Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's the word?

"So what's your New Year resolution?"

It's the last day of the year and you see this question flying everywhere around you.

I got to thinking. Why do we make New Year resolutions? (Anyone saying "To break them!" will get the final whack of 2009 with my hypothetical rolled-up newspaper.)

Why is it that we need to make a resolution? Why can't we just wake up on any given day and carry out whatever constitutes the resolution we want to make, without saying it out loud to ourselves and others? Why do we make it for the New Year? Why not on any random day? What is it about the New Year?

And then the following points struck me, which answered the why, when and how of resolutions.

1. There is always something or the other about ourselves we want to change or improve.

2. We are inherently lazy.

3. We are easily distracted.

4. We need a plan and a deadline to do what we want to do.

5. Sometimes we need a friendly nudge (and at other times, a kick in the ass) to carry out what we want to do.

6. Sometimes we need a new slate because we have written so much on the old one and crossed so many things out that nothing makes sense anymore.

And a sum total of all of the above points is what makes us make New Year Resolutions. All kinds. Get better marks, get into institution X, play better, exercise more, keep the house clean, get a six-pack, blog more, read the news regularly, watch less TV, make time for hobbies, learn a new language, run the marathon, lose weight, get a promotion, stay in touch with loved ones, retire with XX dollars in the bank, judge less, learn to play a musical instrument, eat more fruits, grow plants, remember to use sunscreen, drink more water, control anger, forgive and forget, etc. etc.

When we declare our resolutions, it's a virtual contract we make with ourselves, and when we tell people, we get them to sign as witnesses. We need them to give us that friendly nudge (or kick in the ass, as necessary) to do what we set out to do. All of us need one another to do that. And we know how much we need the nudges and the kicks to get anything done.

However, there are two sides to having such witnesses. I read an interesting article somewhere that talked of a study which proved that people who share details of their resolutions with others (in an effort to push themselves further by bringing in more witnesses, I presume) are less likely to carry them out. Wow. Never thought of that. The reason given was that when people ask how the resolution is going, the person is likely to make up a couple of milestones achieved and actually believe them to be true! To the point that at the end of it, we may have achieved only 30% of what we set out to do, but we truly believe that we did 100%.

Here's an example. There is a difference between going to the gym and actually doing something in there. Sure, it sounds totally awesome to say "I go to the gym thrice a week, for two hours each." when someone asks "So how's your gymming going?" But what we do in the gym for those two hours is really up to us. And at the end of it, we may actually start believing that we work out for two hours each, thrice a week, but there are just no results. The resolution becomes a burden. And then we give up. We curse ourselves for sharing our resolutions. Hell, we even curse ourselves for making those resolutions in the first place.

But of course, there is the flipside. Of not sharing your resolutions. Of not telling anyone what you want to do, but having very specific objectives and a timeline. The problem? No witnesses. The deal is between you and you. So if either one of you wants out, the deal falls through without any dispute or settlement.

So there we are. Confused. To tell or not to tell, that is the question. Sure, we need the friendly nudge to push us into doing what we want to do, but we definitely do not want to have the questions flung at us when we're not able to achieve our targets.

So from now on, this is what I am going to do. I will come up with an extremely general word, which will stand for everything that I want to do in the new year. The plans, objectives and results will only be in my head, so no one can ask me specifics about my progress (and I wouldn't have to 'eat my word', so to speak), but a friendly nudge now and then on "So how's your [[extremely general word]] coming along?" wouldn't hurt.

My word for 2010 is 'discipline'.

Bewdas, do you have one? Consider the comments space a blank contract and feel free to put down your word for 2010. Just one word, okay? And if you leave your email address, I promise to send you that friendly nudge. Or a kick in the ass, whatever works for you. :)

Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Annual report - 2009

It's time to look back at the year that has (almost) gone by and reflect.

2009 was the year when...

...Viv and I took a weekend vacation to Bintan, where we realised why I should never drive be allowed to drive any vehicle, and why life-jackets are truly life jackets.

