I *heart* Bombay (and well..Boston)

I'm urban..in the way other people are mountain-people or tunafish junkies. I love city life...something about dreary concrete blocks and grumpy people totally gets my juices flowing. Ergo, this will be a blog about me, my two favourite cities (Bombay and Boston), my addiction to Vietnamese coffee and my views on Gregorian chant and it's efficacy in curing some types of tympannic membrane rupture. Enjoy!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Where have you been Vikky boy, Vikky boy??

I've been to see my wife, she's the joy of my life, she's a young thing who cannot leave her mother...

Before I scandalize all those who know me so well, let me just explain the (barring the Vikky boy bit and adding on Billy boy instead) rhyme; it's a rhyme we learnt to sing at school in Bandra..just like "Gentle brown cow, give me some milk..and I will sew you, a robe of silk".

Totally illogical. I mean why teach 5 year olds that cows need robes of silk before they provide you with some milk..unless it's preparing them for their twenties when dates don't put out unless you buy them something nice (like a cow's unused robe of silk).

I remembered this and things like this cause on my way to work today, I walked behind 2 very old Catholic Bandra aunties who because of their combined girth (Earthmother sized hips) blocked most of a very narrow road. And overheard their conversation and rthen realized why I love Bandra aunties so much and why I want to come back my next life as Maria Philomena Annunciata Rebello-D'Costa. Or plain "Philly aunty" for short. In a tight red shiny dress stretched accross an arse so broad you could drive a car over it. With sequins. Definitely with sequins.

Aunty No. 1: "Men, so hothot today no? Celia almost fell dowwwwnnn on Saturday in kitchen"

Aunty No. 2: "Men, you speaking so rightright. Today 40 no? or still they lying us on TV about 34-35-36-37-38?"

Aunty No. 1: (vehemently) "Yes men, too much lies they showing nowadays. I telling Michael that only, but men he bugger still trust everything.."

Aunty No. 2 : (nodding head sagely) "All bleddy crooks only..everywhere seesee crooks only men"

Aunty No. 1: (spotting neighbour) "SeeSee, Roanita also coming Pali market looks like. What she wanting perhaps? I smelt goodgood smell from her house Sunday men..she put pudina men, in everything!"

Aunty No. 2: "Roanita men, whenfor you cooking so bleddy much? So hot no? I am like icecream only" (I take that to mean she's melting..)

Roanita: "Aunty, I only cooking for special Sunday, you know. Father coming no? So I made goodgood roast"

Aunty No. 2: "See (talking to Aunty No. 1)! She only cooking else people. When we get invite, JesusMary knows"

Aunty No. 1: "Yeah, whatfor we neighbours? See how much slums in our Bandra men, how these bleddy Beharees come in Bandra? So pretty it was no near Pali? Now see, all bhajiwaala-types"

Roanita: " Aunty, India is democracy na? That's why."

Aunty No. 1: (peevishly) "I talking, she talking, why you centrecentre talking?"

Roanita: "Sorry men auntie, I going this way now..see you both in church."

Aunty No. 2: "Bye men, coming today no church? I see you there"

Aunty No. 1: "So hot, so hot men"

I love my Bandra aunties. Next time Bandra uncles. If only I can get into print a stern face and a slightly unbalanced gait (too many pegs last night, uncle?)

Current music:
I want to break free: Queen

Monday, May 23, 2005

Till death do us part..

I spent this weekend at a cousin's wedding. It was one of those traditional Konkani GSB do's complete with the bride wearing the equivalent of Zambia's GDP in gold around her neck (and arms and waist and hair). I swear, most of Kimberley, South Africa's deposits seem to be in Konkani safe-deposit lockers. We're not a diamond/pearl-wearing folk though. Though every Konkani matron has her hexagonal diamond earings (and a pair for her daughter too..when she gets married).

Watching my cousin and his bride go through all the marriage rituals, I (as I often do) found myself imagining my future while making the usual non-comfirming indistinct sounds everytime some "pachi" or "mai" asked when I was planning on getting hitched. It was the usual self-pitying, depressing image that I get when I think of my life post-30.

Will I ever watch adoringly as my beloved gets dressed up for me? Will I ever be the center of attraction while my friends and family (all 1000 of them) watch approvingly? Will I get to perform time-hallowed rituals that send chills down my spine as I watch? Will I ever be allowed to promise undying love and partnership to the person I love with societal approval? Will I be blessed by my elders and blush as they talk about how many kids I'll have? Will I watch my parents beam as they welcome a new addition to the family? Will I watch my sister run around making sure everything is the way it should be? Will I watch her play around with my beloved teasing and joking? Will I smile at her when she lines my eyes with "kaajal" and offers me a sweet? Will I threaten to leave the wedding and become a monk and laugh as my in-laws lure me back with details of the pleasures of married life?

