Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Time of My Life

Readers of my old blog will know that I like Chennai. No, really, I do like this city. I'm not discounting the awful after-sales service of most companies (this poem was written after unsuccessfully repulsing the attack of a Godrej serviceman) or the water problems or the less-than-well-connected public transportation system, or even the language barrier -- all of which are, to me, the biggest cons of the place. The thing is, every big city has its share of warts. In addition to its problems, Chennai also has a great deal of charm.

Ask S. Muthiah, or as we in the family fondly call him, Smuthiah. Fascinating man he is too, as these two links will have shown you.

But back to Madras. I like the weather here for one thing. As it gets hotter I just shed a few more layers. I like the fact that it has the beaches. I like the two rivers, and I particularly enjoyed the idea of that silly Adyar being in spate next to our home recently. Walked down to look at the muddy, churning water and chuckled to myself. I'm fond of that damn nullah. I like the people here, all speaking in that language which is so familiar to the ear and yet which I can't follow. (It's worse in Bangalore, because there the script does the same thing to me as well!) I like the old buildings, I like wandering around Mylapore, even though they won't rent us non-vegetarian low-lives a place there. I like that cute Victoria Hall next to Central Station, and Fort St. George (shameless critter, aren't I?) and the Museum in Egmore. I am particularly fond of the vagaries of Moore Market where you get so many weird things, and the exhausting collection of Landmark, Nungambakkam, not to mention the cramped confines of the Giggles Bookshop in the Taj Connemara. Near my father's office at Parry's Corner, there's an MRT station, the Beach one I think it's called. It has an over-bridge where one can sit for hours just watching the world drift by.

Incidentally, talking about Giggles reminded me of Blossom's, Bangalore, where Vicky, Dhruba and I spent so many happy hours. Too bad we missed Select. This discerning gent writes of all three, I'm delighted to note.

I've only been here a few months, but when the parents moved down two and a half years ago, I already knew I would like the place. And I do, I really wish I could show you snapshots of all these places. Of the foreigners trying to feel at home in the lanes of the Boat Club Road, of the joyful expectancy that the East Coast Road invariably instills in me, of the bienvenue of Elliot's beach, of the possibility of going from Broadway to 'Paris' (Parry's) in one bus-ride. Of the temples constantly popping out at you from the centres of roads and the corners of innocuous-looking lanes.

I like almost every place I've been to, it's true, but Chennai seems to achieve the same affection I have for Calcutta. That awe and respect too. As a place it's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. And I have had the time of my life.

For those who were confused by what I said about Tamil and Kannada being familiar yet unknown, I only meant that they both have this similarity with Telugu, which I can read and follow after a fashion.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Clumsy? Me?

Love's a mug's game, for those who luck out. No, but seriously. This is not a lover's rhapsody about Vicky and me. This is the one for the ones that didn't work out. And for the couple which came so close.

Everybody, guys, including lucky old me, falls for the inaccessible one. Happens at least once to us all. We can all live with it. I have, still do, and I think I'm happy with my life. Why doesn't anybody believe me when I say that's possible? Yeah, yeah, we all think our tragedies are the worst there have ever been. For us I'll say they are, too. But we all get by, dammit. What's so evil about the word 'compromise'?

I am sick of hearing about how tough it is to love somebody who is not free for you. I sympathise. But I also happen to believe there's a reason the lady is not free. Because -- and listen to me carefully as I say it out slowly and loudly -- it wouldn't have worked out. So S- marries a guy her well-wishers loathe (with reason) and I- can't convince her family to accept her man. So L- can't convince his girl to stay and N- can't work up the nerve to speak to the one he likes. I know that the important thing here is that all these people carry their own grief around. Well, so what??? Live with it. Try to remember that the ones who are already taken did their own choosing, and are probably content with their choice. And for heaven's sake, try to find some happiness/peace/contentment in that the object of your affection is happy, albeit somewhere else.

Yes, I'm mad. I know for myself how it hurts to love somebody you can't have. And I do try not to push the ones who are going through it. I know as well as anybody can know what it's like to lose, and I will not have mutton-headed idiots preach at me how not to hurt. I already know and I learnt it in the hardest school there is.

Yes, I'm angry and not a little hurt I was not credited with a bit more sense and tenderness.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Yah Boo to You, Too!

Vicky left tonight. After a week of such fun as we've had, it's a little daunting to think of a week's convalescence without him, but I guess I'll manage. Besides, something tells me, convalescence is not all about drives down to the beach and lying around in each other's arms and dancing around the city. Besides, I don't feel properly repentant about wrecking everybody's plans (and scaring them witless in the bargain) when he's here and being his usual charming self.

Aw, who am I kidding? I don't feel the teeniest bit repentant. I'm glad he came, even if it took the typhoid to get him here.

Oh, and he actually got me driving. I've driven around bits of the city -- the less crowded bits, and I admit I stayed off the main roads mostly -- but I do feel more confident than I did before. This afternoon I even went down to fill 'er up and actually parked Ally in her place in the garage. I haven't knocked into anything yet either. I suppose it's only a matter of time, but still, it's heartening to know the time hasn't come yet.

We had fun, the last one week. What with driving down to Elliot Beach, meeting the (IIT) guys even, meandering around Marina yesterday evening, buying silly things at the beachside stalls, braving the Christmas rush at Spencers' this evening in search of a pink Caddy, it's all been so cheering. I guess I got way more than I deserved, but it was nice being spoiled.

Oh, and hopefully the folks with taste (I don't refer to Vicky or my mother here) will be relieved to hear that the pink Caddy wasn't found. Instead, we bought a '31(?) Ford Pickup and a early '50s Studebaker in a beautiful sea-green with the dinkiest details inside. It was awfully cute, the way my 29-year-old stood at the counter trying out the steering wheels, opening bonnets and doors and trying to decide which model car he wanted while a line of little boys came to stare in wide-eyed wonder in front of him and all those cars laid out on the counter. And yes, he did press their horns and go "peep". I suppose I'm just marrying a great big baby, at that.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All the love in the world is mine and it shows on my face. I know, because I saw it in the mirror.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Had a Ticket to Hell and Back

For those of you who’ve been wondering, hell is a hospital room. The one I went into, spent four days of the last one week in, was a large one by hospital standards, with its own attached bathroom. Had a geyser even. And it was filled with figures who came and poked needles into me at all hours, into all parts of my body. I spent my time being unable to talk, unable to eat, for the most part, unable to so much as enjoy a sip a of water. Everything in hell tastes uniformly bad, and there are peculiar smells that drive you crazy. Worst of all, there are windows showing you the outside world, where you see people walk about reveling in their freedom while you are a prisoner of your doctor’s dictates.

In other words, I am convalescing from a bout of typhoid. It is probably evident from my earlier post where I might have picked it up, and a week ago last Sunday, I succumbed to high fever and incredible abdominal agony. Poor Ma had the toughest time. It drove her nearly demented, trying to figure out how to bring down the fever, wondering what the stomach pain was all about. Baba took two days of it and then booked me into the hospital. I was subjected to a variety of tests, all of which came back clear (including for typhoid) but the symptoms point to typh anyway. I even got a nickname for it already. Cute.

It was horrible. But the hospital stay was probably worse than the illness. The constant injections, the foul drips. They made me feel even worse. The nurses were nice, but so confoundedly cow-handed with the needles. The doctor was a pleasant gent. Have to meet him again in a couple of days.

Ma has been such an absolute brick. Someday I want my kids to think of me the way I do of her, admiringly. My silliness has wrecked all her carefully laid plans and she has yet to utter a word of reproach. (Baba’s already had plenty to say, but when did he not?) And then, Vicky’s flown down for the week, and it’s nice having him here. He washed my hair this afternoon – in bed!! – and that one thing has made me more comfortable. I hated the dirty feel.

Incidentally, breaking news on the wedding front: V and I signed the registration papers and they’re on their way to the Cal registrar as I type. And cards, ours I mean, have been delivered, so V and I spent some time popping them into envelopes tonight. It's nice to have him around.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I've Been More Naughty Than Nice...

Am in a little bit of a mess, notwithstanding the optimism felt earlier in the day. Oh well, what the hell.

Yesterday H and I went out to see the Fort St. George Museum. After the usual changed plans and mix-ups we finally made it at 4 o' clock, only to find that the place was closed on Fridays. Had some of the excellent roadside coffee Madras has, to get over our disappointment, and then he offered to take me over to the other beach, newly developed, beyond Besant Nagar. It was a cold journey (although thoroughly enjoyable) and we were both chilled through by the time we reached. So we headed to the nearest restaurant and asked for hot stuff. Had some soup, but that didn't do the trick, so we asked for a quart each of brandy and vodka. He had the vodka and I finished the b with lots of hot water. I knew it was the cheap stuff but I didn't know just how awful those things could be. Well, I do now...

Thankfully H needed no explanations and brought me home straightaway, where I walked from the front door into bed without so much as stopping to change my damp kameez. The parents were nice about it, tucking me in with a hot water bottle and letting me sleep it off. They were even nice this morning, when Baba asked me what it was that I'd had. They aren't being nice any longer, although Baba's wrath seems to have taken the edge off Ma's anger. Ah well, I knew it would happen. Was expecting too much to think I could actually show up drunk in front of them and get away with it. Wish they’d blame me for my mistakes though. Nobody leads me anywhere, hasn’t for years.

