Tuesday, May 26, 2009


My blog has a new home now. Visit shilpadesh.wordpress.com is the new place you need to visit to get the latest thoughts. Also, please update your links to include my new url.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Move to wordpress?

I have been thinking of moving to wordpress for a while now. It offers so much more ease of interaction(replying to comments etc) than blogspot does. But I feel like I am cheating, talking about the merits of wordpress and talking about ditching blogspot on this blog!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hope for India

I am happy today. Happy that divisive politics has been voted out and hope and intellect are in. I am looking forward to what kind of ministers will be included in the cabinet. I am excited that Rahul Gandhi is working his way up from the grassroots rather than land the top job. I am also happy that the likes of Modi might never see power at the National level. But more than anything else, what I am most happy about is that the Left has been left behind by us. No more arm twisting, bargaining, anti-development crap will be entertained. Manmohan Singh has been a good PM and now with this verdict, more power to him.
I think the BJP lost because it never talked about what it would do if voted to power. The only thing they talked about was what the UPA did wrong, using Modi to criticize Priyanka, projecting an 81 year old as the PM and Modi as the future of the BJP. That, I think was the biggest mistake. If they continue to project Modi, they will face a bigger loss next time.
I think the Left did so badly was because they never did anything good while they were a part of the last government. And they tried to stop the nuclear deal and caused to government to almost fail over the issue. I am sure the drama they caused, caused their downfall.
I am impressed by the way Rahul handles himself, although, sometimes he comes across as too rehearsed. I like the way he decided the INC will go it alone in UP in spite of pundits suggesting otherwise. It paid off. I like the way he praised Advani after the BJP's defeat in the 2009 elections. That shows class, and a good upbringing. I hope he, along with the other young guns, get positions of power in the NEW Manmohan Singh cabinet.
The only thing I do not like is that the PM, yet again, is not an elected representative of the people. Although the people who voted for the INC knew he was the PM candidate, he should have contested from somewhere(some strong INC constituency, is he was scared of a loss). We do not want this precedent of the leader of the largest democracy in the world being an appointee!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You bring out the Hyderabadi in me

Inspired by OJ's take on You Bring Out the Mexican in Me. It is warm but cloudy today and I miss my city more than ever.

You bring out the Hyderabadi in me.
The haus and the nakkos,
and the abbis and the hallus,
the aiseich and the kaikos in me.

Each of those times
when I see a lake and i
compare it with Tankbund,
and then rattle about when
the Buddha was submerged.
For the umpteenth time I say current for power.

You bring out the Hyderabadi in me.
When panipuri reminds you of
endless trips to the chat bandi.
When shopping means a trip to Sultan Bazar,
a little stream of water is musi and
a wide open road is Raj Bhavan road.
When an overpass is a flyover.

You bring out the Hyderabadi in me.
You have multiplexes umpteen but you are still
enamored by RTC crossroads.
The Koti, the Abids,
the Charminar and Falaknuma in me.

You bring out the Hyderabadi in me.
When you have hot sticky days and
warm summer nights.
When camping reminds you of sleeping on the roof,
and running downstairs when it rains.

The Nizams, Golkonda, Gandipet,
the Qutub Shahi tombs and Paradise in me.
The Ramoji film city, Annapurna studios,
Chilkuru and Shilparamam in me.
You bring out the Hyderabadi in me.

You bring out the Hyderabadi in me.
When everything is done hallu hallu,
the language is hyderabadi(not hindi),
Barracks is Barkas and signal is singal.
When everything in the past is parsun.

When I look back to the days spent
in my beloved city, I sigh
because everything I do today
Brings out the Hyderabadi in me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Being an older sister.

I read IHM's post on what she does not like about being a mother. It hit a sweet spot and I was smiling while reading, so much so that I 'force-tagged' myself to do a 'what I don't like about being a daughter' tag! Now I want to twist the tag a little bit and write about 'Things I love/hate being the older sister!'

There are so many wonderful things about being an older sister, but growing up, there were also moments when I felt people did things that made me roll my eyes! Now I look back at those moments with a smile and would kill to go back to those fun days.

Things I love about being an older sister
  • You are considered the coolest person in the world by the younger one.
  • She always tries to emulate your mannerisms and copy the way you dress, walk, talk etc!
  • Your input on important issues(what to wear, who not to invite to the birthday party etc) is considered the most important.
  • You are the smartest and most beautiful person in the world for you sister(and vice versa)!
  • There are some secrets that only you are privy to(God Promise etc required though)
  • If there is an argument at home, no matter what the topic, the younger one always supports you.
  • You can do no wrong according to the younger one.
  • She is always telling you that you will be fine, whenever you feel down or depressed about something(still does)
  • You always had a giggle partner when you wanted to make fun of the weird people(friends, family) visiting.
  • You are allowed to share all the jewelery, watches and clothes now whenever you visit.
  • She 'Loves' all the gifts you get her!

Things I used to dislike(but now love) about being an older sister:
  • You are always called 'tai'(older sister) by everyone(parents, grandparents included).
  • You are expected to be the epitome of good behavior. If you misbehave, the younger one does too!
  • You are required to tag the younger one along to your friends' get togethers(those were the days when the younger ones were considered pests.......sigh....not anymore)
  • You are an infidel if you support the parents when they ask the younger one to not eat the bar of chocolate because she is coughing and sick.
  • You are always expected to be more mature and understanding.
  • You were asked for Disney wrist watches and Tweety mugs as gifts, but could never share them!
Thinking of all those fun years we spent makes me smile as well as cry at the same time. Why do we have to grow up and move so far away!

The many talents of the rich and the famous!

Padma Lakshmi was(is) a model and has modeled for many top designers. She also appeared in a few movies that failed miserably at the box office. One would naturally have expected her to be active in the modeling and movie world. But she has myriad of talents. She has written a couple of cookbooks. One of them(from 1999) lists the Tamil version of curd and rice(thayir sadam) as 'Easy Exotic' food! Another of her cookbooks has pictures of her slurping the result of her cooking adventures! (Maami has blogged about this here). Most of her recipes are a twist on the traditional and the reviews are nothing great. She also co hosts a competitive cooking series Top Chef. She has just unveiled her jewellery collection too. Most of the jewellery designs are a modern take on the traditional and are nothing extraordinary. Model, actress, chef, designer, all rolled in one! Is she really multi-talented or is it a gift of her fame? A little bitchin' never hurt anyone!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We don't take our egos with us when we die. We all know that. Why, then, some of us insist on maintaining the inflated ego and prefer being the arrogant loner in the family, when all the others are begging you to patch up? Why do people spoil the sanctity of the 13th day(after death) of their own mother by participating in a shouting match and yelling and bad mouthing their own sibling and sibling's family? This letter is to the one who caused a lot of pain to people I love a lot.

