Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sorry- no can do, Mr. Thackeray.

I really hate to go against Mr. Thackeray's wishes. Not because I'm a knee-buckling wimp but heck, have you seen those swords he allegedly hands out to his followers? However, I must heroically stand up on trembling legs and say this- sorry Mr. Thackeray, but good Hindus do not become suicide bombers. Neither do good Muslims, for that matter! We'd much rather be dull and boring accountants when we grow up. Thank you for your suggestion, though. It's nice of you to think of us. And by the way, I'm enjoying lovely weather out here in Timbucktoo.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Retro Reads

It's funny how time changes perspectives. Always trashed Dickens as being deathly depressing but these past few months, since I've been on a re-reading Dickens spree, I find him marvellous. Absolutely love his characters- particularly the minor ones. And just finished re-reading The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and the book moved me so much more this time round. Can't sleep, the story is still clashing around in my head, stirring up all manner of emotions. My views on Richard Gordon haven't changed though- he still has me giggling helplessly! Purloined two of his books from Mum and Dad's bookshelves during my last holiday home and have instructed my sister to pinch the rest of the set (whenever my parents discover an author they enjoy, they can't rest till they own the author's complete works) . Can't wait for her to return with the booty! Meanwhile I have Chekhov and Gorky to go through again- wonder what I'll think of them now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are we going to let hypersensitive half-wits ruin our country?

I'm just about sick and tired of all the touchy people in this country. Someone should firmly explain to them that freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to be violent. A bunch of lunatics attacked an editor's house because he rightly said that the state government shouldn't squander money on erecting a statue in the sea when that money was badly needed for more humanitarian purposes- like saving farmers lives. Yesterday a bunch of Sikhs attacked the MTV office because their sentiments were hurt by an ad- a reasonably funny ad, I might add, that no one in their right mind would object to. Some wierdos chucked bombs at a theatre because they believed that the play hurt Hindu sentiments. All this and more happened in just the last 2 weeks. In and around Mumbai, India's hippest city. Yeah, right. Now where do I go?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The monsoon revisited

While attempting to de-clutter my laptop, I stumbled upon an article I'd written on the monsoon for Travel & Leisure mag a couple of years ago, and I still feel exactly the same way about the heavenly rainy season, so have duly pasted it below:

The people of Mumbai are, perhaps, India’s most enthusiastic rain-worshippers. In the run up to the rains, Monsoon reports bag front-page headlines, relegating political storms to the less important inside pages. Please, this is more interesting than the state of the nation! The Met Department is quoted more frequently than Bollywood stars, even if Bollywood stars have been very, very naughty. Good-natured bets are taken on the arrival date, and when the first pre-monsoon shower breaks, whoops of joy drown out angry rumbles of thunder. Children rush outdoors to do their versions of the Bollywood wet sari dance, and I have to shame-facedly confess that I do like-wise, though in a more refined and restrained manner. After all, the building watchman may not respect me thereafter.

When the earth turns to slush, mine isn’t the only brain that turns to mush. Romance lingers heavily in the cool air, and sentimental rain songs top request lists on radio stations and at pubs. Astonishingly enough, even songs from the Palaeolithic Age like Raindrops keep falling on my head are revived. Popular sea fronts like Marine Drive, Worli Sea Face and Bandstand are dotted with couples, some huddled under umbrellas, others unabashedly flinging themselves under the arc of muscular waves that soar gracefully like dolphins out of the choppy sea. Policemen who happen to catch them in the act flash spontaneous smiles; it’s obvious that they’re yearning to do the same.

But for me, nothing but Marine Drive will do. I can sit on a soggy bench for hours under a heavy downpour, tasting the salty ocean spray, inhaling the aroma of corn on the cob roasting on the promenade, chuckling evilly when fierce gusts of wind turn umbrellas inside out. Oh, you just have to see the faces of the stodgy umbrella-wielders when that happens! It’s only when bolts of crackling lightning rip the skies apart that I duck for cover. I could, of course, let myself be burnt to a frazzle, that’s one way of ensuring that I die happy, but that defeats the purpose. The whole charm of the Monsoon is that it makes me feel gloriously alive!

On weekends I make my way to the neighbouring mist-shrouded hill stations of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani or Lonavala and Khandala (they come in pairs!). The ubiquitous couples are here too, enjoying romantic walks under sheets of rain, families picnic on damp grassy slopes and the more intrepid (usually alarmingly large gangs of college students) literally do what their rival gangs beg them to: take a hike!

Floods, squelching shoes, ticklish throats and runny noses notwithstanding, there’s one rain song Mumbai will never ever sing. And that is, Rain, rain, go away.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Here it comes!

Three brief flashes of lightning while at a Marine Drive signal. A fourth a few minutes later over Flora Fountain. And then the Monsoon made its appearance. Not a grand entry, just a very light shower, but at least it's here! Yay! It's like hearing the first cuckoo announcing Spring. The downside is, all we'll get to see on news channels for the next few months will be Sreenivasan Jain and his merry monsoon-watch brigade in wellies and armed with brollies! Ew! You should hear my sister rave and rant about this- she's hilarious!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Soldiering on

My life's going up in smoke and the blame can be laid at Union Health Minister A. Ramadoss's door. From October 2nd this year, exhaling at public places will be banned. My feisty sister is threatening to organise a tete a tete with him just for the joy of blowing smoke into his smug face. But me, I can deal with it. I'm training myself to develop camel-like qualities: inhale vast quantities of nicotine to keep me going for hours (or weeks maybe), before I step out into the cruel world where smokers are regarded as several notches more disgusting than spiteful people with infectious diseases.
Despite the annoying Ramadoss man though, I will continue to support the UPA. If you do a reality check you may well agree with me: communal parties are more injurious to India's health than smokers. (Said very virtuously, shiny halo hovering above head and all that! Oh, and Bharat Mata ki jai!)