...I retired from the birthday-surprise business. I have been here done this for years now. Quoting from Rocket Singh, "Maine is business ko ghol kar pee rakha hai." and it was a good time to retire. We had a good year, starting with Pizzadude's F.R.I.E.N.D.S. themed surprise party, followed by a surprise rendition of a medley of songs (including Dard-e-disco!) which the gang had been rehearsing for my birthday, then a surprise go-karting session for Sumanth's (I still remember his dance of glee on the roads), followed by us breaking into Shub's house and cooking her a fancy lunch (and dancing to 'You're my chicken fry'), and concluded in style by kidnapping Viv and taking him to Malaysia for some go-karting on an F1 circuit. Call it old age or what you will, but I actually feel a sense of relief after making the decision to retire. The only problem is that no one seems to believe it. :(

...Viv revived the artist in me by getting me an easel to serve as a constant reminder that I should start sketching again.

...two close friends I met on the blog got married, resulting in a very memorable India trip for the rest of us.

...we did the last of the airport surprises. Hopefully.

...Viv ran his first full marathon.

...Dad retired and moved to his own place to finally settle down after a career spanning 36 years and many many cities and towns, some big and some small, that hold tales of my childhood. Aish started talking. As in really talking talking. And singing. And talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. And she continues.

...Singapore made it to Division 5 in the World Cup league.

...I finally managed to get Viv hooked on the Harry Potter books. I got him the full collection as a birthday gift in September. It's December now. He's on book 1. :/

...I went on a sudden work trip to the US. Incidentally my office was an hour away from where my sister lived. The sister I hadn't seen in almost 3 years. The sister I casually ran into on the streets making her go, "OH MY GOD. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE????"

...Viv and I made another sudden trip. To India this time. It was the first time Dad had his whole family at his own place. A memorable family gathering and lots of insanity.

...Shub and Sumanth ran their first full marathon. Viv ran his second. Pizzadude and I erm, cheered. (Hey, that's important, okay?)

...I got insanely obsessed with Javed Ali songs. I actually charged my ipod for 5 minutes this morning before rushing off to work, because there was zero charge and I just needed enough charge for one song. These days, if I don't listen to 'Tu hi haqueeqat' on the way to work and 'Aaj jao meri tamanna' once I get to work, I can't function normally. (I am not kidding.)

...I liked almost all Hindi movies I watched in the theatre. Just got back from 3 Idiots and loved it as well. Too bad my favourite reviewer Raja Sen gave it only two stars. I guess he went with very high expectations and I read his review and hence went with very low expectations.

Goodbye, 2009. There may have been some downtime here and there, but overall? Aaaall waazz well! :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guess who?

Clueless sent Viv this interesting link where you can play 20 questions. The fun part is --- you decide on the character and the website does the guessing! Viv had been really impressed as it guessed the F1 character he had been thinking of within 20 questions.

What I found really odd was that the options were not just 'Yes' and 'No'. There were five options: Yes, Probably Partially, I don't know, Probably Not/Not really, and No. Wow, very close to a real-life game.

(Click to see a larger image.)

So I decided to give it a try. Knowing that the game will easily guess well-known international celebrities, I decided to try out someone different. No prizes for guessing that I went with a Bollywood character, and definitely no prizes for guessing that I went with umm... Himesh Reshammiya.

And only when I read some of the questions that I realised how critical the other options were, and how difficult it is to give a straight Yes or No answer to some of the questions!

Here are some of the questions the game asked me about Himesh, and what went through my mind as I tried to answer them.

Q: Does your character exist in real life?
A: I know it's hard to believe, but I'll go with a 'Yes'.

Q: Does your character have a double personality?
A: Ummm... many people think so.

Q: Does your character fight?
A: Only when he's one of the judges in a music competition on TV.

Q: Is your character an actor?
A: You see now... that's a tricky question...

Q: Is he the main character in his movie?
A: Unfortunately, yes?

Q: Does your character have curly hair?
A: No one really knows.

Q: Is your character less than 40 years old?
A: Errrr...

Q: Is your character both an actor and a singer?
A: Well, he thinks so.

Q: Is your character internationally famous?
A: Hmmm... I'm gonna go with 'Probably'...

Q: Is your character a star?
A: Yes, in some circles.