To the one whose ego is bigger than her brain,
Is your ego more important than the fact that your mother died and this day was the day we remember her? Are you happy now that we will associate this day with how cheaply you behaved rather than mourn the loss of ajji and pray she has found heaven?
When my sister, who must be a good 45 years younger to you, understands how one should behave in civilized society, why can't you? Your 65 years have not given you enough humility to even accept an apology, forget giving one, even when you are wrong. I am amazed at what you will be able to teach your grand kids about your parents, when you treated them like shit in their last days. What will you teach them about family? What example have you set for your 2 children(who are as useless as you are) who have learnt from you that ego is more important than relationships. Will they also treat you like crap the way you did with your old mother? Remember when she, with tears in her eyes, begged you to talk to her, and you turned your dumb-ass head away? Will your stupid daughter do that to you as well? Your younger brother also begged you to speak to your mother. But you have a heart of stone. He had tears in his eyes when you shouted and sullied the memories of your mother on her 13th day. I wish I was there to drag you and throw you out of there. I wish I was there so I could see and learn how not to behave.
I wish I could actually write all this to you. I wish somehow, someone we know reads this and lets you know of the contents. I wish I was there to tell you how disgusted I feel about you.

~Disgusted mourner

Oh, and by the way, wake up, it is 2009 not 1950. Do not torture your DIL for having 3 daughters.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pretty always hurts!

I have a pair of pretty red shoes. The only pair of red shoes that I own. They are a moderate heel(1.5 inches) and seem to fit me well. Until I start walking in them, that is! The first time I wore them they squished both my pinky toes to a pulp in an hour. Thankfully, I did not have to walk a lot that day, and I was fine. The second time, I wore them with socks, and even though my toes felt stuffed, there was no damage. Yesterday was the third time I wore them. Without socks. I had to walk in them for a couple of blocks to our destination. And what happened? The pinky toes of both my feet were pulverized and are now wrapped up in bandages.

Any footwear that I wear hurts me. I walk with a limp. I cannot even move my toes around as that hurts them. The last time I wore them, I swore I would never wear them ever again. And yet, here I am, nursing my hurt toes, and totally embarrassed and angry at myself for having been stupid enough to believe those pretty shoes. For having been stupid enough to go for style over substance. For having been stupid enough to not have learnt a lesson.
So much for pretty red shoes!

Friday, April 17, 2009

It is always her.

Major rant follows. These are my thoughts about an issue that really gets me all hyper and angry. Nita puts things in perspective objectively and coherently than I do here.

Is it OK to molest a girl just because she was passed out? Is a girl who parties and drinks with men inviting them to abuse her? If you do not go out and party, is it OK for you to blame the victim of a rape? Is it ever OK to rape a girl because you 'perceive' she has loose morals? We Indians seem to particularly enjoy attributing blame to a rape victim. This happens all the time.
Remember the Juhu new year incident where two girls were molested by a mob? What happened when the graphic images were shown on TV? Why were the girls 'roaming' around at that time? What were they wearing?
Remember the Mangalore pub incident? Again, the first reaction was what were the girls doing in a pub? Girls should not go to 'such places.'

There are psychologists and other 'experts' who are called on talk shows to talk about what the perpetrator feels and why such a crime takes place. What about what the victim feels? If you ask me, giving even a iota of thought to why the perpetrator committed the horror is wrong. There are no subtleties where rape is concerned. There cannot be any explaining away. If you are a person who tries to see reason in rape, you need to get your head checked. Maybe even stay away from women because then any woman talking to you would be a probable victim.

It seems like it is our national pastime to belittle women who are in difficult situations. It is always the girl who is inviting the perpetrator to abuse her.
Groped in a bus? Why were you wearing jeans?
Teased by the guys at the pan shop? Don't go there without male escort.
Look down when you are walking in a street or the gali ke kutte might think you want them to wink at you, make weird noises and touch you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Election noises.

UPDATE: An anonymous reader pointed out that Shashi Tharoor never officially represented India at the UN and he is right. I am changing the text here to reflect that.

Election day is almost here and from tomorrow the mad voices of the politicians will be silent until the next election comes along.

Keeping with the times, I present a list of some of the more interesting things happening this election season:

  • Mallika Sarabhai against Advani from Gandhinagar is an inspiring case. She was offered support by various political parties, but chose to remain independent. She is also raising a voice against CM Modi's government
  • Shatrughan 'Shotgun' SInha vs Shekhar Suman from Patna Sahib is a very interesting contest. When asked about this Shotgun shot his mouth saying 'He is a TV artiste whereas I am a prominent name in the film world. People will compare our standing'!
  • Parties using hi tech campaigning methods - SMS, Facebook groups, tweeting etc
  • Need a few laughs? take a look at this webpage of Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi(I don't know if this is his official homepage!)
  • Govinda(Chi Chi) apologized to the people of his constituency, Mumbai North, for being inaccessible for the entire duration of his tenure. Apparently, he has done literally nothing for his people. This is the second known case of a big actor failing in politics and quitting. The Big B being the first.
  • Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram for the Congress certainly seems very interesting. Since he has been in politics for some time(he was the UN Under Secretary General for quite some time), contesting the seat seems like a logical next step.
  • After having been the so-called Nawab of Hyderabad and being accused of match fixing, politics seems like a logical next step also, for Azharuddin who is running from Moradabad(UP) for congress!(what is it with the congress and so many celebrities!)
  • The never ending comedy that was Lucknow is finally coming to an end. Nafisa ali is the Samajwadi candidate from lucknow after the failure of SP to field Sanju baba first and Manyata-the-biryani-kabab-wife next. I guess we all feel 'Luck'y because at least Nafisa seems like a decent human being!
  • SP manifesto's main agenda this time is to get rid of english as a medium of instruction and to thwart the advance of computers in the state. Really? IHM says this in her trademark conversational style!
  • Both Varun and Rahul, it turns out, were not exactly truthful about their alma mater. Varun is not a graduate of the LSE, and bhaiya Rahul lied about what course and when he finished from Trinity College, Cambridge. It is so appalling really. First, they get into big name colleges because of their clout and money. Then they are so dumb that they cannot finish. Then they lie about it! I was really looking forward to seeing what kind of leadership Rahul would bring to the Congress. Now I am sure he is no different from the dumb netas they already have!
  • Meanwhile, Mayawati continues to wield power like never before on her home turf. I am in awe of how she has the whole state machinery and the general populace wrapped around her little finger! Must learn some tricks from her!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thoughts on a relaxed monday.

So many things are going on that make be go 'what the hell', these days.
  • Bearded old perverted men beating a young girl for being seen with another man. All this, while her brother holds her down to be beaten!
  • Two people of the same family(Nehru), one talking in a deplorable way about muslims, the other only coming out of his high society, faux-Indian life and visiting villages come during election time. How I wish Varun and Rahul actually put some thought before they act. They are both young(Varun more so), educated(they seem to be from good educational institutions), from a well respected family. If only they put the petty politicking away and for once, used their head?
  • (But I guess expecting a politician to think is a little too much.)
  • Hamid Karzai passing a law legalizing rape in marriages(well it is not even defined as rape anymore!) How disgusting is that?
  • The US reprimanding countries that want to acquire nuclear and chemical weapons. History is witness that US is the only country in the world to have used nuclear as well as chemical weapons on other countries. And it is now concerned that these countries wanting to be nuclear powers as well would misuse them? How hypocritical is that? How does the US get away with all this?

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Favorite on TV

The day I have been dreaming of has come finally! HBO has started screening the BBC series of No. 1 ladies Detective Agency . My love for the books has been well documented here and I was curious as to how the well-written characters would translate on screen and the result could not have been better! Do watch it if you are interested. It is well worth the one hour per week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tremendous relief and back to regular blogging

Today I gave a Microsoft certification exam and passed. All these weeks(even months) of working hard(and staying away from blogging) paid off finally. Now back to regular blogging.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A fitness blog

I am part of a new fitness blog. Please do have a look at Fitness Fervor.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Followup post - Narendra Modi and India

First, apologies for the delay in posting. I was reading about Modi all this while, and had a mini draft post ready almost a week back, but life has a habit of getting in the way! I have been busy with things going on at work, an exam to take etc.

