Sunday, April 18, 2010

No, not yet

Hello, hello. So I have been away for a while but no, the baby's not here yet. M has been deputed to post  news as it happens so watch out for a guest post from the good man himself (likely to be short and snappy). 

If you are nine months pregnant and absolutely massive and if it's hot as hell in your part of the world, then you already know exactly how uncomfortable I am. If you are not, take my word for it. I have been freezing everyone by insisting on having the AC on at all times. No one dares refuse because you know, I could always sit on them. Or eat them. Did I mention my appetite? I am hungry all the time. I even wake up in the middle of the night wanting to have a seven course meal. Don't tell me it's the baby because I know it's not. The baby will not take responsibility for more than five kilos of the total amount I have gained and will probably shrug it's tiny shoulders when I tell it that I gained a whole lot more than that. Sorry Ma, but I don't even like four cheese pasta. Oh well.

M and I have been making the most of the last few days before sleepless nights become par for the course again. We went to Hornby's Pavilion for lunch the other day. It was a buffet spread and we were the flashes that were whizzing by at supersonic speeds to make as many trips to the food as possible. At one point Mahesh came back to our table, plate filled and his face all aglow. Wow, you must really like the appams, I observed. No, no, I bumped into a celebrity and for the first time ever in such situations, I made conversation, he informed me. Really, I craned my neck, expecting to see Priyanka Chopra in a short dress (not that Priyanka Chopra ever wears long dresses). But no, it was Narain Karthikeyan that was making M so giddy. I told him I am a big fan, said M happily, I asked how NASCAR is going and he replied that it was going well. I tried to be as excited as M but failed. Wasn't Narain Karthikeyan always coming last in the races, I wanted to ask him but he might have punched me.

I finally finished a shady book that I have been struggling with for several weeks. It's called Ten Years With Guru Dutt -- Abrar Alvi's Journey. I rather like Guru Dutt, broody and intense, so I had imagined I'd enjoy knowing more about his life. But the book is unable to engage the reader and I struggled to get through. Anyway, it's done now and I can finally start on The Last of the Mohicans. Yes, I haven't read it all these years and it's such a pity given that I am the hugest fan of Dr Hawkeye Pierce (you do remember my thing for onscreen doctors, right?). Hawkeye's father named him after a character in The Last of the Mohicans, his favourite book. So yes, I am going to set that right and start on the book tonight. Unless of course the baby decides to come first or something. 

Laters, then.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Leaving home

The only time I ever saw Indian Ocean live was at Vasant Habba, a dusk to dawn spring music festival that is held at Nritya Gram in Bangalore. It's great fun and musicians perform through the night. Indian Ocean's performance was the last one of the festival and the whole crowd crowded into an enclosure to hear them. As dawn broke and light started filtering through the sky behind them, they produced their brand of unique, earthy and unabashedly Indian music.  I was not familiar with any of their music (except Kandisa of course) at the time but their energy and talent made a lasting impression.

And so, when Leaving Home - The Life and Music of Indian Ocean was released, it was a given that we would go to watch it. M in fact is quite a fan since they played regularly at their b-school's annual festival and were much appreciated.

Leaving Home is a documentary but not a dry one. It is in fact as captivating as any feature. I have watched and liked both This Is It and Metallica's Some Kind Of Monster but this was even more interestingly told. It managed to capture the individuals behind the band, their life-stories and personal motivations and yet never took away from the focus that is the band and it really brought out the frustrations and struggles in making original music in India in the nineties. Most of the film has been shot in Delhi. The band has jammed in a 100-year bungalow in Karol Bagh since its inception and it's peeling plaster, unkempt garden and mounds of paraphernalia collecting in various corners serve as the perfect drop for a talented but un-rockstar-ish group of musicians.

A very interesting part of the film covered the people who joined the band at different times but left, either because they did not want to lead an unconventional life, a life that did not promise routine or a monthly pay-cheque or because they did not truly believe that they were headed anywhere with this kind of music. Most of them lived to regret their decision.

For me, this was the most important part of the film. You know how it is in India (I can only speak of my own country), it is always difficult and sometimes darned near impossible to not take the trodden path. If you have an MBA, you need to get that sales and marketing job. It doesn't matter that you'd rather paint or write or draw cartoons. Not to get into the whole the-system-screws-you argument but as someone who lives with the decision to not lead a regular life and faces self-doubt as a friend who visits everyday, this film served as something of a reminder of how each one of us owes it to ourselves to live our big dream. A chill ran down my spine when I heard the guy who gave up his music and an opportunity to be a part of Indian Ocean in order to support his family working as an architect in CPWD. He said that he lived with regret. What makes the story sadder still is that with that unfulfilled dream in his heart, this man died in a road accident in Lucknow at age 45. Where is the justice?

The website for the film says Chances are - you will have to make an effort to see it. True enough, it was playing only at Metro theater (the film has been exclusively released by Big Cinemas) which is in Town, a fair distance for us Bandra people. I am really glad I made the trip. You should too.

All in all, a fitting tribute to Asheem Chakavarty.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine

Do you remember the time I asked you to vote for me? Well, I didn't think it possible at the time but some of you listened. In fact, enough of you listened to make me win in this category. Best Travel Post, indeed. I knew I had it in me to beat the pants off Bill Bryson. I don't know if there are any prizes but thank you, kind people.

Travelling is one of the things I cannot, cannot, cannot wait to start doing again. Once the baby is a few months old, I'd like to go to Turkey. I have even asked M to make all the arrangements. I am going to focus on losing the pregnancy weight before that and look Ismokin' in Istanbul. Yeah, baby, no harm dreaming. Remind me of this when I have dark circles the size of craters on my face and regularly forget my own last name for lack of sleep.

