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Mitthi Roti

As Ma cleaned up Dadi’s cupboard at our house in Delhi, she found a little bag. It contained three loaves of the “mitthi rotis” that were my Dadi’s signature creations. The ones that my Dadi made were always hard – a consistency closer to a cookie than a normal roti- with a softish centre underneath the crust, they are thick and my Dadi always took care to flavour them with just the right amount of sweetness. Never too sweet, never too bland.

-It had happened a month ago-

Right now, the family was in Vrindavan, spending time with my grandfather who has no desire of moving from our house there to live with either us in Delhi or with my uncle in our ancestral village in Punjab. I,working from home in Delhi ( the office was closed due to the holidays), sauntered into the kitchen to fix myself a snack close to dinner time. Hours of staring at the monitor had given me a headache and I needed to eat something to silence the growling of my hungry belly. I opened the kitchen shelf and there it was.

I still remember that day, I was sitting at the breakfast table with dad, who had to take her to get a PET test done. She was perfectly fine; in great health after her chemo, recovering well and gaining weight. Her Hair was fast growing back to the way it used to be before.

Everything was on track.

Dadi came upstairs to join us for breakfast but instead of taking a seat at the table she ventured into the kitchen and ordered everyone out. She then proceeded to make paranthas for everyone.

Except me, I didn’t eat her paranthas, because I was controlling my fucking carb intake.  I didn’t eat them.

I heard her voice last at around 2 or 3 ( I cant recollect) when I called home to discuss some papers with my dad, they then left for the hospital to get the test done. Some two – three  hours later, at 6, my sister called “Call dad and check, Dadi is not well”

My dad didn’t say much…

As I took one of the rotis out of the Tupperware box, I thought about those paranthas, about Dadi. The silent string of joy at finding something made by Dadi was quickly broken by then sharp blades of reality as seemingly infinite waves of sadness drowned out the light. It’s Diwali, but there are no lights lighting up the house where I sit alone, in silence. As I gobble down the last piece of the Mitthi Roti, knowing I will never feel the caress of the hands that made it again, tears surge, and I remember what dad said.

“Dadi has left”

P.S. : Originally written on Diwali, 2011. In another 9 days it will be a full year, without her presence. Love You Dadi.

The Ride

Fresh from the train ride, I checked into my home for the next week or so. A dark rundown guesthouse. For want of better facilities, this was going to be it. Our hoard was not very enthusiastic, and voices of dissent could be heard. There were no powers to hold them down yet they got lost in their own echoes, everyone was too tired to care.

I did, I hated this place.

I was shown my room, a tiny room with a big bathroom, and roughly half the size of the room itself. The room had an iron grille door, covered with a steel mesh to keep the insects outside; it was also an open window to my world. There was supposed to be a curtain to provide me a little more privacy but it had probably lost in a scuffle to a previous occupant.

The walls were windowless, and of an even, dirty, yellow colour. They had been painted with the wonderful material we Indians call “Choona” that leaves its mark on your clothes, hands, faces, souls…

Some marks are easier to erase than others.

The bathroom too had a public access view hole, a large window which opened up into a service alley between the hotel building and a run down, brick building behind it. The building looked like it was abandoned mid construction, the real estate bust of our times. Developers borrowed money to build buildings that were now worth less than 1/5th of the land they were built on, there was no way to recoup money and no point spending more to build more.

There they lay then, memoirs to capitalist greed.

My bed was a red coloured abomination, covered with a think, hard mattress which could not redder if it tried. I imagined the room as some sort of honeymoon retreat, ugh….

I was meant to sleep here tonight.

Or maybe this was a love motel like situation…

Dis.fucking.gusting

I think I needed a shower; I did not want to discover the bathroom yet. But, I needed to get away from this room, only for a little while.

“I hope they have another room, like I requested them” I hoped, imagining the manager handing me the keys to a room right out of my home for 6 months, the Birmingham Hyatt or the Umaid Bhavan. Fuck, if I was going to imagine this, I want the sports suite in the frikking Bellagio!

Reality is a bitch.

Green, the filling up my bucket in the bathroom was green. A light, particle infused green.

Dirty bucket, maybe, I thought. Maybe the previous occupant was playing holi, which must have been awful time back.  There are times, when your city demeanour, your disgust, your repulsion is all replaced by fatigue.

All I wanted to do was to take a shower in this dirty bathroom and then go to sleep on the dirty bed, in my dirty room. In this dirty city. I could already hear the voices of my friends, loud dirty cackles of rich, spoiled kids, laughing along as they discussed their dirty deeds. Maybe I could join then, maybe they had cleaner rooms.

