Sunday, October 31, 2010

Making way for a luminous Diwali

Looking forward to Diwali

Re-living the Malamaal Weekly days

This weekend, my friends and I relived our heydays in Noida... when
the beginning of the month was a time for pizza parties and ice-cream
binges (the salary was in, yayyy!) - paradise for two girls living
away from their families... we had to tighten our belts at the end of
the month, but so what, great beginnings are what's important!

Friday, October 29, 2010

small mercies

When god closes a door, he opens a window.
 
So, on an otherwise dreary day, thank you for sending me my bright spot and "peace of mind" to office, today of all days! (If it sounds cryptic - it is and I really don't care to make it plainer!)
 
And also I was able to conference all 4 of us for 5 mins of jokes and bantering - vive la technology! I love this feature on my phone!
 
The pic was taken by my friend Mrin on her trip to Ronda in Spain.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Romance for the Pujas (and in the Rain)

"Well that's that then. I will get going."

She gathered her pallu and wrapped it neatly around her waist, grabbed her clutch and turned to leave.

"Yes, of course." He still sounded stunned.

She flinched, just for a moment, turned around to face him and smiled radiantly, "take care then."

He nodded mechanically.

As she turned and walked towards the door, he raised a hand to call her but could not call out to her.

She walked out of the room, down the corridor and into the sunlit courtyard.
...........................................................................

A few minutes later, Amrita found herself in the back seat of a ramshackle yellow ambassador taxi. She slumped back into the

seat and disinterestedly watched the sea of excited pandal hoppers outside the window.

She was sure she had done the right thing. Now she just needed to convince herself about it.

He was just not right for her. Her cousins snickered whenever they saw them together. Her aunts would sidle up her mother during family functions and tell her of the various "bhalo chhele" candidates they know, most of whom were settled abroad and all of whom earned huge 7 figure salaries! Her father was the only person who believed that a person could be an artist and a human being fit to live in society. Besides, he would often reason, what did we educate you for?

Her mother would scoff, "you are one to say! You've worked in a bank all your life! And what did you make out of it? Not even a car!"

She sighed deeply. She was 28 now, she wanted to make a successful marriage. She didn't need to stay in LA or Vancouver, but she wanted a secure home and a comfortable existence. She wanted a man who would take care of her and not expect her to lend money for his next set of paintbrushes!

Yes, this was a good decision.
...........................................................................

Prateek watched as the clouds started to gather. In a few minutes it started to rain. He wondered if Amrita was carrying an umbrella. The next minute, he berated himself "Why do you care?"

He had just been dumped. He shook his head as if to get rid of all thoughts of her.

As he watched the rain beat down upon the ancient paved stones of the courtyard, another thought came into his mind.

"Silly girl was just carrying a purse!"

He suddenly saw her-wet and shivering in her ruined red saree, under some unknown Gari-Baranda somewhere. He sighed.

No, she was not the sort of girl who needed rescuing - she would probably be  safe in some cab and cajoling the driver to

navigate his clunker into that labyrinth one had to cross before reaching her home. Still he worried. She was prone to all sorts of coughs and colds in all sorts of weather.

He wondered if he should call.
............................................................................

The cabbie refused to enter her lane. It was just a few minutes to her house, she reasoned.

"Nahi didi - paani hain," he stubbornly insisted.

She counted out 38 rupees in exact change and ignored the cabbie's pleas for a puja bakshish.

"The nerve!"

She crept out of the car gingerly into the pouring rain, jumped a puddle and quickly ran for shelter under the portico of the

house in front of her. Her saree and chappals were now splattered with rain. She cursed herself for forgetting her umbrella.

Every Bengali worth his salt knows that it would rain during the Pujas and usually pretty hard... "Idiot!"
............................................................................

He went back to the painting he was working on before she arrived. Perhaps keeping with the season, he had chosen to paint Durga. However it was not a festive Durga on his canvas, but a careworn one - like the idols flung into the river after Dashami. The bright colours gradually submerged in the murky background. The face poignant. The once bright ornaments had been swept away. The dirty green leaves of water plants swirled around her. The Goddess looked wet, lost and vulnerable.