This is the first followup post for my condensed post of last time.
"A lot of educated Indians like the idea of Modi being the PM in case the BJP wins in the general elections."

I have been reading up stuff on the internet, about Modi.
Read this article in The Atlantic that profiles him.
When asked about whether he thinks India should be a Hindu country(in some news conference in Oct 2007) rather than a secular country, he goes off onto a tangent about how Gandhiji envisioned India to be a 'Ram rajya' and that he himself dreams of India being 'Ram rajya'. He never defines what he thinks is 'Ram rajya' anywhere so that the listener is left to deduce the meaning. In one interview, he got angry and refused to go on(the interview with Karan Thapar, Devil's Advocate on CNN-IBN, Dec 2007) when asked if he is sorry for the post-Godhra riots.

The article says what I want to say much better than I can ever do. I would request every voter to read this and other similar articles that are on the web.
Modi also has a huge following among the rich Hindu business class. One said, “You have to separate Modi’s political ideology from his management ability. Because there is not a hint of corruption about him, Modi is effective because people believe his decisions are only results-oriented.” Why should I separate his political ideology from his management ability? If you had a candidate for CFO who was an excellent manager but believes that women do not deserve to be paid on par with men for doing the same job, would you still employ him? Why the double speak then? Why should I accept this man, who I know has an open dislike for any community but Hindus just because I cannot find anyone else better than him? Why can I not accept my politicians to be better.

The riots occurred in 2002 and he is being asked these questions only now! Why this delay? Why this sudden attention to Modi you ask?
While I agree that Indian journalists failed in asking the right questions at the right time, I also believe the people have a right to know and the journalists better ask now than never. Modi is now being projected as the next leader of the country by the BJP. You cannot ignore the fact that he has a huge following. Not just in Gujarat but elsewhere too. He is so popular it is not so out of line to think that he could be the PM some day...or be in an equally powerful position soon. And that scares me. It scares me because I think he is a religiously motivated bigot. Surely we can do better than make a Muslim-hater the PM of the largest democracy on earth. The journalists keep asking him if he is sorry and he keeps evading the question. Why is it so tough for Modi to apologize to the people of Gujarat(and India) even though he might think he did no wrong? He was in a position to act fast and stop the bloodshed but he did not. Does that tell us that he cares?

Which brings us to another problem with Indian politics. Where are the good politicians who want to serve the country more than serve themselves? Where are the men and women who believe in equal opportunities for everyone, and not just one religion? Why is there no one who does not play any vote bank politics? What choice does a voter who does not like any potential candidates in the fray? Does going the 49-0 way mean anything at all?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Food for thought

We were talking about a few social, political issues and a lot of interesting points came to light. I am writing them as bullet points for now, but in the coming days I want to research each topic and expound upon it.


-A lot of educated Indians like the idea of Modi being the PM in case the BJP wins in the general elections. Some arguments for Modi are:
# At least he has done something for the state
# Gujarat is one of the most well to do states in India in terms of revenue, infrastructure, standard of living etc
#Muslims should suck it up, Godhra was just one of the many inter-religious clashes that occurred
#a known devil is better than an unknown angel
#"who else is there?"

-There is a stark paucity of good politicians, leave alone young ones. people are still not very enthusiastic about voting.

-Voting for a person in the general election(like in the US, for example) seems like a better deal for the voters. You get what you see, and no buyers remorse.

-Deve Gowda was the worst leader ever. We were all still shocked as to how he could end up at 10 Janpath!

-In the passion and excitement of creating a new government and new laws, Nehru might have done more disservice than service to the nation. Socialism might sound good on paper, but is a bit too high an ideal to achieve, especially for a fledgling country. Too many ideals and too less practicality made us lose those precious few decades which could have been put to better use by a judicious mix of capitalism and communism/socialism. In fact, it seems like Nehru actually came out of nowhere to become the PM. He didn't participate in any well-known protests, never took a lathi, always seemed like Gandhiji's chamcha, was a pseudo-Indian with a foriegnish accent. To top it all, his progeny took Gandhiji's name and are milking the vote bank to this day!


-The need to have a male baby would vanish if there was no social incentive associated with having a male child(dowry). Remove dowry from the equation and no woman would want or forced to try for a male progeny. No female fetus would be killed. No female infant would be murdered. A resolution one big social ill would solve a few more ills of the society.

-Things have changed a lot in India for the local entrepreneur. the age old 'kirana' and general stores are fast vanishing in big cities(I observed that too during my recent visit)

-Living on credit has not deeply permeated in the Indian society as I had believed. Only the really young people working in call centers and single IT workers have been bit by the bug(I don't know how true this is, but it does make me feel better), also, monthly expenses increase dramatically if you eat out often vs if you eat out sparingly

Friday, March 6, 2009


I got a me a new toy!
Blogging from my own little iPhone 3g!

Break in blogging

I am down sick with cold and a throat infection. The cold has blocked my ability to even think. Will post as soon as am able to put my thoughts into coherent sentences.

Monday, March 2, 2009

On a bitterly cold, white day...

scenes from my window....

The roads are covered with snow, there is a bitter wind blowing that is blowing the snow off the roofs and into people's eyes. I am going to stay put in the warmth of my apartment. All I now need is a cup of hot chai and pakode!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Movie weekend

We caught up with a few movies this weekend.
The first was Sex and the City. For long I have felt deprived because it seemed like I was the only woman in the US who hadn't watched SATC yet! So finally this weekend I hopped over to Blockbuster and brought home the coveted DVD. Since I am not a SATC series watcher, I had no idea what was in store. I had heard from friends and colleagues that it was one great girls' movie and I HAD to be a part of the girly fun. The fun ended 12 minutes into the movie. I started with 'These women are so shallow', 'There is no story', etc. Slowly I stated getting irritated with the frequent talk of shoes, sex and labels. I found the fashion too silly and impractical for my taste(think the Louis Vuitton bag that Carrie gifts Louise.) I found the girls(or women) too shallow to be in love and too jobless for my liking. The 145 minutes of the movie were the longest and most boring 145 minutes of my life. I could have very well put them to better use!

The second movie was 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'. Now this one was truly riveting. The way the stories of these various characters is woven together is praise-worthy. I was totally involved in the movie from beginning to the end and not one moment was I bored. That, I think, is a trademark of a well-made movie. Having lived in Mumbai for 3 years, I really identified with the characters' daily lives.

The third and last movie we watched was 'Vicky Christina Barcelona'. This is Woody Allen at his best, I think. We have seen most movies by Woody and enjoy each dialogue thoroughly. His characters are well etched and dialogues are well-written and his humor is very caustic and dry(my style!) Penelope Cruz takes the cake in VCB and deserved her Academy Award. And BOY does she look hot! I liked the last 2 minutes the best. In true Woody style, the events of a few seconds jolt the errant characters into doing the right thing. A lot of reviewers did not like the voice over by Woody, but to me, that was the best part of VCB.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AB and his baby

For someone who has thrived on media and critics and box office, to slam all of them at the same time with this entry in his blog is baffling.