I had enough; I needed to take a bath now that I was standing naked in my bathroom with the open window, with the door that would not close properly in the room with the steel grille door.

This was like a voluntary prison, pay to stay. Pay to leave.

I threw the water in the buckets at the walls, in disgust. They changed colour not just the way choona walls do when wet; they changed from their drab yellow to reds and greens in a pattern in the top corner of the bathroom where I had aimed the dirty water.

Curiosity killed the cat they say, I filled in more buckets and doused the walls with water, revealing a spectacular pattern on all the four walls and the roof.

Spectacular fucking shit

A sun drawn in the thickest yellow brush, tears pouring out of its eye. Random numbers and messages scrawled on all the other walls, this wasn’t fun anymore. The bathroom looked more like an Inca execution pedestal than the place to cleanse yourself…

I could still hear the bodiless laughter of my friends, in their rooms. Except my voice was choked, I could neither cry for help or laugh at what I had just discovered, if only I knew…

(this is the extract of a half forgotten dream,, 19th February 2011)

Soar high and fly into the sun

 

 


I want to fly a plane

a single engined turboprop fighter

like a spitfire, or a mustang

I want to fly it high

I want to fly it deep, into enemy territory

the roaring hum of the giant engine, at my command

I want to swoop low

spray the scum with bullets

I want to rev up the engine

loop the loop as I knock them out

destroy them from the skies

I want to fly my single-seater

into a torrent of bullets

a hail of gunfire

a storm of fire

I don’t want to sit here

and waste away

I want to live

and by living

Is how I want

to die

 

 

The death

Mrs Ranade sauntered into the clinic, it was a regular check up. The nurse greeted her with a wide smile of familiarity and told her to proceed up the long flight of stairs, the doctor, was waiting.

Continue reading

Tick Tock, TUK TUK baby!

The following is a rap song, brace yourself.

Yo!

I am sitting in Auto with neon lights,

All over the city, this one shines. Bright.

Its got a giant audio system. It be Pimping,

By the time I reach home, my ears are limping.

The driver’s supercool, his name is Jigness

He hangs his attitude around the meter,

And sticks it in your face!

He’s got pictures of Shahid Kapoor and Ajay Devgun,

This dude is so fly, he just fucked a NUN!

Driving around putting Scooty’s in their place, without fail,

There is a knight in this shining auto, Named Jigness Patel.

 

 

WORD!

 

(written in the back-seat of an Auto with blue neon lights,Driven by Jigness Patel. Baroda 2010)

Vuvuzelas : Hutesium et Clamor

Vuvuzela, a highly effective english repellent

Hutesium et clamor : latin for a horn and shouting, known in common english as ” Hue and Cry” is an apt term for the current  outrage over the vuvuzelas which in my eyes is typical western behaviour towards native customs around the world. We have heard plenty of opinions on how vuvezelas, traditional metre long south african trumpets, cause deafness, or are generally ruining the beautiful game for the western audience. Everyone, from Scottish MPs to the BBC has voiced her or her opinion on the horns whose sound has been likened to the drone of bees or the crying of an elephant. As is expected of them, the english press has its panties in a particulerly tight bunch regarding the trumpets. The BBC says it has received 545 complaints (WOW, what a huge number) regarding the din on the telly. If I were in the BBC handling complaints I would do a quick send all telling these nincompoops to turn their volume down. The vuvuzela may be 130 db ( potentially, not always. This is another study on distortion of facts) but when you view it on your telly, its only as loud as your bloody settings. Toby Young, the writer of such books as ” How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” furthers his cause by writing this screed and I quote

“If this tournament is to be rescued, Fifa needs to ban the vuvuzela straight away. In a typically wet response, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has refused to entertain any such requests, saying “we should not try to europeanise an African World Cup”. So it’s racist to try and prevent a stadium sounding like a traffic jam is it? What balls, not least because the majority of people blowing the vuvuzelas in the stadiums are the visiting fans. Like Blatter, they think it’s the “African” thing to do.”

This is the equivalent of telling Indians to tone down the dhol during cricket matches coz the english team can’t hear their 3 supporters cheering for them. Thankfully the african response ( and the official FIFA line) has been a big “fuck you”. Some british doctors have gone on to suggest that the vuvuzelas expose their genial football fans who don’t posses any diseases, venereal or otherwise, to such life threatening conditions such as the cold and the flu. How, I don’t quite know but I can recommend that the english fans avoid large crowds to prevent such afflictions sell those tickers and stay home. It would be even better if they were to stop breathing at all, isnt that how you get this disease in the first place? They should also drink plenty of beer, a flu cant bother you when your kidneys and your liver are already dead, innit mate?

