Wednesday, December 31, 2008
But I do have some little New Year traditions, just like my little Christmas traditions.
Remember the days of Doordarshan, some twenty years ago, when they would put together an interesting, entertaining, variety show in which the likes of Jaspal Bhatti would make us make our way merrily into the new year? In those days, the entire family would curl up in front of the TV with a quilt and watch whatever was going on.
And then, out of nowhere, we grew up, began to find it rather boring to sit at home and watch TV with the family. I think the last time we did that, we watched an A. R. Rahman concert. After that, we preferred to be out, partying with friends.
And somewhere along the line, being with the family began to appeal to me once again. I go out with friends all the time. I also go out by myself. But I rarely, if at all, go out with my family any more. So I prefer spending occasions like birthdays, my parents' anniversary, Diwali, and New Year's, with the family. Because when I think about it, it's not too often that I actually make time to be with them. Sometimes, because of erratic work schedules, I don't talk to my brother for days together. Because it just doesn't happen that both of us are at home and are awake. Even if we are, at the end of a long day at work, all I want to do is eat, take a bath, and go to sleep. Sometimes, life passes us by so fast that we miss what really matters.
Have a great year, everyone.
It's all in the mind. I guess we just need a bit of a push every now and then to guide us in the direction in which we are meant to go, and New Year's Day is one such nudging push. You can actually give yourself that push on any random day if you put your mind to it, but there's no harm in taking a bit of help from an occasion like New Year's Day, now, is there? It's rather nice, actually, the way this day is always meant to signal the onset of something new, new dreams, new hopes, better paths towards their fulfillment.
Happy New Year, people. May the Force be with you.
PS: I have no idea why I put in a Star Wars quote here, since I am not too big a fan. My laptop is the only computer in my house which is not named after a Star Wars character. But somehow this line seemed to fit in just right over here.
Never have I been so enthralled, so glued to a book. I just realised, that in the four days in which I read this book, I did not even listen to any music! Well, except for the songs that were playing when I went to watch Ghajini and when I went shopping yesterday... there was probably some music playing at the malls, I guess.
Khaled Hosseini has done a brilliant job at describing the terror inflicted upon the people of Afghanistan by the Mujahideen, the Taliban, and later, briefly, the American army. He has done an equally great job at describing the emotional turmoil the people went through in that time, the shattered hopes, the lost love, the separation from loved ones, the complete agony of it all.
The story revolves around two women, Mariam and Laila, who, by a twist of fate, end up being married to the same man. Both have experienced the loss of loved ones. Initially, they are rather hostile to each other, but eventually, a strong bond forms between them, out of their shared abhorrence for their husband, and the fact that both have seen so much anguish in their lives, and don't have much to be happy about in life, other than each other's company, and, later, Laila's daughter Aziza, who brings into their lives the love, the joy, the fulfillment they lacked.
The powerful narrative makes the reader feel the tragedy, the hopelessness, the ecstasy, with the characters. I actually wept through some of the more agonizing parts. And I was pretty shaken up during some of the more gruesome parts.
The Taliban forbade women from getting an education, from taking up jobs, even from going out on the street without a burqa and a male relative to escort them. They forbade people from writing books, from painting, from watching films. It makes me think, how lucky I am, to be living in a time and place where I have the freedom of creative expression, the same educational opportunities as the men, an opportunity to work in the same workplace as them, and to be treated in the same way. There are men (even women, as a matter of fact) that I know of who do not think that women can do the same job in the same way as men do it, or that they do not deserve the same rights. But they are way better than men who think that a woman's purpose of existence comprises of cooking for him, cleaning up behind him, bearing his sons, bringing up the sons, satisfying his lust, and then, being locked up in his house and then, on top of all that, becoming the target of his sneers and his cruelty. Men to whom it never occurs that women are also people, who have dreams, hopes, desires, who feel pain, agony, ecstasy. I am thankful that I do not live in a time and place where one constantly lives in fear of death, of impending doom. That I do not have to flee from my own home in order to live.
By the way, I checked off all four items from my list. Read two novels so far, watched two movies alone so far, went out shopping by myself yesterday, and found myself sleeping from midnight to noon almost every day. Cheers!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Not so very long ago, I was blissfully unaware of Bhatti's talents. At poking fun at me and amusing himself and everyone around him at my expense. At exhibiting fine examples of the strangest kind of humor that exists on the face of this Earth. At procuring nondescript objects from the junk in his cubicle to hand over to me to throw at the likes of Akash or Abhinav.
And then there are the talents that I've been fortunate enough to see from Day One. The talent at expressing every emotion known to mankind with a facial expression that no other living being can replicate. At making all kinds of sounds, all day long, in his cubicle, that no musical instrument or living being can replicate. And when you get a combination of a vocal and a facial expression, it is interesting enough to make you curse yourself for not making a video.
In spite of being part of the same team, I haven't had a chance to really work with Bhatti. I'm not sure if that is fortunate or unfortunate for me. Maybe some people who read this would like to comment upon that. But, being immediate cubicle neighbours, I've had the chance to know him pretty well. He makes seventeen (that's his favourite number) attempts a day to do something unspeakably bad to my kangaroo. Another seventeen to instigate me into beating up somebody in the team. And another seventeen times, he will deal out a comment that will make me want to beat him up. But in spite of all that, I wouldn't want to trade him in for any other neighbour.
Happy birthday, Bhatti. May you get everything you ever wanted in the year to come, and in the years to come after that.
You know how some songs are full of angst, but the way they put together the words, the music, and the vocals, they actually make you feel good? These lines have exactly that effect on me:
Jaane naa kahan wo duniya hai
Jaane naa wo hai bhi ya nahin
Jahaan meri zindagi mujhse
Itni khafa nahin
And Vasundhara Das, who has just these four lines in the song, blows me away with the way she sings her four lines.