Will I watch the married women of the family gather around to bless the articles used in the wedding? Will I watch my mother hold pride of place? Will I get goosebumps as I walk around the holy fire making the most beautiful vows I have ever heard? Will I pledge to be a faithful and honest lover, partner and friend? Will I wait in expectation for the wedding veil to fall and to be able to garland my beloved to the sounds of applause? Will I be able to play silly, flirty games to shrieks of laughter of the younger members of the family? Will I be able to, with my partner, seek blessings form everyone older than me by touching their feet?

Will they bless me and be happy for me?

Probably not.

This is the burden I will live under till I become too old to care. I want to have a family and kids too. Yeah, it's probably not what most people think constitues a family...but I want to be happy too. I want my people to know me and love me for what I am and want. It's gonna be hard - the next 10 years of my life.

It's funny. Most people dread making a commitment like this. Yet, they deny people like me the choice to make the same commitment. Still, I suppose it's a good thing I'm Hindu. I love the philosophy of "Find your own path to happiness". I strive to....everyday.

Random website:
Time Magazine's list of 100 Greatest movies of all time. I'm glad to see so manymovies I know and love among the list. New Monsoon plan - Watch all 100 of these by the end of the rains. What fun!

Current Music:
Dhadak Dhadak - Bunty aur Babli
(It's a crime how much I love this song)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Yo' Mama is so..

I'm in a very silly mood today. I've been giggling like a 9 year old girl who's discovering her uncle's finger hair tickles her when he lifts up her shirt...

So I thought I'd record the tasteless jokes that make up my reperetoire at parties and bars when I meet new people...if they don't run away from me first that is. These are the jokes that require me to think of some sad incident in my past to be able to tell with a straight face. OMG, did I just say straight face? Oy.

Here goes: (If you're offended, let me know. I want to be your friend.)
1. Yo' mama is so fat..every time she turns around she is a year older.

2. Yo' mama's so fat I had to roll over TWICE just to get off her...

3. You so ugly that when you were born the doctor took one look at you and slapped yo' mama

4. Yo' mama is like like a shot gun, one cock and she's ready to blow.

5. Yo' mama is so ugly that when we are makin'sweet love I have to put a paper bag over her head and then another on mine in case her's falls off..

6. Yo' mama so stupid when the weather man said it's going to be chilly outside, she goes outside with a bowl

7. Yo' mama's so stupid she got stabbed in a shoot out.

8. Yo' mama's so fat that when she crossed in front of the TV, I missed THREE EPISODES!

9. Yo' mama's so fat that she's on both sides of the family..

10. And finally...let's get off yo' mama, cause I just off yours.........

Ahh, the old yo' mama jokes. Can spend a whole day just rattling them off (just like I did a few days ago with Meenakshi over a cup of coffee). Wonder if that was the day we saw Sushmita Sen and her giant boobs. Hey! That could be a new mini-series. Where Sushmita Sen battles crime with her giant boobs..Boobarella!

Anyway, in conclusion (ladies and jellyspoons..as my fav comic Eddie Izzard says), I leave you with my absolutely favourite joke ever. If you don't get it, please email me. I'd like to meet you.

"So this baby seal walks into a club...."

Random website:
Awesome jeans website...just click on the guy's jeans and they model it for you. I have/can spend hours here..if only I had the 200$ to buy a pair!

Current music:
Mama Mia - Abba

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Slav to the music...(Word up Babushki!)

That's right.. I didn't make a spelling mistake. I am indeed a big fan of music from Eastern Europe and Russia.

Ilya gets the thanks for that. He introduced me to the sheer awesomeness of Russian folk music as we downed shots of vodka straight from the fridge at my apartment in Brookline. Through the haze, I could hear high pitched, indistinct voices screeching out what passed for harmony set to a techno beat...It sounded awesome in my vodka-haze..plus the fact that both Ilya and me were dancing around my tiny kitchen eating cookies and downing shots made the music that much more memorable.
The next morning, I slipped in the cassette again after the hangover had passed. And I was blown away by the voices. Ivan Kupala (The Russian name for St. John the Baptist) is the name of a group of musicians who travel Russia, Ukraine and Belarus looking for old folk songs that are in danger of extinction and then mix it up with some modern techno and reggae music to create this awesome mix. Ethno-techno? Sure, why not?