He says 'The sincerity of the work must come through. That is what pays eventually.' Why then, AB are you so worried about the views of a couple of critics? Did you say it was unfair when the same critics were falling over each other praising you, the junior and the bahu for your over-rated roles in Sarkar/Sarkar Raj?

It seems like Delhi 6 really got reviews that were on both ends of the spectrum. Case in point is rediff.com where one reviewer calls it 'Silly' and the other says it is a 'Good follow-up to Rang De Basanti'! Owing to such wide ranging reviews, BIG B asks: 'So how feasible is their report when their observations differ to such an extreme and large extent.' My thoughts on this? With all due respect Mr. B, reviewers are also 'people' and their reviews are in fact, their personal opinion. So when you say 'I can understand personal opinions that respondents make, but what baffles me are the reviews of critics.', that baffles me, because critics' reviews are their personal opinion and there is nothing wrong with that. Cold hard truth, we all pay to read their personal opinion!

'There is then the quotient of bias and deliberate intent, where personal equations come into play in complete disregard of the code of journalistic conduct.' Why does AB believe the whole world is out to get him and his family?
Why does he say 'If you have through no deliberation spoken to one electronic channel in some priority of time, you will most certainly be reduced to rubble by other rival ; merits be damned. Planted vox populai, or what is now commonly termed as ‘voxpox’ by the community, will be brought in front of visiting camera crew to spew venom and to deride creative effort.'? Why does anything anyone says about him or his family in purely 'career' terms always taken to be a personal affront?

And why does he go on and compare Slumdog and Delhi 6? I have not seen Delhi 6, but find it odd that he has to compare the reception of Delhi 6 to that of Slumdog. Why Slumdog? There are 1000 other Indian movies whose subject comes close to that of Delhi 6. Loosely, Swades comes to mind. Why is he so obsessed with Slumdog?
Why would AB crib, crib and crib so much about the extreme reviews his beta's movie is garnering? Why is he taking these things so personally? Methinks the beta should finally grow up and deal with his life himself rather than pa and ma holding his hands every time he needs to take a step into the big bad world.

first movie got all negative and appalling reviews(not that the movie was any good), she was in the news for all the wrong reasons(break up with Ranbir, depression, drunken revelry), but did we hear a peep out of Anil Kapoor? Did we see him slam all the critics of her movie, the journalists and say that they are personally biased against him and his family? I did not!

PS: My intention in writing this was to just put my thoughts on paper(blog), not to demean AB! For a long time I have been meaning to write about the things AB writes on his blog about how the media treats him and his family. I always thought it comes with the territory. You reap the benefits of being a celebrity, bear the brickbats of being one!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Of being PC

If you are at a party, would you argue with a person who says something positive about an incident that you hold in absolute contempt? A few years ago I would have said yes. Now I don't. Not because I have grown wiser, but because I now believe you cannot hammer sense into a person in a setting that is meant for harmless social interaction. Parties are not for serious debates. I have seen that gossip and meaningless chatter goes well at a social do, than meaningful argument about current affairs, local, national or international. PC(political correctness) is the name of the game. Agree with everyone and say yes yes or keep your mouth shut. PC has ruined all intellectual debate that there could be among people. I remember in movies of the 70s where men and women would be gathered in circles, spirits in their glasses and in their hearts, debating away about some topic that they are all passionate about(don't remember which movies exactly.) That, in my opinion, is real social interaction, not the 'hello ji, how are you, sab theek?', 'did you hear about so and so's son?' or 'I love the jadau set you wore the other day'! What happened to the good old arguments between friends about the economy, politics and things like that? Have we become so scared of an argument that we embrace PC like never before?
I think PC also makes us boring. If you are the type who does not like gossip in any way, shape or form, all you have left to discuss is sports or the weather. (on a side note, imagine talking about weather in India. It is so warm today, it has been warm for a long time now, it will be warm tomorrow...etc.) If you are in the US and attending an American party and are in a group of non-Indians, you cannot even discuss sports if you have no idea of football or baseball or ice hockey.
The idea of PC is to not hurt the sensibilities of anyone around. Since there are different kinds of people at a gathering, better say things that are mundane than things that might raise an eyebrow. That I understand. But PC among friends and family? I have seen friends who will speak either about a third friend, a celebrity, sports or weather but not about politics or any other topic that might instigate a debate. Are we afraid of debates? Are we no more interested in conversations that make us think long after they are over? Have we become so robotic that we do not need an intellectual conversation that is food for thought?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Deep dark secrets tag!

Although I have just finished a 25 things tag, this one, tagged by IHM is different in that I need to write 25 things about myself things you were better off not knowing :) I have borrowed a few from my old 25 things tag and most reveal the kind of person I am.

1. I cry whenever I see a character in a movie cry. No matter how silly the acting is, I cry.

2. I am a workout junkie. I like running, walking, the elliptical trainer, weights, abs exercises and everything else under the sun. BUT I hate working out outdoors. I need strict climate control to be able to sweat it out!

3. I am fairly tall for an Indian girl(5'8") and am also broad shouldered and wide. Most of my life I have been the tallest and the biggest girl around. My feet are huge too. While I was growing up, my mom had to buy clothes at least 1 size big so they fit my height and shoulders, consequently, all my clothes were loose elsewhere. I also find it difficult to find footwear that does not look like man-sandals.

4. I am a horrible singer but I love to sing. I have been warned not to sing in public.

5. I argue with anyone who I feel is undermining women, irrespective of the social setting or my relationship with them. As a result, I come across as a rude, arrogant woman to a lot of people who are not used to women arguing.

6. I love to dress up only when I want to. I hate to do it when I am 'needed' to. I might put flowers in my hair by myself but if you ask me to, I won't. Ditto with wearing traditional outfits, bindi etc.

7. If I feel like I am getting hurt, I do not speak out. I keep it bottled up and go and cry in the bathroom.

8. I feel most comfortable in sweatpants and a tee or a kurta and jeans.

9. I have a little sister and sometimes I treat her like she is my daughter , sometimes we are like friends and other times, she gives me advise on what to wear and what not to!

10. The husband has a better sense of fashion than yours truly. He also has infinite patience to wait outside the trial room for hours while I try out outfits. He also gives suggestions as to what looks good and what does not.

11. I love organizing. This does not, however, apply to the closet which is as shabby as it can get. Give me papers and files and folders and clips and such stationery and I am off!

12. I think I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to walking on a tiled surface. I try not to step on the lines, always try to place my foot INSIDE the tile. Imagine my consternation when I find tiles that are too small for my foot!

13. I dislike Indians who break out into their mother tongue the moment they realize you know the language even when you are with other people who do not. I hate it when I feel left out of a conversation so I hate it when someone does it to others.

14. I have a bad habit of assuming things about people. Most often my instincts are correct but there are times when I have had to reassess a person after spending time with them. I am working on trying not to jump to conclusions about people.

15. I do not believe in assigned traditional roles for the sexes. Although I might do things that seem more female oriented than not, it is because I want to do them, not because i HAVE to do them.

16. I have begun to love the idea of having a baby. I get overwhelmed with emotion whenever I see a pregnant friend.

17. I am averse to socializing in big groups. I do not mind small, close group to socialize. I'd rather sit on the couch and read a book or watch the news or chat with the husband than go out and party!

