Thursday, December 18, 2008

Heartbeats in Mumbai

We went for the Heartbeats concert last evening. When artists like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Selva Ganesh, Sivamani, U. Srinivas and Shankar Mahadevan are performing and one's own knowledge of Indian (or western for that matter) classical musical can be inscribed on the back of a malnourished ant (why would one want to do that though?), it is unlikely that one can have a good time. But that's the funny thing about music, see? One can enjoy it even without really understanding why people are going 'wah, wah' at one particular moment and exchanging knowing looks with each other the next. The husband having had years and years of training in the violin understood significantly more of the music more than I did and it reinforced my opinion that we should give Adi a theth (?) south Indian upbringing in that he should learn the ABCs of classical music right through to the XYZs. He he.I am serious.

My own pet peeve, the man/woman who talks on mobile phone while a concert/movie/play/live performance in on was seated right in front of me. She was not taking calls. She was making them. Yes, just like that. Oh look, all these wonderful artists are performing for us and all that they ask for (other than ticket money, naturally) is that we listen to them respectfully. That reminds me, I wonder what Kanta Bai has made for dinner today. Wait, let me just ask her. Dial, dial. This is where I am going to insert that ever-versatile three letter acronym. WTF.

I tapped said peeve on her shoulder with one finger and kept tapping. She kept talking. This could have gone on for a while. And did. Finally she turned around and looked at me accusingly. I waved the same finger in admonishment at her. Finally she shut up and went back to swaying with the music as if nothing had happened, as if she had not been caught red-handed in the act of committing one of Parul's Top Ten Cardinal Sins by Parul herself. Again, WTF?

Mahesh cringed as people including own ignorant wife clapped out of place. I informed him that was better than booing. He seemed to get my point. All this free-flowing understanding. That is why we are still married.

The music was truly wonderful. Each of those guys is a genius. So this concert was effectively genius x 5. I am trying to write something knowledgeable but given capability issues am unable to. You can read a better, more informed review about the same concert in Chennai here.

Alright, now off to pack. Later, all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Off to Shimla

I need a break. Its winter, at least in the northern part of this country and I am aching to sit out in the sun and eat peanuts and drink steaming hot, sweet tea (as against the mostly-hot-water-some-milk concoction that Kalpana plonks in front of me every morning. A good cup of tea is a pleasure that is denied me on a regular basis, remind me to tell you about it some day). Also, M and I have been looking forward to Merv Griffin's Crosswords on Sundays and keep reminding each other not to forget when its due. Seriously, put an end to the wild partying, someone.

To put a temporary end to this unabashed boringness and geekiness, we have decided to troop off to Shimla for a week. For those of you who are planning on stalking me, I will be staying at the Wildflower Hall. (Fooled you, Wildflower Hall does not allow kids below 12 years for safety reasons. Really.)

We were planning to go to Thailand but then there was all this trouble there and like the pair of cowards that we are, we backed out before we lost any more money on the bookings. I am feeling a little foolish now because people are travelling to and from Thailand freely now (Moppet's Mom being case in point, read about our meeting here). Also, for some reason that I cannot articulate even to myself, I want to stick close to home, read India, right now.

Anyhow, I haven't been to Shimla in ages and am quite looking forward to it. I even went and bought sweaters for Adi and subsequently spent an entire evening painstakingly picking out the labels from them (so much so for the brand value, eh?). Some brands use this strange plastic thread to sew on the labels on their kids' range and it irritates his skin. Anyone else have the same problem?

Speaking of travelling, our friend J just got back from the US. I asked her if she liked it there given that she is planning to spend a few years there starting soon. Yes, she said. Well, what did you like about it, I asked. The fact that I could tolerate it, she replied.

That explains everything.

In other news, we watched The Dark Knight over the weekend (goes without saying that we missed it at the time of the theater release) and I thought it was so apt for these times. This is not an original thought but I agree that some men just want to watch the world burn.

Also watched Parvathi Omanakuttan take on a bevy of beauties at Miss World 2008 and despite inserting the right words at the right places - Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, culture, warm people, just like home, in fact better than home - she lost to a prettier and blonder Miss Russia. I thought it was most unfair. If it was cricket, we could have flung bottles at the players/pitch and accused everyone of match fixing. What do we do now though? Parvathi on her part looked like she had not considered the possibility of anyone else laying her paws on the coveted crown and gave away as much. It was then that I felt genuinely bad for her. But maybe she will get a Bollywood offer and all will turn out well after all? There is hope yet.

