Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Men who cook deserve to be in your phone book!

I always think of my friend Agneshwar on New Year's eve. That's the day I venture nervously into the kitchen with my fingers crossed and a tattered copy of his recipe for mutton biryani: a particularly fragrant concoction laced with mace, nutmeg, saffron and kewra (pandanus odoratissimus) water- along with the usual suspects: cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper corns and bay leaves. And none of that taste befuddling ginger-garlic paste, tomato puree and cilantro! It's scrum! Have prepared it a day in advance and ooh, the aroma!
I shall think of him and his lucky, lucky wife with even more affection this year because they gave me an interesting hamper packed with chorizo, pate, olives, smoked salmon and sun-dried tomatoes among other things to bring 2009 in. I can't wait to say goodbye and good riddance to a paricularly lousy year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Freddy Mercury's Piano and Me!

Returned from almost fab holiday in Panchgani. Almost fab because:
1. The food was lousy, lousy, lousy. The ancient land of milk and honey is now the land of chicken and paneer. Those are the only things available everywhere. Hate both with a passion- would much rather eat paper. Had to settle for eggs (henceforth referred to as yuggs) and if I see another yugg in my life I'll throw up. Violently. Was desperately in need of a stomach pump after every greasy meal. On the last day (typically) finally discovered a decentish Parsi joint and stuffed self with strawberry milkshake, dhansak and mutton biryani. No Bhindi Paredu for me, though- yuggs ew!
2. Pillow talk: If ever I open a hotel, I'm going to give guests the freedom to choose their own pillows. Every darn hotel in the world I've stayed at seems to believe that mile-high fluffy pillows are the epitome of comfort. Such bullshit. I like my pillows firm and flat like abs. Needless to say I spent 3 miserable sleepless nights. The crick in my neck persists.
3. Beloved Husband kept threatening to attempt paragliding. I kept threatening to leave him in return. Would much rather be divorced than a widow- not particularly fond of the idea of the being haunted by Beloved Husband's ghost for the rest of my life. Going by our caring relationship, he'd probably be a poltergeist.

And now the good part: Visited Freddy Mercury's school (St. Peter's) and saw his piano. Well, the one he used to practice on. Touched it lovingly too. Have washed my hands thereafter, only because I'm an adult and not a rock star-struck teen. Was sad at the state it's in, though. It was rescued too late from a fire and now it's just a shell. No keys, no wires. The school authority who showed us round reassured us that plans are on the anvil to restore it to its former glory. He also said that the school owns many Queen CDs and plays them regularly. Yay!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas at Bandra

My very first Christmas here! And while celebrations are muted this year because of the ghastly terror attacks in Mumbai and solidarity for the Christians in Orissa, a little bit of cheer goes a long way.

Saturday night was lovely- a little area off the street where I live was cordoned off for a carol singing session with a live band - a come one, come all invitation was issued to the neighbourhood. I'd heard the singers practising in a building next door for a few months, and they were marvellous! One evening, trudging back from the gym, I was treated to a very special moment: They were singing a hymn I didn't recognise and a driver parked below had his radio tuned to a news channel. They merged beautifully. So now I'm wondering if that's how Simon & Garfunkel got their inspiration for their goosebump-raising version of Silent Night.

Begged Beloved Husband to accompany me to the carol singing session when he got back from work but he was doing his impersonation of Ebenezer Scrooge. Didn't feel like hanging out alone so spent the evening in the kitchen straining my ears to hear the carols. Was richly rewarded. A few days later, our building was warmly glowing with fairy lights and a ginornmous Star of Bethlehem. Lovely. It rubbed off on Beloved Husband too, who entered the house smiling, for a change. No 'Bah! Humbug!' that night!!! It feels so heart-warming to be included in other festivities- that's the nicest part of being Indian!

So peace on earth, mercy mild, and I do hope Orissa enjoys a lovely Christmas too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dinner at Colaba

Ventured into the terrorist-torn district for dinner last night. Reassuringly, saw lights twinkling in the neighbouring Taj Tower, and Ling's Pavilion was busy and bustling. Peered under the table to gauge if there was enough room to duck for cover (in a woefully cowardly manner), and mentally chastized restaurant-owner for not using floor-length table cloths! One drink later and I forgot to be edgy and alert. Whew. Rather enjoyed self, just like in the good old days before Bombay became Mumbai. Lurve Colaba.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gentle admonishment from a reader of Girl Alone

An excerpt from an email from Sahiba- Am still giggling helplessly over it! This has just got to be my favourite piece of feedback from a reader!
"...and oh I have to tell you this. since really it was YOUR idea. I actually put an egg on my face and tried to make my dear-love-you-forever kiss me, just for kicks. and well, the result ... egg on my face! It was terrible! He just ran away saying I was losing it :-D And what's worse, he stayed away for the next 24 hrs. What a sissy ,I cried! What a freak, he cried back! Ha ha. I guess something's are better off in books. Hey you need to put warnings next time - you know something like this stunt has been performed by experts, do not try at home, may cause injury to self respect :-)"
Way to go, Spunky Sahiba! Rest assured this guy will never forget you! You've left scars on him for life!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Still in shock and anti-Pak feelings are growing stronger by the second

