Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tsunami relief programmes

If you are wondering what you can do for the tsunami victims, in ANY way, this could give you a direction.


Monday, December 27, 2004

A Black Sunday.

What has happened has happened.

I hope the concerned authorities take sufficient precautions to avoid the loss of precious human lives further.

Let the warnings be given.

Let the drills be undertaken.

Let the educated spread their knowledge.

Let the value of human lives be understood.

Let at least an effort be made.

God, Thy Will be done. Give us the strength to accept it.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Of little brown bags

So it's Christmas again!

Can hardly miss the santa cap clad crowd all around. Everybody seems to be sporting some garment in red, green or white. Office has a colleague in santa cap distributing rum cake. Nobody minds, of course. Eating cake is more important.

The call centre kids can be seen outside their office, attired in sexy nothings, santa cap and slim cigarettes between their fingers. God knows when they work!

Half the world has already disappeared for their holidays. And the other half will try to imagine a wintry Christmas in sulty Bombay. The city is festively lit up and there are banners and hoardings, announcing exotic lunches and dinners, at prices that can feed all the orphans in the city.

A sight far removed from the little town where I grew. The land of blue mountains and green valleys. Where winters were freezing and foggy.

Yes, Christmas was always special. As a child. No, my family was not Christian. But it didn't matter. A convent school with Salesian Sisters from Italy, taught us the beauty of this season. Even though winter vacations would be on, the Sisters always welcomed anyone who braved the cold to go for Mass or to wish them.

Christmas was celebrated with my parent's friend's family. A Christian family. At some point in the day, bundled in woolens, we would land up at their house. Presents were exchanged amidst great ruckus. The kids would be excited with the Christmas tree. A real tree with twinkling lights, stockings, little presents beneath and a big star on top. Then all of us kids would troop to church for Mass, which strangely was sometime in the afternoon. (Didn't really matter as the whole day was chilly and sunless in winters.) Post Mass, the priests and nuns would give every child a brown paper bag, filled with hot stuffed rolls, donuts, sweets and chocolates, a little book or piece of stationery, and wish us all a very happy christmas.

Now, there were a lot of children, our friends, who were orphans. They stayed in the school hostel and attended school with us. Somehow we never realised then, that they didn't have parents at home. Maybe it was a good thing, because children can be cruel sometimes and we might have teased them about the lack of a family... or maybe we wouldn't have. But we loved them. And they were the reason we went for that afternoon Mass. Knowing they would be there, sharing the excitement over the brown paper bag, playing about for a bit and knowing the nuns loved us all. Equally.

Then it would be time to get back, before dark. Before the fog got denser and sights became hazier. Hugging them all goodbye, we would hold our paper bag tight and rush back home to anxious parents craning their necks in turn, to spot us in the narrow lane, between the trees. (There was one time when it got dark and we got lost, and the elders had to go looking for us.) The elders would be in a good mood and would try to make us sing, dance or play the piano. Whatever we did, we were cheered loudly. There would be a fire too, a bonfire or a mere fireplace, I don't remember clearly, but I remember a crackling fire that kept us warm and happy.

Then, the mega dinner would happen. But we kids would insist on eating through our brown paper bags. And parents let us without arguing much.

Much, much later, tired and sleepy, late in the night, we would be huddled home. Next morning, we added another beautiful Christmas memory to our lives.

Years later, I spent Christmas again in this little town, where my parents still live. I took home a college friend, from Bombay. But nothing was the same. The sun was up that day, though it was still freezing cold. We went to the riverside where we saw the sun set from atop the dyke. As we turned around, we saw the full moon rise from the other end. It was so magical. I couldn't take her for Mass but we did go for the customary celebration at the family friend's house. And we didn't land up excited, in the afternoon. We went for dinner, gave the gifts, ate and left.

Throughout the trip, I was always in a hurry. I could hardly help it. It was a short trip and I had promised my friend a lot of sightseeing and going around. And in that, I lost out on a memory, of a beautiful Christmas, celebrated with old friends and old friends' old parents.