Well, so I guess this is where I say Merry Christmas to you, dear reader (in case I don't post again before leaving). This is a strange world and a stranger time. But like they say in The Dark Knight, things always get worse before they get better. Keep safe, stay happy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Midnight Madness

I am a Midnight Genius. And before you start scoffing at the notion of me being any kind of a genius, maybe you should hear me out. You know that very short period between being awake and falling asleep, when the mind and body is almost perfectly relaxed? This is the time when you start thinking about something and it trails off into completely unrelated territory without your control. In this short span of time, I regularly find ways to end world poverty, bring about peace for mankind and figure out the perfect Bollywood masala movie formula.

The problem is I don't remember any of it in the morning, except of course the fact that I did become a genius in that time.

Its all most frustrating.

Just this afternoon I was talking to Mahesh about why the recent terror attacks were different and why I thought they had impacted me more than anything else in the longest time when BAM! it struck me. I stopped mid-sentence. Mahesh who was probably half-listening anyway (we were on the phone) asked me why I had gone all quiet. I know the answer to this, I said. I know why these attacks were so personal to all of us. So, tell me, he asked (naturally). I can't remember, I wailed, I knew all of it last night and I remember feeling very peaceful because I had figured it all out in my head but I CAN'T REMEMBER RIGHT NOW.

I am telling you, I am a Midnight Genius! Fortunately, I am not the only one who is undertaking all this nocturnal activity.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My top ten people

The first rule about tags is that no one will tag you for the one that you would actually like to do.

Keeping this in mind, the law-abiding blogosphere hastily ignored me when it came to the tag about literary characters. "I think Parul might like to do this one....let me quickly tag euS, or inihoR or Y". (I aimed to protect identities by spelling names backwards. Sorry,Y.)

Anyway, here goes anyway. (What do you call a sentence that begins and ends with the same word ? A sentence that begins and ends with the same word. He he. No? Oh, ok it is called an epanalepsis. The number of Google searches I will do to keep you happy, sheesh.)

In no particular order....

Darrell Rivers: My first real heroine. She of the lacrosse skills and the first-class pantomime and the infamous temper that made her slap Gwendoline in the pool. To this day, I have no idea how lacrosse is played (or whether it is even played anymore) and have not seen a pantomime either but dude, I can so rattle off the six books from the Malory Towers series. I don't give a shit that it is about a girls school. Adi will be reading them and not least to get a good ROI on the set.

Scarlett O'Hara: When I first took Gone With The Wind in my hands, my thoughts ran on the lines of 'kaafi moti kitaab hai'. However, I went on to finish it in two days (even back then I was not invited to too many parties). Scarlett O' Hara was not beautiful but boy, she could flirt! I shed copious tears when she declared that she would never be hungry again and I quite wished her dead in the same breath to facilitate my own wedding to Rhett Butler. I saw the movie too after a few years and while it deserved all the Oscars it won, it was a tad different from the one that I had already made in my brain.

Atticus Finch: Ahh, Gregory Peck. No, I did not mind the movie at all. But even so, to read and re-read To Kill A Mockingbird is and always will be one of the unadulterated pleasures of my life, long after the alcohol and smokes are gone. If I have some sort of a guided map to parenthood, I think it lies in this book.

Lord Blandings: My friend Kulta (not her real name, thank God) and I shared a room in a sprawling bungalow in Vasant Vihar many years ago. In a wishful fit, we had nicknamed the landlord Blandings, except that he turned out to be anything but. Thankfully that did not sully my unending admiration for this absent-minded gentleman of the manor. There is hope for people like us yet.

Michael Corleone: Organized crime could not have had a sexier face. (I think I could have a career in writing this taglines, no?). I have a huge thing for mafia/gangster books and films and just before Adi came along, Mahesh and I watched the Godfather Trilogy at a go in the hope that the child would pick up good sanskars from the word go. As part of the same drive, these days I am trying to teach him what the phrase 'Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes' means.

Heathcliff: Is there a pattern emerging here? I don't care. All the hype about Heathcliff turned out to be true. Not in a nice way of course but hey, he made it to my list, didn't he and that should make it all worth it.

Hercule Poirot: Now, as it happens in families as normal and grounded as mine, Hercule Poirot actually belongs to my sister. I am only borrowing him for the purpose of completing this list. The shining patent leather shoes, the OTT OCD, the incomparable arrogance - better than Belgian Godivas, I say. I liked MIss Marple too but I guess Poirot was just.....*wracking brains for words that a literary critic would use*....overall more fabulous.