18. I get embarassed and red faced when someone other than the husband praises me. I do not take very well to praise that is heaped publicly.

19. I hate being in the limelight. I cringe and my worst smile comes to the fore. Imagine my status on my wedding day then, where I was the center of all attention. I am seen smiling awkwardly, shying from the cameras in all pictures. I also have a terrible fear of the microphone.

20. I like the idea of me cooking up a great traditional meal but I lack the requisite skills.

21. I always feel like I am the most boring employee of my office. Also the most nerdy and geeky!

22. I have 2 left feet. I was enrolled in a Bharatanatyam class when I was 14. I learnt for 2 full years before the instructor ran away(yes he did). My family says he ran away because he could not bear to see the dance form being butchered by my clumsy moves!

23. I read more women-authored blogs than mens'. The husband says I am biased towards women. I hope it is not true.

24. I never forget people who have been nasty to me. I have a very sharp memory and I remember their deed for life.

25. There is a certain 'type' of women and men I absolutely hate. I shall refrain from saying what the exact type is, but if I talk to you or read your blog, it is not you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random thoughts...

Rediff creeps
I have a bad habit. As I arrive at work 8:00am or so, I open my laptop, connect the power cord and the LAN cable and open my Firefox and type in 'rediff.com' on the browser and hit enter. Then I spend the next few minutes looking at the headlines, and sometimes, if a headline is sensational enough, go read the story. I also admit, sometimes, during the course of reading the story I glance at the comments. That is when I am magically transported back in time. Back to India, and traveling in that crowded bus, where one creep passes comments on how nice I look, while the other whistles and makes annoying noises and one more is desperately trying to get close. The comments are almost always creepy, weird, with sexual undertones. Even a fairly harmless story about a movie release gets these creeps out of the rocks under which they hide. Once out, they cannot keep themselves from commenting on practically every aspect of the article, the author and anything even remotely related to the article in question, in a morally decrepit manner. And whenever I read those, I have a seriously string urge to find these creeps and laugh on their face. Do look at the rediff comments when you have nothing better to do and need to pass your time!

Ever notice how most mass 'gaalis' are related to women in one way or the other, Ma*&^, Behen%*&^%$ etc? Does it not bring back the age-old idea that a woman is the chief protector of family as well as personal dignity? A 'gali' given to a man is almost always tied to either his mother or his sister. He loses his dignity when the women in his life lose theirs.

A random tag

I picked up this tag from Ritu who tagged all her readers.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1. I cry whenever I see a character in a movie cry. No matter how silly the acting is, I cry.

2. I love to workout and eat what I want, no wonder I haven't reached my goal weight yet!

3. I think I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to walking on a tiled surface. I try not to step on the lines, always try to place my foot INSIDE the tile. Imagine my consternation when I find tiles that are too small for my foot!

4. I used to paint and draw well and was something of an artist during undergrad. I haven't painted/drawn in the last 6 years.

5. I hate waxing. I'd rather be a hairy gorilla than undergo the torture.

6. I love my fingers. To me, they appear long and thin and beautiful.

7. I used to hate being the tallest girl around when I was in school. Now I love it!

8. I love Sonu Nigam's voice.

9. I am a pathetic singer(I really mean pathetic) but love the idea of singing, so I subject my spouse to the torture every so often.

10. I am not traditional at all.

11. I love doing the Hindu crossword. Never managed to finish it, but it gives me a good challenge.

12. I like coffee more than tea but drink tea more every day.

13. I am hooked to reading Indian blogs.

14. I like to read movie gossip.

15. I hate it when people undermine women. I have taken up many a fight when I was in India. Sometimes, fighting to lose!

16. I like politics.

17. I can read anything. I can even read the fine print in a credit card statement if I do not find anything else to read.

18. I love masala movies. The more jhatkas, matkas, the merrier. The more slapstick, the better.

19. I am a BIG fan of Akshay Kumar, even now.

20. I absolutely hate Aishwarya Rai and her newly acquired 'family'. I think they are more tamasha than necessary.

21. I am a foodie.

22. I love to cook when I am in the mood. Mundane, everyday cooking makes me yawn!

23. I love to dress up sometimes, but am not a girly girl at all.

24. I don't think I can survive without the Internet or phone or both.

25. I love earrings - small studs, dangerously long danglers and everything in between. That reminds me, I need to organize my earring collection better!

I tag anyone who would want to get tagged!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And here is one tight slap for you...

"Since they are women, stooping to the level of gifting undergarments will defame them only," he observed.

FYI, Mr. Head-of-the-hooligan-sena,

Since there are a lot of men who are also 'stooping to the level of gifting undergarment, may you have the sense to not just 'defame' the women.
Also, the very beginning of this statement, 'Since they are women..' does in fact HIGHLIGHT a BIG 'issue of Indian culture that I have raised' and makes your point of view very very clear. That if there was a woman and a man performing the same actions, in your book, the woman would be 'defamed' 'Since she is a woman'!

You know what? If you have a daughter, I PRAY to the same Lord Ram that you so cherish, that she sends you a pink, pink chaddi with cute hearts on it. Hell, even if you no daughter, I pray that your SON(s) also sends you some love!

That the whole point of the protest would be lost out on your non-existent brain was well known, now you have proved by uttering this rubbish that your brain(or whatever performs the function) does not do subtle. It only understands the third degree. So maybe the next 'protest' will be something you will understand very well!

With lots of love....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Domestic violence

Continuing on the topic of Women in India, today I want to share my views on Domestic Violence.
I grew up in an atmosphere where no one beats anyone else, for any reason. But we had a maid who came everyday with bruises and black eye, and when I asked her what happened she would say her husband came home drunk and beat her. That is how I knew 'some' husbands beat their wives when drunk. I grew up with that notion. I only saw domestic violence on the TV and thought it only happens to the lower 'class' women who do not have the education or support from family to walk out on their husbands and come back up on their feet.

Then, a few years back, 2 incidents happened. To two of my very good friends. And the way their families 'handled' it has been a study in diametric opposites.

One of my friends is a younger daughter of a very well to do scientist in a prestigious establishment and she herself is an engineer. Her parents are like mine, and have always treated their daughters like friends. You could not find one moment in their upbringing where you could think they regret not having a son. She was free to do what she wanted and they only started 'looking' for a suitable boy to get her married only when she was finally ready and said yes. She got married to this guy who was working in the US and his family was back home in India. Post marriage she was at her in laws' place for a few months until she got her visa and left to join her husband in the states. While she was in India I chatted with her a few times and I remember she telling me her in laws were like friends and treated her very well. I was happy for her. Then one day, my dad called me and asked me to talk to her and find out 'what is going on'. He then told me that she was always crying when she talked to her parents during the weekly call home. Always wanting to come back home. Her parents thought it was because she was in an alien land for the first time, and was a housewife so missed her husband all day! Little did they know that he had her under a 'house arrest'. She was not allowed to go out, did not have a license to drive, her passport was locked up by him, she was given money only enough to do groceries, not allowed to call home when she wanted and did not have a computer while he was at work. He also taunted her and her parents because she could not cook very well (threw the plate on her face once). He did not beat her ever but this was enough to make her life a living hell. This was domestic violence she was facing. The last I heard, her parents talked to her husband and coaxed her to stay on and try to change him.