Today, however hard I try, to recreate my childhood Christmas, I cannot. But I do make an effort. I dress up a real tree and put up little stockings and light candles. If we don't invite anyone or get invited, hubby dearest takes me out for dinner. Though I make it a point to go to places where they don't print an overpriced menu for Christmas. Somehow, the little hungry faces, that look up expectantly as we park outside a restaurant, make me guilty for having so much. For being able to choose where to eat and what to eat.

I fervently wish that everybody gets a meal this Christmas. Not a grand one but enough to drive hunger away. For this occasion at least, which is about giving and sharing. I want to feed a few myself. For selfish reasons, of course. The look of happiness on a once-hungry now-well-fed face can surpass no other. I love to experience that.

That I suppose, is going to be Christmas for us.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004


The new year is sure bringing in a lot of changes.

One change I loathe is having friends move away. A change in jobs resulting in a change in location. And when they call or meet to discuss the move, and ask for opinions, I am tempted to say, "That's a bad move. Not the right place for you, for your career."

Not the right place? New York, Moscow and Hyderabad? At better positions and superb salaries?

That's where, three of my close friends are moving to, with their other halves. At the beginning of 2005. They don't know each other. I am sure they would have liked one another had they met. Again strikes me as strange that I never got them together considering, they are all such good and old friends of mine.

But I go on to tell them, the right thing. How they have made a great decision and should move on. Glum faces hardly look convinced. They could always come back any time they feel like. Strangely the one promise they extract out of us is, "If we go, you have to come and visit." As if their mere survival there depends on us visiting them!

And with each of them, we assure them loudly, "Of course, we will be there in six months!" And suddenly there's a little excitement at the prospect of meeting again in a different place and spending a couple of weeks together.

And so the plans are made. In between our visits there, friend moving to Russia is going to come down twice a year (at company's expense)!
Friend moving to New York is going to come down 4 times a year (twice at company's expense, and twice spending the hubby's hard earned money!)
And friend moving to Hyderabad refuses to stoop to discussing such trivial things. (I will come WHENEVER I feel like.)

So that should bring some solace to all our lonely souls.

Here we never got to meet as often as we would have liked to. Somehow work and other necessary evils bogged us down. But the thought of them moving away is a painful empty feeling. There's happiness and pride at their doing well in their careers. But there's a certain pain, that they could move away, just like that... to new lands, to make newer friends.

But again, isn't that what life is about? Moving on. About people too... you meet to part. And what remains are wonderful memories as you go on to create newer ones. It's not about giving up something or someone for others. It's about carrying everyone along, in the heart, as life takes its course. And we go on to realise our dreams. Knowing fully that the good wishes and prayers we carried along have contributed a fair bit.

Saddened and heavy though my heart is, I wish these friends of mine, the very best of life. It isn't easy for them to up-and-go but they have dared to dream. They have seen a future, successful and happy, and they are ready to work hard for it. Nobody else deserves it more.

God bless, my friends.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

the limit... and more...

Finally, a whole week of getting home late and hopping into bed past 2.30 am has taken a toll on me. I am sick. It's probably fatigue or even some viral infection. The weekend ahead is filled too, but I am hoping for some sound sleep in my warm cozy bed for a few hours past my usual wake-up time.

The whole show started last weekend, with some dinner invitations. Since then, I had been working the whole day at office, going home and getting out again for something or the other in the night.

But again, this isn't new. I am used to working 13 hours, travelling 2-3 hours, partying 5-6 hours and sleeping if any time remains. All this the whole week through. And I am as fresh as a daisy every morning and as energetic as a high-on-dope rockstar every evening. That too, without the dope.

Not anymore. It dawned on me the meaning of those words that intrigued me whenever somebody uttered them. At times, I thought it was sheer laziness that made them mouth those spoilt-sport words. Those words that never made any sense to me, couldn't relate to. Those words that are always uttered by 'other' people, just like how accidents, etc, happen to 'other' people and we are mere passersby who just comment and get on. My response then was merely a giggle or an exasperated sigh.

But now I know, and it's finally my turn to say, "age is catching on..."

Friday, December 17, 2004


I am by no means starstruck. But when you have 'the' Aamir Khan sitting inches away from you, you can hardly ignore him. That was how it was at Prithvi Theatre last night, as we watched a brilliant rendition of Manto Ismat Chugtai Haazir Hai.