He flung down his palette and quickly pulled on a shirt.
............................................................................

The rain showed no sign of abating. The drops came down hard and heavy. It was a ten-minute walk to her home. She wondered if she should call her parents and have them come out with an umbrella. Then she remembered that they would probably be at her uncle's place where he had organized Durga Puja this year. She resigned herself to waiting.

She was not the only one under the portico. There were a couple of drenched street urchins, a few pandal hoppers who had

given up the struggles with their umbrellas and decided to wait out the rain and a slightly familiar neighbour she had never spoken to. She felt a bit wary about the way he was staring at her. Prateek said she always imagined people stared at her. This guy however had a definite leer on his face, she decided to look the other way.

Suddenly she felt someone clamp a hand on her shoulder. She was about to scream when she turned around and saw him. Then she stared open-mouthed.
.............................................................................
"I got you an umbrella. I knew you weren't carrying any."

He wondered why she looked like she was about to scream.
.............................................................................
He was completely drenched. His shirt clung to his lanky frame and his glasses were fogged with condensation.

"Why did you get wet?" she almost snatched the umbrella from him and unfurled it. There was only a small hole at one corner and one of the metal ribs was bent. She grabbed his right hand and marched out into the street.
.............................................................................

It was now a little past 4 o'clock. It was still raining heavily. The odd ricocheting sound from the old fan was strangely comforting amongst the din of the drops hitting the ground.

He was now dressed in an over sized Kurta and a towel. His clothes were hung to dry in different areas of the room. His shirt danced merrily from a hangar clumsily hung from a hook while his trousers were spread out across the back of a chair.

She wore an old tee-shirt and a pair of jeans. Her hair was open and spread fan-like on her back. Her kajal was smeared giving her a beautiful haunted look. He could only stare.

"Drink your tea, it's getting cold," she admonished gently.

He gratefully took a sip of the ginger flavoured tea and sneezed.

"You are such an idiot! You had an umbrella with you! Couldn't you have opened it? And who asked you to play white knight all of a sudden?"

"Some knight."

They both started laughing.

A while later, their empty tea cups lay on the table. She turned to look at him sprawled familiarly on the sofa and whispered, "I am glad you did."

He looked up from the magazine he was looking at and said simply , "I always will."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vignettes

When on an evening such as this,
Sitting beside a window, watching tail lights of cars on unknown journeys...
Would you put aside your cup of tea
And even for a moment, think of me?
 
Or when you're walking across,
A field of dried grass and cloying summer smells and ancient saguaros
Would you stop and imagine
Fleetingly perhaps, how it could all have been?
 
And let's just say, you had some time...
Maybe, even as you wait for the traffic lights to change?
As someone dealt out the cards for bridge or a pause between reading your morning paper
Does anything make you smile?
Some memory of us?
 
 

Philip Larkin's Letters to Monica Jones

Anthony Thwaite discovered a treasure trove of love, laughter and good humour in Larkin's letters to his long-time girlfriend Monica.
 
Read some of the letters (with their lovely illustrations) here -

Lavzza Calendars - Beautiful Photographs

Lavazza Calendar 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/3197494/Lavazza-coffee-calendar-2009-shot-by-Annie-Leibovitz-featuring-Electtra-Rossellini-Wiedemann.html

Lavazza Calendar 2009:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkpicturegalleries/6388536/Lavazza-calendar-2010-Daisy-Lowe-Georgia-Frost-and-Lydia-Hearst-shot-by-Miles-Aldridge.html

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Head of Shiva, Kali's Foot

Durga Puja over, Kumartuli artisans are now busy creating idols of
Kali. Found this beautifully constructed head of Shiva while on my way
back from work.

When Rajnikanth does push-ups, he is actually pushing the Earth down!!!


 

RAJNIKANT.jpg

Friday, October 22, 2010

it's not what it seems like...

the tears that you hide
are the hardest to swallow

the fears you show
are the easiest to conquer

the love you have
is more than the hate you get

the tougher you look
the sadder you are inside

the brighter you smile
the heavier your heart

the more you pretend
the better you survive...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Only!