Note to self: try not to think of offspring as children beyond their legal majority. They are not, nor do they act like it, and they certainly do not like being treated like it.

Further note to self: read these notes when offspring attain majority.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Chennai Routine

I never did write of my week in Cal. A packed one it was too. Well, what’s to say? When you stay with the (Sumit) Roys, things are usually fun. V’s ‘birthday’ sticks out. I’d promised him that we’d celebrate it this visit since we were in separate cities on the day itself. So we caught Goblet of Fire and then went down to Cakes on Rawdon St., where we polished off a pound of truffle cake between the two of us. We had quite an audience, ranging from a fascinated staff to a bawling kid who couldn’t believe our luck and didn’t want to.

And now I’ve been in Chennai for the best part of three weeks. Have been taking driving lessons, with indifferent success if you ask me. I daresay I’ll always be a nervous driver. Oh well, at least I have a car to drive. And a license to do so as well, yippee! Spent a few evenings happily drinking with the IIT crowd, some others just chatting over coffee at the beach. One time, Nancy and I went around with Curly and his father to buy a ‘fridge and washing machine for their new place. Have been reading some, focusing on Amanda Cross’ Kate Fansler mysteries, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Agatha Christies and Lemony Snickets. A nicely gory and depressing lot, very entertaining in this combination. Also read a collection of Roald Dahl’s short stories, come to think of it. I do like the Gymkhana Club library.

Have also been working frantically (at sporadic stretches, mais si!) on my embroidery. There is so much plain sewing to do too.

That’s my life now, at least for the next one week until Ma and I leave for Calcutta.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Writing Back?

A certain ‘friend’ has been nasty about my style of writing. Come to think of it, how do I write? At times I am quite stilted, at times a certain humour creeps in, but the latter usually happens more or less involuntarily. It’s a bit embarassing to admit it, but when I read certain passionate entries written in my diary at the high points of teenage angst, it requires a great deal of self control not to burst out laughing. I shall never be a dedicated, conscious humourist though,I fear.

In passing, may I add I strongly object to MS Word underlining in red the word “humour” each time I type it out. Twerp!

Baba and I discussed English and englishes this morning, over a delectable breakfast of Welsh rarebit, which in our household goes by the inelegant name of dim-alu-tomato. (For those who are out of this culinary loop, I’m talking of fried tomatoes, fried boiled potatoes and fried boiled eggs tossed together in a little oil, salted to taste. Magnificent recipe.) Anyway, so Baba and I were mounted on one of our favourite hobbyhorses, where he cringes at what passes for English these days and I tell him it’s the age of the englishes and that’s no bad thing either. For one thing, the day of ‘correct’ English as written by, say Nehru, is indeed over, seemingly in Britain too. But the englishes that have come up in its place, all the lingoes of the ex-colonials, the new colonizers (I refer to the Asian immigration invasion, as some are pleased to term it) and well, of the new generation, is so rich, so varied, so very densely packed with social, racial, political moment, it would be a shame to ignore it for an older and far less democratic lingua. Or so I feel. Baba does not agree.

He said, nowadays, very few writers use the old phraseologies, the little touches that made one’s writing more authentically English than one’s peers. To use, for instance “Don’t tell a soul” in favour of the “Don’t tell anybody” more commonly heard outside England. I myself would prefer to write in the language that allows the delightfully esoteric “Cover sale outside” (to indicate that envelopes are sold outside the post-office). This line is all but incomprehensible to a non-South Indian but to me its beauty lies in that, that to understand it one requires some knowledge of the land one is standing in, where envelopes and plastic bags are universally recognized as “covers”. If one's language does not reflect one's immediate surroundings, how authentic is it and if it is less than authentic, what claim can it lay to being heard?

I suppose we will agree to disagree. We’re from different worlds, he and I, although he heads the IT department of his company and I’m shocking my circle by getting married at the incredibly young (?) age of twenty-three.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Travels in North India -- Phase II

Well, Id saw me back in Delhi, after a long and extremely dusty train-ride through the desert. Beq came to pick me up at the Delhi Cantt. station which turned out to be nowhere close to C.R. Park as I'd been hoping. But it was great to see his silly face after so very long, even though he chose to hide it behind his old Lotto/Reebok jacket from vanity and the cold. (It says Lotto on one side, and if you turn it inside out, you get the Reebok logo. Two-timing designerwear, if you like.) The flat he and Rudder are 'living' in (as opposed to a proper, involved occupation) is rather nice, with a huge verandah and west-facing afternoon windows which capture the welcome warmth of the setting sun. Not that I saw much of it, for after a bath and a change, the two of us popped down to Debo's place, down the road, where we joined her, Sujoy and a friend of Sujoy's for an Id dinner of kebabs and tandoori rotis at Nizamuddin. I hope I'm getting the place names down right. Food was scrumptious, as I'd expected. That was the Friday.

Saturday I spent with Neel'da (Sonali's elder brother) and his family. More specifically, I spent it with his son Ghocha, who was my other reason for visiting Delhi (the primary reason being of course Beq (",) ). We shopped at Nalli, where G and I played games of swing-Ghocha-till-what-passes-for-his-brains-are-thoroughly-addled; we had lunch in Defence Colony, where G and I had fun with the liquid soap in the washroom; and we finally went to their place, also in C. R. Park, where G and I crashed all his toy cars into smithereens playing at Accidents. For dinner Neel'da honoured his son's promise (made just before Sonali and I left in the bus westwards) inviting me to a paratha dinner.

Sunday began with a sumptuous breakfast at the Connaught Place Nirula's, where Debo and I packed away enough food to stun the three males accompanying us (Sujoy, Beq and Rudder). I remember having seconds of everything on the buffet except for the idli and chutney, which I refused to have in North India, and the coffee, of which I had only one cup. There were delicious salamis, cheeses, bacon, hash brown, eggs and other stuff which I don't remember now. She and I rounded it off downstairs with a choco fudge sundae each, which was basically a coupla of scoops of vanilla ice cream with a rich, choco fudge sauce, topped with lots of chopped nuts. Yummy! We walked around C.P. a bit more and then went home. Misha had reached Delhi by then, so I spent the rest of the day catching up with her. It had been ages since I saw her too. In the evening us ladies wandered around the 'M' block market in GK II, dining off Subs and finishing with a Kaluah mousse in the cafe Mocha.

The next day Mish, Beq and I met up with Tua at the 'N' Block market in the same place, which is where the Fab Indias happen to be. I spent a blissful afternoon shopping for Vicky and Dada and rewarded myself with a blue silk top for being such a good girl. The table napkins and coasters are of course utilitarian and therefore not to be thought of as my indulgences (even if they do come in such lovely colours.) B went off to work, the NDTV office being nearby, and us girls bitched over (very bad) tea in a nearby cafe. It being nearly dark by then, Tua was packed off back to JNU and Mish and I did a little household shopping before heading home laden down by a million bags. Later that night I saw M off on her train to Indore. The cabbie was nice, but why are the taxis so frightfully expensive?

Tuesday's highlights included buying Beq a lampshade from Fab India and dining with Neel'da, his wife Monua and meeting Maitra. He's changed some, looks more assertive in a way, and I must say it suits him. I thoroughly recommend the Lakshmi parathas at the C.P. Nizam's, incidentally.

Treated Tua (and Beq) to lunch at Kake da Hotel on Wednesday, even calling up Baba to ask what to order. Food was worth the wait. Spent the afternoon looking for mufflers (the demands of mothers!) all over C.P. Thankfully, we went to Khan Market after a while, where Beq bought himself a dandy new watch.

My last full day in Delhi was spent fruitfully, sightseeing with Beq. We went to Humayun's tomb, which I vaguely remembered from my earlier visit 18 years ago. My favourite place remains Isa Khan's tomb and mosque which are to one's left before one enters the main tomb itself. The gardens were so beautiful, it wasn't hard to feel regal. I might have been a Mughal princess once after all. I could see myself gorgeously attired, spending my days in luxury, playing with my friends in the shrubbery. After spending most of the day there we went to the Lodhi Gardens, picking up sandwiches from Khan Market to picnic there with. Saw more basset hounds in the Gardens than I'd ever seen in my life before. After losing our way for while we finally managed to make it to Debo's office which happens to be right next to the Gardens themselves. Met an extremely cute girl there, but in the way of cute girls, she already has a boyfriend. Too bad for B. Met Debo and Sujoy once more that evening, for a Chinese dinner at Country Oven (?) which makes pretty good chocolate pastry.

Saturday morning found me packing like crazy (and tidying Beq's room knowing that this would be the only cleaning done for goodness knows how long) prior to dashing down to CP yet again, this time for a few last minute purchases. I bought some stamps for Baba, Wenger's chocolates for Vicky and the ideal muffler (at last). Rushing home in a panic I had time for a quick lunch after all, before Beq returned from work and we went to catch my train.

This was my time in Delhi and a great time was had by me. It was followed by a week in Calcutta whose description shall follow when I've got over the exertion of writing this post.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Travels in North India -- Phase I

Ok, here's the dope on my travels in North India. I know this is a well-overdue post but I was feeling too lazy to do this earlier. Humble apologies and all that, I'm sure, gentle reader, but for now, read on...