Saansein kho gayi hai kiski aahon mein
Main kho gayi hoon jaane kiski baahon mein
Manzilon se raahein dhoondhti chali
Kho gayi hai manzil kahin raahon mein
Even after disappointments (music-wise) like Ghajini, songs like this reaffirm my faith in A. R. Rahman's music and make me look forward to whatever he will be working on in the coming year.
And then, once in a while, along comes a movie which, touches upon all of these, doing justice to all of them, and not overdoing any of it? Ghajini is just such a movie. A movie which has scenes that touch the heart of the romantic, scenes that thrill, scenes that are action packed and utterly gruesome at times, scenes that make you laugh, and those that make you cry.
When I go out for a movie that's any longer than two hours, I always have an inkling of doubt, about whether or not I'll be able to sit through all of it, without getting all fidgety and restless as I often tend to, during movies like Kal Ho Naa Ho or Devdas. But, well, this is one movie that completely justifies overshooting the three-hour mark. I was completely glued to my seat all through, completely absorbed in the movie, entirely unaware of everything, if anything, that was going on around me. In the scene where Kalpana helps the physically challenged girls cross over the museum gates, I felt this sudden burst of joy, this renewed faith in humanity, the feeling that all goodness is not dead. It was enough to make my eyes mist up. When Kalpana sold off her prized Ambassador to help pay for the treatment of the ailment that Sanjay said his mother was suffering from, I was completely touched. The part where Ghajini's goons were looking for Kalpana because they had been instructed to hunt her down and kill her off, I was so utterly terrified, horrified, terrorized, like I've never been during any movie I've ever seen.
That's the kind of film it is. It deals with a wide gamut of events, people and emotions, and makes the audience feel everything from their heart and soul.
And by the way, I don't care to much for Aamir's look that was created specifically for this movie, because it doesn't suit him (or any other decent guy, probably) to shave the hair on his head and not the ones on his face. But when those two things are the right way around, in the part where Kalpana is still alive, he looks terrific, as always. In the Behka number, he wears all kinds of clothes, including a bright purple T-Shirt and a bright pink shirt (albeit with a waistcoat on top of it, but the shirt does show through, you know). And he perches on top of a bright pink car. None of those colours look out of place. All the six looks he sports in that song are just great.
Speaking of the song, the background music is great, but the songs leave a lot to be desired. Nowhere near what I expect from A. R. Rahman after masterpieces like Ae Ajnabi, Kahin To..., Nahin Samne, Tu Hi Re, and albums like Vande Mataram, Bombay Dreams, and the more recent, Slumdog Millionaire. Only the Kaise Mujhe number appealed to me somewhat, and even that one doesn't really sound Rahmanesque (That's a term my brother, also a big Rahman fan, coined.) either.
But hey, don't play the songs on repeat, but do go and watch the movie. It has something for everyone.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Now I am the kind of person who shows little or no interest in politics, hardly ever reads newspapers, loved Mathematics and Science in school, but wished she didn't have to study Social Science. So this was actually a venture into unfamiliar territory for me.
I am not sure what it was about the book, but it had me hooked pretty early on, in spite of everything I just said. The manner in which it is written sometimes seems more befitting for a history textbook or a newspaper article, given the way the author clobbers her readers with facts, with their sheer volume. But even so, she makes you feel the pain, the agony, the anguish felt by the Hindus in Bangladesh during the 1992 riots, soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, in a way a simple factual account in a textbook or newspaper cannot hope to achieve.
It puts things in perspective. Girls like us complain about Delhi not being safe for girls at night. This is the kind of thing that reminds us to be thankful that our city is pretty much safe for us to wander about by ourselves in the daytime. There are places, not too far from where we live, which are or have been highly unsafe for any man, woman or child to venture out into, even in broad daylight.
Taslima gives a very realistic, very human touch to the story by characterising her protagonist, Suranjan's character, the way she does. Here's this guy, who has this very idealistic take on a lot of things, who believes that things will automatically turn out right, the way they should. He's a total underachiever, in terms of his professional life and his romantic life. He doesn't want to work for anybody. Often, all he wants to do is sleep all day. I think, at some level, a lot of us can relate to him. I think that this character is the most significant factor in giving this book its appeal.
And she does, of course, bring to the forefront, the kind of marauding that goes on in the name of religion. She talks of Bangladesh, but, as we know, this kind of thing happens in a lot of places. Including India. I have never been a very religious person myself, and I am often prompted to think that, in this country, only two things happen in the name of religion. Either people waste their time and money, or they fight with one another. This book has led me to think so once again, even more strongly than before. Religion seems to be a very convenient excuse for conducting a robbery in broad daylight. It also seems to be something that political parties keep trying to leverage to their advantage, with little or no regard for the lives of innocent people that are lost in the process. Do certain people not have the right to lie, or to protect their lives and property, just because of their religion? Actually, the "just because of their religion" part is entirely unnecessary here. I don't think that there is any reason strong enough to cause a non criminal person to forfeit the right to live. Do you?
Last night, I challenged myself to twenty four hours of absence from blogosphere. No posts on either of my blogs, no checking on the comments people wrote, no checking out new posts that other people wrote on their blogs. Now, knowing myself and the strong addiction that I have developed towards blogging, the only way to achieve this was to turn off all the computers in the house and not allow myself to turn any of them on. Which is exactly what I did. Felt great. Peaceful. No e-mail, no constant droning noise emanating from the laptop, almost no connection with the rest of the world. A long, peaceful, uninterrupted reading session. Managed to finish my first novel for this shutdown (will write a review in the next twenty four hours) and get a head start on my second one.
But you know, it didn't last too long. I've been trying to fall asleep for about an hour now, only to realize that I wouldn't, until I did this.
