Friday, December 28, 2007

Indoctrination - motivation? ...

This is a serious post, so if you've come here to get some funny sunlight into your life I'd suggest that you skip this post. Don't worry, I'll get back to feeble-attempts-at-humour posts pretty soon.

As if the world was not a dark enough place already, yesterday's assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan has generated even more dark clouds. More so because of the context of this development. 8th January was the date when polls were scheduled to take place. And even though the outcome of the elections may not necessarily have been a harbinger of democracy in the troubled state, it would atleast have brought a glimmer of hope that democracy could be established in Pakistan (maybe not for long -their history is peppered with military coups and dictatorships).

A few thoughts have crossed my mind on hearing this news. Some of these views maybe amateurish or based on a lack of insight into non-public information.

1. Impact on Pakistan's neighbours

A classic method of diverting unwanted attention is to break the baying of internal protests by providing an external enemy, a target for people to vent their confusion and anger on. Most people, as a general rule, love to have someone else think for them. If you leave them in a position where they have to use logic and inference to make up their own minds and take their own decisions, they get befuddled and confused. In such a context they would be more than willing to follow someone who provides them with a target or goal or objective which is easy to understand and in line with the past. Nothing is more understandable for a mob than to hate India, they've been doing it for a long time, and they know what is expected of them (This is correct for both sides of the border. It is easy for Indians to understand an anti-Pakistan rhetoric too).

Baying mobs that should ideally be looking inwards to see just what is going wrong can be easily moved to strike against an external enemy against whom they can group together without the need to think. Politicians have a knack of using this technique by harping against their long time enemy.

Have no doubt, the next few weeks, depending on how much support Ms. Bhutto's party is able to gather against the military regime , are dangerous times to be India. If unrest grows too much within Pakistan, the option of opening skirmishes with India could be very real.

The following ominous words from a Father Brown story I read once:
Where do you hide a leaf?
In a forest.
What if there is no forest?
Make one.

Where do you hide a corpse?
On a battlefield.
What if there is no battlefield?
Make one

2. I am amazed and simultaneously shattered whenever I hear of suicide bombers. To have so much passion and hatred pumped into you that you are willing to end your life in the prime of youth for a cause that you know you shall never see achieved.

I am shattered that the josh that these people have, could it not have been channeled into better things?

And I am shattered that people who indoctrinate them have the ability of inspiring men to their deaths, but will not think of inspiring them to be constructive. Destruction is a feat of a minute, but to construct is the real test.

3. Generations of politicians
Enough is said about scions of political families. And mostly not in a good way. They are rich, brash, born with a golden spoon,get all opportunities, over-rule experience politicians etc etc.

But look at it this way, atleast with the families which have suffered violent deaths (Gandhis, Bhuttos, Kennedys), what is the motivating factor for children of these families to join politics and take a chance with their lives (its not an airy or hypothetical chance of death - they've seen it happen. And they've seen the media bazaar around these deaths. [ By the way, yesterday's coverage by NDTV, by two of my favourite mediapersons Rajdeep Sardesai and Karan Thapar, was really insensitive and in poor taste, something I never expect from these two gentlemen]).

It cannot just be a quest for power and money- they already have enough. Atleast in India and Pakistan I'm sure that just having the right surname and lineage would open all sorts of doors leading to success in almost any field. What then makes these people forget or hide the trauma of seeing sudden violent deaths in the family and embark upon the road again?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Why Cry Babies...

Comfortable in my cocoon of quiet and peace for the last 14 months I had almost forgotten the 'crying baby' affliction that I suffer from.

I am a crying baby magnet, I kid you not. Whenever I go for a movie invariably a horde of babies descend all around me and start bawling/ whimpering/ simpering as soon as THAT-important-dialogue-spoken-in-a-low-and-sinister-voice-that-changes-the-movie is spoken.

Now there is a higher form of this disease which I get when B is accompanying me (You know B - great friend from DCE). Whenever we've gone to watch a movie together chintu, mintu, pappu, bablu and other assorted babies with extreme fondness towards crying seem to aggregate around us and start screaming their lungs out.