Phase I: Ab Dilli Duur Nahin

I was supposed to leave for Delhi on the last Friday of October, catching the Rajdhani Express from the Chennai Central Station. So much for the best-laid plans. It poured the day before I was due to leave, flooding Chennai. We had no power all day and couldn't go out because of all the water (not to mention the incessant rain) but all that was an adventure until I was informed that Central was flooded and therefore all trains were cancelled till noon the next day, including mine of course. Then it became a calamity to which I reponded with my usual, mature sulks and disbelieving rants against an unsympathetic cosmos.

Baba managed to get me a ticket on an IA flight the next night. (I am not spoiled. It was a cheap one from his Frequent Flyer points). The flight was scheduled to leave at 2000 hrs, so it came as no surprise to hear at something after 1700 that there had been bomb blasts all over Delhi and the place was consequently under red alert. Amidst much dire prediction and flutter in the (extended) familial dovecote, I was finally allowed to catch the plane by grim-faced parents. I reached Delhi around midnight and was picked up after a short wait by Chhotokaku and gang. I spent the night at his place and this uncle of mine, the youngest of Baba's cousins (in India), showed me around the Gurgaon malls the next day. I contacted Sonali who as it turned out was returning to Nal/Bikaner that very evening, so after a spot of deft driving Chhotokaku and his family saw me off from Delhi within less than 24 hours of entry.

Nal is where Sonali’s husband Akhilesh is posted at the moment, and I spent about four days there. Enjoyed life in the Air Force base. Played teen patti on Chhoti Diwali and helped put out the diyas on Diwali itself. Saw Akhilesh fly an MIG-21… quite an experience, being up close to combat aircraft. They look nowhere close to being as sturdy as one would wish. Oh, and Sonali and I also spent a night in Jaipur, with some of Akhilesh’s friends, en route Nal. He met us there and drove us down to the base in their new Scorpio, which was quite an enjoyable ride through the desert. Four days of perfect peace, before I took the train back to Delhi.

Before I end this post, I’ll add a note on the way the Western Railways con their passengers. I’d booked a seat on the AC chair-car coach on the train back to Delhi, but when I went to the Bikaner station I found that the bogey had not been attached to the train. Us AC chair-car people were forced to travel in the non-AC first-class (an enjoyable experience, I admit) or settle for the ordinary 3-tier. The problem I have with this scheme of things is that after boarding the train I was asked to pay an additional Rs. 200 as extra fare for the upgraded reservation. What price Laloo’s promise of free upgrades?

Later phases will be written up in future posts. Watch this space. And if there are any Pepes, please breathe. It’ll be a day or two before my next post, busy creature that I am.

My Two Bits

Greatbong, thanks for raising the issue. I've personally helped too many friends get through the trauma of being molested by people in authority ('uncles', teachers) and I have seen for myself how traumatic an experience it can be. Since your post seems to be read by a lot of people of our age group -- I'm assuming quite a lot of them will have something do with children, others' if not their own, someday -- I'll share something which I believe spared me all this as a kid.

My mother took great pains when I was about 11 to explain to me exactly what 'good' and 'bad' touches were, how to recognize where a ‘hug’ crosses the line of being merely affectionate. Most importantly, she told me that if ever I felt threatened, no matter who by, I was to come to her and tell her exactly what happened. And she made it clear that it was never my fault.

She has encouraged me all my life to wear whatever I want, her stipulation being that it must be in good taste. Also, that I learn to dress according to the place where I’ll be going. She strongly discouraged wearing jeans to a puja, but not because it was against tradition. Her argument was that wearing it would perhaps offend/ hurt the elders whose puja it was, and I completely endorse that stand. When I have a puja in my own house (again, not my parents’, but my own home) I shall feel free to wear what I please but in somebody else’s house it is only polite to follow their dress code. Yet those who know me personally cannot possibly argue that I am a conservative dresser…

Why am I rambling at length about my mother’s views? Because we will perhaps be lucky enough to guide our children/ nieces and nephews one day and it helps to explain to them that there are perverted creatures around but that there are ways of dealing with them. At the right age, properly explained, this can be the saving of a childhood and I do not use such a dramatic phrase easily. Too many molestations occur because the children do not realize what is happening early enough to run away. Also, given the reaction of Greatbong’s readers (read the comments for that post), I hope we will also have the strength of mind to offer these children our unconditional support if they ever feel the need to come to us. My point being, folks, it’s up to us, innit? We’ve been through it, firsthand and second, so we will perhaps be the best people to fight it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Good Day

After way too long, I had a good day yesterday. The reason for my good day is now lying behind me, snoring, on his bed. He should be where I'm sitting, in front of his little pc, presumably hard at work, but he isn't. He's cute though, lying there with a half-smile plastered over his mug.

But back to my good day. I spent an instructive morning with Diya, who (as Tua pointed out to me years ago when we were both wee tots or thereabouts) is not really my dida, but hers. She gave me the hankies she's made for my trousseau -- I love good, handmade lace! -- and I showed her the lace I'd got made from elsewhere for the petticoats for those sarees. I read a bit of the autobiography she's writing and munched on her inimitable homemade cake. Then I wandered off to another dida's. My mother's mejomami, who stays (sadly, alone) in a soul-satisfyingly old-world three-storey house in Bhowanipore, is arguably the nicest of all my extant didas. She's a damn good cook too, which I hold to be absolutely fundamental to dida ratings. She made me dal, bhaat, alu bhaja (jhuri) and a veg. curry and managed to make it taste like a feast. I met my father there, which didn't surprise me too much since I'd got the feeling he'd manage to drop in there somehow once I'd told him she was cooking for me.

Had written so far sitting in V's room this morning but now I'm picking up where I left off from Dana's place. It's late at night and we watched Broadway Bound. Spotlight put up a pretty decent performance I'll say. But back to the day before:

Baba and I went from mejomamidida's to Golpark, acquiring Dali Khurima and Paul along the way. We browsed through the bookstalls and obviously I succumbed. Bought Jamaica Inn and two other books I can't recall offhand. Oh yes, one was Seven Greek Plays and the other was the activity version of The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, i.e. it has paper games and cut-out masks. From there I went on to Vicky's (Baba went off to the airport, being en route Madras) and at V's we decided to make hay while the sun shone, vis. we decided to make use of the fact that I had the keys to Moore Avenue which happened to be empty too.

Just bears out what I say: good sex is definitely an Experience. Feeling (and looking?) extremely nice and warm and obviously post-coital V and I popped up to Sudder St. afterwards to meet his colleague-of-sorts. We were supposed to go have the Irish coffee at Blue Sky but it's undergoing yet another renovation so we went into some other place instead and had a coupla rounds of brandy. Point being, it was a day like a whole lot of other days I've known, but it was a happy day. Unlike the ones I've known for so many months now. Don't mean to sound depressed there, but it's nice to feel so good once more.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lazy Sunday Mornings -- My Favourite!

In Calcutta now, got here yesterday morning. Talking about mornings, Sundays are fun early on, aren't they? Ideally, I'd sleep in till about nine or so and then laze around a good while doing nothing very worthwhile. I can do that today I think. I did wake up around nine (slept like a baby) and now I don't really have anything earthshatteringly important to do before I land up at Vicky's for a post-lunch movie session. Then there's Dana's last show at Oxford in the evening, so we can always take in T3 while we're in the vicinity. Oh, but it's nice being back in Cal.

It's a nice world. Just thought I'd mention it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Plug till I have more time

In Delhi now. Jobs are complicated beasties to catch, I've decided. Way too temperamental. Vicky too.

Staying in C. R. Park. Seeing the sights near South Ex. Am currently relieved because I'm not lost yet.

Terrible keyboard, so more later.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Real Storm Didn't Pass, Actually

Well, who’d have thought of it, then? This is the city where, when we came two summers ago, we had to buy every drop of water we consumed and/or used – and yesterday it was flooded! Anna Salai, familiar to old-timers as Mount Road, was a shallow river and the airport, normally a 45-min drive away from our place had become a 4-hour nightmare.

What the floods highlighted? Such sad inefficiency… The power breakdown was expected, but need the sub-stations have electrocuted 50 people before they were shut down? And we’re not exactly talking of homeless squatters (an oxymoron? I suppose not) getting killed in places they had no business being. Patricia Aunty’s friend lost her husband because he got electrocuted in their own house. The place was flooded and he had gone to switch the mains off. It could have happened to anybody, that’s what is so scary about it.

Then the helplines… none of them worked. I was supposed to take the Rajdhani this morning for Delhi, and we just couldn’t get through to the station to find out if trains were running or not. If Beq’s sis hadn’t actually gone there to catch her own train I wouldn’t have known till much later that the station was flooded and no railway traffic was possible.

Mejopishi was supposed to be flying in from Cal yesterday evening. The Deccan Air helpline assured her that all planes were flying (even when we Chennaites knew that the airport was flooded and the storm was too strong to encourage small planes) and it was only hours later that we found out that the plane in which she was supposed to come to Chennai hadn’t even left Chennai to go to Cal.

Which brings me back to what I have asked for a really long time now – why are call center services so inefficient and why are they inevitably the last to know their own news?