Anyhow, I am certainly enjoying my time alone... well, almost alone, since my mom is also at home these days and my brother is always at home for a major portion of the day. But he mostly sleeps or works from home.
By the way, I checked off another two items from my to do list. I've slept a lot. And finished one novel. The second one is well underway. And I am also going to watch another movie on my own today. Watch this space for the book reviews and movie reviews.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
This evening, after the Indian Idol gig was over, my mom felt like watching Devdas on another channel. Now this is a movie I liked when I watched it the first time, enough to willingly go out with friends to watch it a second time, but, you know, things change, and so does my taste in movies, and now I find it quite sickening. There are a bunch of other movies like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge which are in the same league.
Coming back from the digression, I did sit down with my mom for the fifteen minutes or so that it took me to finish my dinner. I watched the part where Paro is just about to get married, and her baaraat has arrived at her doorstep, and Devdas comes to her room to tell her not to go ahead with it, to marry him instead. At that time, she refuses him, basically because he had not been strong enough to stand by her when she had needed him to do so, and he'd come to her at a time when her family's pride was at stake. It was a matter of principle, rather than of deciding whom to marry based on whom she actually loved, had always loved.
So I was just thinking about what I would do if I were ever faced with a situation of this sort. Now I fully realize that there is a world of a difference between hypothetically analyzing the situation and actually being faced with it, but here's what I think.
Marriage is not like something you would need to deal with on the job, or something a High Court Judge might need to deal with. A decision to marry should not be based primarily on principles.
Yes, Devdas was cowardly at the time when he was required to stand up for himself and for Paro and for the relationship they shared. But it must obviously have taken a lot of courage for him to admit that he was wrong, and to profess his love to Paro, albeit on her wedding night. Better late than never, I always say. And she was never really happy with her married life, was she? And he was never really happy after she left her. So what was the whole point of sticking to principles?
On a lighter note, you know, I'm more of a rebellious type, more of a Trisha from Pyaar Ke Side Effects, who would actually compensate for a cowardly man's cowardliness. If doesn't really know how to make a girl run away with him, this girl will make him run away with her!
But you know what their USP is? They create enough emotional drama to cause even people like me, who actually think that it's all humbug, to be emotionally involved with the show. As I have recently come to discover.
These days, my mom is completely hooked on to Indian Idol because one of the contestants used to be her student. (No, she does not teach music. Never did. She taught him English, just like a million other students and two of her own kids.) Now, since there's not much else I feel like doing around the house in the evenings, two evenings a week, I end up plopping down in front of the TV with her, and often with the rest of the family as well. And guess what? I cheer when one of the contestants I like sings well. I feel disgusted when one of those I don't like doesn't sing well. I feel even more disgusted when the audience votes for him, in spite of his totally off-key performance. People seem to vote for contestants based on their region, their gender, or other such irrelevant factors. It really puts me off. And then, one of the more deserving contestants has to be eliminated. Only twice did I watch these episodes where they announce which one of the contestants was not going to go to the next round. On both occasions, I felt that the girl did not perform all that well in the immediately preceding round, but has been doing really well, persistently, and there were others who did a lot worse than her in that particular round, and she did not deserve to be eliminated. Oh, and if you noticed, I used the pronouns in the feminine gender, because the audience seems to like throwing out the girls. In today's show, the hosts were talking about how it has always been so at Indian Idol. The audience has never voted strongly enough in favour of the girls.
Okay, I don't want to digress and launch into a feminist discourse over here. All I really wanted to say was that I wish reality shows were more real. Like Who Dares Wins used to be. That they showed things just as they are, without adding superfluous elements of drama, emotion, and suspense. Don't we get enough of all that stuff from our movies? And oh, from Ekta Kapoor?
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I picked this movie for watching on my own because, given how much I loved the first one, I knew I would certainly not be bored. Loved the movie, loved how cute Alex the lion looked as a lion cub, loved the disastrous fate of the Air Penguin flight and the penguins' devilish ways of finding spare parts to fix the plane. Loved the undeniably adorable and entirely unexpected romantic angle involving Gloria and Melman. Loved the old lady who beat up Alex all over again and kept calling him a "bad kitty."
And yes, I liked the experience of watching a movie by myself. Sometimes, I have missed movies that I really wanted to watch, for lack of like minded company. Good to know that it doesn't have to happen that way. Good to know that I can enjoy a movie without worrying about my friends getting bugged by my random remarks, or me singing in their ears, or laughing at something that they don't find funny, or crying at something they don't find quite as touching. It felt good. I'm going to do this again in the near future.
When we were really little kids, my mom used to tell us stories about Santa Claus and we used to believe them. We used to deck up little, artificial trees and hang up stockings, which our mom and dad would fill up with stuff in the middle of the night. Our mamaji who lives in the US got us a huge Christmas stocking each. One with lots of room for gifts and a little loop to conveniently hang it up by. Boy, did we get a lot of use out of those!
When we were a little older, we'd figured out that there was no Santa, but it was fun to pretend that we still believed in him and hang up our stockings anyway.
For quite a few years now, it's been a tradition for me to sit down in front of the TV and watch a few Christmas Specials. Cartoon Network used to air quite a few of them, and I remember spending six or seven hours watching a whole bunch of them back to back on three or four different Christmas Days. I especially loved it when they aired How The Grinch Stole Christmas!. (The animated version. Somehow I never managed to catch the other one, in which Jim Carrey plays the Grinch.) Or A Garfield Christmas Special. And when one of the movie channels air something nice like Jingle All The Way, I make it a point to catch that too. And, of course, when Pogo aired Shrek The Halls, I was quite delighted to find out that there was a Shrek Holiday Special as well.
