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!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tastes vary, don't they?

I was talking to a blog reader (Should I say friend? But I don't really know him well enough for that!) and he was commenting on the fact that he hadn't heard of any of the bands/people on my music list in my profile. Apparently, he even tried looking for them on KaZaa and I-Mesh and couldn't find any (Though he did find lots and lots of porn...I think he's going to be MIA for a while now). Which led me to wonder...does a person who doesn't like the conventional (in music and otherwise) stand a chance of surviving in Bombay unless he's willing to be alone in his tastes and choices (ooh! The sub-text here is killing me!)?

Here's some of the musical genres I enjoy and almost exclusively listen to. I would recommend any (if not all of them) to anyone. Who knows you actually might like them. I know I've gotten a few friends in Boston addicted to Arabic music while I was there and M. loves the Russian folk I got him listening to...

1. Fado: Fado is the language of love, loss and longing. To hear a fadista sing of her love lost on a fishing trip to the Azores and how she's doomed to die longing for his embraces is mindblowing. I just close my eyes, imagine I'm on a beach somewhere on the Algrave, turn on some Amalia and relax. I don't speak Portuguese but the sounds, the pain, the music, the long drawn out sighs just put you in that frame of mind. The best Fado is in the Coimbra dialect of north-central Portugal. Among my favourites are "Povo que lavas no rio" and "Barco negro". As for fadistas? There's only ONE! Amalia Rodrigues...Somente Amalia!

2. Scando-folk: Specifically Finnish folk. Ever since I heard Varttina sing "Pihi Neito" in that rapid-fire stacatto method of Karelian Finno-Ugric folk, I have been addicted to this brand of music. I ended up buying everyone of their CDs (and they have been quite prolific), and ended up having the biggest crush on Sirpa Reiman and Sari Kaasinen when I saw them perform live in NYC (Bjork and Varttina on the same bill, I almost creamed my pants in excitement!). My favourite part about singing all my favourite Finnish songs is not the fact that I can actually sing in Finnish, it's that in translation the words are just super-funny coming out of an Indian mouth. Recommended albums? Vihma and Seleniko.

3. German hiphop: Thank you D. for introducing me to the genre after your trip to Stuttgart. My previous exposure to German music was Nena, Falco and Rammstein. Now I have Fettes Brot, Die Fantastichen Vier and EAV to enjoy and love. German sounds gross when you speak it, sounds worse when you sing it (Wagner's Parsifal is a pain on the ears to listen to). But it IS the language of hiphop. Somehow even those crazy 300 syllable words ("Herzkreislaufwiederbelebung" and "Geschwendigkeitsbegrenzung") have a rhyme when you rap them..and Das Tobi und Das Bo are the best at doing that. Recommended songs? M.F.G and Nordisch bei Nature.

4. Arabic pop: Blogged about previously here.

5. Negro spirituals: I. introduced these to me when we were dating. I remember having heard the songs but I had never ever heard them the way they were meant to be sung. He made me a mix tape of singers from the 1920's onwards singing the most unbelievable beautiful hymns and songs (some were actually more protest songs than hymns). Big Mama Thornton, Mahalia Jackson, Marion Anderson...so many names, so many soaring, hope-filled, devoted voices. I have yet to hear more passion for G-d than in the voices of the ol'time religion singers. My favourite spirituals have got to be any version of "Amazing Grace"(including an unbelievable version by Ani diFranco) and "Lily of the Valley".

6. Polynesian: I first heard some Micronesian singers perform at a street fair in Boston and was blown away at how foot-tapping their music was. I just had to find some of that kind and so headed out to Harvard Square to my favourite used music store where I was sure they'd have some. Sure enough I found the music of Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole along with some awesome Polynesian bands. While Israel "Iz" sings more contemporary songs in English and Hawaiian, the other groups sing in various Polynesian languages. Recommended songs? "Pate Pate" and "Ika Ika". (I can sing Pate Pate LOL! Got the lyrics of a friend of mine from Guam)

7. Russian (Slavic): Blogged about previously here.

8. Eastern Orthodox liturgial: Seeing as I'm almost Slavic with my depression, my love for pierozhki and vodka and my propensity for falling in love with Slavs, the logical thing to do would be to start visiting the Ortho churches in Boston and Watertown. Where I discovered Church Slavonic and the awesome music. To hear and watch the bearded priests (looking very Old Testament like in their finery) sing the "Kyrie Eleison" and watch the congregation perform some very painful looking genuflections during the "Gospodi Pomily" is indeed mindblowing. Recommend the Metropolitian Choir of Kiev for some fine masses.

There are so many more genres I love but haven't written about...Borscht belt Yiddish (The Barry Sisters bei mir bist das schoen!!), Greek pop (Despina Vandi and Anna Vissi), Italian saccharine-sweet pop (Eros Ramazotti, Paolo Conti), Carnatic fusion (The soundtrack to Morning Raga).

My hope is to host a radio show with samples of these genres on Bombay's FM. Have proposed the idea to Magic and Go. Let's see if they think people in Bombay are ready to expand their horizons beyond "Neal and Nikki" and "Kajra Re".

Current Music:

I'm just trying to say this German word out. It means Beef Labelling Oversight Transit Law.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

For M. (Who I remembered last night)

In Despair

He's lost him completely. And he now tries to find
his lips in the lips of each new lover,
he tries in the embrace of each new lover
to convince himself that it's the same young man,
that it's to him he gives himself.

He's lost him completely, as though he never existed.
He wanted, his lover said, to save himself
from the tainted, sick form of sexual pleasure,
the tainted, shameful form of sexual pleasure.
There was still time, he said, to save himself.

He's lost him completely, as though he never existed.
Through fantasy, through hallucination,
he tries to find his lips in the lips of other young men,
he longs to feel his kind of love once more.