Krishnakali: This one from the book by the same name by Shivani. Krishnakali, the dusky beauty with a haunting past (there is no stopping me now). I love her, I do! Really, if you don't read Hindi, this book is reason enough for you to pay up for classes right about now.

Marvin: I hope Paranoid Androids are allowed on this list. Come on, his brain is the size of a PLANET! When I first read Hitchhikers, I couldn't believe someone so cool could exist (?). I have had no reason to change my mind since.

Rebecca: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again and I could afford the rent. Alright, back to being reverent towards this fantastic novel, I can only say that no one does evocative imagery like Daphne Du Maurier.

Also-rans include Bridget Jones, Shopaholic Becky, Moaning Myrtle....better luck next time, peeps.

Have you done this tag? Do you have your own list? Tell me, I am listening.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Twenty, no, nineteen month letter

Dear Adi,

At your playschool the other day, I heard your teacher reciting a nursery rhyme....

Machli jal ki rani hai
Jeevan usska paani hai

Hey, I know that one, I thought almost jubilantly to myself and joined in with gusto....

Haath lagaoge toh darr jayegi

True enough

Bahar nikaloge toh so jayegi

Excuse me? So jayegi? Isn't it supposed to be marr jayegi? Fish don't go off to sleep when they are taken out of water, they....well, they die. I almost protested before realizing that they were perhaps doing it for a reason, perhaps children a little older than you get upset by the imagery of fish dying. Having been one of such children myself back in kindergarten, I kept my mouth shut.

Except that back at home, the television was showing nothing but people dying. Not sleeping, dying. Starting Wednesday night, we watched nothing else, following the gunshots and the grenades with reasonable amounts of alacrity. We did not think that you were paying any attention till you started waking up crying several times during the night and we realized that while you are too young to even ask what death means and what happens to people after they die, at some level you understand that it is not a good thing. That put paid to watching the news channels and we are back to watching the Happy Hour on Star World, loads of humour delivered by the failsafe lineup of Friends, Seinfeld, Whose Line Is It Anyway and 30 Rock. At least in your presence.

Twenty Nineteen months old today. In this last month, bedtime stories have become something of a ritual. You climb into bed at night saying Meow, Meow and we understand that to be the cue for your usual Adi Kitten story, complete with nefarious motives.

Adi Kitten lived in Bandra with his parents, Mama Cat and Daddy Cat. Every night, Mama Cat and Daddy Cat would put Adi Kitten to bed and he would go off to sleep and he would sleep through the night, sleep through the night, sleep through the night.....


Bedtime stories are also being used to fight the bitter battle for your affections. Here is what I heard your father telling you the other night.

Adi Kitten lived in Bandra with his parents Daddy Cat and Mama Cat. While Adi Kitten absolutely adored his tall, strapping, handsome father Daddy Cat, his affections for his mother Mama Cat were so-so at best.


In other developments, since your religion does not allow you to let your parents wear spectacles, you continue to knock them with alarming regularity. Any loudly-spoken NO! and you immediately launch a nuclear meltdown. Bull baby assumes new meanings as we discover your will is stronger than both of ours combined. We meekly submit when you ask for a CHEEP (chip, of the potato kind), BISSIT (biscuit), PAPAYA and other forms of food, nudging each other to deliver some discipline. A sermon on the ills of junk food is long overdue, my child and I will strive to deliver it as soon as I have finished this bar of Toblerone.

The school-goers downstairs continue to be your best friends even as you shun the friendship of other babies your own age.

Counting everything is the new obsession - one, two, three, five, seven....your father says that you have decided to count only the prime numbers and even as I point out showcasing my own astounding intelligence that one is neither prime nor composite, you put an end to the conversation by loudly declaring TEN. Oh well.

You have a preference for nursery rhymes and ask for Tinkle, Tinkle or Tim, Tim Taara, talking of which, I think the approaching cold weather is putting an end to all that diaper-free tinkling. It was good while it lasted though.

You are also thrilled to have dear old Kalpana back in the house. You know they say that you should never trust a skinny cook. Well, Shilpa proved that you should never trust a fat cook either, specially when the said cook is getting fatter by raiding one's pantry. Anyway, Kalpana is back and she is no more a merry widow. She is a merry married woman, who is actually not legally married because her new man is already married but I digress.

I know that you don't understand why I have been so different these last few days and I promise you that I will do something to make this city, this country a better place for you to live in, to grow up in. If anyone deserves to live in a happier, saner world than this, it is you kids.

Stay happy, stay safe.




Sheepishly edited: I guess this is what they call unnees-bees ka farq?