There’s strong sunshine outside now, slowly fading with the end of the day. Storm warnings are still being broadcast. Let’s see what the remains of the day bring. I hope I get to meet Varsha in an hour’s time as planned.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Storm Passes

The way I feel tonight, I need some kind of loving. Nothing gentle. Persuasive, more like. Take my mind off things. This rain, for instance. It’s been raining more or less steadily for over 48 hours now, and I didn’t mind it when I was walking through the warm drizzle yesterday, although I was more tired and perhaps even lonelier than I am now. But now it’s turning my room chilly and I’m tired and a little angry with myself for being so bad-tempered.

I read some newspapers today. The first lot in a month I think. Suddenly I was hungry for news, so I read about Tendulkar’s return, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ new haircut – and decided that that was as much as I could take at one sitting. Strange, my abhorrence for the newspaper when I’m in my baperbari, because when I’m outside it, I read the daily as avidly as I read anything else. I even read the editorials in The Statesman and that’s saying something, considering I’m not very fond of editorials as a rule.

Sometimes, I feel very tender towards my body. Poor, unloved thing. A mass of irregularly tended skin and hair and nails. Poor, mauled thing. Surely it deserves more care than that? But how many of us look at our scabs and wonder if the wound is destroying the beauty we were born with or adding an extra dimension of interest to it? How many of us want to? Bloggers are accused of being navel-gazers, and I don’t deny it. Try to avoid gazing at your body in wonder when you’ve got mirrors as large and as nice as my bathroom one. In the bathroom too! Makes temptation irresistible. Yet this summer I lived for nigh on three months with hardly a pane of glass in sight, in front of which I could comb my hair. I conclude I’m not vain exactly, but I’m certainly fascinated by my body tonight, how it grows and how it shrinks, how it shows my lack of love so clearly. And how, like some forlorn plant, it rewards even the littlest bit of care with a brighter sheen, temporary though it may be.

I loved bio classes, I remember, even though they involved so much learning by rote of Latin names and drawing of the innards of reptiles. I loved figuring out why my body did the things I experienced and what they signified and how my actions decided them. In the end you see, there’s nothing apart from the physical side of things. All my ‘emotions’ are just so many electrical connections being made, all my ‘feelings’ the result of hormones coursing through my corps. In such a universe, what do my mistakes or their aftereffects matter? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from nothing I came, to nothing I shall return. All my mistakes shall die with me (and some before) while hopefully the good I did will be remembered, at least by some. From another perspective altogether, I came from millions of years of molecular evolution, and the changes I am making in that great hothouse I playfully call “my” body shall be passed on to be worked upon in turn. If I allow them to, of course.

The rain has always played catalyst to philosophical musings and in that too I am a temporary step in a long line of evolution.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trying out blogger's complicated system of getting one's picture on one's profile...

Questionnaire I felt like answering

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?
Yep. Wasn’t my fault though.

2. Do you close your eyes on roller coasters?
No. I hug people tight though, so Vicky likes to take me on them. Clich├ęd…

3. When is the last time you went sleigh riding?
Never and don’t want to really. Rather ski.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?
Never alone.

5. Do you believe in Ghosts?
I suppose I don’t but I’m inclined to think, in the middle of the night, that they believe in me.

6. Do you consider yourself creative?
Not much.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?
Does it matter to me?

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
Aniston. Saw her play “the movie moment that moved me most”.

9. Can you honestly say you know anything about politics?
No, but I did win that prize.

10. Do you know how to play poker?
No. Was reduced to strip monopoly instead.

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
Don’t think so. Hate the idea.

12. Do you kill bugs that are in the house?
Some. The larger ones sometimes.

13. Have you ever cheated on a test?
Plenty of times.

14. If you're driving in the middle of the night, and no one is
you go through red lights?
I might.

5. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?
Don’t know. Probably not.

16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?
Dumb game, that.

17. Have you ever Ice Skated?
Yes, and loved it.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?
I usually do, but not for long.

19. When was the last time you laughed so hard you were crying?
Can’t remember.

20. Can you name 5 songs by The Beatles?
As a band or as solo artistes?

22. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes I believe it happens all the time.

23. Do you know who Ba-Ba-Booey is?

24. Do you always wear your seatbelt?
Sure, when I remember and if I need to.

25. What talent do you wish you had?
Wish I could sing really, really well.

26. Do you like Sushi?
Just deboned boiled fish for purchochori. Hate the feel.

27. Have you ever narrowly avoided a fatal accident?
Sure, every now and then.

28. What do you wear to bed?
Whatever I happen to be wearing when I fall asleep.

29. Have you ever been caught stealing?
No, but I’ve confessed years later.

30. Does size matter?
Sure. I like my cars big and my phones small.

31. Do you truly hate anyone?
Not enough to actively destroy them. But I can.

32. Rock and Roll or Rap?
Rock ‘n’ Roll

33. For love or for money?
If it’s for me, I’d rather they did it for love.

34. Do you have a relative in prison?
Not that I know of.

35. Have you ever sang in front of the mirror like your favorite singer?
I perform, yeah, but always as myself.

36. Do you know how to play chess?

37. What food do you find disgusting?
Burger chain French fries. There’s no excuse for bad fries. None!

38. Did you ever play, "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours?"
Nope. I get to see if I really want to anyway.

39. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?
Nothing I wouldn’t say to their faces if tortured.

40. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?

41. Have you ever walked out on a movie at the theater?
Hemant and Esha and Prudhvi and Soumya may answer that one.

44. Do you ever sit through a bad movie, just to see how bad it can get?
Plenty of times. It’s fascinating.

45. Would you consider yourself obsessed with anything?
Dunno. Beq says I’m a Hysteric.

46. Have you ever met someone famous that you really wanted to meet?
Dr. L. Subramanium. It was an honour.

47. Have you ever been stood up?
Don’t think so.

48. When's the last time you screamed at the top of your lungs?
When I want to be loud I sing at the top of my voice.

49. Did you ever do something that you didn't want to, just to fit in?
Oh yes.

50. Do you consider yourself "the biggest fan" of something?
Clothes. Love them, all kinds.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fathers are funny kittle-kattle. Mine couldn't tell you what I wore this morning but he can recognise my childhood earrings even though it's been years since I wore them. Perhaps he was just paying more attention then?

To the left is a picture of me "then". The other one is obviously of me "now"... I know which one I'd prefer. As I said, fathers are funny.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

No sooner did I get back from Bangalore than I found the house flooded with (welcome) guests. Baba’s schoolmates Amitkaku and Tapashkaku brought their families and Vicky joined the party on Tuesday morning. Found it irritating initially, having so many people around (I do value my privacy) but eventually it was a great deal of fun. We all needed the prolonged companionship. Vicky never got a chance to be withdrawn or quiet; the three fathers drank all day every day and were perfectly content that way; the three mothers nattered to their hearts’ content and refused to cook; I did the occasional spot of housework and spent all the time I could with V. Guddi was quiet, but I guess she has to put up with enough rubbish at the moment. Dada was the only one missing, even Pom made it down for a few days from his college in Bangalore.

V and I discovered a quiet, little park across the bridge one evening. For half an hour I was serenely happy. He was too, I think.

We tried out the Bengali Association puja here, Ma and me. Obnoxious people. What is it about probashi Bengalis that turns them into such class-conscious asses? Oh, and for the first time ever, all the new clothes I had for puja were three sarees and a couple of kameezes. Very strange feeling, having such ‘good girl’ clothes only. And me only 23! Wore one of them (the red one sent by V’s mother) when V and I went out by ourselves on Dashami. He wore the new kurta I’d bought him, so we looked very good, dutiful ‘children’. Didn’t last long. We went down to Elliot Beach, where the rain got us good and drenched, so much so that we had to buy new clothes from one of the shops there. Was fun, all considered. We were joined at Barista eventually by Arjun, Venkat, Ravi and Hemant. Rained cats and dogs that day. Parents and gang, who’d gone to Mahabalipuram that day, had to return drenched. Met them at the Spencer's Noodle House for dinner.

Got my nose pierced. Met Sukanta and Supriya Chaudhuri at Spencer’s (on another visit). Went to B’lore once more, this time with V on a shopping spree. Met up with Dhruba there. Some trip that was… So much to write, but why bother. You had to be there.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Back in Chennai after my little ‘escapade’. It’s silly, really. Could have gone to Bangalore having told the parents the real details of my hosts and proposed activities – but I knew I would have to hear a lot of recriminations even before the trip, so it was easier to have a cover, bless Shriya’s cute little heart (she allowed me to use her as an alibi).

It was bliss, going on a bender. We left drunk, late on Wednesday night (the guys were much higher though, having been busily abusing stuff their parents probably wish they’d never heard of) in a bus that was infested with bedbugs. The journey was all right though. H and I took the window seats and I woke up several times to see a beautifully clear, starry sky. Nice to commune with nature sometimes. Not via bedbugs though.

Finally met the misnamed Evil Twin the next morning, when Ravi’s brother Raghu came by to pick us up. I’m afraid I embarrassed myself by staring at the two brothers rather rudely but hey, I guess they’re used to it. The boys have a neat place in their house, the room-on-the-roof. I have been just so incredibly lucky with rooms-on-the-roofs… every single one I’ve been in has been special, and this one in Banglore was as nice as the others. After lunch at Venkat’s we went to the Leela Palace, where Curly and I splashed out on Belgian chocolates and we had a nicely stoned conversation amidst much coffee in the Barista there. We went to Mojo’s later, where I found out that I can drink much, much more beer than I thought I could all these years. Nice place, Mojo’s, if noisy. Me and Nancy were the only ones who could face the dinner his mother had left on the table, later that night. My kind of a day, really. Drunk, stoned and very happy throughout.