To test this theory we once went to watch a really really sleazy movie in a shady movie theatre (yes, it was a purely scientific experiment. Undertaken solely and solely to test this YOU shut up!). So our thought process was that no one in their right mind would get his kids or wife along to watch a cheapskate movie like this and as a result of a no-baby-around movie we'll break our jinx and will be able to watch movies in peace henceforth.

Smug in our assumptions we got to our balcony seats and congratulated ourselves as we were surrounded with shady looking uncles with not a baby in sight. However, there was an ominous block of 5-6 seats in the row immediately in front of us. But our happiness knew no bounds when the movie started and that dreaded block was still empty.

But it was too good to last. Just as we were immersing ourselves in the rivetting storyline, we heard a scream and a girl of 7 or 8 ran into the hall followed by two uncles, two aunties and respective babies! The cacophony was ear shattering and with a doleful look at each other, B and I just walked out (See! I told you we weren't interested in the

Now this affliction also attacks when I am in enclosed spaces with no possibility of moving out. Movie halls, air planes, buses etc. are the usual sites of attack.

In fact when I get on my seat in an airplane, only two thoughts enter my mind -

One being that a model-esque girl would come and sit next to me and during the course of the flight would doze off against my shoulder. Then she'd wake up and apologize and I would gallantly say - "Acting like your pillow has give my shoulder its raison d'etre". She would blush, and we would live happily ever after (ok, ok stop at the model-esque girl sitting next to me :) )

And the second is that I look around panic stricken for any potentially crying baby (these babies are smart, they'd look all cherubic and angelic initially, but let the doors close and the flight reach 10,000 feet and they let you have it- both lungs, full blast) in the vicinity. This time I was surrounded by four crying babies who seemed to have a tag-team pact between them. One stopped crying, the other began - so there was a consistent and steady stream of bawling.

I'm telling you this because recently the couple who live above my house have become parents and their progeny has been making life miserable here with its screaming and bawling at all times of the night. May God give the happy couple oodles of patience.

Also, I'll be moving out this weekend so I guess there's atleast one cry baby that i've outsmarted!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Weekend Exertion and Maggi thoughts...

Before we commence with the main post we shall be making a very obvious bid for sympathy from all the ... er... three readers of this blog.

I went to play tennis for three hours yesterday and another two and a half hours today. And I am incapable of moving now! It took me a great deal of pain and the better part of half an hour to drag the laptop bag to my vicinity, connect to the internet (You better appreciate this post- its taken grit, determination, sweat and even some blood just to open blogger).

I'm discovering muscles in my body that I did not know existed (Did you know there is a 8 mm long muscle just below the third rib on the right side that seems to act up only when you serve a tennis ball? 'Act up' is right, theres a perpetual dull throbbing pain interspersed with shooting pains since yesterday.)

All my joints are protesting and locking up. Pop sounds abound as I try to drag myself to do anything at all. You'll have to excuse any mishpellengs- even my finger joints seem to be following the larger joints in their mass strike...

OK, enough of this sympathy gathering. Suffice to say that inspite of all this i'm looking forward to another strenuous tennis session day after when I have a day off for Christmas.

I've been meaning to write about Maggi ( a long time now (Yes, my cook has stopped coming). If theres anything that could be given the epithet of "Elixir of Bachelorhood" - it should unanimously go to this awesome thing. In fact i'm surprised it didn't figure in the greatest inventions of the 20th century list.

But more importantly its one of the most versatile food item that brings out the culinary creativity in every single person who calls it his/her staple diet. So today I shall educate the populace by listing a few good and/or interesting recipes for making Maggi that i've come across /tried/ seen and baulked at/ etc.

The ones I like:

1. Cheese Maggi
One unit Maggi - hot. Add a slice of standard cheese. Let it melt a little, then mix a bit. Yumm. (If you're in Delhi go to the Monastery next to IIFT for excellent cheese Maggi.)

2. Egg Maggi
Two ways to make it - add a fried egg over the said bowl of noodles. Or break an egg over the pan when its getting cooked- mix violently.

3. Garam Masala Maggi
Standard operating of the pack recipe plus loads of garam masala

Now the strange ones:

1. B's fried Maggi
Make a standard bowl of Maggi. Now to make it even more unhealthy heat some cooking oil in another container, heat AND fry the Maggi in it. (Don't ask, seriously, don't ask. B has weird tastes)

2. Aam ka achar Maggi (Mango pickle Maggi)

Add the pickle without putting in the pieces of mango. Mix well. It tastes surprisingly good. Though not the kind i'd like to eat regularly.