- Konstantinos P. Kavafy (1923)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rock on Bandra!

Celebrate Bandra! The hoardings all over the Queen of the 'burbs proclaim. Right next to the "Beanbags" and "K2" grafitti all over the place..not to mention the "Jehovah is my Lord" crap all over the Carter Road walls. We know Bandra is relatively affluent by the hoardings for carpet cleaning and dog grooming. We know Bandraites care for the burb by the signs for "Strictly no garbage dumping" and we know they have a sense of humour by the board outside St. Andrew's church which said "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans".

Now we're being told to celebrate Bandra...to which I say "Huh?". I've been doing that ever since I was born! I shop in Bandra, eat in Bandra, live in Bandra, studied in Bandra..and dammit, even vote for Bandraites! You can't get any more Bandra Boy than me (men). My interview on CNBC Aawaz where I extolled the virtues of Harry Potter in Bandra Aunty Hindi proved to my friends that I am indeed a lost cause (if you seek to convert me into a Lokhandwalla or Hiranandani type..). As I was telling my Catholic-Atheist-but-not-from-Bandra friend Ook last night, my lingo can prove very confusing to a non-native Bandraite and almost totally incomprehensible to a non-Bombayite.

(Sunday morning 6 am at Jude's bakery at Pali Market)
Jude/Alex/Micheal/Andre/Glen/Robert/Peter/Sean/Derek - What you want men?
Me - Give 2 ladi pao, 1 gutli and 3 brun men. And give fast fast.

(and it's not just me..Vikster's Amma at Pali Market Saturday afternoon)
Ramprasad/Ramdulare/RamBahrose/LaxmanPrasad - Kya chahiye Mummy?
Vikster's Amma - 1 kilo batata and give 5 Rs. ka masala aur chillies less mat dena.

Anyway, to get back to the topic, Celebrate Bandra is an attempt to showcase the best of Bandra's talents/arts/food/shopping in one 21 days festival centered (weirdly enough) on the 3 sea front promenades of Reclamation, Carter and Bandstand. Why they don't want to showcase the old houses of Old Bandra and the villages of Pali, Chuim, Chimbai and Shirley-Rajan before they disappear under the builder's maw, I will never know. But hey, one takes what one gets, no? So I toodled off to Bandstand last night to watch the best of Bandra's young rock talent last night with Ook. I had high hopes..after all, the previous show I watched was this AWESOME French blues band at the old Bandra fort.

This is what I learnt last night:
1. There are no Hindus/Muslims/Sikhs/Parsees/others in Bandra's bands (Or among Bandra's famous denizens according to the brochure for the festival). A steady procession of Nicks, Joshuas, Rachels, Wendells, Ians, Joes ensured that the rock concert turned more into an audition for getting into Willingdon Catholic gymkhana....

2. There are a myriad ways to massacre the most awesome songs. To hear Zombie, Take on Me and Higher croaked, squeaked and growled by the lead "vocalists" proved to be a bit too much for me.

3. I hate Creed and its non-offensive Christian rock and I will continue to hate it.

4. Audiences at IIT's Mood Indigo concerts are metal heads, pot smokers and the general unwashed masses. At Celebrate Bandra? Aunties, Uncles and the odd Burkha-clad shadow. And I'm serious about the aunties and uncles. Some of them looked like they'd just stepped out of Bandra Gymkhana or the PJ club after the evening Housie game...

5. The drummers in Bandra are mostly good, the guitarists (if they try not to show off) are good as well. The vocalists on the other hand? Destined to sing "I will always love you" at McRonnell's at Ian's and Shaila's wedding.

6. Since when did Karaoke become de rigeur at a "rock concert"? Cause that's what a lot of the songs ended up being. Including singing off lyric sheets...Sheesh! I wish I had a drink in my hand when I was listening to them "sing". Or a joint as I sat on the rocks right next to the sea and the promenade..

7. The odd Punjabi'ism does creep into Bandra lingo as evidenced by the lead singer asking the assorted bunch of people (Average age: 55) if they were impressed by "his bums". I scuttled away before he could mention "Hallo dear" and "Beta, what work you do?".

After my big musical disappointment, I'm relieved to see that over 200 retailers are giving between 10 and 25 % discounts on everything from salon visits to shoes to Koliwada fish frys. I'm thinking of celebrating this 400 year old suburb by splurging till my credit card loses it's magnetized strip. Or I exhaust my bank balance (I think I still have about 657 Rs. to spare this month).

Till then, I leave you with my favourite quote about my favourite part of Bombay.
"If you throw a stone in Bandra, you hit either a pig, a priest or a Pereira".

Current Music:
Ode to my family -The Cranberries.

I had to find my faith in music again after the horror that was assorted Bandra teens trying to sound like Dolores O'Riordan. She rulez.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I have a new love!

His name is Stanislav Ivaneski. But he plays Viktor Krum in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. People who know me know what a maniac I am about all things Potter. I blogged about it here some time ago when the new book (well, it's sorta old once you read it about 20 times like I have) came out. While I've always though that the Prisoner of Azkaban was the best book of the lot (and also the best movie so far..Cuaron is a genius), I've always been curious how Mike Newell (Director, HPGOF) would handle what I thought was the most tedious book of the lot. And that's saying a lot, seeing as I think the Chamber of Secrets was a real stinker!

Well, here's my feelings on this movie. As usual, I walked out of the movie with mixed feelings. I hate how the movies constrain my imagination as to what I visualized the characters to be. I hate every one of the main three - Harry, Ron and Hermione. I think the books make them out to be far more interesting and multi-faceted compared to the one-track act that Messers Radcliffe, Grint and Watson enact. I find the supporting cast so much more interesting in the movies..It's got to have something to do with the fact that the producers get the who's who of British cinema to act in the movies. And the aerial shots of Hogwarts get so old after a while..