Imagine a chorus of 20-30 old babushkas wearing over-sized housecoats and bandana veils all singing in high-pitched Russian style harmony about bees, blackbirds, prety girls and lusty men. And then a toe-tapping beat. Just made me want to turn up the volume in my car and blare the sound out from my speakers. Except I lived in Brookline surrounded by Russkis and I didn't want assorted mafia-types leaning into my Mini wondering who was wailing about lizards that want to get married and magpies making porridge that seem to be the staple for all Slavic folk music.

Here's the lyrics to my favourite song Brovi (Eyebrows) that is still the only Russian song I can sing from memory (though I sound dreadful when I do the high pitched voices). Loosely translated, it's the lament of a pretty girl who can't leave her house becuase she has dark black eyebrows (a sign of beauty in medieval Russia). I'm sure Ilya still remembers me singing this rather loudly at the Russian deli in Brighton. And pretending he didn't know me as I loudly sang about how my father had forbidden suitors for me and how my braids were whitening with age.


Хожу я по улице, не нахожуся
Ой, не нахожуся
Гляжу я на милого, не нагляжуся
Ой, не нагляжуся

Брови мои, брови
Брови мои чёрные
Не давали брови на улицу выйти
Не давали, не давали, друга увидали

Пошёл, пошёл миленький, а вдоль по селу
Ой, а вдоль по селу
А в крайнем-то дворике девка хороша
Ой, Катюша-душа

Брови мои, брови
Брови мои чёрные
Не давали брови на улицу выйти
Не давали, не давали, друга увидали

Over the next few months I discoverd Russian rock..DDT, Kino, Akvarium..and even managed to see them at the Middle East in Cambridge once. Me, a very brown skinny me, surrounded by hundreds of uber-pale, blond, icy blue-eyed Russkis guzzling vodka and doing their "maat" talk all over the place. How much fun!

Thank you Ilya for showing me new horizons in music...and a new way of thinking as well. I miss being friends with you!

Random website:
Punching and choking monkeys in the name of scientific research? Disgusting!

Current Music:
No not Ivan Kupala yet..
Superstar - Jamelia

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Baithe Baithe Kya Kare?

This simple statement heralded the beginning of EVERY single journey in my family. We travelled every year to our grandparents house in Bangalore from Bombay faithfully at the end of April for our summer hols.
Always such a production! My mum boiling butter to make pots of ghee for my grandmum, my dad making sure the suitcases were big enough to take all our stuff yet small enough to fit under the seats on the train, me packing the textbooks for the next year so I could read the stories and my sister packing enough Enid Blytons to stuff a small library....

And then the grand trip itself (Thank you Udyan Express - Train o' my youth). Getting bored and restless 15 minutes into the journey itself as the train starts unwinding for the 24 hour trip down South. We'd always forget to pack the books into a smaller carry-on and since we couldn't open the suitcases once we were in the train itslef, we'd just consigned ourselves to atleast 16 hours of boredom. A frantic search at Kalyan station would yield a pack of cards and/or a newspaper which would be our sole source of entertainment. Playing rummy was discouraged as we might grow up to become gamblers...so was playing Go Fish/Challenge (It teaches you to lie!). Endless games of Donkey followed the brief sermon.

Of course, we'd end up making friends with the similarly bored-out-of-their-mind kids all through the compartment and after evicting a bunch of fathers and mothers, we'd settle in comfortably into the "children's compartment". And then proceed with the time honoured Indian chant of "Baithe Baithe kya karen? Karna hai kuch kaam..shuru karen Antakshri, leke Prabhu ka naam" (loosely..very loosely translatred thus: Sitting sitting, what to do? Must do some work..let's start Antakshri, taking the Lord's name)

Antakshri for those of you too foreign to figure out (or too young to consider cool) is a game where groups sing songs starting with the last syllable of the song sung previously. In a group of pop-culture fanatics, this game could go on for hours and hours..leading to walking around asking stangers.."ga..I need a song starting with ga..HELP!!". Of course, the parents would be happy. Serenaded by several off-key renditions of songs from the 50's and 60's, they'd nod off to sleep allowing us kids the freedom to run through the compartment playing hide-and-seek.

Passing out from heat exhaustion as we passed through the dry, treeless interiors of the Deccan (these were the days before air-conditioned compartments) was common. As was drinking tepid water and eating uber-spicy batatawadas and barely edible thalis full of "vegetarian" food as we travelled through Andhra. Finally the train eased into Bangalore and it was goodbye to assorted new friends as they stepped out of the train at each stop..Bangalore North, Bangalore West, Bangalore Cantonment...finally arriving at Bangalore City.

Faced with a people who looked different, spoke different, smelt different, nodded different from the ones in Bombay. My sister and me sitting on our piles of luggage as mum tried to get a coolie to carry our bags to a waiting rickshaw.