For me, it was tough concentrating - struggling with the fluent Urdu on stage and Aamir's reaction and hearty appreciation. For most of the play, he sat slumped forward resting his chin in his hands. And he was, oh-so-close, I could almost feel him breathing down my neck! I shamelessly listened in to all his conversations during the two hours. Hubby, of course, darted murderous looks and rebuked me well, later. But I know he himself had a good look at the actor, when he felt that Aamir Khan wasn't looking at HIM!!!

This season is good. Somehow there is an adundance of things to do, and places to go. So, what's new? The point is, I always feel like that. At this time of the year. Every year. Now I suspect it's not the abundance of things but more my active state of being. Suddenly, I am waking up to realise there's isn't much time. So rush, rush, rush. Do, do, do. Live, live, live.

And it's not only me. I have people all around bouncing about, looking good, feeling good. They are planning, executing, loving and living.
A friend has finally started exercising. She said "I am feeling good. Doesn't this time of the year make you feel 'young'?"

I congratulated her.

Then she declared "Oh! February is going to be so dull."


"Because I won't last that long. I only feel good at this time every year and start exercising. I cannot stretch the feeling till Feb!"

"How about exercising to feel good, rather than feeling good to exercise??" I shot back and disappeared before she could start on her pot-calling-the-kettle-black...

But I am just wondering if we are so bound by 'time', for the likes of us, the world could introduce a whole new calender with shorter time spans. A month and a year could be shorter. We would thus have more new years and more feel-good occasions to celebrate. We would be pulling up our darned socks more frequently and making more innocent resolutions! So what if we don't manage to get down to half of them! The ratio of 'work done' would still show better.

Also makes me wonder, why am I always looking for alternatives? Eutopian ways to live... to save the world from misery... why do I always have a difference in opinion from the rest of the world? Why is the best of my solutions often preceded by if?

Tch! tch!

New year resolution no. 1 - Remove the word IF from vocubulary. Face reality.

Friday, December 10, 2004

In this life

Aah, December! Another few days and we will be into a new year. And what do I have, to show for the one that went by?

This is the time of the year I take stock. Of merits and demerits, of pains and pleasures, of losses and gains, of dreams and desires - fulfilled and otherwise. And often I find myself racing to meet my own expectations and deadlines.

I will save the details of all the good and bad I gathered during the year for another post. Here I want to mention a good friend I made. This year.

She tends to bring out a lot in me. I love the discussions, her comments, the way she lives and her kindness. Once I even told her that I would like to taste a slice of her life.

Recently, my friend came back from a trip and told me the historical place she visited was marvelous. She found it kind of surreal and felt like she had walked into an antique painting. So that's one more place on my ever increasing list to visit.

And the year end gets me panicky that I have so much to do and so little time. The so much mostly concerns places to visit and books to read. Why is it with every book I read, I just realise how much I haven't read? The same with every place I visit. So much more to explore, to see. Sigh! One lifetime is simply not enough.

Yesterday, I mentioned to my friend that if there's any truth in rebirth, it should just be added with one more feature. Continuation of memory. We get reborn and remember what we did in the past lives. Like Life Part I, Life Part II…. and so on. So we could just continue from where we left off in the last birth.

That way, we don't need to keep reading the same books and visiting the same places. And maybe by the time, we are done with Karma we would have covered a fair bit.

So for this lifetime, may I request the whole of Africa and part of Europe? The books can come randomly...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

fix to hitch

I am trying to matchmake. Actually two of us are.

A 32 year old colleague and this friend's friend. He's about 40. Both are ready for marriage. They haven't met but have been told of each other. He thinks she might be too young for him! She says age is the least thing on her mind. He could be rejected for a hundred other reasons!

We think it best they should meet. And talk. And know. And see. And maybe decide.

The friend assures the colleague, he's an honest guy and makes 'intelligent conversation'. She said, she's honest too. That's when we tell her go easy on the honest bit... or rather, to be cautious.

I don't think all guys can appreciate honesty. And you never know at the first meeting which ones are these. Sometimes men just have totally different views on things. Their take on relationships, marriage, careers, sex - pre and post marital, can educate an entire nation of 'ignorant women'.