The three tasks were VASTLY more entertaining in the book as compared to the movie. I found myself waiting for the stupid tasks to finish so that the plot could plod along. And somehow, deleting vast portions of the plot and book made the whole movie so disjointed and weird. I could hear people who hadn't read the book but were watching the movie totally at sea about what the hell was happening with Crouch and Moody. And Voldemort! Finally a vision of what the Dark Lord looked like. And for once I wasn't disappointd. He was almost EXACTLY what I'd imagined he'd be like. Though I always assumed he'd have red slits for eyes..but maybe I was confusing him with Sauron from LOTR. Ralph Fiennes (It's pronounced Rafe just like my first name is spelt Vikster and pronounced Incredible) is really good at this. He gives Voldemort that awesome blend of cruelty and an upper-class British educated accent. I wanna have one of those accents for a while. Perhaps I'll walk about talking like a posh toff all day today.

OK. Major quib time. Cho Chang has a Scottish brogue? Parvati and Padma wearing ghagra cholis to the Yule Ball? So many black kids at Hogwarts? When did they become so inclusive? Movies 1 and 2 would have us believe only white kids got into Hogwarts! Angelina, the Chaser is black? WHERE WERE SNAPE'S LINES??? He's only my favourite character in the books! And I HATE the new Dumbledore. WTF is up with the American accent slipping out occasionlly?

Anyway, here's another picture of Krum. He's hot, Slav and buff. What more do I want? (What is it with me and Slavs? All my boyfriends have been Slav! Sadly Bombay is terribly short of the Slavic variety...methinks a trip to Serbia or Russia is in order!) There's this scene of Krum in a pair of short shorts running along the lake....SIGH! Unbelievable!

Current Music:
Narodno Kolo - Saban Saulic

I'm so into a Serbian music mood today. No matter what M. and Nesha claim, Serbian techo-folk sounds good to me! OK, So I don't understand the uber-nationalistic lyrics that make the two of them so uncomfortable, but the beat is so much fun! Kinda puts a nice tune to Balkan ethnic cleansing..

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An evening chez expats

So S. (le juif francais) called up and wanted to go out for dinner and then to a party for some expat friends who were leaving Bombay to go back to their respective countries. I said yes because I had nothing else to do than have dinner with someone who claims to find me cute but is equally repulsed by my intelligence and lack of I'm-just-looking-for-a-casual-fuck 'ness. And Saturday nights watching NDTV's breaking news about what Monica Bedi wore to her interrogation pale in comparison to going to a party where I knew NOBODY.

So off I toodle off to Pot Pourri where I discuss Paris riots and my life with M. to someone who compliments me on looking like the cutest person at the restaurant (not surprising seeing as the only other people there were a huge Sindhi family and a couple of wannabe models - all bonded hair and pouts) and in the same breath asks me if I have any friends I want to pass off for a quick fuck. Honestly, I'm such a masochist. Every breath in me screams to me that I'm worth more than this but the sheer lack of anything else to occupy my time makes me sit through conversations like this and grin through it all. Though the non-date'ish conversations with S. are actually fun. Not that this was a date by the way. It has been made amply clear to me that I'm only friend-worthy and not fuck-worthy (I'd say sponge-worthy but not sure how many non-Seinfeld'ians will get that).

Then off we go to this expat party thing. In a HUGE apartment off Linking Road in Bandra. To someone who grew up in a 400 sq. foot house, the sheer luxury of 3 bedrooms and an open terrace is like paradise (You may keep your 72 virgins, my paradise is an apartment with a room to myself...and all the Thums Up I can drink). The house was unbelievably beautiful, the furniture was contemporary and the open kitchen was a dream come true (The appliances! Did I mention the appliances!!). It almost felt like I was stepping into one of those Brookline condos I used to go check out on Sunday mornings when I lived in Boston..except this was in des!

Most of the expats there were European..I mean almost all of them. Couple of Americans (I just realized how much I missed hearing a real, honest-to-God Boston accent) there but most were French with a couple of Belgians, Dutch and Norwegians (Or is that Norse?). Lingua france there? French. Even the few desis there spoke French. As did I ... sounding like a mildly retarded Quebecois. Seriously, listening to a question in rapid-fire French, translating it into English in your head, processing it, translating back and then trying to be gramatically correct in French? All in 10 seconds? It's hard! Hence the pitying looks I got when I uttered such gems as (En anglais) "Yes. I lives here in Bandra many years since my house is here" and "I am in Boston for 8 years and I am happy to be in Bombay now" and "But yes! I am liking the wine much and am drinking it everyday with many peoples". But honestly, my franglais paled in comparison to the Hindi most of them have picked up in months of living in Bombay. Sample this : "Seedha" (Straight), "Gadha" (Donkey), "Kitna" How much?, "Bahut khush" Very happy.

Now tell me who sounds more retarded?

But the music was good (Arabic/French and Euro house), the hosts were awesome (made me feel like they knew me all their lives) and I felt very very much in need of some Fair and Handsome. I'm wheatish (that deliciously quaint desi word to mean I'm marriagable) but in front of assorted Teutons and Franks, I'm positively brown. Not the light-brown Bournvita colour, more like the Cafe Coffee Day Mocha with the dark rich chocolate veins running through it. I had a mild crisis when I wondered who would marry me since I was so dark and ugly.. and then I realized I was gay. The Government won't let me marry the man I love and the man I love doesn't want me anyway. Hooray!

*rubs fairness cream into cheeks*

The differences between all-desi parties and all-firang ones?
Desi party: Samosas, chips, pani puri, assorted farsan, coke/pepsi/etc., beer
Firang party: Vodka

Desi party: Women in tight tops, short skirts and impossibly high heels
Firang party: Women in salwar kameez and bindis.