A little Indianised... but good fun...


1.           ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else did.)

2.           I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday. (Did not slap him.)

3.           I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit others.)

4.           I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit outside the eye.)

5.           I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday. (Not other organs.)

6.           I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday. (He doesn't have another eye.)

7.           I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday. (Not today.)

8.           I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY. (Did not wait for today.)

Things that make me HAPPY!

Waking up to a perfect morning and a smiling face.

Having a photograph turn out just the way you imagined it.

Finding that your cup of tea tastes just the way you like it.

Drawing on steamed-up mirrors with your fingers.

Turning up at office after a hectic project schedule, and discovering there's no work for the day.

On holiday when you can't remember what day it is.

Finding that the cafeteria has hot comforting khichdi on a rainy day.

Finding money, unexpectedly, in your pocket or bag (or inside a book).

Reaching office within 30 mins and no traffic snarls!

Getting a call from an old friend.

Leaving office early and catching a movie.

Getting fresh pop-corn at the movies with the right amount of salt and butter.

Seeing your sister after a long time.

A cool drink of water after you're back from a hot and dusty walk.

Realizing you still know your childhood friend's phone number by heart

Getting up late on a holiday and feeling rested.

When somebody agrees that your plan for the evening is totally fabulous!

Waving goodbye to guests after a big party.

When you've managed to plough through a complicated recipe and cook something really delicious!

Watching old Tom and Jerry cartoons one after the other.

Figuring out the plot twist of a book or film just before it's revealed.

Watching bad movies with friends and having fun laughing at all the bloopers.

Brushing your teeth with a new toothbrush.

The smell of hot Beguni on a cold evening. 

The free flower your florist lets you have just because you've been admiring it for the past half hour!

Running for the bus, tram or train and actually catching it.

A romp with the dog.

Sneaking cheap snacks into the cinema hall.

When someone holds the door of a lift for you.

Removing a sticky price tag in one clean peel

Biting into an apple and finding that it has that perfect juicy crunch!

Finishing a project and knowing that you'll never need to do it again. 

Finally managing to untangle a really big knot.

Having a good hair day.

Putting the last piece in a big jigsaw

Biting into crisp hot buttery toast.

Dangling your feet in water.

Walking barefoot on grass.  

Thinking it's Thursday, when it's actually Friday.

Enjoying an unexpected holiday with Baba.

Getting into clean bed sheets.

The sound of the rain on a tin roof.

That one really good pen that never seems to get lost.

Remembering the name of a non-descript film or actor.

When someone says nice stuff about you.

When the air-hostess sneaks you an extra fruit custard. 

When you find an old pair of socks and discover they have no holes.

A moment of perfect silence. 

Cracking an egg perfectly.

Eating a fried egg with the right amount of gooeyness.

Popping bubble wrap.

Riding piggy-back with your friend at work.

The smell and crackle of a bonfire. 

Getting a letter - the old fashioned stamp and envelope way. 

Getting an invitation for an event you were really hoping to attend. 

Peeling an orange in one go.

Having a whole row of seats to yourself on a plane.

Getting free dessert at a restaurant.

Getting a speck of dust out of your eye.

Wishing on an eye lash!

Playing rock-paper-scissors and giggling all the while. 

The smell of new shoes.

When your shoes are just loose enough to slide off your feet without untying the laces.

When hiccups stop.

Joining what turns out to be the fastest moving queue. 

Laughing out loud.

Jumping in puddles.

Laughing at friends' funny photographs.

Having your photograph turn out well.

When you can type your name and password fast and without looking at the keyboard.

Enjoying a cup of coffee with a close friend.

The smell of petrol.

Comfy pants.

An honest to goodness gossip session.

The smell of rain on a hot pavement.

Hanging your hand out of the car window.

Going through lots of green traffic lights in one go

The smell of dinner when you're really really hunger.

Ma's cooking.

Getting out of the car after a really long drive

Pouring a drink where the bubbles go right to the top of the glass, but don't spill over

Sipping a Mojito that's made just how you like it.

When you push the button for the lift and it's already there. 

Seeing spectacular fireworks.

Changing the TV channel during the ads and flipping back as the programme resumes.