Another story is that of my dad's good friend's daughter, who is also my very good friend. She comes from a very simple middle class family, father, mother and younger brother, living in a small flat in Mumbai. She is also an engineer and worked for a few years before the marriage bug bit the parents. They found a suitable boy in the form of this son of rich gujju parents. He also was working in the US and came to India to meet her once. The next time he went was to get married. Cut to 2 years later, I get a call from my dad saying he is in Mumbai at his friends' place and they are trying to get a visa to the US URGENTLY. The reason? Their daughter was being beat up everyday by her husband, AND he was having a much too intimate a relationship with a female colleague of his. My friend was under 'house arrest', was on a dependent visa and had nowhere else to go. Her parents and brother swiftly managed to get their visas to the US and joined her soon. The first thing they did was to contact a south-asian women's domestic violence cell and got a restraining order against her husband. They then started proceedings for legal separation. Meanwhile, the women's cell also managed to get her a special work visa and a job. In a few weeks she was divorced and earning her own living. Her family went back after a couple of months. Now she lives independently and is much happier than she was when she was married. Her family visits her whenever they can.

Two similar stories, but the way they were handled was drastically different. Both victims of domestic violence. One still trying to make her husband see sense, the other, moved on in life. Both were independent women who were treated badly by men from 'decent' families. I don't know what is the 'right' thing to do in these cases but I strongly believe in one thing. A man who, regularly or intermittently beats his wife never changes his ways. A man who, regularly or intermittently, causes mental trauma to his wife never changes his ways. A man who does not respect his wife will never see any reason to change his ways. It works in movies, where a good Samaritan gives the bad guy a lecture about women and wife etc and the husband changes his ways and becomes good. It does not work like that in real life. Some women move on, others keep struggling all their lives. The cycle of violence, apologies, more violence, never ends. And do not think it happens only to women who are not educated or aware of their rights. It can happen to anyone.

I don't know what is the 'right' thing to do in these cases....
I was contradicting myself here. I KNOW what the right thing to do is. And that is to walk out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Does this picture look weird to you?

This was taken at the Pink Panther premiere in London(Courtesy: High Heel Confidential.) The moment I saw this, I though...oh! It is freezing in London, Jaya, Abhishek and Big B are bundled up in the warmest of coats. Look at the Bachchan Bahu....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being a woman.

My parents have 2 daughters. I was 6 when my younger sister was born, and I remember people telling my mom, 'It's OK', etc. Growing up, no one at home made us feel that we were inferior to boys. I studied in a co-educational central government school where we were taught that girls and boys are the same really. Ten years of schooling were a breeze. Boys and girls played in the same playground, sat in the same class, and YES a girl and a boy(possibly of different religions) shared a desk in school. We did not care if someone was called Praveena or Parveen. We did not care about religion or caste or the colour of the skin. Nor were we taught by our teachers to care. In civics, we were taught the fundamental values on which India is based.
We memorized the preamble and parroted it out in class-

'WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.'

Contrary to what a lot of culture protectors feel, no girl converted to another religion, no one was snooped away to another country. Our parents did not bother that we were not playing just with 'Hindu girls', that we had boys in our group. No one told us that as girls we need to be careful about who we associate with, because if someone does not like us having male friends, we would get beaten.

After 10th grade I joined a state board junior college. I had to travel in the city bus and there I had my first taste of eve-teasing and worse. The first time a guy brushed past me in an empty bus, I thought it was a mistake. Maybe he didn't see me there. The second time it happened on an empty road and I shouted at the man. 'Dikhta nahin hain kya bey?' He smiled and kept walking. I was a shouter. I never kept silent in spite of the frequency of the incidents. One time a guy on a cycle slapped by back from behind. I ran and kicked his bicycle and he fell. Instead of feeling embarrassed, he called me names(bad ones in hindi) and cycled away. I got angrier. One time I shouted at a man in a bus and the lady sitting on the seat beside me asked me to ignore such people, and that by shouting, I look like the bad person. That was my first lesson at being an Indian girl.

After college there have been numerous instances of men misbehaving, touching, trying to touch, staring etc. And each time I have shouted or made myself heard. And each time there have been people around me who stared at me like I was the one who touched a man improperly. Those piercing eyes that seem to say 'why doesn't she keep silent like the others?'

I have been here in the US for the last 3 years now, and even now, when I visit home, I have at least a few such incidents. None of trips are complete without that shout to that man who tries to take advantage of the situation. And now, I can tell when they are about to do it. I can tell when they do it on purpose. And when you shout, they turn around and smile, like they have won something. Or they look irritated, like you disturbed their pleasure. When you wear a trouser, they look at you from top to bottom, sort of like optical scanning. They do it when you wear a salwar kameez with dupatta pinned to your shoulders, covering your chest, they do it when you wear a saree. They do it to a 15 year old, a 21 year old, heck even to a 60 year old. They really spare no one. I have lived in three Indian cities for a considerable time. Hyderabad, Mumbai and Trivandrum and experienced this everywhere(although to a lesser extent in Mumbai.) You go out and you cannot come back home without having been felt by a stranger. You cannot come back without having been scanned from top to toe, stared at because you wore something that makes you look good. You cannot come back without people making judgements about you because of the way you talk in public, or the way you dress. You cannot talk to men by looking straight into their eyes(they way you are supposed to talk, anyway) and not be termed an aggressive woman. You cannot wear skirts or a well-fitted top without being labeled as wearing 'nude clothes'. And NOW, you cannot go anywhere you please, anytime you want, without being afraid of being beaten, clothes being torn, by the moral police. And it is not so shocking that they are invoking the name of Lord Ram while doing this. The Lord they know made his wife walk into fire to prove that she was pure. To prove that she was not 'soiled' by Ravan, even though she was the victim! Such is their Lord, such are their values and such is their culture. It is NOT my culture to limit the social movement of women. They, in unison with the politicians, and NCW should probably re-write the preamble.

'WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN HINDU REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens EXCEPT WOMEN: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, as long as they are hindu men; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity to all hindu men; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual(hindu man) and the unity and integrity of the Nation.'

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ban women from public places.

After seeing the way the Mangalore incident was handled by the Karnataka government, I thought nothing would shock me now. I was so wrong. Here are some words of wisdom by a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW). As expected there are some things IHM said that provoke thought.

Ms. Venkatesh is so right. Why should these women go to pubs, discos, malls and 'places like that'? Should the women not know that the place did not have a license to sell liquor? Why should they go to a place that does not have security? Did the women not know that wearing jeans and a tee is considered 'semi-nude'?

Whoever said the solution to such problems is to prosecute the molesters and bring them justice? No! So sir! The only solution to this is that women stop going to 'such places'. Ms. Venkatesh even mentions malls among the places women should not go to.
When the interviewer(Rajdeep Sardesai) asked her what if such a thing happens to someone in her family, you know what she said? 'My family women will not go to such a place!' Is that not a lesson we all women need to learn?

She met the culprits in jail and 'even counseled them', in her own words. So it is NOT the responsibility of the NCW to find the victims, counsel them, and make them feel more secure and safe, but to counsel the goons. She said "The culprits said they did not go with then intention of beating the women. They said they wanted to stop the live band and other activities that were spoiling the girls. They said the women were wearing skimpy clothes and dancing and that is the reason the incident took place. They are now repenting their actions."

Did the women not know that when some men ask them to get out of the pub they should immediately run out or risk being beaten and insulted by the men? These men have taken the 'theka' of all the women of this world, and when angered, would have to beat some sense into the women.