Q: Has your character made a career out of solo singing?
A: He certainly thinks so!

Q: Does your character play an instrument?
A: Does 'nose' count as an instrument?

Q: Does your character wear strange costumes?
A: Does this count?

Q: Is your character linked with death?
A: Only if you watch his movies.

You're probably wondering if the game finally guessed my character or not. Well, after three rounds of 20 questions each, this is what I got.

(Click to see a larger image.)

Try it. And while you're at it, you may also want to see what happens if you keep clicking 'No' for every question. ;)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unseen and unheard

I wanted to write a 'best of 2009' or 'worst of 2009' kind of Bollywood post, so I looked up the list of all Bollywood movies released in 2009.

And that's when I nearly fell off my chair.

Check out the list below. When did these movies come and go?? I am stumped.

Okay, be honest, how many of these had you heard of?

3 Nights 4 Days
42 Kms
Aao Wish Karein
Aasma: The Sky Is the Limit
Accident on Hill Road
Ada... A Way of Life
Aloo Chaat
Bachelor Party
Bad Luck Govind
Barah Aana
Blue Oranges
Chal Chala Chal
Chal Chalein
Chatur Singh Two Star
Chowrasta Crossroads of Love
Coffee House
Daddy Cool
Detective Naani
Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge
Dulha Mil Gaya
Ek - The Power of One
Ek Aadat
Ek Se Bure Do
Ek Second... Jo Zindagi Badal De
Fast Forward
Har Pal
Horn Ok Pleassss
Hum Phirr Milein Na Milein
Jai Veeru
It's a mismatch
Kaashh... Mere Hote!
Khalbali - Fun Unlimited
Kisse Pyaar Karoon
Kusar Prasad Ka Bhoot
Let's Dance
Little Zizou
Love Ka Tadka
Love Khichdi
Marega Salaa
Maruti Mera Dosst
Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye
Meri Padosan
Morning Walk
Mr. Fraud
Pal Pal Dil Ke Saath
Phir Kabhi
Raat Gayi Baat Gayi
Rang Rasiya - Colours of Passion
Red Alert: The War Within
Right Yaaa Wrong
Royal Utsav
School Days
Shaabash! You Can Do It
Suno Na
The Stoneman Murders
The Unforgettable
Vaada Raha... I promise
World Cupp 2011
Zor Lagaa Ke… Haiya!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Paa-pular demand

Random thoughts after watching Paa...

  • Having read and heard reviews, I knew that contrary to popular belief, the movie was not going to be melodramatic at all. But I had no idea that it would be so funny.

  • Abhishek Bachchan clean-shaven. WHEEE! Abhishek Bachchan with glasses. Double WHEEEE! Abhishek Bachchan as an honest politician. TRIPLE WHEEEE! I think I have forgiven him and am back to liking him.

  • Jaya Bachchan reading out the opening credits was annoying as hell. She didn't look like she wanted to do it in the first place. Watch how she keeps rubbing her hands and fidgeting as she pretends to rattle off names from memory. It's like the AB Corp people thought, "We might as well find a way to stuff one more Bachchan into the movie." I'm just thankful they did not get Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to play Vidya Balan's part. Oh the horror.

  • R. Balki seems to like the idea of Paresh Rawal finding himself in odd age-related situations with Amitabh Bachchan. While in Cheeni Kum, he was faced with a potential son-in-law who was older than him, in Paa he has a grandson who looks older than him.

  • Balki also seems to like the idea of giving inappropriate nicknames to his characters. Well, at least Auro calling his grandma 'Bum' is not as bad as Amitabh Bachchan calling that annoying kid in Cheeni Kum 'Sexy'.

  • Amitabh Bachchan effortlessly slips under Auro's skin, literally and otherwise. The make-up, the posture, the voice modulation. Simply terrific. There is absolutely no trace of the familiar "Rishte mein toh hum tumhaare..." baritone. I'm not surprised they said 'Introducing Amitabh Bachchan' in the opening credits.

  • Okay, this is going to get a lot of brickbats but I have to say it. This is the only movie where I have liked Amitabh Bachchan. I mean, the make-up was so great that they could have gotten any good actor to play this role, but there’s something unexpected that Amitabh Bachchan brings to this role that I can’t really explain.