A big hug when you need it.

When Ma cooks your favourite dish just the way you like it.

Digging into a sinfully rich piece of chocolate cake and not feeling guilty since you're sharing it with a friend. 

Seeing a dog that looks just like a dog you know.

Eating with chopsticks.

Watching a scary movie from under a blanket with friends.

Finding the perfect handbag.

Knowing you look good.

When something costs much much less than you expected.

Trying something new… and really liking it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shindur Khela

Aaj ma er chole jawar din...
Mon kharaper belaye shindur ranga kore bidaye janai ma ke...
Abar ashbe to?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cute Kitty

Here's someone I met today... and isn't she lovely??

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Breathe...

Man:
Why should you love when it hurts so much,
If you hurt, then why do you still love?
 
Woman:
Even when every breath hurts, why do you still live?
 
Man:
Stop hurting.
Stop loving.
 
Woman:
Stop breathing.

Great promotional!!

CCD has this great tie-up with Vodafone where they serve a Blackberry Smoothie for just 15 bucks if your total bill is above 115.
Great placement for Vodafone's new Blackberry services!
 
Accompanying picture is from www.mirchmasala.me

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to spend the Pujas

It rained nearly all day today. The sky has been a whole range of sombre colours from jet black to lead grey.
As I looked down from my 10th floor plate glassed cage, the city appeared to have faded from view behind a curtain of mist and rain. The road below looked like a shiny black ribbon on which a series of yellow cabs whizzed past with lacy foam at the wheels. There are, what seems like, a thousand red cars standing in the parking lot interspresed with white ambassadors and blue sedans.
Tiny people scurry past with their umbrellas, dodging cars and buses. There is sparse vegetation now in this once-green area and the nearly naked stunted trees are batted by the rain and slush from speeding cars.
On days like this, what you really should be doing is staying at home, snuggling into bed and sleeping or maybe sipping hot tea while lazily watching the rain or at the most reading the Pujoshonkha (boring as it is this year) - but that's it! No TV or internet. And definitely NO work!
Instead, I am at office, stricken with a yawning epidemic as it seems - hunched over my keyboard and sluggishly tapping out inane instructions on yet another PPT. :-(
 
Tomorrow is Mahalaya, the first day of the Durga Puja. Will it be as rain soaked too? Hope the Pujas are relatively rain, and more importantly, slush free! Let the weather be that curious mixture of cool breeze and blue skies dotted with fluffy Sarat clouds. Let there be minimal traffic snarls and NO snivelly para MC hogging the mike. There should be no muddy tracks in Baghbazar and the Maddox adda should be on full-throttle!
 
Hope we all get to spend some quality time with our family and not burdened with money problems, petty differences or any bad thoughts! Let even the poorest of the poor enjoy through the days of the Puja. And be sure to be kind to one another.
 
For despair is for other days, not during the Durga Pujas!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Memories of a wedding dress/saree

Jessa Fairbrother photographs women with their old wedding dresses for Telephoto in the Telegraph.
 
While Indians, especially Hindus, a wedding "dress" implies a saree, and a rich vibrant red one at that. For Bengalis, more often than not, that saree is a Benarasi - a traditional silk brocade saree embroidered with gold or silver thread.
 
The popularity of the Benarasi silks reached their climax during the Mughal era in the 1600s. The sarees were traditionally made with Chinese silk. Now, four varieties are available: pure silk (Katan), organza (Kora), Silk Georgette, and the "Shatti'r saree".
 
The traditional motifs of the brocade underwent a change in the Mughal era and combined Indian and Persian patterns. Designs include jasmine, diamonds, marigold, betel leaves, paisleys, and even diagonal stripes. Earlier, the motifs were woven with precious gold and silver thread and could be afforded only by the richest. Nowadays, the gold and silver has been replaced with other metallic threads.

How great would it be to have a series of photographs with women draped in their gorgeous old Benarasi sarees?
 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fantastic CWG Delhi 2010 Opening Ceremony

Sorry for the poor quality of the pics - shot on my Phone cam!
Loved the vibrant colours and the sheer extravaganza that is India!