But summers are here and it's difficult to feel low. The time for long, lazy afternoon naps, ice-cold shikanji, malai kulfi, the smell of raat ki raani in the air as it billows about in the warm, nighttime breeze.....

Right, who am I kidding?

Adi's preschool shuts shop (summer break) this week. We completely panicked at the thought of him getting up in the morning and having nowhere to go. We needn't have worried. It's for parents like us that the wonderful concept of summer camps has been introduced. So we will still be able to pack him off for a couple of hours everyday, blessed, blessed peace while the infant takes over the baton and drives us bananas, nuts and round the bend. Just a regular day in a small, happy family.  There will obviously be no travel this summer. Not many movies either I guess, unless you count on what I can record on Tata Sky Plus. They show such lousy movies on Showcase though. I am fairly certain Prince - It's Showtime will be up next. I cannot think of any movie I'd much rather not watch. I will also be found salivating at all the summer fashions but not actually doing much shopping for fear of not fitting into the largest size available in stores. 

On that happy note, what's your plan for the summer? Go ahead, make me jealous.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chaar sau posts

Looks like I missed a blogging milestone of sorts. This, in fact was the 400th post on this blog.

I had mentioned in jest in my three hundredth post that I'd like to complete my second book before I hit the four hundred mark. Guess who is feeling full of beans then. Of course, ever since I have read that Sidin has already sold 13,000 copies of his book while I am still trudging in four figures with BUV, my bubble has become non-existent. But man, he is so funny and totally deserves the success and the royalty ka-ching.

Four bloody hundred posts of inanities. But it's been fun. For you, my constant reader, Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks. Many such afternoons ahead of us as the mercury goes berserk.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mr Mehta, I am most impressed

Books with impact: Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

The first time I came to Bombay was back in 1998 to appear for a GD and interview at NMIMS. I stayed at an uncle's place at Napean Sea Road, a large government allotted flat to a customs official, a perk whose dimensions I could not fathom at the time. Go see the sea, commanded the uncle and shooed us off to the park opposite his building. It was Priyadarshini Park, a beautiful space that opens out to the sea. He gave us a car complete with a driver who showed the girls from Delhi around, took us for shopping to all the fancy stores and the buzzing streets. Needless to say I loved Bombay. It was The Big City. Years passed and I came back to Bombay on work-related trips too. It was always nice on short trips. I liked how the showers came on so suddenly, how no one seemed to give a damn about how you dressed, how the taxi-wallahs never cheated and turned the meter down once one got into the cab.

Things were a lot different when I moved here for good. Housing was so unbearably expensive. One got little cages for the price of palaces. It was dirty, filthy everywhere. It took you by the collar and forced you to look at the gutter and the sewage and would not let you conveniently turn away from the poverty and insulate yourself from how the other half, the half of have-nots lived. For someone who has thrived on escapism all her life, this was the kind of reality call that was particularly unpalatable. Every morning, driving to work next to the slums on Tulsi Pipe road I would want to go back home and never come out again. (They have been removed now and the wall is painted with graffiti). The dissatisfaction grew once Aditya was born. There was no place to walk. When we went abroad, we were just constantly amazed at how stroller-friendly the western countries seemed to be. We had no playing area in any of the buildings. Open space seemed to come at a premium that just grew steeper with every passing year. I thought of Bangalore and Delhi with the kind of wistful nostalgia that comes with physical distance and the improbability of moving there. I decided that I did not suit Bombay in terms of either temperament or lifestage.

After spending nearly six years in the city, I hadn't really figured it out and so I should have probably not waited this long to read Maximum City. That's quite a compliment to pay to the book - I wish I had read you before. Suketu Mehta's approach to Bombay is very different from mine. He loves the place and is still able to take an outsider's view when he needs to. The list of people he has met in the course of his research - Bal Thackerey to Sanjay Dutt to underworld dons to famous film directors to hit-men to tops cops and bar girls - is impressive to use a very mild word. He brings Bombay alive in your hands and makes sense of it for you. The niggling questions that you always have at the back of your mind but don't quite articulate have been answered by this remarkable author. He covers ground comprehensively, going from real estate to the mafia to the film industry with equal ease, sometimes getting so close to his characters that the reader is left with the somewhat voyeuristic feeling of witnessing an intimate relationship unfold. A fine read, indeed.

After I finished reading the book, I was quite taken in by Mehta and decided to do my fan-girl act on him and looked him up on the internet. I stumbled across something that he has written for the National Geographic. Worth a read.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Betting on the winning horse

My birthday gift for a certain Mr Ramanathan (my mister, as SEC B housewives describe their men in market research type situations, sometimes with a becoming blush) this year was a race ticket for the KL Formula One Grand Prix. He is quite obsessed with F1 still and it is one of the few interests he has left, ranking right up there with changing nappies and discussing poop reports, a refresher course in which is right around the corner. So far he has been an avid supporter of Kimi Raikkonen but since the latter quit F1, M has been at loose ends about whom to support. We discussed this last night before he was about to leave and I was packing for him. (I have been packing for him since I discovered that his strategy to pack involves taking about 20% more than the suitcase can take, tossing everything inside and then sitting on it to get it to close, all the while cursing loudly. My strategy is significantly better. I don't curse.)

M: Who do I root for?
Me: Arrey, Force India obviously. Plus Karun Chandok is there too. You should cheer for them.
M: Sure, sure but I also need someone to back for a race win.
Me: I thought the whole idea of supporting someone was hoping that they will win.
M: Don't be naive. I am rooting for Force India to get points, for Chandok to complete the race and now I need someone to back for the race win.
Me: ????

Adi has been telling me since this morning that daddy is in Kola Lumpoor.