I must also mention one more significant thing that I love about this holiday. Christmas cake. It's always lovely. (Unless it is full of raisins.) And it's a nice change from the other cakes that are creamy, heavy, and much sweeter.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Spread the good cheer around.
I have always enjoyed Jim Carrey's movies, but this is the first time I actually went out for one of them. I have watched a number of his other movies on HBO or Star Movies and enjoyed every single one of them. Our friend Bhatti, who has never once watched a Jim Carrey movie, was not too enthusiastic about this one either, because he did not have a very high opinion of Jim or his movies. I wonder how someone can form an opinion on this subject without watching The Mask or the Ace Ventura movies or anything else, for that matter.
Yes Man was everything I expect from Jim, and more. It had all of us in splits the whole time. It's not too often that I laugh this hard while watching a movie. Perhaps the fact that Alok always laughs so hard when he laughs at something, and that he was sitting right next to me, also made a difference. It was a light-hearted, fun movie, just the kind I would want to watch when I go out with my co-workers.
Eventually Bhatti grudgingly admitted to Jim Carrey being a passably okay actor, and insulted him by comparing him with Govinda. But he did like the movie.
Oh, by the way, I was wondering where I had seen the actress who plays Lucy in this film. Lucy, by the way, was Jim's best friend's fiancée. Abhinav is generally the one with whom I discuss such things when it comes to Hollywood movies and American sitcoms. The reason why she looked so familiar to me was that she played the interviewer in Friends - The One with Joey's Interview. And Abhinav, she does not star in The O. C.
This was actually the first time I have really enjoyed a movie with my teammates. Very pleasant change from the last day before the shutdown, two years ago.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We went out for lunch and a movie today, and I'll write about the movie separately, but there are a couple of anecdotes from lunchtime worth mentioning here.
We were supposed to go to The Great India Place for the whole thing. Bhatti, Abhinav, Bhavna, Aman and I arrived a little later than the rest of the party, and Aman went off to get himself a pair of sunglasses. The other four were supposed to find the rest of the party and decide on the lunch venue. At this point, Alok called me to find out where we were. I told him that we were going upstairs from the parking lot, and I asked him where they were. He told me that everyone was in the food court. Now I absolutely do not like the food court out there. I told Alok that I was not coming to the food court. He told Mohit, our boss, that I had told him that I was not coming to the food court.
Eventually I did go there, because I thought that, since everyone else was there, it would be a reasonable place for all of us to gather, talk, and arrive at a consensus on the lunch venue. Now at this time, these teammates of mine, together with Mohit, were plotting to pull my leg a bit. They decided to veto whatever alternatives I suggested to the food court and make me believe that, since I was the only one who did not want to eat there, my opinion did not matter too much.
So there we were, gathering an opinion poll on the lunch venue, and the only ones who voted against the food court were the four of us who had shown up late. Obviously, if Bhatti and Abhinav had been aware of the plan, they would certainly have joined the rest of the party. Quite likely taken the lead.
Eventually, Anuranjan told me the plan that they had all planned, and we went to a decent restaurant to eat. Gauri was actually taken in by the whole thing for a while, in spite of being a party to the mischievous plan. For a moment he actually thought that we were going to eat at the food court.
I have this habit of picking my favourite dish from all the ones that are left over at the end of the meal, and forgetting for a few minutes that I am not at home. I like to pick up the serving bowl and finish off whatever is left, directly from that bowl, using the serving spoon. I think my friends from school and college are quite familiar with this. Apparently my teammates were not. Bhatti was giving me one of his priceless expressions and found the whole thing interesting enough to capture on camera. He was a little reluctant to show me the picture, for fear that I may delete it. Hey, I am at least that sporting, people. I would not delete such a picture. I've asked him to mail it to me when he transfers it on to his laptop.
For the next eleven days, I am going to forget all about my work, my diet, the gym, setting alarms to wake me up... I am just going to unwind and do the things that I normally either don't find time for or don't allow myself to do. Just a little while back, I had some of my mom's freshly cooked, piping hot gajar ka halwa. There's nothing quite like it. Nothing quite like sleeping to your heart's content. Or staying up as late as you like.
I'm going to start checking off items from my to do list tomorrow. I'll keep everyone posted on those. And there is a movie review pending from today's outing, which I will write tomorrow as well.
Enjoy the holiday season, folks.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
...how we all have these friends with whom we fight, argue, squabble every time we talk to them, but the instant they stop speaking to us, we're totally miserable, and so are they?
...how we have some friends with whom we never fight, never argue, always agree to disagree gracefully? Some people suggest that such relationships are rather superficial, but I don't. I think such friendships exist, are meaningful, and are very necessary to maintain a fine balance of things.
...how hearing a close friend's voice after a long while can make you smile straight from the heart and cry at the same time, just because you feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of the emotions you feel?
...how we figure out how much someone means to us only after spending some time away from them? When somebody is constantly around and is being taken for granted, we never really see the good in that person, their best side, or how great they make us feel.
Monday, December 22, 2008
This was our first day at work without Akash. Bhatti is apparently well-prepared to keep his promise to irritate me in order to make up for Akash's absence. But maybe he needs to be reminded that he needs to be prepared to face my counter attacks as well. And hey, what's going to happen when Bhatti moves to another team? He'll have to hand over the responsibility of handling Akash's share as well as his own share of things to somebody else. I don't really think that there is a pair of shoulders strong enough to carry that responsibility! What do you say, Bhatti? Are you training anybody to do that?