I haven't had a vacation like that in a while. Not since we moved on to being upper middle-class and could afford the airfares there. Such a pity. I miss those days and yes, I believe I actually miss singing songs with strangers for 8 hour stretches!

Random website:
The response from the "vocabularians" was so "ginormous" that the lexicographers let out a "whoot.""Confuzzled?" You must be a "lingweenie."

Current music:
Baby got back - Sir Mix-a-lot
(Little in the middle, but she got much back!)

Monday, May 16, 2005

I eat..therefore i am...

Remarkably skinny that is.

Why is that I wonder? I've been skinny since I was a wee waif wailing wondering wistfully when we warranted weaning (I've always hated milk...breast and otherwise). OK. I admit that sentence didn't make sense but I've been dying to alliterate for weeks now.

Today's entry (or entree if you please) involves my love affair with food (One of the few things guaranteed NOT to dump me). Or more specifically, my list of what I like to eat and where to find it. And no. A certain person in Boston is not going to be listed on here so all you guttersnipes can cleanse your mind and your palates RIGHT NOW!

1. Pasta - I love pasta so much I think I was an Italian in my past life. Maybe an old Neapolitan woman called Maria Guieseppina Paravicini-Soldati.
The best pasta in Boston was at Pomodoro in the North End. I still remember the simple fettucini arrabiata I had there on a date once. I could see that the date was going nowhere so I was all about a sauce with garlic and pepper...Oy! I can still taste it. (The pasta not the date).

2. Bhel Puri - This is why I'm a Bombayite. Or make that..*remain* a Bombayite. A mix of fluffy rice, 2 types of chutney, onions, potatoes and puris...all tossed together into this delish mix eaten right off a soggy piece of newspaper. Yum.
Best Bhel Puri? Well, ever since ShivPrasad the BhelpuriWalla moved, I'd have to say Elco Arcade on Hill Road in Bandra. Plus, the owners are cute.

3. Pizza - Maria Guissepina? Si Mama? Dove trovate la pizza migliore? Ahha!
Tough question. Simply because pizza is a student meal in my opinion. So I will go back to my student days in Virginia (No No not the convent at San Giorgio Maggiore..that was a last birth).
Papa John's Meat Special wins my vote. (and the pizza was good too)

4. Daal-Chawal - OK not really. It's just something I wanted to say to make the proliteriat believe I'm like them. What I meant to say was tiramisu.
Best Tiramisu? I'm going to commit foodie-sacrilege when I say it's the packaged stuff you get at Trader Joe's. Sometimes, good things come in small packages. (No, not you M.!)

5. Butter Chicken - One day I want to write an ode to Butter Chicken. How I love thee? Let me count the ways....with roomali roti, naan, plain rice, jeera rice, green pea pulao, chicken biryani, mutton biryani, blah blah..ending with a piece of chewy cardboard.
Best Butter Chicken? Pritam-da-dhaba in Dadar, Bombay. Sitting under the stars on a "charpai", listening to a singer warbling away in the corner and digging into the softest, smoothest Chicken dish ever. Can someone say heavenly?

Of course, in my ideal life, I'd come home everyday to a meal of Pasta, Pizza, Butter Chicken, Bhel Puri and Tiramisu.
How do I not get fat? Oh yeah. It's probably because I eat half a chapatti and a bowl of daal for dinner everyday (Hey! Looking this hot is a lot of work!)

Random website:
Who is your inner European?
Here's mine:
Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

So true! I'm passionate, colorful (Well, brown is a color) and cultured (only make potty jokes in male company).
Plus I think fuck-me boots are cool too.

Current music:
Oh Sanam - Lucky Ali

Friday, May 13, 2005

So close that your eyes close as I fall asleep

You walked into my life this day a year ago when you walked into Diesel Cafe in Davis Square and stood in line. I was reading Gone With The Wind for what seemed like the umpteenth time when I heard Paul squeal. He'd spotted you..someone new in *our* coffee shop. Someone tall, buff and cute. As I looked over to where you stood, I held my breath. You looked exactly like someone I imagined myself with. You didn't catch me staring the first time but I suppose you did catch me congratulating Paul on spotting you first (Old rule : Finders keepers).

He sidled over towards you as you stood at the counter ordering your chai. Batted his eyelids at you, made small talk and came back saying you weren't interested in him. I secretly rejoiced and stared at you when I thought your back was turned. Imagined the two of us together arguing over whether we should actually get that muffin to go with the coffees. And then sitting side by side by the window, each reading our newspapers, with my feet playing with yours under the breakfast table.