The most damning evidence against the vuvuzela come from Phonak, read on to know who they are, 

 “They can promote hearing loss. The obnoxious sound, commonly described to as a swarm of bees, permeating your TV viewing experience has been studied by health organizations including the global initiative Hear-the-World, created by Phonak, a hearing technology company. Hear-the World noted the vuvuzela “emits an ear-piercing noise of 127 decibels – louder than a lawnmower (90 decibels) and a chainsaw (100 decibels).” “Extended exposure at just 85 decibels puts us at a risk of permanent noise induced hearing loss. When subjected to 100 decibels or more, hearing damage can occur in just 15 minutes.” Hear the World conducted a study with the “most popular football fan instruments” worldwide and found the vuvuzela is the worst noise polluter but others are not far behind:

1st place: Vuvuzela 127 dB

2nd place: Air-horn 123.6 dB

3rd place: Samba drum 122.2 dB

4th place: Referee whistle 121.8 dB

5th place: 2 fans singing 121.6 dB

6th place: Gas horn 121.4 dB

7th place: Cowbell 114.9 dB

8th place: Wooden rattle 108.2 dB

9th place: Inflatable Fan-Sticks 99.1 dB”

Do you see the conflict of interest? Phonak makes hearing aids! That said, the list does throw up interesting points, the western air horn, referees whistle and 2 fans singing (curiously) are not very far behind. In the interest of english fans who wish to hear the “oohs and the aahs” ( that’s what they’ll hear anyway in english game, the team gives you no cause to celebrate) we should ban referees and fans who wish to sing as well. Fact is that the vuvuzelas and the consequent exposure to noise is no more than that which would ensue in a concert or at any local nightclub down in Broad street. I hate to use the word racial, but that is what it is western insensitivity and abhorrence of all things alien to their tiny closeted cultures. As for me, I quite like the sound of vuvuzelas. without them the matches would be silent boring affairs, the din is lively, though I will admit it is rather tuneless, it has energy which is contagious and makes dull games enjoyable as well. it certainly appears to my indian sentimentality or my Punjabi nature for loudness. To all haters of the vuvuzelas, go fly a kite.

On the other hand I do support a ban on vuvuzelas , just to rob the english of an obvious excuse when their team gets knocked out early, which they eventually will be.

 On an unrelated note, I do have bones to pick with that shakira song “waka waka” .last time i heard that phrase I was playing a certain game called pacman so it makes no sense to me. I am not a big fan of manufactured hype songs with supposed messages and they almost always get my goat. and yeah Shakira isn’t even african, so…nevermind.

 Here are some pieces on the vuvuzelas for your reading pleasure, one in favour and some against.

If you like, you can also blow your own vuvuzela here

 See you guys later, apologies for not posting anything in the recent past.

Shower Your Love

Shower your love on me
Don’t make it so hard to cry
Shower your love on me
You dont need a reason why

‘Cos I’m not even half the way there
But I’m just too stupid to care
So help me now
When i’ve fallen through

There are scenes in my open mind
Confusion and flashing lights
Shower your love on me
Cos nothing here feels right

Cos I’m not even half the way there
But I’m just too stupid to care
So help me now
When I’ve done all I can do

Shower Your love on me
I can’t wait, I’m losing faith
Like we might just explode
Comfort me with a melody
Show me that I’m gonna know the answer
Show me that I’m gonna know

Shower Your Love on me
Don’t make it so hard to cry
Shower your love on me
You don’t need a reason why
Don’t make it so hard to cry
Shower your love on me
Shower your love on me