3. The-too-many-people-not-enough-maggi Maggi

Cook maggi once. Then add water again and bring to boil again. Add salt, chilly etc to taste. Once this is cooked you'll see that the volume of Maggi is almost twice of the standard bowl of Maggi. Call more friends over!

And now the disgusting one

I've had half a bite beer Maggi once - disgusting to the core. I mean cooking in french wines is one thing, but beer...yuck..DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING IT!

By the way Maggi is on the menu tonight- hmm I wonder which one it'll be...

Monday, December 17, 2007

The New (Old?) 'Shauk'...

This is in continuation to my last post.

Couple of clarifications here - it may have sounded like a totally depressed post but it actually wasn't. I'm told I suffer a bit from exaggerat-itis.

But I was also touched by the number of people who commented, sent emails or just called over with suggestions to get rid of my evening ennui (But, we were just trying to stop you from writing so many posts...SHHHH)

This post is to let everyone know that i've re-discovered something.

Due credit needs to be given to AK for showing the way. Now AK is fulfilling all his childhood dreams and interests after starting work and getting married. So his house right now has numerous board games (Scotland Yard, name it), he recently bought a beautiful all-aluminium bicycle (5 and a half grand - gulp). I wouldn't be surprised if he buys an X-Box or something soon (If you're reading this AK - thats an idea :) ).

So I decided to follow his "Bachpan ke saare shauk poore kar lene chahiye" philosophy ("Fulfill all your childhood interests"), I started thinking of what I loved doing when I was a kid. I mean, till my primary school days I used to absolutly love it so so much!

Painting, sketching, drawing - they used to take me into this whole other world where I was the only occupant - 'I was Legend' there ( thats a really really bad pun - but what the hell, its topical so i'll let it stay). I used to go almost into a dreamy trance while I painted. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is drawing a portrait of my Dad, I think on a Sunday because I remember dotting his jaw in the picture to denote his stubble :) . Another is of almost waking from a trance in art class to find my art teacher (I don't even remember his name now...bad) looking over my shoulder at my work. I had been totally oblivious to him, the other students, the school bell, the world at that time.

But then somehow, slowly and slowly I lost touch with what I loved so much. I can't blame anyone for this (my parents were very supportive - my Dad got lots and lots of paints and stuff when he returned from any trip abroad). But I guess I was the shy kid in class who needed a lot of encouragement. My primary school teacher gave me that, but my middle school teacher didn't and I sort of slid out of it and halted my learning curve.

And then I left Mount St. Mary's for Delhi Public School in class 9, and did the ultimate backstabbing to my first love. I got swayed with stupid words by some overtly academic kids (yeah, I know, DPS is full of them) who told me that only girls took Arts in SUPW (What!! where's the class, I'll go and join immediately! :) ) and the people who were serious about studies took 'useful' subjects. I went and joined Science club- which was as boring and dull as it sounds (Now don't get me wrong, science is very interesting, but the teacher taking it was really bad and sleepy).

Seriously, thats the one time when peer pressure came out in the open and affected my life.

Anyway, thats all in the past now, and the good news is that I got up early on Sunday with this urge to relive that trance I used to go into when I painted, and awesomely, I succumbed to it. Went out and bought all the stuff you need to paint, or atleast start painting. And i've done just that. I painted a very nice landscape and was pleasantly surprised to see that I still possess some skill.

I would've put it up here but I don't have a camera right now. But I promise I'll put up pieces that I do up here.

And yes, I didn't achieve that trance in my first painting, but then I have almost 14-15 years to unlearn!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Alone and blogging...

Now as a few of you may know my roomie R has left and gone back to Delhi. I'm moving out to a house nearby where a couple of friends are already staying. In the interim, till the notice period (probably towards the end of this month) gets over, I'm staying in my beautiful house all alone.

And its a bit strange because towards the end of the day I get quite bored. I mean, not that we used to sit together and chat about our day, or life or anything everyday but it was still nice to see / perceive some activity happening at home.