You picked up your chai and walked towards the door. And then you turned and smiled at me.

YOU smiled! YOU smiled at ME! I flushed and pretended to be absorbed in my book when the whole time I was stunned. Stunned that someone would seem to be interested in me when there were so many other fine specimens of humanity all around. I didn't know what to do or say. I sneaked a look at Paul to see if he'd noticed. He had except he thought the smile was for him. But I knew it wasn't.

Why did you smile at me? Did you notice me staring? Did you see my hands shaking as I "nonchalantly" picked up my coffee and my book and pretended to be engrossed in both? I followed you out of the door with my eyes and watched you sip your chai as you lit up a cigarette. Damn, I thought, he smokes. There goes another dream ruined by the realities of life. You caught me staring and made a move as if you wanted to come back in and talk. I hurriedly looked away and pretended to look at the art on the walls. When I looked again (after what I thought was a decent interval), you were gone.

I went back home elated and disappointed. Elated that a cute guy smiled at me, disappointed that I might never see him again.

Then you changed all that by walking into the coffeeshop again the next day and coming up to me, putting down a cup of Vietnamese coffee in front of me and saying "I asked at the counter and hope this is your drink". And you walked away. You didn't say anything else, make small talk, introduce yourself, anything. And you smiled again.

Your smile promised me I'd see you again. See a lot more of you again. It still does.

Happy anniversary M.
Volim te.

My favourite poem to the one I love: Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda.

I do not love you as if you were the salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

No random website or current music today.
I want this blog entry to be about us.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Where in the world is Carmen Santiago?

Kharghar, that's where. Well OK, I was there yesterday, don't think Carmen was around. She was probably somewhere in Guinea-Bissau (Just how cool is that name? I can't stop saying it..Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Bissau....).

Where is Kharghar, I hear a lone voice call out. Ah well, Mr. Owner-of-said-lone-voice, it's in New Bombay (Navi Mumbai for all you keepers of Maharashtrian pride and wot-not). It's about half-way to Pune, atleast it seems like it. Surrounded by verdant (well, they used to be till the land mafia got hold of them) hills and beautiful smooth 4 lane roads...Jeez! I'm so urban, nature for me has been reduced to roads and prospective building sites!

I was there to meet a friend and secretly panicked (Well, I only freaked out like twice in the privacy of the break room) about how far this place is from civilization as defined by the island of Bombay. Apparently it's 54 km away from the centre of the city, which means it could be on the moon for all I knew. I'm starting to sound like a couple of my friends who don't believe there is a world outside Manhattan!
Anyway, after assurances from my colleagues that I wasn't going to be sold off as bonded labour in a mine once I left Bombay city limits, I set out armed with a bottle of water, a book and 1000Rs. (In case I had to bribe the customs officials to let me come back into the city of Bombay..I hadn't had time to get a visa into New Bombay yet). Took a train (1st class thankyouverymuch!) into Wadala and then changed to a train from Panvel. Crossed what seemed like 2 rivers and a sea to get to Kharghar..and was pleasantly surprised. The railway station was reasonably clean (well, with a population of 3, just how dirty can a place get?) and the buildings were large, airy and pretty modern looking (in that ghastly Hafeez -Contractor- meets-and-mates-with-Appolodorus, the-designer-of-the-Parthenon way).

On my way back, I tried not to look at the faces of the people in the train with me. But it was hard not to join in the general whooping and hollering as we crossed the final bridge into the island city of Bombay. Suddenly, we were all comrades. Just tired, hungry people, yearning to breathe free..on our way to the City of Gold - the Land of the Free. So what, if we still had 1 hour to go to actually get anywhere remotely interesting? So what if we had to change a train to do it? I was home! I think I actually skipped passed a couple of lepers and eunuchs at Bandra and gave them a "Isn't it great to be alive?". I don't understand why they threw bits of their bodies at me...

All in all, an adventure. Next stop? Juinagar! (Are you brave enough? Strong enough? Is Fear a Factor for you?)...quick question (qq). Why is there a suburb of a city named after lice? Jui-nagar..neighborhood of lice?? Who's the marketing genius who came up with that one?

Random website:

Your #1 Match: ENFP

The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverant, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're qutie the storyteller!

You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

Current music:
Don't go breaking my heart - Elton John and Kiki Dee

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Francoise Hardy - You go girl!

Le jour où je n'aurais plus du tout
L'âme en peine
Le jour où moi aussi
J'aurais quelqu'un qui m'aime

Snippets from the song "Tous les garcons et le filles" by Francoise Hardy...a singer who's looks, act, song lyrics and song styling seem to be very much like my own. Well, other than the fact she's in her 50's now anyway...