  • Vidya Balan rocks rocks rocks every scene she is in.

  • Who would have thought Paresh Rawal and Abhishek Bachchan could look so uncannily similar? They really did look like father and son, and it wasn't just the similar clothes.

  • I'm still kinda mad at Illayaraja for recycling his own tunes in Cheeni Kum, so I didn't have high expectations. The music is ho-hum. The 'Udi udi' song is quite nice though.

  • I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the whole politics angle between Amol and Jaikrit, and where it was supposed to go. I’m just happy that they did not pull a gimmick where the ‘sick kid’ magically solves all of his Dad’s problems seconds before dying.

  • It was beautiful how Auro's progeria is shown to be totally incidental and not a pivotal point in the story. It could have been any kid.

  • I loved the fact that the rona-dhona was confined to the last 15 minutes of the movie. The rest of the movie is a laugh-out-loud comedy. The dialogues are really funny. R. Balki knows how to hit the funny bone and make the best of each scene.

  • Some of the best one-liners, apart from Auro's, were little Vishnu's. Watch out for the especially entertaining phone conversation between the two kids, which will have you laughing uncontrollably and trying to control it at the same time so you don't miss any of the lines. HILARIOUS.

Lately, Bollywood has been getting smart, getting mature and getting genuinely funny. Hmmmm... This year, I liked almost every movie I watched.

And that almost made me panic a bit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Start over

I flagged the bus, got in, tapped my card on the reader and looked around for an empty seat. There it was, right at the back. I grabbed a pole immediately to steady myself and started making my way towards the empty seat. Very very slowly. Suddenly I had the strange realisation that there actually was no need to grab the pole. Or even to walk that slowly. The bus wasn't budging. At all. Maybe someone else had flagged it? I turned around, but there was no one. The front door had been closed.

And that's when I noticed it. The driver was looking at me in his rear view mirror. The bus was still stationary. What had I done? Was he going to holler, "Excuse me, you didn't tap your card!"? No, I was positive I had tapped my card. What was it then? Had I dropped something? No. Was there another vehicle in front of the bus? No.

Oh wait, had the bus broken down? I got on the bus and it broke down? I looked around guiltily at the people around me. Strangely, they did not seem to be annoyed or even curious about the stalled bus.

I turned around again and the driver still seemed to be following my movements in the mirror. "All right, what is it???? Move already!!!" I wanted to yell. But by then, I had already reached my seat.

The moment I sat down, the driver started the bus.

And that's when it hit me. He was waiting for me to get to my seat before he started the bus. He didn't want me to be jolted off my feet and fall flat on the bus floor.


And that's why no one on the bus was wondering why the bus wasn't moving. They had all been treated with the same care.

Among all the reasons for the stalling of the bus that had crossed my mind, this one just... wasn't there. The guy was just being nice.

To me, that was the real jolt.

I raised my hand to thank the driver and he smiled in the mirror and nodded an acknowledgement.

Inertia. Resistance to a change in state. Maybe all of us need a little dose of such incidents. To open up our minds a little more and get rid of the inertia that has made us thus.

Cynical by default.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gandhigiri at home

The investigations have been completed.

Mom and Dad have now eliminated the list of suspects in the curious case of the pumpkin thefts and now it's down to just one neighbour.

But there's one problem. You can't barge into someone's house and say "You! Gimme my pumpkin back!" If they did it, they'll deny it, and you've made an enemy. If they didn't do it, boy, are you in trouble.

Mom and Dad had been discussing all sorts of strategies to sort this out. I know just how much Dad values his vegetable garden, and how much it was stressing him out to have the fruits of his hard work just taken away from him like that.

So yesterday when I called to inquire on the case, Mom said something simple, but it was so freakin' awesome, I think my jaw is still on the floor.

"We have started giving vegetables from our garden to all neighbours. I think we should go over and give a pumpkin to the suspects. What do you think?"

Okay, how brilliant is that? You steal someone's pumpkin and the next day they come over to offer you another with a smile?