And the most famous of them are the ones with double and triple standards. Where the same rules do not apply.
Like the very common "My ex and I are still very good friends" however "I wouldn't like my wife to meet up her old boyfriend!" And hold it, at times the reason could be "I trust my wife. But I don't trust the guy!" or simply "I am not comfortable."

A friend, a male, once told me, that there is no man in this world who given the opportunity, will not have a one night stand IF, he repeated, IF, he's sure of not being caught. The men who don't agree are simply lying, he said. Though I would love to differ, I can only hope, there is a minuscule number, maybe 00.01% who will hold back, for the love of wives, for the love of girlfriends, for the sake of vows, for the sake of children, for the sake of simply being a strong man of integrity. But like I said, I, and half the world's population, can only hope.

Anyway, I digressed. The other of us who is part of the matchmaking recalled this story. When she was sixteen, growing in a place called Hubli, she had a friend. Really UGLY (her words), fat and sloppy and DUMB. And wonder of wonders, UGLY caught the most eligible hunk around!

While the others, boyfriendless, bitched and burned with jealously, hunk took UGLY for movies and ice cream everyday. And our friend here would be furious as UGLY would lie at home saying she was going out with her.

At 18, everybody went their ways, seeking their fortunes. UGLY was married off. Happily. To somebody the family chose. And UGLY recalling her college days, regaled her husband with tales of movies and ice cream with hunk. That's when the husband turned mad. Beat her up and still beating her, dragged her to Hubli (a good distance from where they lived) and dumped her at her parents!

Of course, after a lot of helpful counselling, they got back together. But there's a moral to this story. And I hope our ready-for-marriage colleague got it!

Monday, December 06, 2004

The last goal before his last breath

Just 25. A great footballer. All the way from Brazil. With a young wife. An exciting life ahead.

As he kicked his goal in and flew high, his jubilant face was caught by cameras to be splashed across headlines, probably saying, "The goal that won the match". As the opponent goalkeeper attempted to keep him down, he fell. Never to get up again.

And the headlines changed.

A goal he scored. With a life he gave.

How could he die on the field? After scoring a winning goal? In a strange country?

Rest in peace, Christiano Junior.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

fat or fit?

I have been binging hopelessly. Since I have started thinking of pounding up the staircase every time I am faced with an elevator option, my hunger has increased. The mere thought of exercise gets me hungry these days.

I guess it's the lack of interesting things happening in life, at work, everywhere. I just can't help it. Maybe my ears have been conditioned to pick up only such conversation, but every where I hear people passionately discussing, what else, food! Last night's dinner, today's lunch (which by the way was a sinful 2 hour affair at Mocha. And do not be fooled by the menu that innocently seems to display all snacky titbits. Everything in the place spells cheese, chocolate and sin.)... also what to try out during the weekend and the week after.

I tell myself, I need to go easy. Specially if I am to fit into the blue dress. That same one which was bought last year with the intention of getting into it on new year's eve. I did try and sucked in my tummy and held my breath till my ears grew hot and all the blood went to my face. I had to let go then. Phaah!!! With my breath, tummy and everything out, it ripped half an inch.

I carefully packed it away, promising myself I would wear it this year. With a new body. Toned, tuned and fit, of course.

Well, I still have a month to go. There is hope.

Otherwise I could always spend new years in a remote deep dark forest where all I would need are cargoes, boots, jackets and a mosquito repellent. Damn the blue dress!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Of robbers and thieves

A lot of sympathy came in for the lost phones. And a lot of stories on lost things were exchanged. Some really interesting.

One story goes... that this girl was walking home in the evening. Purse out, probably after paying someone or the other. There weren't too many people around. A bike comes from behind, snatches the purse and zooms off.

The girl showed quick presence of mind. Pen in hand she scribbled the numbers (smart girl probably had a good look at the bike's numberplate instead of the usual panicking we would have resorted to)!

Just then, another bike rides in from behind, snatches the paper (the same one she was noting the numbers on), a hand slaps her hard and revving up, they were gone in a cloud of dust!!

It all happened in less than a minute. All this in our very own Bandra of Sandra fame!