Why this training sucks

Here I am, in a training session, fighting the urge to curl up and snore. I figured I should analyse the reasons why this training session sucks. Bear with me guys, here goes :
  1. The trainer looks like Paritosh Uttarwar : I kid you not. This guy totally looks like Paritosh, with a little less hair, a stupid moustache (we have seen those on Paritosh (Puppy-to his buddies))
  2. The trainer is an idiot : Not necessarily related to point 1, but he knows jack about the product he is training us on. Each question is met with a succinct “Yes” and the loud uncomfortable chirping of crickets.
  3. The audience is a bunch of bloody consultants: “You know the type, loud as a motorbike” Consultants are people who are assumed to know everything, this is a stereo type re-inforced at every client location we go to. Wide eyed client personnel look at us like the second coming of Jesus. Only we know, deep inside, that we are all a bunch of phonies. However that does not stop us from asking questions which make us look smart and make this poor Paritosh lookalike, look like a bigger fool.
  4. Irrelevant shit : Some of the stuff he says makes no sense, has no context and flies 35000 feet above our tiny heads. I think he is trying to be funny. Someone tell him it is not working. Poor Puppy
  5. Long pauses: Homer could write the Iliad and its sequel during one of the long pauses this guys uses during his sessions. He is clearly reading the wrong public speaking manuals.
  6. Retarded Questions : As I mentioned in point (3), the distribution of the audience is consultants =100%  Sane Individuals = 0%, now some of us consultants have this propensity to ask absolutely, most fucking retarded questions which utilize no sense in their formation and which leave the poor trainer wondering what the fuck hit him.
  7. Stress fracture of the brain : This freak of a trainer talks to his laptop, no kidding. Sample these dialogues “Come on” “Go back” “Lets do it again” “wait, wait, please” These are some of the lines he mouthed to his laptop in front of all of us. For real. This is probably the effect of watching too much porn on this laptop, he probably thinks the laptop is his girlfriend.

In other news, if you look at this guy with a blank, unmoving, unblinking, cold stare it scares him and probably creeps him out. I have been doing this for the last 1 hour, my eyes hurt and I have to work extra hard on suppressing my laughter but this guy is freaking scared that I am going to kill him. Or so I hope.

This is not cricket

The ruckus around the non selection of Pakistani players for the IPL is quite astounding.

Articles have been written on the romanticism of cricket and its ability to create peace by obviously delusional writers who have clearly not seen a cricket match between India and Pakistan or even India and australia. In the latter case, off field acrimony has threatened to blow up into a diplomatic crisis and sharply punctuates the prevailing tension among the two countries on perceived racial issues.

It does not take a genius to recognise that the gentleman’s game has changed. In the 21st century it’s not about doffing your hat, gently applauding your own dismissal and then discussing straight drives over tea, it is on the contrary, war. Players are out to destroy each other at every given opportunity, teams play tooth and nail to win ,backed by rabid supporters on each side who would not have it any other way. To say in such a scenario that playing cricket will promote peace is at  best a ridiculous suggestion!

In light of the 26/11 attacks and the outrage that followed, it’s even more derisory to the psyche of the country to suggest that we should be playing a sport with the team of a country who has supported the murder of hundreds and thousands of indian citizens.  I am no xenophobe but I do believe in not engaging Pakistan in any way untill concrete action is seen.

Coming back to the issue of the jobless Pakistani merceneries cricket players. If clarity of thought prevails among the self-righteous jhola walas, they will find many reasons for the absence of Pakistani players, I have complied them in a short list for easy reference.

1. Recent performances : Have you seen them play in the recent test series against Australia? They were not even competitive would you want  expensive, out of form players in that franchise that you support?

2. Uncertain resource : The last two reasons boil down to one basic element, pure business sense. No franchise would like to spend crores on a player only to have his visa revoked in he case of further heightened tensions or any other extraneous reason.

3. Unpopular : And lastly, given the current environment, Pakistani players are definitely not in season with the Indian cricket watching public who fund the IPL with their ticket dollars. Consider this a democratic verdict, exercised by those whose cash makes this wheel go round. If no one wants to see the Pakistani players, why would a team owner waste money on them?

The response of the Pakistani cricket board  and the Pakistani media was certainly unexpected, I wish they had shown such outrage when the Sri Lankans were being attacked in their country or when terrorists trained by their state were butchering scores in the streets of Mumbai.

The only response that their outrage deserves is the finger.

Building up and knocking down

I am sitting right now at the offices of a client organization who prefer to locate themselves in the middle of a cacophony. Voices are drowned out, migraines are spawned and general irritability is encouraged among the loud noises emanating from construction activity ( as in the case of Bombay) or a scrap yard ( Delhi).

 It is also ironic, while the Bombay office is surrounded by construction, renewal and regeneration. All that the denizens of the Delhi office see and hear are large hulks of metal being broken down by repetitive grinding and pounding. 

 I am re-united with the infamous duo (my friends would know who I am talking about) and both of them now sport counterfeit handbags. You can read an interesting articles on the people who sport such fake commodities here and here .

Other than moral issues, there is also the problem of low self-esteem that drives people to such blatant counterfeiting. Sigh

Lets not talk about low self esteem

Have fun people. Be good!