It was also Sumit's birthday today. Spoke to him for a brief period of time when it was midnight in Melbourne, and called him again in the evening to talk to both him and Aditi at leisure. There was a time, a few years ago, when calling long distance within India seemed to be a great big deal to me. When these very friends of mine moved to various cities, I gradually got used to the idea and stopped bothering about how much it was going to cost me. It didn't really cost all that much, now that I come to think of it. But this was at a time when I was still doing my post graduation and not making any money, whereas my friends had all earned professional undergraduate degrees and started working. Now that I make a decent amount of money for myself and call rates have dropped, I never have a reason to think about that kind of thing. But international calls still seemed to be an expensive proposition. But today, it just felt so great, just to hear my friends' voices after such a long while, that I forgot all about it. I forgot that I was at work, and I did need to go back to my beloved keyboard and monitor and do something to justify the money I make. Aditi had to remind me that I was on an international call, and then Sumit had to remind me that I should probably go back to work, before I actually went back to work.
By the way, I dressed in all-black attire to commemorate the occasion.
Oh, and we had a little team party this evening. We celebrate all the birthdays that occur in a certain month together at the end of the month. Today was that, and the Christmas party. I totally forgot about my diet and had two and a half doughnuts and a significant amount of Christmas cake. But hey, the rules of the diet always clearly stated that I always allow myself to eat whatever I want on weekends and special occasions. And Sumit's birthday is a pretty special occasion to me.
This day just did not feel like Monday at work. You see, I have to work (okay, go to work) for another two days before the eleven-day shutdown. Go to work, because my boss has already made plans for everybody in the team to enjoy a day of no work and all play on Wednesday. So basically, I have to work only tomorrow. Hence there is no reason for this Monday to feel like a Monday. It actually felt like a Friday. Add to that the team birthday bash and Christmas party, the prolonged discussion on how to enjoy ourselves on the last day before the shutdown, and the phone conversation with my friends which made me forget about everything around me for a while, and what do you get? That's not the kind of atmosphere in which one can fix bugs, you know!
And now I want to sleep. I won't necessarily be able to fall asleep just because I want to, but I guess I need to shut the laptop's lid and then shut my eyelids and put out the lights. Had a good day. Nothing to write home about, but something to blog about, so I'm not complaining.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The night out for Akash's farewell party was a whole lot of fun. You know how Bhatti bowls? You see him bowling and you think, this guy is going to hurl himself at the bowling pins, whether he hurls the balls or not. Well, guess what? He never actually did that, but Sandy almost did. Oh, by the way, Sandy was not the only one who fell on to the floor in the bowling alley that evening. Akash was actually rolling on the floor, laughing at my bowling style.
When we were giving the collage its finishing touches, somebody suggested that we should perhaps write something across it. Bhavna and Neha wanted to put something like Friends Forever on it. Now this is a comment that only my immediate team members will appreciate. I said that maybe we should put those words as a watermark on top of the collage. (There is a certain feature that I have been working on which is related to watermarks. It is probably the single most time-consuming feature I have worked on in my two and a half year long tenure in my team.) The comment had everybody laughing at me.
Going back to the Print Screen key incident which I did write about, Abhinav did point out that day that it does deserve an honourable mention on my blog. I didn't want to put it up then, because I wanted to put it in its rightful context, which I could do only after we gave Akash the collage. Abhinav suggested he'd write about it on my behalf, and then we'd see if people could make out that I didn't write the post. He kept postponing writing that post, and eventually I beat him to it. By the way, both of us were pretty confident that, if nobody else, Bhatti would certainly recognize the writing style.
Abhinav used his rusty sketching skills to do a portrait of Akash for his farewell card. I think it was unanimously agreed upon that the only similarity between the sketch and the photograph he tried to copy, was the angle at which Akash's head was tilted.
Akash gave us a lot of fun moments, whether he was around, or we were just sitting around recollecting memories and collecting pictures. We're all definitely going to miss that.
After you've known someone for over ten years, the relationship you share with them is bound to have seen it highs and lows, its sunshine and rain. And if you are still friends after all of it, the friendship is certainly a strong and valuable one.
I always make fun of the fact that Sumit likes to dress only in black. If it were not considered inauspicious, he would definitely have chosen to get married in black. But you know what? There have been times when we've been far apart, in different cities or different countries, and I've missed him really badly on some days, and I've marked those days by wearing his favourite colour. It has generally helped soothe the heartache.
I have not been interested in soft toys after I turned ten or so. But I guard my kangaroo with my life. Because it's a gift from Sumit.
I attended Sumit's wedding primarily from Aditi's side. Except the brief period when I went to dance with the baraat. Because it's more fun that way. In a North Indian Hindu wedding, the saalis (bride's sisters) get to have a lot of fun. Like we did. Otherwise, if I'd had to decide whose side to attend the wedding from, it would have been a major dilemma. Because both the bride and groom are among my dearest, closest, oldest, most cherished friends.
Happy birthday, buddy. And, for tomorrow, happy one-month wedding anniversary to both of you. Wish for you to get everything you ever wanted or needed. Although, now that you have such a wonderful wife, I'm sure that doesn't leave much to be desired!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I think there are very few people in this world who are quite as comfortable with themselves as Chaya is. Who manage to put forth a bright, cheerful face all the time. Who also spread the good cheer around them.
On a lighter note, there are very few people who are quite as obsessed with penguins. Or quite as talented at making random works of art, such as spider shaped bookmarks. Who own such an extensive wardrobe, most of which comprises of stuff their moms bought them.
Happy birthday, girl. May you always get your heart's desire. Love you.
Friday, December 19, 2008
One of my dearest friends at work, Akash, left today. I cannot actually come up with a better post on this subject than this one, but here are some random thoughts, incidents, and memories.
I will definitely miss Akash saying "Good Morning" in his typical style every morning. I will also miss having someone around who calls me over to his cubicle to show me a random video exactly when it is time for me to go home. If not that, he'll ask me to take him out to eat momos or hot chocolate fudge or something of the sort at precisely that time.
Akash was one colleague I have bothered any number of times when I've been feeling low, confused, sad, ill, or simply feeling like taking a little break from work. It was during those moments that I actually watched the random videos he liked showing me.