Finally, the lesson learnt from this incident is not that we need more laws against ill-treatment of women and making our public places safe, no! "The lesson to be learnt for women out of this incident is that we should try and safeguard ourselves," she concluded.
Ban women from public places to safeguard them.

Little joys

Isn't this the best moment in sports?

A winner consoling a loser. I cried when Roger said, 'God it’s killing me', I started to feel sad, and when he cried, I cried. I did. And did not stop until Rafa said sorry for having won! That made me smile and when I looked at the screen, this particular scene froze in my mind. A winner consoling a loser. Have you ever seen anything like this before? I have great respect for Roger's brilliance on court and Rafa's power play. But today I became a fan of these two for the emotions on court. For the largeness heart that Rafa demonstrated. It is hard to get up there and apologize for having won. Much less, when the guy you defeated cries. It would not even have struck another player(think Roddick), to go up there and say sorry and console the loser. Only a true sportsman, a true winner can do that, and Rafa really demonstrated that today. And Roger, really, showed he can be so emotionally vulnerable and show his weaker side to the world so easily. It takes a grown man a strong heart to cry in front of the world. To show that they are so emotionally overcome is not easy for men to do. And I respect Roger for that. Its hard to see a grown man cry and not cry with him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some myths about pubs busted.

By now we all are well aware of the shameful Mangalore pub incident. Enough has been said about it from both sides. While well-known bloggers are writing against such horrific acts being committed, a few creepy rediff-readers are commenting (on rediff, where else) that these girls deserved it, they had it coming. That they had no business of being in a club and being obscene. That it is not our culture to go to a pub(like molesting and raping is 'our culture'). That 'things' always happen in a pub. Well, guys, you need to really open your eyes wide and step into a pub to know 'what goes on'.
The Urban dictionary defines a pub as 'Commonly used shorthand for "Public House". Pubs are non-membership bars serving all sorts of alcoholic beverages'.
  • A pub is NOT a place where promiscuous men and women go to get laid, it is merely a place where people go to sit, talk and have a few drinks with friends.
  • A person who drinks is not necessarily looking for sex with strangers. He/she might just be hanging out with friends after a hard day at work.
  • Drinking with a person of another religion does NOT mean I am going to convert.

AGAIN, a pub is NOT a place where promiscuous men and women with a loose character go to find each other, that place is called a BROTHEL. Leave the pubs in peace. Leave the women in peace.

If it is not my culture to go to a pub, it is also not my culture to harass women, beat them up, the least to molest them. Pubbing is NOT going to stop because of your cheap antics.

The so-called Ram Sena should be ashamed of itself. The day this incident happened was a sad and shameful day for Indian men. The day should be marked in calendars as the day of collective shame.
If a woman cannot go where she pleases, with whom she pleases, without the watchful eyes of a creepy man; if she cannot get a drink without being dragged by her hair; if she cannot go alone without curious hands groping her; if she cannot do what she pleases without someone judging her, we have no business being called a cultured, let alone a developed, society. I hang my head in shame.

Updated to add: A commenter, @lankr1ta reminded me that promiscuity never harmed anyone, and is a purely personal choice.
So here goes, Ram Sena molesters, even if the women were indeed promiscuous, its NONE of your damned business to go about beating any random woman you please.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

O for...

I picked up this tag from NRIMaami. Write about ten things that you are passionate about, starting with the letter 'O'. She also assigned me 'L', just in case 'O' became too tough. Well, I like a good challenge(lol), so here goes:

1. O for OM
It is auspicious, it is powerful, and it is divine!

2. O for Oxygen
Not the channel, but good old Oxygen, the element. The element that enables life on earth. What would we all do were there no oxygen?

3. O for Osmania University
My Alma mater. My undergraduate university. Where I found my life partner. How can I not be passionate about this place?

4. O for Organic
The first organic grocery we regularly used was milk. This was thanks to The Corporation, which shows how cows are treated in common milk farms, how they are given growth hormones so they are produce tens of gallons of milk everyday. It also showed that cows that stop giving milk are sent to slaughter houses. Organic milk comes from cows that are not given any growth hormones and are raised on organic, normal produce, unlike cows in normal farms that are fed meat. Slowly we started venturing into organic produce also. Unlike their non-organic counterparts, organic produce is smaller and tastier(at least we think so.)

5. O for Oprah
This might sound shallow, but I 'heart' Oprah. I admire her for what she has accomplished in her life, in spite a not so great family background. I love watching her show, not for all the mushy mushy stories, but for her trademark verve and enthusiasm.

6. O for orkut
Haha, a shallow passion again. I am hooked to it. Status updates, photo updates, testimonials, scraps, the whole shebang! My sister and I communicate via Orkut most times and both my parents are on it too.

7. O for Organizing
I love to think of myself as the Monica of Friends, only sometimes. When the Monica bug bites me, I am on an organizing spree. More than anything, I love organizing the folders on my laptop!

8. O for the Office
One of our friends lent us his copy of a taping of the BBC series, the Office. By then we were already watching the American version on NBC. We were a little unimpressed by the way NBC was handling it. Most episodes were repeats, even though they were very amusing. The BBC version was remarkably fast and we were hooked. We watched the whole series in a day and were also humming the song all day. The humor hits home hard and it has become one of my favorite humor series!

9. O for Oranges
Not the American ones(which are actually Mosambis), but the Indian ones(which are called Tangerines, here in the US.) I can have lots of them at one go(and I mean LOTS.) Whenever we got a box of these, we are on an eating spree. I like eating mine completely cleaned of the threads and the inner part of the peel that sticks to them.

10. Last but not the least, O for Obama.
This was my first election season in the US.
I had heard him speak a few times, during the very first of presidential debates on Fox and I barely saw him, because I was more interested in what Hillary Clinton had to say. The very first time I took notice of Obama was when he was addressing his supporters after he won the Iowa caucus. Since then, I have been hooked to his speeches and his progress in the Democratic race as well as the general election. I have had many arguments with people(that includes my husband) when they have questioned his intents, and made fun of the way everyone was idolizing him. I took it very personally when he was made fun of as a 'latte sipping, Birkenstock wearing elite', and was very worried when it was hinted that he did not love his country as much as some of his 'conservative' counterparts. But, all's well that ends well, and now we can all call him Mr. President!

Now, those of you wanting to participate in this very interesting tag, please leave me a comment and I shall assign you a letter. Alternately, if you have an interesting story of your passions to tell by way of a particular letter, do take it up!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Say no to...

Sanjay Dutt and his two-bit wife have managed to create a never before seen furor in the blogosphere. I have been reading quite a few bloggers posting consistently about his atrocious comments about married women, respect etc and was wondering if I should post about this. Today I am moved to do so. A sort of compilation of most posts about the subject is here. Chandni has a series of posts of her own on the subject, IHM has a couple posts too, and today MM has a post up. Both the MM and Goofy Mumma have urged bloggers who feel strongly about this to post and make their voices heard. So here goes:

Say ABSOLUTELY NO to criminals in politics!

And I add, I refuse to take morality lessons from a suspected terrorist, drug addict, infidel and his moll. Get out of my face you two!