Desi party: Gossip and bitching
Firang party: Inconsequential talk while all the time picturing other person naked in bed.

Desi party: Party games (shudder!)
Firang party: Bring out the hash and weed and life is a party!

Desi party: Everyone macks on the single firang who wandered in
Firang party: The desis are there to answer questions about India

But all in all, thanks to some very gracious hosts and some very nice people I met (all from the French Trade Commission..man! they're friendly!), I actually had a pretty good Saturday night. Drank some wine, boogied to Abdel Khader and Alabina and walked home alone while some drunk in a car yelled out "Woohoo! Sexy man!" at me.

Good times!

Current Music:
Laissez-moi danser - Dalida

This would be the quintessential drag queen song. Oh wait! It IS the quintessential drag queen song beating out such hits as "Thank you for the music" by Abba and "It's raining men".

Friday, November 18, 2005

Miss Manners! We need you!

So I'm going to go all Bree van der Kamp on the collective asses of every little spoilt brat/bitch who lives in Bombay but seems to infest Bandra with scary regularity. As a well brought up guy, I know how to treat people. Superior or inferior in class status (Oh! Don't you long for the pre-British days when we only oppressed people based on their birth and not economic status?). I have had it up to my (aquiline, slender, well-shaped) nose with the collective shenanigans of the Buntys and Rockys and Tanias and Anaitas of Bombay.

When did it become such a cool thing to abuse people in the service industry? Have I become sensitized to their feelings on account of living in America where every little thing is a "Yes please!" and "Have a nice day"? I used to notice it when I was younger..but thanks to my parents I never really became what I detest today in Bombay's people. We are a rude rude people. And we treat our menials (PC police! Please maaf this, I'm running out of synonyms for service-type people) like dirt. Not only are we rude by birth, but the rise in living standards and money we earn has been compensated by a sharp fall in civility and manners.

Case in point: Andorra's last night in Bandra. I stop by to get a burger while I'm pushed aside by Bunty McMuscles and his friend Rocky O'Smallpenis. "Give two burgers here" they demand. Not ask, not request, certainly not solicit. "Put more Schezwan sauce" they demand again "And hurry man, I'm hungry" they yell at the server who's trying his best to deal with 10 very hungry Bandraites. That done, they grab their burgers, fling (YES! fling!) their money at the server and leave, chomping even before they turn around (and with their mouth open too...Ugh!). No apologies for cutting in line, no sorrys to the aunties who haven't been able to be heard over their din, no smiles of sheepishness towards people who they shoved out of the way to get to the counter.

Case 2: How we treat people we employ. We are also incredibly lazy. In the last week, I've seen people call their servants out of another room to come over and hand them their phone (which was lying...3 feet away!). I've witnessed people interrupting their servant from his lunch so he can get up and get them a glass of water. Noticed them making fun of and talking about their servants IN FRONT of them as if they didn't even exist.

Case 3: A young boy calls his father a bastard for not buying him a toy at Shopper's Stop while I'm browsing the board game section. If I ever did that EVER, I'd have my teeth handed to me on a platter made up of my tightly stretched flayed skin. His father's response? "Sorry beta, I'll go to the ATM and get money for it". And as he's doing that, his son proceeds to throw a tantrum and beat his mother about her legs while she very calmly continues to shop. This is WHY people should have to take a class before bringing children into this world. ESPECIALLY the yuppie parents (the kinds whose kids names are Aryan and Michelle).

The more money we make, the more breeding we lose. Look at the Mafatlal family saga? Worth 10,000 crores Rs. and want to throw the 75 year old mother and the (decidedly bull dyke looking) sex-changed brother out onto the street. Witness the antics of the dime-a-dozen model fraternity who snort coke in posh clubs and smoke ciggies by the dozen while claiming to be good role models for children. Or the rich kids who drive Mercs at 16 and run over pedestrians while they drive drunk and then get out of it by blaming their drivers.

I'm DISGUSTED by the behaviour of Bombayites today. And by that, I mean mostly the young generation. MY generation. We have forgotten our values, our behaviour, our manners in the rush to show off our riches. It's times like these that I'm glad I'm middle-class and close to my family. Looking at the 12 year olds at Coffee Day behave with their Motorola mobiles and gelled-streaked hair and fake accents prancing around makes me so glad I was never exposed to that sort of lifestyle at that young an age.

If I ever see someone order around someone again just because of his social position again, I swear I'm going to force him to stand there and apologize. I'm that mad today.

Current Music:
Piya Haji Ali - Fiza Soundtrack

I find myself humming this when I pass Worli/Haji Ali on my long bus rides to town on weekends...I only wish I could reach the high pitches these qawwaals manage. I suppose I can't as long as I have a pair of cojones...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

An evening with Shashi Aunty (Meenu's post)

Last night, along with my adorable fiancé A., I was able to go to the world-wide premiere of Akbar Khan’s Taj Mahal- An Epic Love Story. A. is a budding film (fillum) star waiting for his big break in Hindi films. He had been cast in the role of a messenger and had approximately two or three lines. Being the devoted fiancé and star-struck NRI that I am, I was quite jazzed to go to the premiere. I dressed in a sexy black dress, puffed my hair and pouted my lips- who knows, maybe I would be ‘discovered’. Kidding. Kind of.

Before we arrived at IMAX Wadala, I told A. that there will be some ginormous mausoleum version of the Taj there. Of course, there it was, looking worse than my 7th grade world history project (in which we made the replica of the Taj out of three refrigerator boxes). They had some dudes dressed up in armour, while the ladies looked like they belonged in a Meena Bazaar or maybe Chor Bazaar.