And yes, I will also miss the cribbing and the whining. I can almost hear him say, "hadh badtameezi hai yaar!" or complain about Abhinav going to the market and not getting momos for him.
Oh, and we made a collage of our pictures for Akash's farewell gift. It turned out to be quite lovely. We had a lot of fun putting it all together. We went through hundreds of pictures from various trips, football matches, birthday treats... After shortlisting about fifty pictures, which was already a pretty large number, I was about to start putting them together, when I suddenly remembered that Akash also went to Dalhousie with us and there were about five hundred pictures from that trip too. After doing it all up, Bhatti suddenly chipped in with a fresh batch of amazing pictures. And after I managed to add those, Namrata suddenly chipped in with a fresh batch of amazing pictures.
Then there was a particular picture that Sandy wanted us to include. We asked him to mail it to "all of us." He mailed it to all of us. Including Akash. With "Candidate For Collage" in the subject line. I will never forget Namrata's reaction to that. She was the last person who was expected to say, "Sandy gadha hai!"
There was also something completely idiotic that I did last weekend. I thought it would be a good idea to include snapshots from Akash's post on friends in the collage. I looked around a little on my laptop's keyboard, and then called Abhinav and told him that I wanted snapshots of that blog post and couldn't get them because there was no Print Screen key on our laptops. He told me he wasn't home, and would call me back when he got there. In the half hour that it took Abhinav took to call me back, I did see that the Print Screen key was right there, in plain sight, next to the power button. Eventually I did not use those snapshots.
I will miss having a friend who always finds a way to irritate me when I am feeling good, and a way to make me smile when I am feeling low. Bhatti has actually promised Akash that he will now make it a point to cause me all the irritation, agitation, and frustration that he used to cause, along with all the irritation, agitation, and frustration that Bhatti himself causes. Which means that, instead of just trying to scare my kangaroo, Bhatti will also come up with new, weird names for him. Bhatti will also try his toes on my laptop's fingerprint reader and make snide remarks about everything I wear to work. But who is going to take me out for hot chocolate fudge? And I hope Akash is still going to keep our commitment towards commenting on each other's blogs...
I'm really going to miss seeing you every day dear. Wish you all the very best, whatever you do, wherever you go. Love you.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- Nothing, however terrible it may seem at first, is ever as bad as it looks. Every difficult phase that comes your way has something to cheer about, something that pushes you through, giving you the strength to make your way to the other end and emerge stronger.
- Nothing, however perfect it may seem at first, is really as great or as beautiful as it looks. Every situation that you are faced with and every stroke of good luck that you are granted, comes with its own set of imperfections that you have to work with.
- Some things in life are just not meant to come our way easily. They are meant to test our patience, our sincerity, our commitment towards whatever it is that we want. But at the end of day, the things we get with some amount of difficulty are the ones we really learn to cherish, to value, to appreciate.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In my team, we used to celebrate birthdays by asking the birthday girl/boy's friends to write down their thoughts about the person whose birthday we were celebrating, and then that person would be asked to guess who wrote what. That used to be a lot of fun. Too bad we discontinued it.
I was just sorting through some old sent items in my mailbox, and I came across some of those comments that I wrote for my friends. Now I've reproduced them exactly as they were, without correcting spelling, grammar or punctuation, or highlighting the errors in pink. I just reformatted it a little to make it look a little neater.
December 18, 2007. This was written for Chaya. Her birthday falls on the 20th of December.
- What makes him/ her different from others: her cheerful, bubbly nature, her giggling, her PJs, and her adoration for penguins!
- Well, if you become him/her manager what would u like to change in him/her: nothing that I can think of right now…
- What irritates him/her the most: Akash!! Especially when he does things like stealing her stuffed toys!
- "BINDAAS BOL" write what you want to say about him/her in this section: Chaya is very much like herself ;-)
I distinctly remember not being alone in answering the third question above this way. The team unanimously declared Akash to be extremely talented at irritating Chaya.
January 10, 2008. This was for Akash. His birthday falls on the 10th of January.
- What makes him/ her different from others: the way he keeps track of every penny in his wallet and constantly cribs about the shortage of the same!!
- Well, if you become him/ her manager what would u like to change in him/ her: nothing
- What irritates him/ her the most: it has already been established that Akash is very good at irritating others… so there’s not much opportunity for others to irritate him
- "BINDAAS BOL" write what you want to say about him/ her in this section: apne type ka ek hi piece hai. I will always remember the way he tried to unlock my laptop using his toe prints on my fingerprint reader! :D
November 14, 2007. This was for Ashish. His birthday falls on the 15th of November.
- What makes him different from others: the way he refuses to grow up!!
- Well, if you become his manager what would u like to change in him: nothing much… but I would give him a little less work to do
- What irritates him the most: I don’t know what irritates him but the way he screams “Mummy!” when he gets irritated is absolutely adorable ;-)
- "BINDAAS BOL" write what you want to say about him in this section: he looks like such a cute [sorry Ashish, I know you don’t like this word but I couldn't help using it ;-) ] little pixie when he runs about all over the place looking for Abhijeet or Bhatti or Aman
What I distinctly remember about this day is that, when all this stuff was read out, everyone, Bhatti, Abhinav, and some other people, could distinctly identify that I wrote it, just from the writing style. And this came at a time when I hadn't even started blogging. But the birthday boy could not identify who these words came from. I don't remember who he thought wrote these, but I do remember that he thought I wrote the comments that Abhinav actually wrote.
September 27, 2007. This was written for my boss, Mohit. His birthday is on the 29th of September.