"Mom, you're a genius." I said. "Unko sharminda karo. Shame them in their own eyes. Gandhigiri at its best."

I don't even know if it will work. But I do think it's the best approach for sure.

Those who say Hindi movies teach us nothing useful should really go and watch 'Lage raho Munnabhai'.

Friday, December 11, 2009


"The little grasshopper has forgotten me!" Mom lamented.

('The little grasshopper' is a nickname Mom has given baby Aish. I think it does justice to her characteristics.)

"Mom... she hasn't forgotten you!" I tried to reassure her. (Look who's talking, especially after this.)

"She has! Now that she's back in the US, she doesn't want to talk to her grandma anymore. Every time your sister gives her the phone, she runs away!"

"She runs away?! What do you mean runs away??"

"As in... she runs away from the phone. I can literally hear her steps on the floor as she runs away."

It was only when my sister called me that I experienced the running away phenomenon.

"Here, Aish. Come. Talk to Mausi." my sister said. She put me on speaker.

"Mausiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii." Aish said.

"Hiiii Aish, how are you??"

Complete silence. Followed by the sound of pounding feet.

"Come back, Aish! Give me the phone!" I heard my sister dash after Aish.

"What's happening? What's happening??" I yelled out.

"She's running away with the phone this time!" My sister yelled back.

I was distraught. Mom was right then. Aish didn't want to talk to us anymore...

I heard some loud clattering noises next.

"She's trying to put the phone on the window sill, the naughty girl. I'll call you back if you get disconnected!" yelled my sister.

Complete silence again.

What on earth was the girl trying to do, taking the phone to the window?

"Hello?" I said, softly, wondering if the phone had been flung out of the window and if I was talking to actual grasshoppers this time.

And then the best thing happened. I think Aish leaned in close to the phone kept on the window sill, for I heard her whisper loud and clear.

"Look, Mausi... It's snowing..."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Kung pao Nutrela

I just realised that much as I love to cook, I have never shared any recipes on my blog! Sheesh! This one doesn't count as the recipe is in the comments section, and was produced upon request. Will try to have one recipe post every month from now on. :)


Kung pao chi is one of my all-time favourite Chinese dishes. However, there are two problems with it. The one you get outside contains MSG, and there's no point making it at home only for myself (Viv is a vegetarian).

So when I spotted a box of Nutrela soya chunks at the supermarket during my recent visit to India, I grabbed it for experimenting. I was apprehensive about the soya chunks turning out rubbery and too chewy, but they were perfect (just follow the instructions on the box, the hindi ones. Yes, the hindi instructions are slightly different from the English ones. Strange, yes.)

The eggs rolls I made with the Nutrela chunks turned out yummy, and the natural next step was to try to make Kung pao Nutrela.

I followed this recipe, substituting the chicken with the soya chunks. I don't have Chinese rice wine or sesame oil at home so I used regular vinegar and regular vegetable oil instead.

Towards the end, I threw in a bunch of roasted cashewnuts and a dash of green chilli sauce (it just wasn't hot enough!).

The mistakes I made were adding the spring onions too early (they wilted). Add them at the last possible minute before turning off the gas. I also didn't make enough sauce for the amount of soya chunks I had (serves me right for my 'andaz se' measurements!) so I had to top it up in the pan. The sauce didn't turn out very thick so I used some cornflour dissolved in water to thicken it. Since the spring onions had disappeared, I cut some fresh ones as garnish.

After all the repair work, I finally managed to make it look and taste like Kung Pao chi.

Click for a larger image.

Try it! :)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The boy wizard

No, not Harry Potter.

I'm talking about our own little wizard. Check out this amazing 1989 video.

If you notice, except for the diction which has gotten more refined over the years, nothing else has changed. Two decades. Countless world records. But the man continues to carry himself in the same humble manner.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Run of the mill will

"He's already done it once. Why does he want to do it again?" my Dad emailed.

"I don't know." I said. I really did not.

Viv and I have been discussing this for a while now. While his plan was to run one full- and one half-marathon every year, I suggested running only the half. Though I am fully supportive of all the sports he participates in, I was also a little worried.