We walked in on Kabir Bedi giving an interview with his daughter, the ever-drag-queen-esque, Pooja Bedi to Zoom TV’s Suchitra Pillai. And as we walked in the other stars begin to arrive: Randhir Kapoor, Shotgun Sinha + Wifey, Pooja Batra (gorgeous), Kim Sharma (hello Roswell), Akbar Khan, and random tall dudes with beards and scruffage. We schmoozed for a while downstairs and saw Meera (of Nazaar de-fame) and my eyes set upon the funniest woman I have seen in movies- Shashi Aunty (i.e. Kamini Aunty of Monsoon Wedding, Kal Ho Na Ho, and other moti-jolly aunty parts).

For those who know my and the Vikster’s fascination with Shashi Aunty will recall lines like the unforgettable “Aaj mera gala kharab hai”. And “Mere bete nu duffer bolday ho? Onjvi, he doesn’t know India”. Therefore, it was a great gift to run into her. Well, much to A.’s dismay (I think), we spent the rest of the evening with her. She was getting pissed because the premiere was 2 hours late with no sign of starting anytime soon. She kept fanning herself and passing comments about people walking by (Vikster: That is SO Shashi Aunty!)

"Oh god, I am getting claustrophobic”.

“Even the director looks lost here”.

“I don’t want to sit now because I have to sit for another bloody 3 hours”

“Where is the lift, I am scared of the escalator”

“Should we get some cocktails?”

“That Kabir Bedi can drink anyone under the table.”

Then we looked over and Zulfi Syed had officially arrived with his co-star- Shahwar Ali, um, I mean Sonia Jehan. Wow, this woman is gorgeous. They have a total role reversal thing going. Sonia looks manlier than Zulfi any day. Zulfi, by the way was looking amazingly well for someone who’s car had just flipped on the way from Pune 5 days ago. Slightly suspect.

Anyways, after them came the slew of the Khans of the Industry. Zayed walked in with jeans and a white jacket with sparkling white shoes (Kab tak safaid rehe ga?). Arbaaz Khan with son and Malaika Arora Khan (she is bootylicious like J-Lo!), a pregnant and cute Suzanne Roshan, Amrita Arora with cricketer boyfriend, and Sanjay and Feroz (looking quite stiff!), and various other Khan-danis I did not recognize.

FINALLY, at around 9.15pm the magnum opus begins. We start with when Aurangzeb is about to kill his brothers for the right to be Shahen Shah. Arbaaz Khan does a decent job, but his fake mole is too distracting. Kabir Bedi and Manisha Koirala start off and then the flashback begins. I admire this guy’s effort, but he really used some cheesy computer effects that took away from the timelessness of the piece. Also, I believe there were some historical liberties taken (who doesn’t in Bollywood?). I really thought Pooja Batra did a fantastic job as Noor Jahan- but was she really getting hot and heavy with Mahabat Khan, the advisor and betrayer? Maybe you historical buffs can help a sister out. Kim Sharma really overdid it, the acting that is. She really looks like an alien and I can’t stop thinking about it. Also, even in her ‘classical Urdu’ she sounds like she is talking to that guy from Mohabattein.

Sonia encapsulates a classical beauty that you don’t see in many actresses these days, so I think she might have a hard time breaking into the current genre of anorexic babes who aren’t really that interesting. Also, she maybe a little butch for some of the more feminine male co-stars out there. Speaking of masculine/feminine, Bobby Darling also did an appearance there and had a teeny-tiny role in the film. By the way, Nigar Khan the Deported made a cameo as the Queen of Iran and DAMN is she nasty! Sorry to be critical, but I had to avert eyes immediately when there was a love scene between her and Zulfi. I am sure Shahwar Ali was jealous. It looked like gay porn. Not that I’ve seen that many. It was really bad; someone should tell her she looks like a duck. (Vikster: I wouldn't mind seeing Zulfi and Shahwar in some gay porn..I've already seen them making out at Out of the Blue)

By the end, we realized A.’s role was cut out. He said that was ok, since it might flop; but I am sure he was a bit disappointed, I know I was. My man is a good actor!

Anyways, Shashi Aunty’s part came before the interval so she left for home in Powai. The movie finally ended at 12.15am and A. and I headed home to thaw ourselves. Although the magnum opus is truly nothing in front of the old “Taj Mahal” or “Mughal-E-Azam”, I will always remember my night with Shashi Aunty. Oh, and I got her to give an autograph for my Vikster.

Onjvi, we are fraaands, no?

(Vikster: OMG! Meenu! Best gift EVER! Next time? Pack me the delish Aussie cousin played by Randeep Hooda to go!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cheers sweetie!

"New York will never be the same after Seven-Eleven"
"I meant..Twenty four-Seven"
"MUM! Nine-Eleven!"
"I knew that..Nine-Eleven sweetie, I knew that!"

Just one of the many many incredibly funny lines from my favourite TV show in the world. ONe for which I would wake up at 3 am (and have!). I've even had a marathon viewing (24 hours) non-stop..including repeats and behind-the-scenes stuff. The show? Absolutely Fabulous starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.

Any show that has lines like these deserves my entire viewing pleasure and respect: "Why, oh why, do we pay taxes, um? I mean, just to have bloody parking restrictions and buggery-ugly traffic wardens, and bollocky-pedestrian-bloody-crossings, and those bastard railings outside shops, so you can't even get in them? I mean, I know they are there to stop stupid people running into the street and killing themselves, but we're not all stupid, we don't all need nursemaiding. I mean, why not just have a 'Stupidity Tax', just tax the stupid people!"