- What defines him: His impatience to get things done. And they way he constantly keeps asking us “Chal gaya sab kuch?” :D
- Something which you would like to be different in him: I guess I would like him a lot better if he was not my manager :-P
- What he can’t stand: Things not being done systematically
- Hobbies & Interest: Sports, big cars, spending time with and talking about his daughters
- What his friends have to say about him: he’s basically a nice a guy, and a good manager too, in spite of everything I said :-P
- His most embarrassing moment if know to you: don’t know. If I knew and I told everyone, then I’d probably be risking my job ;-)
I was looking for the comments I wrote for Abhinav on his birthday. I wonder where those went. Maybe I deleted them for fear of the "Neat Rat" snooping around in my mailbox. I do distinctly remember that the first time I wrote birthday comments for someone, they were for Abhinav.
We actually had this little tradition going for a really short span of time. Too bad I never had a birthday in that duration!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Yesterday, my brother made biryani for all of us for dinner. On the other hand, I never seem to be able to show much interest in cooking. My mom always says that her kids are not quite right. Normally, when people are our age, guys are financially independent and girls start thinking seriously about marriage. But she has a daughter who is financially independent but refuses to talk about marriage, and a son who is going to take a while before he becomes financially independent, but is always out with girls.
For the uninitiated, there is an annual shutdown for about ten days around Christmas time where I work. I am still trying to plan a little vacation at that time, but I have some little things I want to do at that time.
- Go shopping by myself. I think I haven't done that since July.
- Catch up on all the sleep debt that I seem to have accumulated out of nowhere.
- Read at least one novel.
- Go out for a movie all by myself. Now I've been shopping by myself. I've also eaten out by myself. This is something I want to try out now.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Dil ka kehna hum sab maane
Dil na kisi ki maane
Jaan di humne, jaan gaye sab
Ek woh hi na jaane
How pink is too pink? There was this insanely pink string of Diwali lights somebody put up around the neighbourhood that I could barely put up with. And then there is GMail's Cherry Blossom theme. I tried it on for like five minutes and I just couldn't take any more of it. And the Bubblegum theme! The colour they start your starred items with is way too pink!
Even as I write this, I am playing some music in my famous pink media player. My feet are covered with a pink blanket. The walls of the room in which I am sitting are pink. So are the nightclothes that I am wearing. But even for me, the line needs to be drawn somewhere.
Oh, by the way, I also hate the pink that the Zen Estilo is seen in, all over the place. When my brother first damaged my car, I told him I would have it painted that color, because then he would no longer touch it. Because he wouldn't want to be seen dead in a car colored like that. Well, turns out, I wouldn't want to be seen dead in it either!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
If you revisit my significant observations on a certain post, you'll recall that I'd wanted to write post(s) about a certain friend of mine. And so, far, you've had the opportunity to read only one. And I've sort of intended to write another since I wrote that one. So here goes.
This one is going to be a little more serious than the last one, so brace yourselves.
I'm the kind of person who needs a bit of a pep talk from time to time, just to maintain my mental balance. I have some specific friends whom I like to call, e-mail or meet when I am in that sort of mood. And then there's this guy, who has never been on that list of "specific friends," but has just happened to be around on a few such occasions, either in person or over e-mail, and has, either intentionally or unintentionally, given me the energy and good cheer that had gone missing from my life at certain points of time. Although, it does come to my mind that there was one occasion when he tried to do so and everything he said had exactly the opposite effect of what was originally intended. But I do remember that episode in good stead too, because I know that it was all well-intended.
In the two and a half years that I have spent at my current job with my current team, never before, while working with anybody else, did I have so much fun or get such a strong sense of respect for my colleague and a renewed faith in my own abilities and talent.
Okay, now I'm beginning to feel at a loss for words. I'm also beginning to feel sleepy. So I'll stop here. Because when I say post(s), I obviously don't have to stop at two. I can write a third one if I feel like it some time in the future.
I stepped out only for a little while on Saturday for a movie. And after what seems like an era, I watched a movie end to end on TV. Bhootnath was one movie I missed when it was showing in theatres. It was lovely, entertaining, amusing, and touching in parts. And Juhi was looking so great! This is probably the first time in my life that I have paid so much attention to an actress's wardrobe in a movie. It was full of lovely kurtis and salwaar-kameezes. Loved the movie, loved the weekend.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
- It's only human to feel attracted towards a new person if you've been in a single, stable relationship for a long while. There's nothing unethical about that. Cheating on your partner would be unethical. Betraying their trust in you would be unethical.
- We find it so much easier to accept a man who cheats on his wife, than a woman who cheats on her husband. Even the woman who has herself been involved with another guy will find it easier to accept that her husband has been cheating on her.
- Being attracted towards somebody new doesn't always mean that you are in a relationship with the wrong person. It could just mean that the relationship has become monotonous and that you and your partner need to work on it in order to rejuvenate it.
- Being attracted towards somebody new could mean that you are involved in a relationship with the wrong person, and perhaps you did not even realise it all this while. This could be the push that you needed in order to take you towards that realization and acting upon it.
- Seemingly perfect marriages are not necessarily perfect. Not all of them are meant to last forever.
Ever notice how, sometimes, you read something written by a total stranger on her blog and feel an immediate, strong connection? You see a character in a movie and you feel that she behaves just like you would in a similar situation? You read a magazine article and you feel that it echoes exactly what you think, and the article could just as well have been written by you?
And then, on the other hand, there are times when a close friend is narrating an incident that involves some friends of his that you don't really know, and you simply cannot connect to the narrative. Sometimes, you block it out because you already think that you don't know the characters involved in the story, so you think you will not be able to relate to it. At other times, you try, but you cannot relate to it. But you can relate to total strangers whose magazine columns you read on a regular basis. Why not to people who are, at least, friends of your friends?