So till I'm stuck at home I've noticed myself binging or overdoing everything because i'm alone. May it be food, reading,internet, sleeping and just plain lazing.(Hell, even blogging- see the frequency of my posts over the last few days for proof)

Now I always used to think that I'm a very stable person who'd be able to stay alone and amuse myself perfectly easily. As long as I have a phone, a few books, a bit of TV I should be fine. But its been disproved twice now. Earlier when I had an apartment to myself in Ahmedabad and now. But then I used to think that because I hated the work I was doing there I wasn't enjoying the place (Ahmedabad is rather a nice city. Sweet vegetarian food not withstanding!)

Anyway, I guess i'm just a social person :). But seriously i'll go daft in a month of this- suggest something interesting for me to do...please!

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Beautiful Eight Hundred...

Ok boys and girls, lets have a quick quiz. All those who learnt how to drive on a Maruti 800 raise your hands ( your mouse)...

I was sitting in office today and as is wont to happen on a Friday afternoon after a heavy lunch, the mind, er, it starts to wander.

Reminiscensing about by illustrious past life I remembered my old car. Its a car that holds great emotional value for my entire family. It was, I think, the first car bought amongst any of my near relatives (yeah, my Dad did quite well for himself - and don't even get me started on how early in his life he started saving money. I look at my bank in-out and I bow my head in shame).

One of my childhood memories (I was 8) is when the car was delivered to our home. I don't know why but the image transfixed in my head is family, neighbours gathered around it and dad demonstrating the windscreen wipers, and the super cool water jets that came out to clean the windscreen.

Another memory is when in the beginning my Dad didn't know how to drive so he used to go practice at ungodly hours in the morning when there'd be no traffic. It used to be an awesome treat to go with him. And the image I have is when my Dad, Sis and I got lost near some obscure field while driving around (I've inherited my lack of direction sense. And just WHEN are they getting a freakin' GPS to India?).

Its the car which my Dad, my Sis and I took our first baby steps while learning how to drive.I learnt how to drive in my first year college (ok, ok don't look aghast. I know you've been driving since you were in your diapers ...bleh) and got my license in my second year (2000).

But better things were to come. We bought a second car towards the end of my 3rd year of college and I got the car to myself!!

Oh, what fun it was. I think it succeeded in making my college years absolutely brilliant. I can't even recall how many times all 11-12 of us got my car, all available bikes etc and drove out after eleven to go all the way from DCE (Rohini) to Green Park to sit at the Barista till the wee hours of the morning. There was never any question of ordering anything at the coffee house because we were all stone broke filling petrol in our car and bikes. We used to come back at around 4 (By the way, I passed infront of my house once while going and while returning on all these midnight excursions, but officially I used to go home only every 2-3 weeks) and after a few days the guard at DCE used to recognize us and open the gate without hemming and hawing.

And of course Transport Nagar :). Around two in the night, all of us feeling hungry, What to do?
What else, drive down to Transport nagar in the old faithful and a couple of bikes to eat paranthas (Paranthas at 3 am taste absolutely divine). Oh, that was an awesome day. Cops caught us and gave us a dressing down about being about at that hour. Well, we got our paranthas and returned and ate them while sitting on the road just after entering DCE. Ah, memories.

Then of course my car in IIFT helped me quit the mess and go regularly to JNU - they have a canteen called Tefla's which has absolutely awesome food.

Sadly, the old warrior was almost 17 years old, and when we got a good offer, we sold it.

And now that I look back, I don't even have a picture of it.

I'll make sure I have a huge album of the first car I've bought (A Palio. Thank you, I know I have great taste). You do too, because I'm sure a picture of the old warrior could really bring back memories.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mobius Strip...

I came across the Mobius strip somehow. Its really cool. Do try the activity in the following link:

Also, see the Art and Popular Culture tab in its wikipedia entry ( )

I had no idea about the use of mathematical concepts so much in writing and other forms of expression.

And for no obvious reason I'm finding this very cool and am very happy about it :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The idiot martyrs…

Why do some people act like martyrs when they've actually acted in ways that deserve a kick. Read on…


I went to watch a movie a couple of days back (oh, of course I’ve written about it in the last post ) and was rewarded with a beautiful sight of two guys in there early twenties comfortably sitting in my seat, the very same seats that I had got by coming to the movie hall two hours ago.

