Saturday, June 10, 2017

TV, Biwi & Karva Chauth

Karva Chauth and Indian Telly have a divine connection made from heaven.

Yesterday I came across a hilarious video snippet from the Hindi serial "Sasural Simar ka". If you haven't heard about this soap opera, may I tell you that you are missing on the ability to fathom the heights that Indian TV can reach today. While the name may sound like an innocuous saas-bahu style serial and it was like one when it all started out several years back; the story has taken a turn for the supernatural now with an entire bracket of ghosts, demons and serpent (yes snakes!) showing up in what must be an intriguing plot.

Anyway, coming back to the point. The video was about two ladies decked up in the finest of  designer sarees —likely sponsored by one of the many advertisers —keeping the Karva Chauth Vrat for the same man and waiting for him with a sieve in hand for the ceremonial fast break at the end of the day in their respective rooms. Since I do not follow the series, I do not know if one of them was a witch or a serpent-woman in which case we have an unthought-of use case addition to karva chauth; where a supernatural being is fasting for a living man (I am assuming the man is living since the opposite doesn't quite make much sense).

I am not sure which of two ladies did the man end up going to, but can we say one thing about this person — that he is going to live a long life. Would two women fasting for a man double his life span? By mathematical induction, would having n fasting wives make someone's life span n-folds? I hope this doesn't start to give any polygamous ideas to men. On that note, this is going to take many Silicon Valley stalwarts taken by surprise who are spending millions on longevity research

Whether practiced by a shrewd cunning vamp or the sanskaari bahu, any festival is a field day for the advertisers on the Telly. The entire kunba (read family) sports the finest of sarees, a ton of flashy gold jewellery and caked up in heavy makeup (as a matter of fact they do that everyday even while going to bed) to add that tinge of glamour tadka. Not sure about the length of the lives of these men, but the  products of the likes of Malabar gold to Paraag sarees do know how to bump up their shelf lives and demands.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Horn OK Please

Many Indian trucks you come across on the road would be carrying signs of this form “Blow Horn” or “Horn Please” on the rear end. These phrases are pretty ubiquitous on trucks throughout the nation and are meant to encourage a motorist approaching from behind to explicitly sound a horn if they wish to pass.

Coming from a place where horns are very scarcely used on the roads or their usage in general is frowned upon, you might be surprised. While the origin of this phrase on the trucks may have a historical need due to single lane roads in the past, but today horns happen to be an indispensable tool while driving on many Indian roads. Kerala is one place that I know of which is quite different in this regard.

I was instructed by my driving tutor to sound a horn whenever I approached a bend, a crossing or if I was attempting to pass someone. 

Why would this be?

Firstly, the usage of side mirrors isn’t common. While this may not be true for all Indian roads and cars, yet in many cases people would simply fold their side mirrors to prevent it from breaking off while driving close in highways (worth to note here that people do not always stick to lanes or maintain distances). So its necessary to alert others to not try to swerve while you are overtaking their vehicle.

Secondly, the traffic rules and laws and their enforcement is not too strict. Motorbikes, rickshaws, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks etc. are all on the same road, and in such a scenario when you have different types of traffic coming in from different directions, resorting to horns is the best way to catch someone’s attention. You could not really be in the visual line of sight for a 360 degree view for everyone. This necessitates adopting to auditory means.

Just a bunch of interesting anecdotes. Copied from my answer on Quora on the topic

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Flu Diaries

Day 1
Slight bad throat to start the day, but not too bad. Maybe, I would go for a walk outside and then spend rest of my weekend curling on the sofa with a book. Stay-in weekends are the best.
3 hours later. God takes my wishes to the word, literally. A stay-in weekend is precisely what I get, did I mention about that the head has started to throb yet :/ and the fever and the throat and the bodypain?

Day 2
Still surprised by what is driving me to so much sleep. The head continues to blast, did someone happen to sneak in a dancing hippo in there. Feeling feverish, need to pop in a couple more paracetamols I think. Take a lot of fluids they say. I think I am floating(and bloating) inside. The seattle dark weather doesnt help at all.

Day 3
Was able to get up in the morning and made it to the couch on my own! No force can stop me now.

Unless - its the hippo grooving in my head. As the day goes up, the fever is rising yet again and I feel gross :/ Evenings arent the most active times for that creature.