I fell in love with this show after watching it on Comedy Central as just another BritCom (people who know me will remember my BritCom craze and my mania for quoting everyone from Mrs. Slocum to Basil Fawlty and Father Ted). Then I discovered just how awesome this show really is..the writing is incredibly witty (Are British people born with a rapier-sharp wit and fantastic bloddy accents?), the acting is...bloody fabulous..and the two main actors? Oy vey!

Joanna Lumley as Patsy Stone (Pats!) is EVERY gay man's idea of what is an ideal woman. She's a fashionista ("Sweetie, you can never go wrong with gloves, shoes or hats"), incredibly bitchy ("Eddy, your stomach's just like a dog waiting to be fed - it just hangs there until you want to kick it) and horny as heck ("Oh, he was just a windscreen washer I picked up at the traffic lights. Buns so tight he was bouncing off the walls."). Plus her drug and booze habit (She hasn't eaten since 1973 .. though she did eat a crisp in one episode and a bit of turkey in the Christmas one). Oh man, the number of Patsy clones I've seen at Pride parades in Boston is insane!

Jennifer Sanders as Edina Monsoon (Eddy!) is my favourite ever for the hundreds of lines she's provided me to quote for almost every occasion. She runs a PR agency ("What do I do sweetie? Well, I PR things dahling!"), has abominable taste in clothes with a love for Lacroix who she worships and needs to be up to date with EVERY single fad that's current in celebrity-land ("Who wouldn't put up with some slight crystallization in the lower abdomen and a not entirely unpleasant trickling sensation for THAT amount of cleavage?").

This is one of the few things I can watch on telly that is guarenteed to make me guffaw and forget my woes. Which is why I never go too far from my AbFab DVDs. I love you Pats and Eddy!

Current Music:
Sweet Dreams of you - Patsy Kline

To honor the other Patsy, this song. Patsy Kline is probably one of my favourite singers of all time. And her songs are just so incredible in the amount of feelings they convey and can bring out. Feelings I'm feeling right now just hearing the lines....
"Sweet dreams of you
Things I know can't come true
Why can't I forget the past, start loving someone new
Instead of having sweet dreams about you"

Monday, November 14, 2005

Too disorganized to think clearly!

I'm all over the place today. I think I dropped about a million things this morning cause I'm wicked pre-occupied with weird shit. Some work. Mostly weird shit. Like wondering why processed cheese is so vile but so good in a grilled sandwitch. Or why my back aches when I haven't done any manual labour for ... umm.. years? Or how to respond or even think to a very strange comment to my blog?

Anyway, lest I proceed to bore you, let me tell you about the most productive thing I did today (well, excluding work where I seem to have excelled this morning! And no, that's just a lousy pun on all the stupid Excel spreadsheets I updated). I started a BOOK CLUB! It's also a movie club (since I dunno how many will join my club if I mention books..). The link is (mark it down children!) http://pseudcorner.blogspot.com

Our first book is Vikram Seth's "Two Lives". Read it and comment about it or review it in a new post. Just join the blog (some weird funda about having to become a memeber of my blog circle should follow here..but I have no idea how it works) and write away. I promise not to censor (just moderate for gross obscenity).

And if you have any issues with someone's reviews please feel free to comment on that particular post.

I started this because I seem to know quite a few people who enjoy reading and talking about books. Now Bombay being Bombay, it's hard to co-ordinate a time for us all to meet over coffee and chat about a book. Ergo, online seems the way to go. I hope this experiment works out (and hope y'all do your part by publicizing the book club blog!).

We can also try recommending movies as well..for those of us who don't read. I recommend Francois Ozon's "8 Women" (Huit femmes). It's one of my favourites..a film set in the 1950's, filmed like a play on a set, set to Bollywood type song and dance routines..and starring the who's who (or the Who's that if you don't like la cinema francaise) of French cinema...Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Fanny Ardant..

Anyway, I do hope you guys will try this experiment out. I don't want this to follow my long list of failed experiments....heterosexuality, love, yams, veggie food...

Current Music:
The Requiem Mass (Kyrie Eleison) - Mozart

The first time I heard this performed live at Harvard's Sanders theatre, I cried. It is one of the most powerful vocal performances methinks..followed very closely by the Hallelujah chorus by Handel..

Friday, November 11, 2005

But seriously??

This was supposed to be a serious post on the Bombay North-West constituency and what I want to see our elected MP do for us (since we have a by-election next week). About half-way through I realized no one cared anyway (even though I do a lot ... no one else my age seems to really care about politics and how it impacts our daily lives .. somehow the new Motorola phone or who's sleeping with whom is far more interesting).

I'm also in an insanely weird mood right now. Laughing like a silly boy over the hate comment to my previous post. And groaning cause I just ate two lunches (one a Babitaji special and then a 12 inch sub from SubWay where I met my old "friend/enemy/muah-muah-we-must-do-this-again" Page 3 lady) and am contemplating eating another grilled cheese sandwitch. WHAT has happened to the famous Vikster self-control? I like this side of me. Before M. the breakup blues lasted 3 months and involved me sitting in bed under a down comforter watching AbFab and Sex and the City reruns and eating tubs of Haagen Dasz (strawberry..yumm!). This one has me eating pretty much everything in sight! Whoa!

Ergo, since I got tagged (WTF does this mean? Is this Bloggese for someone mentioned me on their blog as someone who should do this?), here's ome more niconsequential info about me that you can later use against me (in or near a court of law). Man, some of you now know me better than myself!

Seven Things I Plan To Do:

  1. Be a better friend to my old Engg. school buddies. I have been a terrible one to them.
  2. Win a major quiz and then blow my winnings on a REALLY expensive pair of shoes.
  3. Finish my book (G-d! The plot development is so behind schedule!)
  4. Get off my ass (and Amma's couch) and find a place to rent.
  5. Buy some shares and feel important now that I'm a "professional". (NOT whore!)
  6. Meet more fun media people and get into one of their happening parties.
  7. Dress up (formal) to work atleast 4 times a week.