(I like to have a good viewing experience when I’m in a theatre - the Dolby speakers need to be equidistant from my ears, to move from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen my neck should not have to twist more that 20 degrees, the back should be the kind where I can lean back to that optimum lazy angle - and why not? With the kind of money theatres charge nowadays, that’s the least they can do.)

Another reason for coming early to get the tickets, and then going back home was that I was taking out my parents and granny for the movie. They go out to watch movies so rarely now that I didn’t want to risk a disappointment. [ Have you noticed how excited your parents get about going for a movie? My Gran changed her clothes twice before going!]).

When I told the two kids (politely) that they were in my seat they started scrambling around for their tickets.
He: “Oh, but it’s the same row , it says D.. (scramble scramble)”

Me (seething and in my head) : “ Yes, you idiot and there’s a number after the D. Is this the #@#$ ing first time you’re watching a movie in a theatre? You can’t sit in any seat with a D before it. And if you are such an imbecile, at least keep the tickets in your hand and not down in the deepest crevice of your crotch-hugging skin-tight jeans!”

He: “(scramble scramble) Here it is. It says… oh what seats are these? Eh…”

Me (still in my head): “ You absolutely mentally deficient moron, you’re SITTING there. Its not your drawing room that you come and plonk yourself on any sofa – read the number before sitting. Or did you miss that class in primary school?”

Me (aloud with gritted teeth) : “These are my seats. Go”

He (Stunned and hurt): “Relax, koi baat nahin.” (relax, its all right). Jeez, we’re moving…

Me (In my head, and oh hell SO seething) : “Yes, I am the one who’s creating a fuss! You’re sitting in my seat – which you wouldn’t have been doing if you had a bare minimum IQ and a semblance of human consideration – and you have the audacity to tell me that its all right like I’M the idiot who’s acting like a selfish ape? It bloody well isn’t all right you nincompoop – and you’re supposed to apologize for your sheer stupidity. Aaarrgghh whatever man, just go and let my family sit down on their legitimate seats.”

Corollary: The two gentlemen, as I was expecting, were the loudest through out the movie, screaming and laughing at pathetic jokes, expounding theories about what’s going to happen next and talking boorishly on their cell phones during the movie.


Trip back to Bangalore – in the airplane.

A ‘dude’ is sitting behind me on the window seat. Another guy comes up, checks his ticket, puts his hand baggage in the overhead bin and then turned to the dude.

“Excuse me, you’re in my seat”

Dude: (Full faux American accent – probably watching too much Star World) “Does it matter? You can sit on the aisle”

Guy: “Er..yes, it matters. I want the window seat”

Dude (Exasperated expression): “oh well, I’ll move…hmmppff”

Yes, dear dude, you’ll move. AND you’re not doing any great favour to the guy. YOU were sitting in the wrong seat- quite deliberately. If it “doesn’t matter” (imagine fake American accent here) then why did you sit on the window seat instead of the aisle seat? (I love sitting on the window seat when I’m going to Delhi at night- I find it simply beautiful, like a smattering of jewels or stars intertwining in concentric circles ~ choke ~ Don’t remind me of Delhi right now..sniff…) The guy came to the airport early (it was a very early in the morning flight) and took a seat that he wanted. And dude just tries to commandeer it without any logic. If you want the seat of your choice- at least bother to come early – and for heavens sake DON'T act like a martyr when you should actually get a knock on your head!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dus Kahaniyan and other Wicked Stories...

I went to see the latest release "Dus Kahaniyan" (Ten Stories) yesterday.

Interesting concept - basically 10 separate stories, directed by different directors, one after the other. The stories were, as short stories are wont to be, in the Saki mold with sudden twists in the end. Also, the stories were a nice mix of drama, action, humour, mystery and even the bizarre.

I quite liked the concept except for the fact that many of the plots were quite predictable. In fact on atleast 3-4 occasions during the movie(s) I spoke the punchline dialogue with or before the protagonist (Yes, I am not a good person to watch a movie with :)). This is nothing to do with my immense intellect, but rather the obvious nature of the stories. Maybe some more obscure or strange stories could've been chosen.