The next two days were a variation on this basic theme. On Friday Nancy took me to visit Srinivas on the other side of town. S has got himself a rather nice flat. Oh, and I must mention that he made the two of us breakfast since he insists on that being publicized. In the afternoon, after watching ‘Man on the Moon’, H, the twins, Curly and I went shopping for clothes (for Venkat). Afterwards we met up with Chandra and Pradeep at Suri’s, a most disreputable-looking drinking joint. One does not, with extreme prejudice, deign to title it pub. One has spoken.

The last day was spent comparatively quietly. Lay around doing nothing much for a good, long time. Arjun arrived early in the morning, so he gave the party a fresh lease of life. The afternoon having been spent quietly finishing the rat poison formerly known as weed, we rolled ourselves out of the house in the evening, H and I all packed and ready to catch the bus eventually. We went drinking at a place called BJP – The Beer Joint Pub (and restaurant). It was ok. Actually, I ended up having much more fun than I’d anticipated. Had been going on a downer till then, but a call from Beq revived my spirits wonderfully. We had a quick dinner later at some restaurant; V and I shared a good tetrazzini. Note to self: Must stop sounding so damn cynical all the time. It’s a wonderful world, innit? Even if it ain’t?

The bus back home was late, but it was comfortable enough. Dunno if poor H got much sleep though! :-) It went tremendously fast, so we reached Chennai in less than six hours.

It was the perfect break. Really needed to go somewhere and the guys really made sure I had a great time. If any of you ever get around to reading this, thanks, man.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Absurdity of Being Sue(d)

Funny day today. Went to bed last night making plans to run away, at least for a day or two. Last decided, the deal was that we go to Vellore early tomorrow morning, visit Soumya, go to Bangalore from there and return to Madras by Saturday morning. Then Soumya called up in the morning and said that her cold was better and that she would visit me here in Madras today after all, as per the first plan.

Not that she could stay for long, but it was splendid seeing her again. Guess I’m getting too clinging.

After the train pulled out of the station with her inside was when the fun started… I was walking moodily down the platform, meditating upon my wrongs. When along came a short little woman demanding our platform tickets, which of course we had forgotten to buy. Turns out the fine is Rs. 312 per person. Nasty shock that was. Tried explaining to the checker that it was an honest mistake, but she wasn’t having any of it, all the more so when Hemant started doing his angry young student bit. She finally said that she would charge us for only person if one of us stayed behind while the other went to the ATM to get the money. When Hemant had left I explained he was a bit upset because his girlfriend had left, and he was only a kid – 18 to my 25 – and it gave her the chance to moralise a bit on young blood.

Afterwards, when we were finally safe in the car, the smses from Soumya began ringing in. Turned out she’d got the ticket for tomorrow and not today, so she had also been jumped upon by an irate TTI. She was luckier than us though because all those middle-aged men sitting all around her abused the poor checker for hounding such a young girl and packed him off after she’d paid for a proper ticket (no fine of course).

What we learn from it all: Farce-is-never-too-away-from-angst. Thus spake the foolish one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Contributing to the debate...

What is it about the homosexuals anyway? People seem to do nothing but talk about them. Why??? Anybody discussing my sex life? I don�t think so. It's assumed that as a (supposedly) straight, adult, independent woman, the people I sleep with are my business -- but hey, what if those people just happened to be other adult, independent women? Then I get branded?
Ok, for the sake of argument let's go ahead with the branding ('straight's a label too, if you didn't realise) but does that mean everybody and his family have the right to judge my ethics and morality? I assume that since I'm pretty spoken for (oh all right, so I'm old fashioned) nobody will hit on me, and vice versa. But people seem to take it for granted that if I state a preference for women in my bed I am also advertising 1. infidelity 2. my nymphomaniac status. How very strange and how very rude. As far as I know one's orientation has nothing to do with one's understanding of faithfulness. And why would anybody want to be a nymphomaniac? Hey, I think I enjoy sex as much as the next person (well, sometimes maybe more) but I cannot imagine wanting to do nothing else all day. How very exhausting that would be. And how can you enjoy it if you are too tired to do it right? Yet it is assumed that if I like to sleep with women then I can't wait to get into bed with as many women as I can and as often as I can. No use blaming the porn videos for this perception though, guys. Then we�d have to assume that pretty much everybody's sex-mad.
I really don't get it. We all talk about it -- till I mention that I might be interested in trying it out and suddenly I'm that weird girl talking scary stuff over there. Hello? Thought we were being very modern and understanding out here?
But what really, really puts me off homosexuals is some of them trying so hard to proclaim it; why on earth, is what I say. Your sexuality is your own business. Matters shd be kept that way, because I do know I don't particularly want anybody else's in my face, straight or gay. I'm assuming most rational people feel that way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I dream of so much. It's what I do best. Lie in bed and dream. Dream of pretty clothes fashioned by me. Of peaceful places. Of being so very far away from everybody I know (with one or two honourable exceptions, of course).

In my dreams I'm pretty and slim and graceful and soft-spoken and elegant and a hundred other things I'm not. I'm not sure I want to be them exactly, but it's fun dreaming I am them. My hair is long and silky and I wear pretty jewellery and eat dainty foods. And sometimes I walk away into nowhere and return later, much later, with no memories of where I went, but with a wistful feeling that I would like to return. In my dreams I can run away with that man who haunts these dreams -- and come back later, happy, to the people and places that make up my life otherwise. I think what I really want are escapades, not an extended romance. Somehow, that has lost its charm. But if one runs away for a few hours, one can be utterly happy for that little space. It gives one something to dream of and anticipate. And it cannot be spoiled by things like electricity bills and the demands of neighbours. Besides, it is such a very charming prospect.

One leads a 'normal' life to all appearances, doing the usual round of chores and looking after one's family. And then, when one is entirely free, one opens a door and for an hour or two, is in another world, where the rules are relaxed and it's permissible to be selfishly happy. And one looks and sounds happy because one really is content. Afterwards, one returns to one's family and normal life and is satisfied with it, because that is also wanted. This way, reality never gets overwhelming.

If I had such a world to escape into as I dream of, perhaps I would fail to return these days, the way I feel. That cannot be a good thing I suppose. The charm of such a world lies in its occupation of a few hours. And yet, I can lie dreaming in bed and forget the things I do not wish to remember. That is more than most people have I suppose. And the hero of my dreams is more accomodating than most, changing himself to suit my needs, disappearing at will. A real lover could never compare, unfortunately.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Singapore, Day 13

The night safari at the Singapore Zoo was great last night. Ravi and I walked around for an hour and a half and then took a 'tram' ride around the zoo. Saw all kinds of animals, closer than I've ever seen them before, a lot of them. Saw so many animals which are usually too shy to be seen properly in zoos that I'm convinced they were trained to sit in the spot-lighted areas!

Photography was next to impossible, so no pics of this part of the trip should be expected. The other thing I learnt last night is that no matter how old, a male will always jump on a suspension bridge. Honestly, men!

The other thing I wanted to mention was that at the Causeway Mall yesterday we went into a fantastic jigsaw puzzle shop. Only wish I could have bought a set. There were all kinds of pictures, including some awesome manga ones. There's no denying it, manga does have a very definite appeal.

We're leaving in a few hours. Leaving early, in the hope that it will be easier to check in too much luggage.

Good to be going back to India, that's what I say.

The last goodbye from Singapore, at least for now.

A little later. Thought I'd add this, just because I can. Have checked in at Changi and the waiting lobby here has free internet but no toilets. Pretty weird. Do they mean it as compensation? Everything is ok so far. We had a bit of excess luggage (ok, a lot) but since we didn't have any hand luggage it was sorted out very nicely. They gave us a bag, one of those cheap, plaited plastic affairs, and we divided the luggage in one of the strolleys into 2 pieces of hand baggage. We bought some cosmetics and lots of chocolates and then sat down at the MacCafe where they fed me a fabulous sandwich and some excellent coffee. Cup the size of the old Caffeine ones. Ma's chocolate chip muffin was very good too. Goodbye, really this time, from Singapore.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Singapore, Day 12

No log for yesterday because I wasn't well and was singularly boring to be around. Sore throat, aching muscles, the works, so I slept most of the day. In the evening, when the others went out (to a really nice mall in Raffles' Place, one of the more posh affairs, Ma says) I watched 'Paheli'. I couldn't figure out how to fix the speakers though, so I watched it without audio. Dhruba (friend from Calcutta, soon to be a relative I suppose) says that adds to the movie-watching experience. I dunno. I followed the story but I have no idea why people were doing the things that they did.

Afterwards there was yet another Singapore 'first' -- I watched a Chinese serial called Baby Blues which was very graphic in my opinion, regarding fertility treatments and pregnancy, but hey, I'm just a conservative middle-class Bong... Good fun to watch though. There was a mother/grandmother who warned the picture of her dead husband that he better bless their son with children since just because he was dead he need not assume his responsibilities were at an end. She followed it up with the threat that inaction on his part would result in terrible vengeance from her side when she joined him in the nether world. (There were English subtitles, lah, how else would I follow all this?)