"You're a wicket-keeper. That's already hard on the knees. If you train all year for two marathons and then run them, your knees will be in very bad shape." I said.

"But I can do it." He said.

"You're just addicted."

It's true. He was. And this morning, I understood why he was.

So here are the highlights from today's Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon.

First of all, congratulations to S2 on their first full Marathon! I am super proud of you, guys!!

Last night, as it poured, Viv and I were walking around inspecting a part of the track under an umbrella, and hoping for the rain to stop. Like he says, collective consciousness was what kept today a dry, and yet cool day. Rain would have marred the run for many, and the sun would have caused collective unconsciousness perhaps!

The runners had been given a blank label on which to write words of encouragement and motivation for themselves and/or fellow runners and stick at the back of their running vests. Viv and I brainstormed yesterday on what to write on his.

"How about 'I've got a serious case of the runs'!?" I asked.

Ahem, I could tell from his face that he didn't like it too much.

After going through all phrases with the word 'run' in it, I finally suggested something he liked.

"If it rains, you can write, 'This is not a dry run.'? Good, eh?"

"Yeah, I like it. Let's make it, 'This is not a dry run. Keep going.' so the pun is clearer." He said.

We had pretty much finalised when both of us thought of the same thing at once. If we wrote this, we'd have to wish for it to rain! Noooooooooooooo!

"Okay, forget that. How about we write 'Run of the mill' and then cross out the 'mill' and write 'will' on top?" I suggested.

"Yeah! Or we could write 'Run of the mill' and draw a guy on a treadmill, followed by 'Run of the will' and show a guy crossing the finish line of the marathon!" He said. I loved the idea.

Unfortunately, the label was too small for us to write and draw all of it, so we finally went with 'Run of the will. Keep going.'

Many people had got their kids to write on the labels so we saw many instances of 'Go, daddy, go!' Viv said he was quite confused when he read on a woman's back 'You're stranger than you think!', and only when he got closer did he realise that he had read 'stronger' as 'stranger'. I also saw a girl who had 'Chase me lah!' on her label. Some guy had 'virgin marathoner' written on his, while another had the learners' 'L', which I thought was hilarious!

The race marshalls were holding up placards with words of encouragement for the runners. In addition, there were people standing/sitting along the track, applauding and cheering the runners. There was even a woman who along with her two kids, was handing out bananas from a bag to the runners. Very very touching.

Speaking of touching sights, there was a one-armed man and a one-legged guy running with such utter determination, it was humbling just to stand and watch them. There were also people in their 70s merrily running and leaving youngsters behind.

Some supporters also came with a sense of humour. Viv said that when his legs started cramping around the 35-km mark and he started walking instead, a guy called out to him and pointed at the sign he was holding. The sign said, 'This is a no-walking zone!' Viv resumed running, and the guy grinned and shouted a 'Thank you!' after him.

Viv and S2 had their phones on them and they kept me updated every now and then of their status. When your friends are running such a long distance, there's not much you can do other than stationing yourself at key points in the route and finally at the finish line. You can, of course, send them random messages to cheer them up and keep them going. When Shub was near the 37-km mark, I sent her a few messages, "The end is nearing! Bhaag Dhanno bhaag!" and "You're in your late 30s! Go go go!" I almost fell off laughing when she replied with a "I'll never be more thankful to enter my early 40s!"

I read that a total of 50,000 people ran today in the 10-km, 21-km and 42-km categories. Plus, there was a kids' dash too! It was awesome to see the kids in their cute little running vests.

This is only the second full marathon I have witnessed, but I have come to realise one very important thing. When we hear about someone running the marathon, regular people like you and me tend to react the same way, "That's just insane." But only when you're part of the atmosphere, only when you witness the training and discipline it takes, only when you see the grit and determination on each runner's face as he/she runs past you, only when you see the pain the runners go through when muscle cramps set in, only when you see the kind of support they garner, only when you see the thrill on the faces of the runners when they cross the finish line, do you truly understand why people like Viv get addicted.

Viv finished in under 5 hours once again and I was very very proud of him. And finally, I began to see his point. I guess he saw mine too. And that's why we have negotiated it down to only one full-marathon every year. Only when he can't run the full anymore, he will go for the half.