The papers have informed me that I'm suffering from post-traumatic stress. Well, I have all the symptoms they've helpfully listed. Beloved Husband said that it's my fault for watching the attack coverage like a junkie. He's a fine one to say that, considering that he's been religiously watching Nat Geo's special on terrorism this week. Brutal people committing brutal acts with brutal uncensored visuals to boot! Almost sicked up when I entered the TV room last evening. Hastily darted out, gagging. Have firmly decided that I’d sooner be locked in a room with a man-eating tiger than with an official from Pakistan's ISI. At least I’d have the forlorn satisfaction of knowing that the tiger would eat me out of hunger, not out of innate nastiness.
Also discovered in the papers today that the captured terrorist's real surname is not Kasav- the Mumbai cops gave him that surname: Kasav means butcher! Ooh I love the cops!
Which brings me to Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Read it a couple of years ago, and had serious problems with it. The book really should have been called The Ingrate or The Ungrateful Fundamentalist. Cut through the symbolism and literary devices and this is the story in short: Wealthy, educated, upper-class (and not overtly-religious) Pakistani works in a mega finance joint in the US. His White bosses love him, his friends love him, no reason to crib and carp. He falls in love with an American girl who is mourning the death of her long-time boyfriend. She likes the Pakistani hero but can’t love him- or anyone else for that matter. This gives him heartburn that no amount of antacids can neutralise. Then Kargil happens (for which he squarely blames India- tsk, was Hamid's hero really intelligent after all?) and he gives it all up to return to Pakistan. Thereafter, he becomes a terrorist, singling out Whites. A classic case of biting the hand that fed him. Even a dog wouldn’t do that. But, in all fairness, this book was a piece of fiction.
I didn't believe that Hamid really got into the psyche of a terrorist-can people be that ungrateful? Now, however, I see what he means: the fact that Pakistan is, by nature, an ungrateful nation*. The West will continue to flaunt Pakistan as an ally, foolishly wishing and hoping that they will actually help them. Proving, yet, yet, yet again that Westerners are ridiculously gullible. Practically every Islamic terrorist in the world today wears a Made in Pakistan lable. This is the only product that the country successfully manufactures. And look at how beautifully they are using this product to extract more and more money from the West. They’re chortling all the way to the bank. Asking them to help stop terrorism is like asking them to shut down their most profitable business. Dream on!
*Please do note, however, that I am not damning all the citizens of Pakistan in that statement. There are good people out there- but too few and far between. And if there are more than I can count on the fingers of one hand, they should speak out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Be angry but don't be foolish!

First I wanted to attack the terrorists. Then I wanted to fling shoes at our politicians. And now I'm mad at the public. This dumb ass email that's doing the rounds-about the right to register a negative vote- has made me see red. Add to this the rants of some of the people at the rally:
-'Let the military rule for a year!' (What? We want to be like bloody Pakistan?).
- 'Give each city to a corporate group!' (Yeah, right. We want monopolies?)
-'Let the media take control of the country!' ( So you want Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt or Arnab Gosmai for PM? All they'll say in times of crisis will be an insensitive, "How do you feel?").

What the hell are we? A mobocracy or a democracy? Stop being childish and foolish- please do vote!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just read this in TOI. Want to vomit.

Politicians are not the only people dividing our country. There are a lot of despicable citizens out there. Do not read this article (link below) on an empty stomach. I don't know who this nasty venom-spewing Jet Airway's passenger is, but I assure you, had I been on that flight and overheard him insulting the Muslim flight attendant, I'd have made him weep for his mother. I'm ashamed that the other passengers who overheard him did not give him a piece of their mind. They stayed silent- including the passenger who eventually reported this incident to the press. India does not want people like that here. What the heck were all those solidarity rallies in India for? Community picnics?
Please do read this article.

Kerala CM Achuthanandan lives up to his name

The Kerala Chief Minister's name suits him to a T- if you pronounce it right, that is: A-Chut- Hanandan. Horrible man. May he be thrown out of power and into a gutter. Right now my contempt for him is as much as my contempt for Raj Thackeray, LK Advani and Narendra Modi combined. That's pretty powerful contempt.
Oh he's just apologised. Finally. Realised that he needs votes, no doubt.
And the rally at the Gateway of India is a tremendous success- have been watching it on TV. Thousands of Indians united against terrorists and politicians alike!
Honestly, I'm getting a little worried about the politician bashing now. We the people had better get our act together too and excercise some restraint or else this may lead to a state of anarchy. Not a nice thing at all. Shudder.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sit on this, Lashkar!

A mega grieving session will be on at the Gateway of India this evening. Speeches will be made, candles will be lit and t-shirts will be sold. With messages like:
3. "I cannot leave the island. I was born here and belong." (This is the last couplet from Nissim Ezeikel's poem Island, on Bombay.)
You can order the tees at Time Out if you're not planning to be there. I'm not going- I don't do public grief. I did not order a tee either. But I did inform Time Out that if they tell the t-shirt maker to put the following message on their tees, I'll buy millions of them.
The message:
Visual: Graphic of a finger. Not an ordinary finger- the finger.
Copy: Sit on this, Lashkar!
I also wish Leopold would create a special chair in the finger gesture and place a little white card on it: Reserved for the L-e-T.
Those sodding brainwashed bastards deserve special treatment from us, don't they?