Couldn't sleep at night so I tuned into Chinese FM stations... not bad fun. Not great music though, most of it. One DJ was funny, and that's where I picked up the "lah".

So far today we've been to yet another mall (where I didn't buy anything, wonder of wonders). Oh no, I did buy Ma a black furry ball with two big eyes. She insists that it's cute. Whatever. If I meet it in the middle of the night anywhere at home I'll scream the house down and so I warned her.

Meeting Ravi in an hour's time to go to the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. Vicky, your cousin called, but since I wasn't free I couldn't meet him today.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Singapore, Day 11

September 2, 2005
To all the people who have been responding to my mails and urging me not to stop writing, thanks. I appreciate it. But I must point out that my horoscope today has warned me not to speak too much of myself! So today's focus will be on the things that Ma did :-)

I stayed in yesterday morning, all the crazy touring finally taking its toll on my frail self. Ma, Akka and Kishore went to visit old man Mustapha once more, where an electric kettle was bought as a gift for our hosts (who are still refusing to accept it, I think, now that they've discovered who it was meant for.) Ma also saw lots of gold jewellery she liked, and wanted to buy me things, but I hope I've put her off all that. It's a pity in a way. She keeps being thwarted as far as buying me jewellery and perfumes go. Sometimes I even feel sorry for her!

(I stayed in all morning and caught up on three months' correspondence and secretly did some housework. They have an innovative way of drying clothes here. One pins the wet clothes to a long pole which is then stuck out from a window; the pole is set into a groove in the wall. All the flats thus have several long poles sticking out from their walls. I pinned the clothes to the first pole without any trouble, but I hadn't bargained for the weight of the wet garments. When I stuck the whole thing outside the window, I nearly dropped the lot. A blouse and a clothespin did fall off, to my consternation.)

Ma accompanied me to Chinatown afterwards, in the evening. We walked around Pagoda Street, visited the Masjid Jamae and Sri Mariamman temple (whose gopuram, being mistaken for a kind of pagoda, gave the street its name, I'm told.) We went into a shop in The Great Southern Hotel which sold lovely handstitched knicknacks. Beautiful embroidery and thread-work and cut-work.

Dinner was Cantonese chicken noodles and chicken rice off Smith Street a.k.a. Chinatown Food Street. We were actually seated at Trengganu St. which used to have the Japanese brothels in the fun old days. The entire area was lighted up and looking very exciting, thanks to the Mid-Autumn Festival going on now. Ma refused to go into an overcrowded antique shop because she was scared of toppling things off shelves. She missed some lovely laquer furniture and rice paintings. But then, it was the kind of place where roughly-made silk clogs for children were priced at about S$80 or so! A stall sold glassware handpainted from inside (beautiful) while another sold all sorts of robots fashioned out of metal wires. Looked like really cool manga figures. Yet another sold cloth ninja figures which could be paired with weapons and joined into a mobile. What a lovely wall-hanging for a house. It's a pity I don't know how I'm likely to live... sigh...

It's a rainy morning here and I've finally caught a cold, sleeping in the aircon (as they call the a.c.) each night.

love with a sneeze, from

Somehow, the focus doesn't seem to have been on Ma's adventures after all! I notice that now...

N.B. The blouse was eventually retrieved. I ran downstairs, and then couldn't locate our poles among all the others. Luckily, the pink clothespin marked the place. As I went to pick that up, the blouse, which had got caught on some other flat's poles, floated gently down to me. Talk about luck! The only thing I'm embarrassed about is the old Chinese housewife who stays in a flat in the block opposite ours, who saw the whole thing. She gave me a very disapproving look, or perhaps it was only guilty conscience.
I dream of so much. It's what I do best. Lie in bed and dream. Dream of pretty clothes fashioned by me. Of peaceful places. Of being so very far away from everybody I know (with one or two honourable exceptions, of course).

In my dreams I'm pretty and slim and graceful and soft-spoken and elegant and a hundred other things I'm not. I'm not sure I want to be them exactly, but it's fun dreaming I am them. My hair is long and silky and I wear pretty jewellery and eat dainty foods. And sometimes I walk away into nowhere and return later, much later, with no memories of where I went, but with a wistful feeling that I would like to return. In my dreams I can run away with that man who haunts these dreams -- and come back later, happy, to the people and places that make up my life otherwise. I think what I really want are escapades, not an extended romance. Somehow, that has lost its charm. But if one runs away for a few hours, one can be utterly happy for that little space. It gives one something to dream of and anticipate. And it cannot be spoiled by things like electricity bills and the demands of neighbours. Besides, it is such a very charming prospect.

One leads a 'normal' life to all appearances, doing the usual round of chores and looking after one's family. And then, when one is entirely free, one opens a door and for an hour or two, is in another world, where the rules are relaxed and it's permissible to be selfishly happy. And one looks and sounds happy because one really is content. Afterwards, one returns to one's family and normal life and is satisfied with it, because that is also wanted. This way, reality never gets overwhelming.

If I had such a world to escape into as I dream of, perhaps I would fail to return these days, the way I feel. That cannot be a good thing I suppose. The charm of such a world lies in its occupation of a few hours. And yet, I can lie dreaming in bed and forget the things I do not wish to remember. That is more than most people have I suppose. And the hero of my dreams is more accomodating than most, changing himself to suit my needs, disappearing at will. A real lover could never compare, unfortunately.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Singapore, Day 10

September 1, 2005
A lot of people will no doubt be relieved to hear that I didn't get a tattoo after all... I went with Ravi to the place where one can get them. Looked a bit seedy but safe enough. I changed my mind in the last minute because it seemed too expensive, S$100 for one small tattoo.

Went to a lot of interesting places yesterday, actually. Kishore took Ma and me out walking near the Esplanade, so we went into the Theatres on the Bay building, which has some hideously expensive but intriguing shops inside. One shop sold movie posters, but only recent ones. (I almost bought one of the big shark in Finding Nemo but that's another story. Besides, if we were to go into all the things I have 'almost bought' in Singapore, these mails would become a lot longer.)

One shop sold teddy bears. One buys the unstuffed bear, fills it with one's choice of stuffing and then gets to choose from racks and racks of teddy clothing. Luckily, none of it would have fitted Srinivas, because he was out with me yesterday and it would be very diffcult to refuse to buy him clothes when I've been shopping so much for myself! We walked around the various quays. The shophouses on Boat Quay are particularly quaint and we saw the live seafood at a Jap restaurant. The thing was, the crabs were huge. The prospect of eating them was more scary than enticing. We also saw the original merlion, a much smaller, cuter affair than that ugly thing at Sentosa. It's stuck out on the bay and has water gushing out of its mouth. One can sit there feeling the spray from the fountain and watching the boats go by. We saw one of the Ducktours boats, which is part bus, part boat and which looks screamingly funny on both land and sea!

Kishore eventually took us to a satay area near Raffles Place. It's an old building with lovely wrought-iron work on the grills and rafters which houses a Kopitiam (the generic name of coffee-houses I find, although it's also the name of one particular chain. We had chicken, duck and mutton satay (something like small kebabs on sticks, for those who're wondering) all of which was very good. I also tried out the chendol, a sweet dessert made of red beans (yes, beans), coconut cream, two kinds of jelly and lots of ground ice, served with some hot brown sauce on top. So far I've had the Hainanese chicken rice (hope I got the term right), chendol and the Singapore kopi (coffee). The kopi didn't impress me... but I grew up in South India after all :-) I mean to try out the kaya roti, which is a sort of a slightly flattened bun with egg jam. Sounds gross but is supposed to be delicious.

I have also discovered a delicious hamburger at Burger King's. It's a double cheese hamburger with mushrooms in it and it's positively heavenly. It's also very, very filling. Otherwise, I'm not really into the burger scene. But that I always knew.

Satiated in Singapore,

Those who are wondering at the length of these mails... I like writing journals while travelling. Maitra, Misha, Nan and gang would know that! This time, I thought an online version would be more fun. You can always skip them if they are too long/boring. The subject header ought to warn you :-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Singapore, Day 9

August 30, 2005
A most adventurous day. I discovered last night, while reading some of those tourism pamphlets, that a Chinese festival (forget which one) begins on Sept. 1, so the Chinatown walk was postponed once more. Instead, we went to Toah Payoh (I think that's how it is spelled) which has some fun shops. Didn't buy much though, given that money and luggage allowance are uppermost on my mind these days! Particularly the latter... I can always pay by card if something really appeals to me.

Afterwards Ma and I sneaked off to Changi airport, to change our return tickets. There is no other word for describing our journey, I'm afraid. We were scared of Bharathi-akka finding out beforehand and somehow stopping us from bringing our return forward. Anyway, so we took the MRT aaaalll the way to Changi, and that's a long way off into the suburbs. We had to change twice, too. We made it without any mishaps though. It was inside Changi that things got confusing. All I will admit to is that now I should be able to draw a pretty decent map of Changi, including the various offices hidden in its inner recesses! Actually, while thinking it over later I realised why it was that the JetStar Asia office is so difficult to find. They don't want to be found for the simple reason that anybody who needs them knows where to find them already while all others (like us) are handled downstairs, in the departure lounge... We were helped in our search by a funny-looking young man who, despite being undeniably Chinese, reminded me strongly of Vicky Sharma. Ma was as strongly reminded of Vicky Niyogy, and I don't appreciate the comparison because while this guy was quite helpful, if he had been Vicky he would have known where the office was and not had to go in search of it; he would also have known that we were searching for the wrong place altogether!