I started listening to her ever since I heard that awesome song "Comment te dire adieu?" after a particularly nasty breakup (It now occupies pride-of-place in my "Wallowing in self-inflicted sorrow CD). I then found out that Comment te dire adieu? was recorded in Swedish by Anni-Frid before her ABBA days as "Så synd du måste gå".

I mean..any song that has words like "derriere un Kleenex, je souris mieux " has got to make getting through a break-up that much more exquisitely painful. Serge Gainsbourg (the lyricist) seems to have this knack for making even the simplest words sound so bleak and cynical. In colaboration with Francoise (one of the first yeh-yeh girls to write as well as sing), he came up with such awesome songs (Check out the Vogue years..simply my favourite). Francoise was a Vogue supermodel before she started to sing and that 60's bouffant along with the tiny tiny mini-skirts she wore and that soft voice (with the usual French orchestration in the background) made her a superstar in Europe in the 60's. However, she was petrified of singing on stage so she never toured or sang in public...in a way I suppose, this went to creating the mystique that was her. Her catchphrase "je chante, donc je suis.." remains my favourite (Well, I plan on using that as mine once I wear my bouffant and sing French pop)

In my opinion, she's one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen and everything that I imagine the 60's woman to be. Scroll down for some awesome pictures of her..
J'adore Francoise Hardy!

Random website:
Kashmiri insurgents? Nah..just langur monkeys.

Current music:
Tous les garcons et les filles - Francoise Hardy

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What I wanna do till 2067..

Last night, we went to the 90th birthday party of our neighbour next-door.

A fun time was had by all (said Amma..or words to that effect) and after some awesome conversation with him (about racism, colonialism, the occupation of Iraq and the state of Bandra when he first moved there in 1939), I stayed awake at night thinking about what I want to do by the time I am 90. OK, most of the staying awake part was thanks to the extremely oily Paneer Makhani...but I did some thinking as well (interupted by an occasional burp or two).

So, here in no particular order are 10 things I want to accomplish before I'm 90.

1. Travel - Egypt (before the Sphinx loses another shoulder), Israel (if it's still around), Greece (before the Parthenon falls down), Turkey (while Tarkan is still single), Morrocco (before the hotties all become jehadis), Peru (to meet a genuine Inca), Australia (to finally be able to "put a shrimp on the Barbie")

2. Eat - Rabbit ("Fluffy" paella), Bitter Gourd (Karele ki sabzi), Alligator (Before it eats me), Porcupine (Wot? No toothpicks?)

3. Sleep (in) - a hammock on a white sandy beach in the Bahamas sipping a daiquiri and watching a flock (herd? congregation? family? pride?) of dolphins frolicking in the blue blue waters of the Atlantic.

4. Sleep (with) - Johnny Depp, Sade, David Beckham, Dolores O'Riordan (The Cranberries), Gwen Stefani (No Doubt), some brainless Punjabi Jat hottie from Delhi.

5. Read - Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (the only book I have never been able to finish), Anna Karenina and War and Peace (books where I forget the names of the characters till they all meld into an indistinguishable, vaguely vodka smelling, potato shaped Russian emigre).

6. Watch - Myself on a home-made video actually singing Fernando avec les emotions, myself on a home-made video actually *-----* Fernando (also avec les emotions)

7. Discuss - My theories on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire with special emphasis on the contribution of Zenobia and the Eastern Palmyrene Empire (as you can see, I plan on being alone till I'm 90).

8. Meet - Mandela (Ok So I have 1 year to do this), Shashi Tharoor (Tufts/Fletcher 2006? OK!), Bill Clinton (just so Meenakshi doesn't have that to gloat over), guy who discovers the cure for AIDS or cancer (90 is a LONG time away..)

9. Climb - Every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, till I find my....DREEEEEEEAM (at this point, my balls drop off thanks to the excruciating effort of singing soprano)

10. Run - a marathon, a coffee shop, a political campaign, my rival's business to the ground (Denver-Carrington will never surrender! Big props to anyone who gets this reference)

In ending, Happy Birthday Kaka, may you enjoy your 100th and give me more to think!

Random Website:
Oy! The bathroom issues!!

Current Music:
Kiss me - Six pence none the richer (They're a Christian rock band? I hate them already!)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Oy Bubby Oy Oy Bubbly...

I am not a violent man.

Hell, if push came to shove, I wouldn't shove. (I have to push though, that's the only way I could ever travel in a Bombay train). I flinch everytime I tear into a particularly succulent piece of Tandoori Chicken. I usually turn the other cheek (Ok...so that's just part of a dance move. Quit hassling me!).

