at the local market - her son jumping around, hardly listening to her telling him to stand still – and there comes the slap on the back and the wail. For that moment you would never think she is beautiful, a chubby, out-of-shape mother slapping her child, how can that be beautiful? But look at her the next instant, leaving the vegetable bag and, instead, bending down to her child, wiping his tears and hugging him, apologizing for her anger and her eyes wet seeing her child cry – look at her then, isn’t she beautiful?
Your mad friend, the one who talks too much and is always fighting, the one who is always the tomboy and beauty is the last word you can associate with her, hear her concern when you call her at 2 in the night telling her about your worries and talking your heart out. When you hear her silence, tuned in to what you are saying and concerned for you to be happy, don’t you know then she is the most beautiful friend you have?
Your landlady may be the typical nagging woman you so hate, but remember those days when you were sick and missing your mom’s home-cooked meal, and surprise surprise, your landlady turned up at the door with a home-cooked dinner? Wasn’t she really beautiful in her care that moment?

Calling Freida Pinto beautiful is appropriate, and if she happens to read this at any point of time, I hope she does not have anything against me, I am acknowledging the fact that she is beautiful. But my problem is simply this – that no one has the right to label a face as being the most beautiful – what are the parameters? On what are you judging? A face that may be the most beautiful to you may simply be another ordinary face to me, and of course vice versa.

Beauty is neither skin-deep nor limited to follow labels and traditions set by society. Beauty is what you have within, in your heart and in your soul, beauty is how you look and behave towards other fellow humans, how you respect the other, how much love and care in your heart to give to the one who needs it. Beauty is not just a fad, it’s a definition of the person you are, the personality you carry.
The exterior may be beautiful, but if the heart is not, it’s just a shallow shell you wear in public each day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Taj Dinner for Rs. 100/- (joke)

Hey guys, this came in the mailbox from a dear friend..Just had to share it with you all :))

A beggar to another beggar: I had a grand dinner at Taj yesterday.
How? The other beggar asked.

First beggar: Some one gave me a Rs 100/- note yesterday.

I went to Taj and ordered dinner worth Rs 1,000/-, and enjoyed the dinner.
When the bill came, I said, I had no money.

The Taj manager called the policeman, and handed me over to him.
I gave the Rs 100/- note to the police fellow, and he set me free.

A wonderful example of financial management indeed