Oh well, now foreign travel doesn't hold many terrors for me, I find. If anything, I'm raring to go further. Actually, I would love to travel across Europe someday. Hint for anybody feeling generous enough...

The day finishes with the discovery of a nice bakery (scrumptious doughnuts) near where we live.

With a coffee-mouthed grin from Singapore,

Went to a shop on Arab Street that day which sells everything a belly-dancer can require, including recorded lessons. I was tempted by a really hot pair of harem pants but realised that I have no place to wear them to. Plus, I never did learn to belly-dance after all...

Saw the trailer of a Chinese movie in the Toah Payoh mall called "April Snow", whose lead actor looked startlingly like John Lennon. It was quite a shock. It wasn't even as if the guy was wearing granny glasses either, but he could have been a double. Almost. There was only ever one John.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Singapore, Day 8

August 29, 2005
Just noticed, I'd forgotten to change the subject for the last couple of bulletins. Sorry, I'm sure!

Stuff I forgot to add yesterday: those rows of houses joined together are called 'shophouses', I've found. And after we walked around Arab Street, we walked into the park of a hotel (called Parkview I think). The reason I mention that is, that is it a nice place with statues and fountains and generally looks posh enough, so it's a mystery to me how they allow the general public to walk in and picnic there like we did. There were other people too, and nobody asked us to leave. I thought it was very kind and public-spirited of the hotel-folk. Took lots of pictures of everybody with Baba's digicam, which he has lent me for the trip.

Today Ma and I went out with Bharathi-akka, but she went home after lunch because Siri (her daughter) was expected home from school. Ma and I carried on. We went to Northpoint, the second mall I went to in Singapore (day 2). It's teeny-bopper haven, more than most malls... School had just given out somewhere and the floors were crowded with schoolkids. We went to Daiso afterwards, that "Everything Priced at S$2" place, where I felt sorry for myself because I couldn't buy even more dolls' furniture. Bought Vicky purple socks to match mine and then felt a little bit better. It's always nice to buy things for other people because one can always justify such shopping completely.

While Ma and I were waiting for the free shuttle from the IMM mall (which houses Daiso) I realised that I had left my handbag behind. Luckily it was in the place where I had left it. Srinivas was most annoyed about it though, because he hadn't expected to have to wait for a full half hour before I'd realise that I had left him in the trial room! That teddy is getting grumpy with old age.

Was fun jauntering around with Ma. We didn't get lost and enjoyed ourselves. Didn't mean to reach home so late though -- it was past nine when we came in!

Th-th-that's all, folks, for tonight. Hope your day was as fun as mine! In fact, it'd be nice to hear about yours too, sometimes.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Singapore, Day 7

August 28, 2005
Sentosa yesterday was fun but exhausting. Went with Kishore (our host) and his seven year-old daughter. An excellent lesson in family planning, taking a kid that young to an amusement park. We went for the dolphin show, where three pink dolphins completely wowed the crowd. That was followed by the trip in the acrylic tunnel under the sea. Our timing was lucky, so we got to see the sea-cow (dugong) and several sharks being fed. The plastic makes things look smaller I found, because the frogmen feeding the fish certainly looked smaller than life.

Visited the Merlion and paddled in the long fountain behind it. Had a lovely double cheese lamb hamburger at Burger King. I don't understand why they keep giving me these huge servings of cola with everything. I've gulped more cola this last one week than I had in several months back home, I'm sure. The sonne et lumiere show in the evening at the Musical Fountain was everything I'd every been told it would be. Most impressive. It was preceded by a school orchestra which was also impressive. None of the kids could have been much above twelve but they played rather well.


Sunday comes to an end here, wrapping up our first week in Singapore. Spent another day shopping, but today's was at a really interesting area. I recommend the Bugis area to all visitors to Sinpore who are interested in weird shopping. There's everything, from the upmarket, swanky 'booteeks' where the service comes with a smirk, to the streetside trolley-shops where they serve you with a grin. Between them all, they manage to stock enough variety to satisfy just about anybody, I think! You name it, they got it, from socks which are actually slippers to little jade tea-sets.

We went further, to the Arab area, which was mostly closed for the Sunday but the houses were cute along Arab Street, so I took some pictures. They seemed to be a long line of joined buildings, something like the houses Polly and Diggory lived in, in The Magician's Nephew, but they are divided every so many yards, and each owner has painted his portion a pretty candy colour. Speaking of which, the Singporeans seem rather addicted to Candy colours. It's cute, but in small doses, I think.

Off for dinner now. Evenin', all.

Priyanka, I bought the Beatles' autobiography and their Illustrated Lyrics. Both I've wanted for years. I didn't exactly buy them cheap, just cheaper than normal.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Singapore, Day 5

August 26, 2005
Fifth day here at Singapore and I'm mailing earlier than expected... that's because I actually woke up early this morning. Unbelievable but entirely true.

So what have I been doing the last two days? Let me see now... I met Ravi on day 3 (Wednesday). Spent the morning at Suntec City/City Hall area, window-shopping, buying souvenirs, turning blue with the cold (Suntec special), looking sadly at impossibly priced painted denim wallets, that sort of thing. Oh and my mother and I fought all day. Nothing new in that. As I was explaining to Ravi, Singapore is marked (for me at least) by the places Ma and I have fought at. Somethings don't seem to change much!

Ravi took me to dinner at Marche, a delightful place for dinner. It's built to look like a French market -- that's what the name means btw -- and it has stalls all over the place serving different kinds of food. One goes around and picks up whatever one wishes to eat, in whichever combination, and pays when leaving. The food's pretty good too. We had pasta with ham, a crepe stuffed with chicken with black pepper and some grilled chicken. I also got to try out the Singapore Sling. Nothing sensational. Pleasant drink, that's all. Entirely safe for children, if you ask me :-)

Ravi hasn't changed much. Nor have I, says he. Which is funny, because I thought I had some, but evidently I haven't after all. Reassuring to know. He walked me around Clarke Quay area, and I had my photo taken in front of the Parliament building like any good little tourist. Afterwards he took me to a brilliant bookshop called Borders which was vast enough to make me feel rigth at home. Sorta Landmarks-like. Oh and I bought 2 long-coveted books on sale at HMV. I used my debit card for the first time! Maybe I should have mentioned that I only got it 2 days before I left India...

Yesterday Ma and I paid our respects to Muhammad Mustapha, like any self-respecting Indian. We spent the whole day in 2 of the 3 stores and spent over S$500, I believe. (I spent the evening in deep dejection wondering how to carry the extra baggage which overshoots our meagre airline allowance, but that's another story). There was so much to carry back home (and also because I was dog-tired) that I decided to return home with Ma and Kishore, instead of going for that Chinatown walk. Maybe I won't get to do ti after all... We returned to Yishun by taxi for a change (usually we travel by the MRT and shuttle buses) and got to see Singapore from the roads. Nice.

We're off to Sentosa in an hour or so now, so au revoir. More later. Oh and final answers before I end:
Beq, Vamsi's an old schoolmate of mine.
Guddi, Ma's enjoying her trip very much although she's tiring quickly. She's skipping the trip today because of that. And no, I am not planning my honeymoon here. As to the shopping, I've bought seven bags... my idea of heaven! Also bought some tops. Some footwear. Bought too much, I think :-( Won't be allowed to carry so much on the plane.
Priyanka, if the shop-talk (what a lovely pun) bothers you, skip those bits. Want me to focus on what I'm eating instead?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Singapore, Day 2

I'm surrounded by different Chineses, Malaysian, Telugu and French (met the cutest French kid at the mall today) and I'm loving it, as they say in MacDonald's! And living in a Telugu home after so long, I've started speaking that once more. Have been shopping like crazy, buying the most impractical things which seem to have no place in a self-respecting trousseau. I wanted to buy the loveliest purple canvas sneakers I saw today. They were too expensive though, I felt, so I compromised by buying shoelaces in that colour. I can always thread them through more boring shoes. Have bought the shortest skirt I have ever worn. Yummy black and guaranteed to upset the old biddies. Ma picked it out, and looked longingly at it till I bought it, and now she's asking me (in a quavering voice) not to wear it around any relatives. She's either a terrible hypocrite, or else the answer to a question I've been asking myself a long time, viz, Where did I get my affinity for acting!

She has also taken to asking me to move here for a couple of years. I have tried telling her that I don't want to live so far away from India, but it doesn't stop her. Talk about vicarious ambitions! I feel right at home around the MRT, I must say, because it reminds me of good ol' Cal, and I can relate to its workings very easily. It's all very clean here, of course, but it doesn't bother me like it did my father the first time he came here, nor do I feel it to be so very different from our own cities. What I like is the behaviour of the people. The salespeople are invariably so friendly, no matter what I'm buying or whether I'm buying at all; in the MRT there is neither a rush for the seats nor a palpable waiting for one to vacate one's seat; nobody seems to stare at the clothes one is wearing, for any reason at all. Of course, that involvement in the lives of our neighbours that we Indians seem to be known for does have some advantages. Bharathiakka, who we're staying with, says you don't get spontaneous help on the streets like one takes for granted in, say, Calcutta. The only thing I'd wish to learn from here would be to sell things... they do it impressively well. The other thing they do well, dressing stylishly, I already know :-) (Ok, maybe I don't always follow it, but I do know more about dressing than most people!)