The plight of homeless, blind orphans and triple amputee widows with a squint doesn't bother me as much as that ringtone...You know the one. The "Oy Bubbly" tune that Pepsi foisted upon a protesting nation in the name of coolness. Which hundreds of my otherwise intelligent Bombay brethren have deemed fit to add on to their cell phones at full volume (People! There's a volume control on the blasted thing!). Which a desperate-for-ad-revenue TV channel decides to play at intervals of 10 minutes everyday.

ShahRukh Khan..How much does one hate thee? Let me count the ways...

Nouveau-riche Indians with cell phones. A combination that makes even the strongest among us quake. People who have no problem letting their phones ring at top volume in the midst of the scene where an Alzheimer's stricken Amitabh remembers the blind girl he taught once...(Tum to wohi...OY! BUBBLY! OY OY! BUBBLY!). People who have no problem letting their phones ring in the midst of an aarti at Siddhivinayak temple thus mingling the strains of prayer withan exhortion to buy a cola (Sukhkartaa Dukhhartaa Vaarta..OY! BUBBLY! OY OY BUBBLY!). People who insist on letting their phones ring through a conversation with the bus conductor (Master, ek full ani don half Ca...OY! BUBBLY! OY OY BUBBLY!)

We don't deserve cell phones. Because we have no manners at all. Apparently our ancient and distinguished culture didn't have anything to say about etiquette (Must be the fault of the Mughals and the Marxist historians).

This has turned out to be a rant. I thought the Valium was supposed to take care of that part of my personality.


Random website:
Yum. Tastes like chicken.

Music choice:
Bandeh - Indian Ocean (Black Friday soundtrack)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Why I love Bombay.

As I stood accused of crimes ranging from "Misunderstanding auntiejis" to "Being a club blogger only", I pled guilty as charged and in exchange for a community service option of cleaning out Sena Bhavan every evening, I agreed to blog about more serious stuff like my love for Bombay and Pav Bhaji and my hatred for the smell of Juhu Beach in the morning.

So, Milord (or "Yaar Haanar" as Bollywood insists), here goes...(here goeth??)

I love Bombay because I love Bombay's people.

Right from my "bai" who speaks perfect English and calls me Sir as she proceeds to dust the entire dust-mite population of Greater Bombay (Est: 1-2 billion) on to me early on a Sunday morning, to my "watchman" who admonishes me every night as I get home from a club (Baba, Tum itna late aata hai, daddy ko fikar hogee)..

Right from my "autowaala" who lets me pay 1 Re. less if I don't have exact change, to my old Parsi neighbour who never fails to ask me about my long-dead grandfather every evening (Baba, How is Mr. Joshi? Still paining his back?)..

Right from the train "motorman" who crushes someone to death everyday as he strives to get me to town in time, to the BEST conductor whose "Pude chala, pude chala" are the only way I can get to the exit in time for my stop..

Right from the "sandwitchwaala" who knows just how much butter I want on my toast (an artery-clogging lot!) and how much chili flakes (none!), to the "hijda" who accosts me at Bandra signal pawing me and calling me Rajesh Khanna (honestly, do eunuchs not move with time? Rajesh was fashionable in 1970!)..

Right from the "bania" who knows just when we have guests at home based on the number of coconuts I buy, to the barber who throws in a free head massage (With oil Sir? Only 5Rs) after giving me a spiked look (Very fashion Sir! Only 40 Rs)..

Right from my father (Annu) who can quell a riot over the last slice of mango with one clearing of his throat, to my mother (Amma) who can whip up a dosa so light, it's like not even there..

With that milord (or Yaar Haanar, as you wish), I rest..

Random website:
Are you Nosy Aunty? Or perhaps Pervert Uncle? Check if your sister is a total Payal here..

Music choice:
Punjab - Karunesh

Friday, May 06, 2005

Auntiejis at dive bars

I found myself last night at Toto's Garage Pub (read reviews at attached URL) with 2 very charming and fun women from Ammrikka (as I am wont to call it). http://www.mouthshut.com/product-reviews/Toto's_Garage-925001835.html

Through the cigarette smoke haze (ghastly) and the hard rock (even ghastlier for this Abba junkie), I spotted what can charitably be described as an *auntieji* drowning her sorrows with the type of *uncleji* only found inside a dance-bar. And the look on her face got me thinking about my life if I was saddled with such an uncleji. And my drink of choice if that unhappy occurence ever happened.

She was totally in her "happy place". Looked so Anne Heche - post breakup, I wanted the stuff she was on! She looked so blah, all drinking her scotch and eating her masala papad. And there I was...taunting her with my youth and fresh, post-1980 look. I know she was pissed off at me by the way she turned away when I did my booty-shake..no woman (and not many men) can resist the (infamous) Vikster booty-shake.