Day 4
My croaky voice sounds like a toad today but fever seems better.  The mediterranean plate I ordered for lunch today didnt turn out too well. Not a good idea to go to work and pass on the toad or the hippo. Gonna have to miss swimming in the evening too, duh Wednesdays :(

Day 5
Planning to work from home today, the throat has gone for a walk and hasnt returned yet. Feeling tad weak, but never better in last few days.

Day 6
Much better. The voice is back and so is the appetite. The first day when I did not feel feverish for a full daytime! Time to deflate the flu and gear up for the next weekend..

Hubby returns and says, "Seems my head is heavy, lets have a stay-in weekend".......

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Morning Poem

Lancing through the sliver mist
Dissolving the dark shadows in its embrace
Bringing back the colors and the glow
to what was steeped in a sombre haze

The chilly breeze flows as a chariot
with the earthy fragrance so sweet and moist
The dew gleams on the blossom
Swathed in a crisp air, the little birds rejoice

I snuggle up in my warm quilt
And its a glance I take
The crystal rays of the morning sun danced on the window
Lighting up the room and kissing me awake

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dubai diaries: The very first meeting

Dubai, 2016.

"Mere Sapnon ki Rani kab ayegi tu" , the delightful voice of Kishore Kumar greeted me as we got into a taxi in Dubai. I was taken in by a pleasant surprise because it was after an extremely long time that I was hearing Kumar's melodies, more so in a place hundreds of miles away from home..
Soon the track changed, giving way to more songs from Sharabi and Padosan. "You have a great collection of songs sir, I could have never imagined getting to hear these outside India",  I said to the driver, naturally assuming him to be from India.

He inferred I was an Indian from this comment and said in Hindi, "Maam hum Pakistan se hain lekin Bollywood ki toh baat hi kuch aur hai" (I am a Pakistani and love Bollywood).

"Oh wow! From where in Pakistan?" , We asked him visibly surprised. "Multan", he replied.

This was the first time I met anyone from Pakistan and I had tonnes of questions for him.
We talked everything right from his hometown to cricket, food and even Shahrukh Khan. He suggested several dishes to try while we were in Dubai; but sigh it was our last day in the city.

The conversations seemed so natural that one could never feel talking to anyone different; he just felt like someone of our own, someone from a place whose description you can easily relate to, who shares the passions of cricket and food — just another simple guy from a humble background who was here in Dubai with lots of aspirations, who wished to earn for a few years in UAE before going back to his family.

We were now at the airport and disembarked the taxi, exchanged pleasantries and bade our new friend goodbye. Our short visit to Dubai had come to an end but the songs of Kishore Kumar and the memories of this conversation continued to chime in my head for a long time.

I don't know what was so special about this conversation that I am penning it down. Maybe it was just the simplicity of it that makes it apart. Maybe it was how naturally the conversations flew with a stranger, having a warm talk with someone across the border and not feeling the slightest of aberrations that the national relations are marred with. Maybe it was just the feeling that how effortlessly all of us humans fit and connect to each other.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Swimming through the tides

I took a deep breath as I stood in front of the little black door vexing at the thought of what awaited me on the other side. Deep down somewhere, I knew there was a giant kraken was about to be unleashed, but deferring was not an option — certainly not today; so I took another breath and flicked the keys and the door swung open.

Inside, almost mockingly smiling at me was a colossal dump of paper mail that had accumulated over the course of past month while I was on vacation. It was so huge I could barely even keep half of it in my hands at one time. From catalogs of furniture stores that I have never visited to credit card offers from each and every bank, it was almost comical how everybody just seems to be relentlessly trying to onboard a menial me onto their services. And, boy, aren't they so much committed to this goal that they print out an army of glossy pages every week to send out my way only to spend a few seconds in my hands before being tossed into the bin.

I remember the days in India when my mail boxes would be empty and I used to yearn for someone to pen a letter down to me; how times change: now I yearn for the day when I find that junk box empty. I sometimes imagine how much money, time and millions of precious paper that go down to carry on this ritual; an unfortunate wasted effort which comes knocking everyday at your mailbox unabashedly.

There may be a flurry of sites where you can register and maybe get some respite from the daily churn in your mailboxes, but why have this unwanted clutter being posted in the first place. I am sure we can do something better with the paper that travels all the way to my mailbox only to be discarded the next moment. There several trees turned in their graves.