And when he can't do that either, we will still go. We will stand by the track and hand out bananas to the runners.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A matter of time

Dearest Aishu baby,

I am SO sorry I lied to you. I had to. You clung on to me like a little monkey and said, "No, don't go. Don't go back, Mausi." I had no choice but to lie and tell you that I am going to see the doctor, hoping that would deter you. But you said you wanted to come along. It was only when your Mom said, "Mausi is going to get an injection! She'll come back soon." that you finally let go, but still giving me that half-believing look.

"I'll see you soon." I said. And I came back. Back to Singapore. Back to my crazy life. Your Mom told me you kept waiting for me and asking about me every day. Every time I look at this picture I'd taken on the toy train in the zoo that day, my heart breaks as I think about how I lied to you and made you wait.

Your Mom tells me that a few days later, you finally gave up on me and said, "Mausi went back to Singapore."

When I called you, you were not angry. I asked you, "When will you come to Singapore, Aishu?" and just like the many random things you say, you said, "I'll come at 3:30."

I don't know what that means. But whatever it does, I do know one thing.

I cannot wait for 3:30.

Lots of love,

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Story in pictures

So I was going through my 'bachpan box' when I came across it. Bound together and covered with what was obviously an advertisement from the 80s was one of my Amar Chitra Katha collections. It even had a label on it and written in possibly the world's worst handwriting was this.

NAME: Cuckoo (Dad calls me that. Quite apt, eh?)
STD: K.G. 1
SCHOOL/COLLEGE: St. Anne's Convent School

Kindergarten 1. That's like what... 1984? Wow. A quarter of a century has passed by, and yet when I flipped it open and started reading, I felt the same sense of wonder and fascination that I'm sure all of you who had the good fortune to read these comic books would be familiar with.

Birbal the wise. Bimbisara. Jayaprakash Narayan. Paurava and Alexander. Ahilyabai Holkar. Sambhaji son of Shivaji. Each priced at Rs. 2.50 (less than 10 cents). My sister and I had zillions of these books. Dad had got them bound into books that had about about 10 stories each. Going by how tattered the one I found was, I can only imagine the number of times I must have read it.

The artwork was simple, unlike the comic books of today, and the English was perfect, unlike the atrocious Chacha Chaudhry books they released in English, which were riddled with countless grammatical errors. The stories, mainly from history and mythology, were simply told, and yet captured the imagination like no textbook ever could.

Dad actually let me bring one back to Singapore. I'm totally having a blast swimming in nostalgia and refreshing my knowledge of mythology and history.

How great would it be if they did away with all the boring history textbooks and just had them Amar Chitra Katha style?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's in the air

We had an overnight stopover at Kolkata during our recent India trip. Here are some airport and airplane snapshots:

  • The Hindi signboard listing the items prohibited as cabin baggage included 'gada' (mace)!!! LOL! The gada would be checked in and returned to the passenger at the destination. I was reminded of the Mahabharata scene from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.

  • The signboard listing the people exempt from security checks (e.g. Prime Minister, President, Dalai Lama, etc.) has Robert Vadra's name at the end. Hmmm...

  • The Bengali announcements in the plane are too cute. The "ladies and gentlemen" part starts with "Bhodro mohila..." I don't think I have ever been called a bhodro mohila before! Mogambo khush hua.

  • Another one. "Doya kori seat belt..." puts visions of the poor cabin crew going down on their knees and literally begging the passengers, "Take pity on us and put on your seat belts."

  • There was a lady who was directing JetLite passengers to wherever they were supposed to go. At first I thought she was saying, "Jet-lagged passengers this way please." I started imagining the tired passengers being led to a huge room with comfortable beds and satin sheets.

  • I cannot believe the two chaps in the domestic flight who were trying to flirt with the air hostess. If I had been in her place, I'd have rolled up the airlines magazine and thwacked the hell out of them.

  • There was a large beautiful butterfly inside the airport. I was looking at it in amazement when -- believe it or not -- a cat walked past! Yes, a cat! Inside the airport. A clean one though. Walking around like it owned the place.

I suppose what they say is really true -- it happens only in India!