This is the kind of track I don't think I have ever before come across in Bollywood. It's basically a Haryanvi folk song, but the instruments used are as varied as you can get. They range from ones with traditional Indian effects, to completely Western ones. The combined effect they achieve is extraordinary. And the guy who has sung this has also done a commendable job.
The song has this general theme surrounding Parvati, a princess, wanting to marry Shiva, a monk. In this song, he's telling her about his notably few material possessions and his lifestyle, which she would hardly be able to adjust to, since it dramatically contrasts hers.
It's actually a pretty serious song, but somehow sounds a little comical. There is something about Haryanvi songs that makes them sound like that. There was this classmate of mine who used to sing a particular Haryanvi song at every occasion that presented itself during the three years of our MCA. He'd start by telling us that he was about to present a serious, romantic song from Haryana and that we were not supposed to laugh. We'd generally burst out laughing at this prelude.
This song is nothing like anything I've heard before. Worth a listen. And now I'm curious about where it's been placed in the movie. I feel like watching the movie just to find that out.
I had almost completely lost my unconditional faith in Rahul Bose's movies after the debacle called Maan Gaye Mughal-E-Azam. Dil Kabaddi isn't actually Rahul's film, it is more of Irfan Khan's movie, but Rahul does have a significant part to play here. I love his character in this movie. It's so completely amusing, the way, each time his wife asks him a question, he completely sidelines his answer, and has a counter question ready. The portrayal of their first meeting was full of such questions and was so completely adorable.
I liked the way the movie talks about serious issues like infidelity and divorce, and yet, handles them all in such a light-hearted way. You realize that one of the characters is cheating on his wife (or her husband), but you are amused by the way things are presented, instead of being bothered by the grim state of affairs. I liked the way things were put forth in such a realistic way. Being in a committed relationship doesn't mean you cannot have romantic feelings for anyone else. It's only human to feel such feelings, and it's not necessarily wrong or immoral. And having such feelings does not necessarily mean that you are with the wrong person. They may make you stray a little and eventually realize that you are with the right person. On the other hand, you may have spent a number of years with the wrong person without realizing it, and these feelings may lead you to that realization.
Although nothing beats Irfan Khan's scene on the ghodi in Life In A Metro, he has done some credible work here. He looks terrific, whether he wears a business suit or an absurd outfit with absurd eye wear and a pink coloured cap that is styled like a Christmas cap with a little teddy bear hanging from its tip.
It's a little difficult to accept Soha Ali Khan in the role of an ageing woman. Ditto for Konkona. But both of them play their parts convincingly and don't look out of place.
Rahul Bose's outrageous flirting and overpowering infatuation with one of his female students had everyone in splits. And the way Konkona introduced Soha to Rahul Khanna, in spite of the fact that she liked him herself, but was basically denying it because she was married, was something I could, strangely enough, completely relate to.
All in all, brilliant script, direction, performances, and sets. Only the soundtrack leaves something to be asked for. In this department, even Rahat Fateh Ali Khan leaves me disappointed. But there was this totally comical song that played as the end credits rolled. Now that track was quite something.
Friday, December 5, 2008
- "When you sing, you sing straight from the heart." This was when I was in the eight standard. A few friends and I were just casually sitting around, trying to sing a little. One of those friends said this to me.
- This was when I was in the tenth standard, and the academic year was close to its conclusion. A friend of mine was making an audio cassette in which she was recording everybody's voices, to remember them by. She handed her recording equipment to one of the guys for a while. He came to me, and said something to this effect: "We would like to know, from Bhavya Dabas, of Teens Today fame, the secret behind her lovely smile."
- This was again when I was in the tenth standard. That was probably the last time I picked up a paintbrush. My art teacher told me that I had a way with the watercolours. I made them appear really bright and fresh.
- There was this evening, a few months back, when I was feeling really low and my self-esteem had hit rock bottom. A friend of mine, in his attempt to make me smile, told me that I had a really lovely smile, like nobody else did.
- Akash once told me that I was looking like a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top of a scoop of strawberry ice-cream with chocolate sauce.
- On the same day, Abhinav told me I was looking like I had just flown in from Persia on a flying carpet.
- One of my friends from my MCA once told me that I was too good for any of the guys in the Department.
- One of my juniors from my MCA told me, in front of the entire Department, that, when I smiled, it hit him hard right in his heart. He also said that I was one of the prettiest girls in the Department. And he said that I should always remain the way I am.
- My boss told me, a little while back, that he was impressed with the fact that I'd managed to lose so much weight. It showed how much will power I had.
- Akash told me that I was sweet enough for him (and everybody else) to eat me for dessert.
- Ashish called me "charmingly sweet" a few days back.
- Alok said something to this effect: "I have never been able to talk to a girl as much and as comfortably as I talk to you."
I think I will add to this list in the near future, but this is about it for now.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
- Write random stuff for most of the day. Most of my waking hours, at least.
- Sleep to my heart's content every morning.
- Listen to my favourite music all the time.
- Vacation in a peaceful, clean place for a really long time.
- Visit all my friends who are outside of Delhi.
- Dress up in something amazingly Indian by Ritu Kumar.
- Bringing a genuine smile to someone else's face. We do this often enough with people we care for and are close to, but sometimes we should also do it with people we don't know too well. That's a completely euphoric feeling.
- Having a few (Say, five. Believe me, five is a really big number for this.) people in your life for whom you would do just about anything, for whom you would always be there, even if they don't tell you that they need you. And who would do the same for you.
- Loving someone without worrying about getting your heart broken, even if it does eventually smash to tiny pieces.
- Being able to do exactly what you enjoy doing. Something that you would do even if you were not paid to do it.
- Having friends who constantly remind you of how special and unique you are.
To me, it seems that life forms exist only to sustain other forms of life by playing their own roles in the ecological system, and to procreate. But what purpose does life, as a whole, serve? This is something that continues to elude me.