Of course, I can go on ranting and ranting without doing any good, but maybe I will just leave it for another day. For now, I need to go back to my mail sorting.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Funny Signboards

Its fun, especially if you come across gems like 'coat paint, blazzer' . Will keep adding more to this collection going ahead.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The rain jacket

“I am not going to school today”, Ruhi whined stomping her feet as her face continued to turn red.

“Yes, you are. You just cannot miss school for random reasons”, I sternly retorted while bundling up her lunch case.

“Mom! Have a look outside, it’s raining heavily. My clothes and shoes will get all wet and dirty”, she tried to point me towards the heavy downpour outside, standing on her toes to reach the window

I sighed. Unlike most kids her age, Ruhi was extremely punctilious to ensure her clothes didn’t have even the tiniest bit of dirt.
“The monsoon season has started, Ruhi. The weather will be like this for months; and I am not letting you miss school anymore. Now, why don’t you make it easy for both of us and wear your rain jacket and get ready to go. Come on, I know how much love your new red polka dot raincoat, don’t you? And since you are so particular about getting dirty, I will also keep your old jacket in your bag as a spare. Now, Is it okay?” I said as I motioned her to come near me.

She at first shot a grumpy look at me, but nevertheless trudged ahead and took her bag. She slipped into her new jacket and said , “I wish we had a car so that you can drive me down to school like Tara’s mom. Then I won’t have to slog through the messy rainwater.”

I felt a little stirred at her remark; I knew I will never be able match the lifestyles of her affluent friends, but with time, her comparisons with others were getting more recurrent. I eschewed my gush of thoughts, wondering that she is still a kid and will take some time to understand that life isn’t fair and grasp those complicated nuances.

"Ok, lets go", I said and held her hand in mine, opening my umbrella as we walked out. By now, the sky was all covered in woolly grey clouds and the rain had started to make plinking sounds on the roof. As my eyes traced the streets for signs of an autorickshaw, Ruhi suddenly let go of my hand exclaiming, “Mom, I will be back in a jiffy”.

Startled, I turned around to find her running back towards the gate while making her way through the puddles of water. “What! What are you upto, Ruhi? We will get late.”.

“Just a moment mom!” She cried out as she hopped to avoid the puddles and reached the fruit vendor who sells grapes on his cart next to our home. She took out the spare jacket from her bag and handed it to the man’s little son who was sheltering under the cart. The shivering young lad was taken aback by the sudden gesture. He gingerly stepped out of the cart and took the jacket and mumbled something in return flashing a happy toothy smile.

My little girl turned and made her way back to me, muttering as she re-held my hand, “What would I do keeping so many jackets, when Golu can’t even have one. It was so unfair. I can very well manage even if my red raincoat has a spot or two. Right, mom?” I nodded my head in appreciation, too awestruck to utter any words. A smile appeared across my face and I bent down to kiss her, shirking off the thought that a moment back I was thinking a 6 year old cannot be mature enough to understand things.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


I recently made a series of acrylic works around the basic elements that make up the world around us. My intent was to capture each in monochrome with a solid background while infusing in a little artistic touch and keeping the subject abstract and easy.

If you didnt guess already, the paintings represent air, water and land.

Masala Chai

Warm mornings,
Or breezy evenings,

Whether simmered slowly with a hint of ginger,
Or coupled with a dash of elaichi and pepper.

When there are showers outside,
Or when there is a chill inside.

Whether its at home or the nukkad shop at the far end,
But definitely never at a CCD or Starbucks, friend.

While in a train as it chugs ahead,
Or when the bus comes to a halt at end.

During conversations that stretch long,
Or even when someone is alone and forlorn.

When the first rays of the sun light up the floor,
Or when the clock strikes a nightly four.

Whether you'r paired with Samose fresh out of the skillet,
Or frugal on your own with a Parle G packet.

When in office and your eyes start drooping,
Or by the smirk on the colleague's face you know a chai-break is coming.

Whether you come steaming with a lot of milk
Or with loads of mom's love blended in.

Whether the mood is jubilant, furious, sullen or just fine.
A first sip of your hot cup is something that sets up the mood right everytime.

Your alluring aroma fills up the house,
Sometimes its sharp,sometimes sweet.
But what are you?Just a concoction of milk water and leaves
Or a bronzed elixir,Ah, that magic you weave!

As the first rays of the morning bask into my room through the blinds,
I turn into the warmth of my blanket looking forward to a new day,
A day that starts with you,
a cup packed with that warm sweet gingery goodness of you.