The mall Daiso has toy furniture! Barbie-size wooden stuff as well as dolls' house -size 'antiques' and everything at 2 S$. It's a great place, all right. We went all over that mall, and I bought myself purple shoelaces and also a pair in camouflage colours. Spice up a trousseau, don't you think?

Everybody has recommended tourist attractions I must not miss out on. I don't think I'll get to see them, though. There's a walking tour I would like to take, and perhaps I can go somewhere with Ravi one day (not a mall) but our time is taken up by the shopping. In fact, shopping has dominated my life for the last few months and I fear I'm becoming thoroughly spoiled. Not that it stops me from going into the stores!

One more exhausting day is drawing to an end. But I do like it here and I couldn't have nicer hosts. Hope I get the chance to return their hospitality someday.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Travellin' Light, Singapore Day 1

Am in Singapore now. Alles ok, sauf the keyboard is messy and there's a virus at large on the PC.

Apres ma sortie dramatique, I'm back to my blog. More later, peut-etre.

From the emails:

Am safe and sound in Singapore, albeit a little sleepy. i'm inclined to ascribe it to the crazy week that I just finished in Calcutta. Wedding shopping is hectic, and I'm not sure I enjoy it all so much. Sometimes, I almost wish it was all happening to someone else. Don't feel old enough to get married!

We're staying in the Yishun Ring Road, I understand. Flat's nice. Only wish they had ceiling fans, but i'm comforttable oherwise. This keboard's crazy, so please gloss over all typos, especially the absence of Ts and Ys. Funny to hear ppl speaking Chinese all around me. The other funny thing is having so many things attached/stamped all over my passport. First trip abroad (Nepal does NOT count) so I suppose I'm being pretty naive. Bu it's cool how you fly for a few hours and land up in a different country altogether.

Srinivas likes it so far, although I'm not sure how to take him around with us, since I didn't think to get a backpack his size. (For the uninitiated, I'm talking about my teddy.)

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I'm giving up this blog. People use it to penetrate my defences. Since they do not seem to learn anything from it, I resent the intrusion into my private self. If I ever come up with a good reason to continue writing, I shall. Else, goodbye. I return to my diary and my conversations with myself. Those at least cannot be used against me.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I experienced a very nice feeling today. To explain it, I must describe my day so far. Somehow dragged myself awake and made it to Ranikuthi-dadu's memorial service (at Ranikuthi, but of course). Got so depressed there that I ran away after an hour. Met the family there, including Mithi and Medha, by the way. Didi's slimmed again, while Munia's put on weight. Tua told me about her kaora viva, what with Tintin asking her to translate something into Nadsat...

I came home so darn unhappy, that I went straight to bed and stayed there till lunchtime. But lunch was delicious, shorshe ilish and mangsho. Yummy. And afterwards I read a really bad M&B till it was time to leave for work. After finishing the book I was lying on the floor staring blankly at the ceiling and suddenly I had this feeling, of a faint sense of anticipation. Maybe I will meet somebody nice. Maybe something good will happen to me. Maybe, just maybe, I will get to meet Ghocha.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I was engaged in a very interesting exercise right now. I was deconstructing my own blogs. Given that I have the additional info of just how the author felt when she wrote these entries, it's fun reading between my own lines and seeing what I end up actually saying. That's why Beq and I enjoy each other's poetry, maybe. We know the stories behind the poems, sometimes.

I don't like going on like this. I just don't know what to do about it. I have tried to be strong, but I can't, not without a place I can hide in once in a while. I tried to give in to the sadness and bitterness and let it work itself out, but that didn't work either. I just kept on feeling sad and bitter. And once I start crying, I don't seem to be able to stop. The last time, I cried on and off, quietly, almost effortlessly, for two days and nights. I tried to pretend that none of it happened, but how can I of all people even begin to believe that?

I could call up Esha or Beq when I feel like this, but she has enough problems of her own and he just feels frustrated because he is so far away and can't do much about how I feel. Actually, it does help to talk to him.

I shocked our office concierge (caretaker) today. Shankarbhaiya has a soft corner for me, I know, and he was unhappy to see me so upset. But when he saw me smoking, he was downright alarmed! Came after me and asked me why I was so upset, and what was I thinking of, picking up habits I didn't have! Oh dear... it was actually so funny, that cheered me up! What a nasty little person I can be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Poor little rich girl. That seems to be my recurring motif. And when I look out on the streets I see enough to make me thankful that I'm me and not some other girl condemned to a life without the luxuries I have. Cal's a good place to feel this humble. The streets are full of sad people.
That's why I like September. There's the feeling of Puja in the air and everybody seems happier than they are wont to be. The people in the buses even smile and chat with one another. It's a pleasant time, if somewhat hectic, to be in the city.
I want to be home though, back in Chennai. I want to feel like I belong somewhere, even if I know it's just an illusion and will be shattered as soon as Baba and I fight the first time. Ma has taken to defending me. It sounds bad to say this, but it did surprise me when she started. I'm just not used to anybody doing that. Not anybody I'm related to, I mean. But she does now, and doesn't mince her words. When Baba and Chhotopishi started on the clothes I wear (a fruitful topic) she asked them why it was that everybody felt so comfortable about criticising her daughter when she doesn't go around saying such things about theirs. That shut them up. It felt good when she told me that, yet it does come late in the day. All my life I have been told that if my conduct is right, it doesn't matter what anybody says about it, for eventually justice will prevail. I don't think it works out that way, somehow. People say what they feel like saying. The bitchy ones, like David, intend to create mischief; and the foolish ones, like Mejopishi, because they don't always realise how far their words go. And yet, I wonder if the foolish ones don't do more harm, because they are forgiven by virtue of being foolish and are therefore at liberty to continue saying whatever they want as long as they want. At least, the mischief-makers are eventually found out and labelled, and their words taken accordingly. How many of them parade under the mask of being foolish? Khurima does, and well I know how prettily she extricates herself from the consequences of her mischief-making.
I used to feel so trapped among them all, but I don't any more. The hell I live in I have created myself and nobody can really harm me any more than they can help. Sometimes, just sometimes, I should like to scream as loudly as I could, and not have to explain myself or the scream to anybody. But I cannot do a thing, including sleep and wake, without having to defend that or explain it to somebody. I wonder if they realise how such behaviour shows bad manners rather than good hospitality?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I can, too. I think I finally feel like I'm strong enough. After days of mooching around feeling sorry for myself, I'm feeling a whole lotta better now. As the guys would say, "You go, girl!" ;-)
I miss acting as I used to know it. Immersing myself into being somebody else, no matter for how short a period, was a form of release from the life I lead. The kind of acting that Call Cutta calls for is more dangerous, because it blurs the lines between who you are and who you are supposed to be. When you chat with a sympathetic, disembodied voice, sometimes there’s the urge to confide more than I ought. I suppose I need someone to confide in, not just to unburden but maybe also to let them help me. I was a fool to think I could get by with Vicky; he’s too close to the source of hurt.
Was I always this quiet? At twenty-two I feel as though I’ve come a full circle: from the quiet and sulky kid I used to be I’ve become a quiet and lonely adult. I used to sulk because I felt nobody understood me. Now I’m lonely because I know nobody will, because nobody has the time. Somewhere in between I remember I used to be this exuberant brat, singing and laughing and talking at the top of her voice so that people would wince just to see me coming. But talking is a futile gesture anyway, what would I say with nobody to say it to?
Having been a secret optimist all my life, it’s rather shattering to find myself questioning the very hopefulness that has kept me going so far. Nothing feels like it has been worth the trouble. Particularly this morning, I realized how accustomed I’ve become to giving in. The last one year has not been good for my get-up-and-go! It’s time to pare my life back to essentials, to living out of the one big bag, to keep only what I need and not what I think I want. That has always helped. I just need to do it again.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Dear World,
I make too much of my life. I expect too much out of it and am too disappointed when it lets me down. This handsome admission I make now, because I want the world to know that whatever else my faults are, I am at least honest, if only with my own self.
I'm living in Santoshpur now. It's ok. Could be much worse. I just wish people wouldn't stay up for me, or prepare meals or do stuff like that because they invariably expect me to reciprocate. And I have so completely got out of the habit of living with another person.
I'm counting the days till I leave Cal. Because I want to leave and also because then I will start missing that stupid old Joe of mine. Sometimes, like exams, you want the pain to begin *now* so that it can also end quicker. And I only have about 2 more weeks of JU left. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? (For the uninitiated, that was a direct quote from Mejopishi's distraught mutterings when told that Anindyakaku was coming back to live in Cal. Heh heh heh)
Talking of A'kaku, he called me up the other day. Was asking me where I am and how I am. Mejdida said, on Sunday, when he and Mejopishi dropped by, he looked upset. Why do so many people get hurt by what I do? The old question of innocent bystanders etc... but then, a little voice says inside me, why couldn't he do anything while it was all building up? A pointless line to take. No, things are better the way they have worked out. I need these occasional lessons in humility. Takes me quite a while to get the message, anyway.
Oh but I want to be home in Chennai, lazing my days away sleeping or reading books I know already, or just eating the food I like. I want a holiday. Stomp stomp STOMP! (That's me throwing a tantrum.)