India Trip II - waiting your turn edition

I got a taste of line jumping very early in my trip. The day after we landed, we were to take a flight from Mumbai to Delhi. I went over to the Cafe Coffee Day counter at Mumbai domestic terminal to grab something to eat. There was one guy who was at the counter, paying for stuff he'd bought, so I stood a few steps behind him, waiting for him to finish his transaction. Suddenly, a very good looking young woman rushed in front of me(she was well put together and spoke English with an 'accent'), and elbowed the guy out and started placing her order. I was appalled. Last I remembered, people were a little more sensible than that at places like airports. I politely let her know that I was waiting there before her, and she was shocked that someone would say that to her. Needless to say she did not budge, making me more mad. I had many such like jumping encounters but most were at temples where there are all sorts of people, and most do not have enough exposure to understand waiting in a line, but this CCD incident stood out to me because the woman in question seemed like she would know she had to wait her turn.
My next encounter with line jumping that appalled me was at a MORE store in Hyderabad. I picked up a shampoo and stood in line at the check out counter and there was this woman(she was as old as my mom) who this time, elbowed me and dropped her stuff on the scanner. The cashier did not seem even a little bit bothered, and went about his business, scanning her merchandise. This was the limit of my tolerance and I shouted at them both in words that would have shaken any normal human being to shame. Not this woman. She was cool and calm and she quietly collected her bags and left, leaving me standing there, looking like a fool. That made me think. Is it wrong for me to assume people should wait their turn, and not jump lines? Am I a fool to wait in a line? Let me know dear bloggers, especially those of you who live in India. Do you wait in lines or do you scramble to get the cashiers' attention, like we used to do in the old neighborhood general stores? I am at a loss.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Narendra Modi for PM?

While I was in India I read this news. I was horrified. Here is a man who might have orchestrated the one of the most heinous rampages in India's history and these rich men are supporting him to be the Leader of India? What is wrong with these good men? Ambani says "Narendrabhai has done good for Gujarat and what will happen if he leads the nation"..really? What will happen if he leads the nation? I do not even want to imagine the kind of relligious intolerance he would create all over the country. I wish there was some way to let these rich men know how strongly against we, the people, are of this nonsense.

India trip I - The Airline Edition

After a bit of a delay, here is my very first India trip post. I feel severely jet lagged, so the next post might see the light of day only tomorrow.
For readers who do not want to read this huge post, you can directly scroll down to the summary paragraph at the end, for the meat of the post.
Our India trip started with a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to Dubai. The air hostesses(AH) and stewards were portly, old and rude. One of them said 'Welcome aboard' without a smile. No surprises there for me. Come meal time the AH informs us that there were no special meal requests for us(even though we requested vegetarian when we booked the tickets) and tells us there's no vegetarian main course left. All we get to eat is a salad and a rock hard piece of bread. I was mad. You spend thousands of dollars getting tickets and do not even get a decent meal. And the AHs are rude, as icing on the cake. Fortunately, the 13 hour ordeal to Dubai ended. The next flight was Emirates from Dubai to Mumbai. This one was pleasant. The AHs smiled when we were boarding. They served food with a smile(by this time I was almost dead with shock). The flight actually had steel cutlery as opposed to plastic ones. The food was decent. The only sad part was that this was a 3 hour flight. I would have loved a longer journey under these circumstances. The one thought in my mind was, here is something for the United crew to learn from the Emirates crew. True, United might not be able to afford expensive cutlery and good food like Emirates does, but a pleasant staff is not very difficult to acquire. It seems like United specifically trains its crew to be rude.

In addition to flying to and from India, this trip involved a lot of domestic traveling as well. And bulk of the travel was by air. Indian air travel has changed a lot from when I used to live there and travel a lot. Our first domestic flight was on Spice Jet from Mumbai to Delhi. Although it's a low-cost airline, its crew was remarkably polite and helpful and the whole experience was joyful for us. The journey back from Delhi to Mumbai was another experience with Indian airline customer service. Our originally scheduled flight was canceled due to fog(I have another post lined up on fog in Delhi) and we were given seats on the 9:30pm flight to Mumbai. 9:30pm approached and the flight was delayed by 2 hours. Finally we boarded the plane at 12:00am and it taxied and stayed on the runway for a better part of an hour, during which time we were fed and the crew tried to make us all comfortable. Finally at 1:20am, the crew announced that we were going back to the gate and will try flying again when the visibility improves. When we reached the terminal, the spice jet customer service desk was swarming with rude passengers shouting at them, like its their fault that the fog was so thick. Even then, the crew was very helpful and asked the passengers to remain calm. We were helped by a few people. One spice jet guy walked with us to the other terminal to help us find abother flight. When we said we wanted to cancel this ticket and get one on another airline departing earlier, he helped us do that too without much ado. One person from the airport customer service desk actually walked with us in the heavy fog, to find out which flights are at what time and suggested we stick to either kingfisher or Air India to ensure that the flight actually takes off. We then took a shuttle to departures in order to purchase either an Air India or kingfisher ticket. The AI counter had 2 men who did not respond when we asked if there were any AI flights out of Delhi soon. So we went over the the kingfisher counter and the lady there was as expected very helpful and polite and she got us 2 tickets to Mumbai. The 6:20 am flight eventually took off at 8:00am and we were finally in air, going away from dreadful Delhi. We were dead tired of walking from terminal to terminal and were by this time starving. The food was great and we had a good nap before the place touched down in Mumbai.
We had another pleasant encounter with Kingfisher crew on the Pune-Hyderabad flight, and by this time, we started taking the politeness of the crew for granted.
Our last encounter with airlines began on our way back from Mumbai to the US. The first flight we took was Emirates from Mum to Dubai. The AHs were nice as usual. The united flight from Dubai to Washington DC brought our 'polite airline crew' honeymoon to a screeching halt. The AH almost shouted at me when I tried to get up to go to the rest room. As expected, they were out of food by the time our turn came, we again ate some stale non-food and slept.

All in all, I think the airline hospitality in India has improved by leaps and bounds from my working days. I used to frequently fly by Indian Airlines or Jet Airways and rude airline crew was a given. The only international flight I took those days was a Swiss air and its crew was nice and polite. Cut to now, 4 years later, I find that most International airlines crew are rude and uncaring. It seems like airline operators know that customers are going to fly even though they are treated badly. Most old people are treated badly. People with special needs are not cared for. Most Indians are treated badly as well. The only people who seem to get some smiles are the 'gori chamdis'. Even they are sometimes treated like us. There is no hope for the International airline industry customer. So far, the only airline crew that comes close to being polite is Emirates. All the domestic Indian operators are polite(I did not have a chance to travel by Air India but from what my dad tells me, even they have improved a lot from early flying days.) There is a lot that operators like United Airlines can learn from the Indian model. Most airlines employ fairly young staff who seem motivated about their jobs. The average age of the staff seemed to be late twenties to early thirties. They were all good looking(men as well as the women) and spoke good English. The airlines were clean and well maintained. Kingfisher takes the award, in my book, for the best airline experience of all time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I am back from my India Trip. Sad and fat. But that's life, isn't it? I have lots of topics to blog about. Some happy, some annoying and some just experiences. India has changed a lot since I last went 2.5 years back. I have lots of things to say about those changes. This time we visited the Taj Mahal and I will blog about that too. (I will need a to-blog list so I won't miss a thing.)
I really missed blogging while away. There were days when I felt, damn I have to remember to blog about this. So this week will be a test of my memory. Will post in a few hours!