Seven Things I Can Do:

  1. Discuss Slavic religion and history in the same breath as Angelina Jolie's lovelife.
  2. Find my way around Bandra blind-folded.
  3. Say "I Love You" in over 60 languages. And "I Hate You" in one.
  4. Sing "O Sole Mio" while the Churchgate-Bandra train goes over Mahim creek.
  5. Judge everyone according to impossibly high standards and then mope cause no one is good enough.
  6. Make a great Spinach Lasagna and a mean Apple Martini.
  7. Flirt.

Seven Things That I Can’t Do:

  1. Get high. Weed doesn't do a thing to me.
  2. Seem to hold on to a man.
  3. Touch my toes (I used to be uber-flexible...lack of people to bend me around has hurt!)
  4. Write poetry. I just don't get it.
  5. Give up Internet, TV or IPOD.
  6. Remember just why I hated someone.
  7. Look good in a pair of tight jeans.

Seven Things I Say Most Often:

  1. Fuckles!
  2. Halwa kya?
  3. Man, he's cute!
  4. Why does this always happen to me? (Or" What have I done to deserve this?")
  5. Nigga please! (Or to Meenu "Bitch please!")
  6. LOL! (Or it's lesser known Paki equivalent...LOLZZ!)
  7. Ooh yeah! That's it..uuuunnnhhhhh! (Oh! I thought this was "Least often")
Anyway, I now tag everyone who reads this post. Especially Anonymous (Duncan Hynes)! Meenu and me talk about you a lot!

Current Music:
Kaddish - Ofra Haza

One of the few Hebrew songs I know and can sing in tune. Now if only I can find a hot Israeli guy to sing it to (Probably when I'm in Goa over New year's...)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Last night was cleaning-out-my-life night.

Stood on the weighing scale after Guppie mentioned how umm..paunchy I was looking in my tight Tshirt. I didn't wanna tell him those *weren't* low rise jeans I was wearing..it's just that I've no longer got a 30 inch waist. And the only way I can get something around my neither regions is by sucking in my belly and letting the wasitband finds it's own happy level somewhere below that vast overhang that is Vikster's paunch. (OK, So my mum thinks I'm obsessing..but for someone who looked like the Allies liberated him from Dachau just the night before all my life, any slight appearance of fat on me is treated with absolute horror and disgust). Especially since I took more than 10 years to get over my skinny body self-loathing...now I have 10 more years of fat hating to do?? No fair!

Anyway, made myself a diet plan. Only an apple for lunch starting tommorrow (OK make that the day after..I succumbed to the lure of grilled cheese sandwithces this afternoon). 50 sit-ups every morning (again, to be started tommorrow...I sorta overslept this morning...). And finally, the motivation? I bought myself a pair of pants that would make a grown man weep (OK so he'd have to be a gay fashionista!). And I bought them one size too small. My goal? Fitting into my size 30 jeans again while magically transferring all that belly fat to my ass. Hmm. Achievable? NOT with Christmas around the corner and Diwali sweets all over the kitchen still!

Also planning on a major detox campaign. I just realized that maybe drinking isn't the best way to forget your sorrows...writing them on a public blog for the world to see is SO much more fun! So I'm gonna try not drinking for a month. Well, I lie. I will still drink wine but am giving up on the martinis and cosmos. As for weed, I don't think I smoke enough for an intervention yet. Seriously, 2 puffs and I don't even inhale? What a loser druggie I am!

And finally, did the email cleanup.

I realized that my way of getting over past breakups with boyfriends was to create a new email ID so I can begin again ("a new slate" for the internet savvy generation). I occasionally have the urge to go back and re-read the emails to try to read the signs I was missing that the relationship was in trouble..but usually end up shaking my head at just how amazingly naive and trusting I was.

I deleted M.'s emails last night.

Gut wrenching. Absolutely gut wrenching. Especially when I realized how many of those emails had pictures of him and me together. Or just him and his dog. Or him and Boston. Pictures were the only way we could keep in touch in our long-distance relationship. The only way I could see just how awesome my boyfriend looked and how much in love with him I was. I caught myself reading al the emails we wrote to each other. Some love letters - romantic, tender, hopeful .. some letters full of lust - eager, horny.. some plaintive, some wistful, some happy, many sad. And the crescendo building up to the day he came to Bombay to visit me. The last email sent the night before I knew I was to see him agian after months of being apart.."in 26 hours I will be in your arms again"..

The slacking of emails after that. Almost as if seeing each other again was just too painful because we both knew what we were missing. Seeing how I was establishing my life here meaning I was building a space around where he was absent. Seeing how happy I was with him and realizing how sad I would be when he would leave. I think I understand why M. had to leave me and move on. I understand but it still hurts.

I deleted M.'s emails last night. As part of my cleaning-up-my-life process. Then why do I feel like crap?

Current Music:
Ne me jugez pas - Sawt el-Atlas

These brothers from Morrocco totally wow me with their blend of Arabic rhythym and French pop. Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Party on Wayne!

Well, I'm sitting down in one place after a very very hectic week of painting the town red (or in my case, Prussian blue - my favourite colour). This was my life this week - party, club, Diwali, club, club, club, club. And this is my wallet this Sunday afternoon....empty. And on a Sunday which I planned on spending at Strand looking for those 2 elusive James Mitchener books I need to complete my collection..Grr! Looks like I'll have to dip into the children's college fund to satisfy my retail urges today! Anyway, I've about almost given up on kids...just realized I'll need a faithful loving boyfriend first..and one knows that doesn't exist. Not in Bombay anyway.