Anyway, I'm guesing her name was Nagma, she was drinking Johnny Walker on the rocks, eating Masala Papad and dreading the BJ she'd have to give equally-drunk uncleji in a bit.

Me? I had a beer, danced with 2 lovely women and headed home for a long phonecall with the Bostonian. Fun Thursday all around.

Random site:
New Yorkers want a full second Senate term from Hillary..too bad. I'm actually relishing a Hillary-Condi battle in 2008...That is, if the Bushicans don't want Jeb for the job.

Current Music:
Time after Time - Cyndi Lauper

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Of Kaala Chashmas and Angel Eyes

It's a crime just how much I'm loving the assorted Punjabi music coming out of the UK...(Balle-shit as my cousin calls it).

Ever since a shopkeeper at Jackson Heights, NYC sold me a few CDs ("Sirji, this is latesht hottesht stuph cumming outta Englaynde".. amazing how you can take the Punjabi outta Punjab, but not the Punjab outta Punjabi..), I've been dancing to the tunes of Juggy-D and Raghav and Punjabi MC (IN DA HOUSE!)..

Though this is how I differentiate myself from the Balle-Balle masses, I can't seem to, for the life of me, get the whole shoulder thing going during the dance. It must be something in the Punjabi Butter Chicken that we (fish-curry/rice Konkanis) don't get...I mean, I have 60 year old saggy-titted auntiejis who can dance the bhangra better than me. That hurts.

So I guess I'll have to stick to the ghetto ho' dance that I seem to have perfected (and that 50 cent's leggy beauties seem to have copied from me!). Which brings me to a new crime I'm guilty of... absolute love for 50 cent's Candyshop. How f'ing awesome is it ?!?

Random website du jour:
If you're as fascinated by elections and democracy as I am, this is an awesome tool to play around with..(well if you're British or reasonably well-informed too..)

Music choice du jour:
Kaala Chashma (Did you even read the rest of the post?)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Just what is a pub anyway?

I've been having this argument on Orkut..read all about it here.

The basics (if you couldn't manage to read the thread) were that Bombay had no pub that played heavy metal..while my argument on a technicality was that Bombay had *no* pubs, only clubs.

Basing my entire thesis on the definition of "pub" (public house) I got on Wikipedia and my experiences in various genuine pubs in Boston and Chicago, I seem to have hit a nerve with the vast majority of young 'uns who don't like having their beliefs challenged.

A pub has live music (sorta like what we saw in the video for Ode to my Family by the Cranberries..one of my favourite songs..but I digress) not the kind of loud, dance music blaring in Bombay's "pubs". For Dylan, who said Toto's in Bandra qualifies as a pub, NO! It doesn't. It's a bar, plain and simple. A dive bar if you want to get more to the point. A place that's kitschy enough that Bostonians would travel an hour to get to it.

A pub has good hearty food (bangers and mash anyone?) and perhaps even rooms above that the publican rents out. Where in Bombay do we find this?

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Bombay has clubs and Boston has pubs (and clubs). I prefer Boston pubs and Bombay clubs...maybe when the good folks on Orkut make the effort to travel, they'll get what I meant.

Random link:
Jack the Ripper might have been a travelling sailor......somehow I prefered the Duke of Clarence as a suspect.

Current Music:
Salvation - The Cranberries

Sunday, May 01, 2005

It's just another Manic Monday

10 thoughts re: My night at "Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vimantal" (Ah for the good ol' Sahar Airport!)
  • People love to gawk at foreigners...to the point where they're all in-your-face about it.
  • Only about 75% of the folks at the airport are actually there to pick up someone...the rest? Refer to point #1.
  • Bombay (and by extension, India) smells like Phenyl with a whiff of evaporating urine.
  • We luvs us our fluorescent tube-lights.
  • There are 20 ways of pronouncing Lufthansa in Bombay.
  • Bombay taxis are the new dance bars...all disco balls and dhinchak music.
  • Sahar is probably the only airport in the world with it's own chaiwalla in the arrival lounge.
  • The word "lounge" is over-rated. Try "Mosquito-infested, brutally air-conditioned waiting room". Also see point #3.
  • There is something incredibly touching about families meeting again. Brings a lump to your throat till you realize it's probably the "chicken" burger you had at the airport cafe!
  • It takes 45 minutes to get into the airport from the highway and 10 to leave. Very much like India, dontcha think?
Random musing:
Is it just me or does anyone else find this incredibly weird?

Current music:
Hindi: Aane waala pal : Golmaal