Incidentally I was recently reading this compilation called "The Rupa Book of Wicked Stories". They've been compiled by Ruskin Bond and comprise of his favourite bizarre stories by some known, some unknown masters of the genre. So you have short stories from Saki, Ruskin Bond himself and Mark Twain rubbing shoulders with some authors that I hadn't heard of before but who Ruskin calls masters in the foreword of the book (Do you read the foreword of a book? I've found myself reading them a lot recently. Typically in an appetizer way, to whet my desire of reading the whole book) like Ambrose Bierce, E H W Meyerstein and Ralph Strauss.

All the stories were quite good, (Theres something about Ruskin Bond - whatever he does or write or say or compiles always seems to come from a child with wide open eyes and a clever smile. The other indian author who conjures up an image for me is Khushwant Singh- that of a barely pubescent boy with fluff on his upper lip and a leer on his face [oh, you noticed that I don't like whatever i've read of him. Incidently its that image that prevents me from reading 'A Train to Pakistan' where I am told he's done some excellent story telling]) but I was still left with a feeling that some of the stories in the movies could be replaced by stories from this book.

But all in all a laudable effort by the producers. Its so nice to see people trying different genres and techniques. Thank God for the multiplex revolution, we're getting to see some interesting cinema.

PS: I'm writing this post on the verge of ending my vacation in Delhi and leaving for Bangalore early tomorrow morning. I'm writing this because I tend to get irritable and clammy when I'm about to leave Delhi. At such times I try to be out of my familys way as I get too short with them. Hence, this is a straight forward and solemn post with no efforts at humour. Trust me, it would fail miserably today.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The 'she owes me' thing...

Ok this is a bit serious, and perhaps strange coming from me.

A friend got dumped recently and talking to him was a strange experience. He kept listing down all the things that he had done for the girl. He kept harping about how how she could have dumped him.

Now I beg to differ here.

I think no one does anything for anyone in a relationship. You do the things you do because of how doing those things makes you feel. Nothing less, nothing more. In the throes of the honeymoon period of a relationship doing things for the other person, the smile it brings to her face makes you feel so good that you'd go out of your way to do those things.

But when bitterness sets in, that fact should not be forgotten. You still did those things for your own happiness and no one owes you anything for what you've done for her. And its just cheap thinking that someone can "owe" you love/friendship.

And anyway would you want a relationship based on "owing" and "obligations" and "gratefulness" ? I think not.

Sorry for the serious-ish tone. Will write a funny, mindless post soon to compensate for this...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Serial killer...

Now i'm really flustered.

Yesterday evening I was lounging around at home (Yes, i'm in Delhi :) ). My sister had come over and I was playing around with my niece when a sudden phenomenon hit me. There was some weird shehnai kind of music playing on TV (parents got a big LCD tv recently, man, its seriously different. Thats the next TV i'll buy), and pin drop silence all around. I looked up and the weirdest sight ever hit me smack in the middle of my face.

My mom (ok), my dad (what??) and my sister (The sky is falling down, run!!!) were staring at the screen - transfixed, immobile- as a 'K' type serial was running on TV (A saas bahu family drama with garish dresses, loads of sindoor, heavy (and obviously fake) jewellery, and women trying to steal each other's pathetic, effeminate, mama's boy type of husbands while plotting the downfall of

a. their own family
b. the enemy's family
c. Oh, what the hell, ANY bloody family would do!


Now Mom, I understand - thats the target market of these soaps.

Dad? uhh, ok maybe getting stuck with mom and granny and only two TVs at home made him a convert. (By the way, this wasn't a passing or a oh-might-as-well-like-it kind of interest. No sir, dad was actually discussing the story and commenting and theorising about the future twists and turns in the tale. aargghh )

BUT SIS!! How could she do it? She was my partner while we made fun of the serials coming on TV to such an extent that Mom would throw up her hands and bellow at us. She was the one with whom i'd pass sly smiles while I would ask my mom questions about the serials that would prove beyond doubt that she remembers none of the stories except as a mish-mash of all the serials coming on TV.

Sis, you disappoint me :(

Now its just me and J (my niece) who snigger at such serials (and she doesn't count cos she's just 2 and was laughing at the faces I was pulling at her )