"Where have you been going?" I hear the proles ask. Well, mostly Seijo. The music rocks, the crowd's my age or thereabouts, the women are incredibly attractive, the smoke quotient is very low and the drinks are fabu. Tried Enigma one night. Danced the night away (literally, it was dawn when I left), was sorta buzzed the whole next day (You know that weird feeling when you think you're drunk during the day...and you are?). The music was sorta dancy in a Bollywood Punju-Shunju way and the martinis did wonders for my ability to dance. Well, to dance without caring what anyone thought of me anyway.

There was a Gay Bombay party on Friday but since I'm not going there anymore, I went to Shooters with my friend and his girlfriend instead. "Why are you not going to GB anymore?" I hear the fabulous people of Bombay ask. Well, it's cause I'm tired of feeling like a non-entity. I'm exhausted trying to look sexy and interested. I'm tired of caring about what people think of me. I'm weary of trying on 3 pairs of jeans just to find one where it looks like I have an arse worth talking to. And lastly, I'm sick of being ignored - by friends, foes and prospective friends/foes alike. Thought long and hard about it and realized it was exactly one year since I started going to the parties. And also realized that NOTHING ever came outta me going there. Yeah, so I could dance to music that I wouldn't be listening to anyway and I could watch guys kissing on the dancefloor.

But I get that at ANY other club in Bombay! Why would I want to go somewhere where my chances of meeting interesting gay people is even smaller than at an ostensible *straight* club? Plus, flirting with straight men and women is SO much more fun. I've had a blast doing that all last week. It's less complicated cause everyone knows nothing will ever come out of it...unlike the same with gay men where you have to watch what you say and do cause you just might end up taking him home..

It gets patronizing too though. But it's the type that I can live with. I've had one straight male friend flirt right back and then say "It's great that we can talk because I'm OK with your type of people". Had a female friend ask me to dance close because "I feel safe with you dancing this close. I could never do this with the other guys". Another female friend asks me to go out with her and then reminds me that "My boyfriend won't mind. He knows your type". Sometimes it's easy to forget I'm a man just because I'm gay.

Patronizing attitudes from straight people who're "OK" with my lifestyle and expect me to be thankful, Attitude from gay men who don't wanna think about tommorrow and wanna just live in the present.

I just can't win, can I?

Till then, I sip my martini, help my straight men friends out with chatting up women, help my female straight friends when they need a man to dance with/lug around stuff/shop and my gay friends? Well, is there such a thing?

*prepares for barrage of comments about me being a self-loathing gay man*

I'm out, happy with being gay and comfortable in my skin. If only I knew more people here that were the same.

Current Music:
Woo Hoo - The 5 6 7 8's (Kill Bill Soundtrack)

This is one of my favourite movies in the last 5 years. Watched it about 10 times now and plan on watching it even more..

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Happy Diwali (belch! groan!)

Well, I suppose I should have made this post a few days ago while it was still Diwali but it's been wicked hectic chez moi this festival season..First of; Happy Diwali all...(insert chessy greeting here). Hope you had a fun festival of lights...I suppose I'm still in time to wish y'all Eid Mubarak though. Woohoo! So I got one festival right!

What does one really do on Diwali besides eat? And visit people? And burst fire crackers and wake up the dead? Pray? OK, not pray...Diwali is the hedonists festival after all...all night gambling binges, eating till you're fit to burst, setting off small fires. And the best part is, ask 10 people why we celebrate Diwali and get 10 different answers....So here's how I celebrate Diwali.

Woke up before dawn on Naraka Chaturdashi (the first day of Diwali). Amma massaged my head with some warm coconut oil...when we were younger, we'd get the full body oil treatment! The lady of the house (in this case Amma) massages everyone's head with oil and heats up the water for a pre-dawn bath. The water is supposed to have been collected the night before. The origins of this ritual are to describe how Lord Krishna's wives treated him after he came back at dawn bloody and bruised from battling Narakasura all night. After you bathe in steaming hot water with sandalwood soap (which feels so good early in the morning), as you step out of the bathroom, you crush a bitter fruit with your right foot (This symbolizes Krishna's crushing of Naraka). And then, it's time for the fireworks! Well, since I'm kind and don't wanna annoy my neighbours before dawn, I only light sparklers while Amma goes about lighting all the lamps in the house. The night before, all the lamps are lit and you leave a window open so that Lakshmi - the Goddess of Wealth feels welcome into your house. How very deliciously pagan!

And then one eats. Like there's no tommorrow. The closest thing I find to the Diwali bacchanalia (NOT "The love for Amitabh and Abhishek" but "A riotous, boisterous, or drunken festivity; a revel"), is the American Thanksgiving where you sit around stuffing your face all day and then passing out from eating too much food later in the evening. Chaklis, karanjis, laddoos, tukdi, banana chips, pedhas, kaju katri, chivda, kheer...the list is endless. Amma, like many other moms, spent all week cooking these up...of course, half of them disappeared in the days before Diwali (Midnight snacks...).

Visiting neighbours and family all day and eating everything they set in front of you seems like fun when you think about it; but in reality? Groan! I was so full of food I couldn't even fit into a pair of jeans (which seems to be the story of my life..the winter fattening has begun!). And surprise surprise! I find out that the Diwali we celebrate involves eating fish for lunch! And here I thought like other Hindus we don't eat non-vegetarian food on festivals..but no! Woohoo! I pigged out on pomfret curry and fried surmai. My two favourite fishy eats..I love fish so much. Must be the Konkani genes in me!

Anyway, I hope everyone had a happy festival season. Now it's onto Christmas and more pigging out (Thank you Bandra neighbour aunties!). Full speed ahoy!

Current Music:
Kidda - Natacha Atlas

I love the orgasmic sounds Natacha makes in this song. Most entertaining..