Friday, 26 September, 2008

Nice one ladies...and men of course...

Thursday, 25 September, 2008

Coming of the winters...


Chill is in the air. Rather surprising considering that it is just September. But this year Delhi's weather has been so unpredictable that we are not really amazed. Right now it feels just like November.
This time reminds me of all things winter...bringing out the winter clothes and blankets, airing them, the initial strong smell of naptholene on them and then gradually after the airing a lingering faint smell, first lot of oranges and cauliflowers and the rest of the seasonal vegetables flocking the markets, smell of fresh coriander...the list goes on and on.
As a kid, winters meant multiple things. The thing thatI hated/hate about winter was/is getting up in the morning. Even now I hate to let go of my blanket and step away from my cosy bed. I procastinate till the very last moment possible.
Another strong memory is that of my grandmother and mother going wool shopping and then starting to knit. I was always facinated with wool shopping, I loved touching the soft wool balls and feating on the vibrant colours. There would be a new pattern which would be doing the rounds that season. During winter mom would be carrying her knitting around and whenever she would get some free time she would take out her neddles and wool balls and start off.
An important compotent of winter was the food. My mother would be drying orange peel and then make cakes with them. My dad would bring marmalade home and then for the next few days my brother and me, we would have hot toast and marmalade till we got throughly bored. Then fresh seasonal vegetables would be cooked. Ma would make different varieties of stews (veggie and fish etc), salads, soups, paranthas, and palak paneer and other such yummy stuff. While writing this I can almost smell the fresh coriander sprinkled on food.
Another lovable memory is going for picnics to the zoo, or a garden house which once belonged to our family. The whole family with cousins, uncles, aunts would set off in four/five cars with loads of food. There would always be some confusion on the way, some car would get lost, or someone would forget the way. This was the time before mobile phones. So the rest of the cars would stop somewhere and wait for the other one to catch up. While the other one, totally oblivious of having caused concern, would suddenly zoom past, some cousin would notice, then people who had got out to strech their legs would be hurriedly get back in and then we would all start to follow the other car. Those good ol' days :)
Winter in Delhi is rather different. For one it is much more colder than Kolkata. With winter coming my tea drinking shoots up drastically. From barely a cup a day I drink about seven to eight cups of green tea through out the day. Also this is the best time to explore Delhi, go visit the various monuments and bazaars and basically enjoy the city. A bad thing that happens is that I keep getting really late for office, because I can hardly get up in the morning.
But then like the rest of our lives, even winter has a bit of good and a bit of bad.

Pirates...

Today Yahoo is flashing on its web page an article on the richest pirates of the world and the most dangerous waters. Just imagine being a pirate in the Malaccan Straits and living a dangerous life attacking ships!

I dont know why but I am very attracted to sea men and if they are dangerous pirates the attraction increases manifold. Reading about these pirates and the waters they ply I so long to be one of them and just roam around the world.

As a kid I was facinated with the adventures of Sindabad the Sailor, from the Arabian Knight's Tales. He was my ideal hero, he was free as a bird and an explorer and adventurer to boot. How lucky he was, I often used to think. I had this Amar Chitra Katha series of Sinabad's stories. I used to look at the graphics where Sindabad would be fighting with a huge bird with flapping wings or trying to stave off a huge python which has somehow wound its way around his neck and I would be terrified yet have immense faith in his ability to deal with all menancing things.

In fact at one point I used to day dream about being the female version of Sindbad and have the adventures that he had. Or maybe marry a modern version of Sindbad and sail away to sunset.

Then I got my hands on R.L. Stevenson's The treasure Island and some more sea and ship wreck. My imagination went into overdrive.

Ever since I have picked up all sea related books and read them. Funny thing is I have never sailed or been on a ship. Maybe that is why this facination exists.

Garcia's "Love in the Times of Cholera" also had a lot of sea and ships involved and I just loved the book.

Beth, my Philipina friend introduced me to the Pirates of the Carribean movie series. Johnny Depp is as it is a yummy piece of a man. As a pirate he is just mind blowing. Those movies can be seen just to olge at Johnny Depp. A big tub of hot buttery pop corn and Johnny Depp on the screen with a bunch of like minded girl friends make a perfect Saturday night. Another layer to facination with pirates for me. Today reading the article and looking at the photographs of the sea ports and straits makes me really nostalgic and dreamy.

Wednesday, 24 September, 2008

International Girl Child's Day




Today in her first email to me for the day Angira wished me Happy International Girl Child's Day and she went on to say "Today is the day for all girl children like you and me to thank our parents for their constant support and for having faith in us." Truly it is. Women like us, being born and growing up in South Asia, we have never ever felt any of the horrifying things that we keep hearing about in the newspapers. Or our parents went out of their ways to make sure that we grew up equal with our brothers, got educated and enjoyed the right to choice. I know not many women in South Asia can claim such privilege and I am immensely grateful that I am one of those few who do. When I was in Canada I came across people who were really curious about me being from India. They were surprised that at 28 years I was single and there was no pressure from my parents to get married. This did not match with what they had heard about women in South Asia. So then I would indulge into a little bragging trip about my parents. Continuing with the bragging I think some of us got the best of both the worlds-- we got liberated upbringing of the West and immense family security and support structure of the East.

Ok enough about the 'lucky us'. This photo above is of a little girl we met in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh. Her father ran the village grocery shop and she was in the shop with her father after school. Somehow her equation reminded me of my equation with my father.

Also addiding some of the posters of Jagori. I just love their posters.

Monday, 22 September, 2008

Destressing Activities...

This weekend I was rather stressed and whenever I am strssed I eat way too much or immerse myself into a book. But strangely I did not feel like eating, most probably because I was already stuffed after a vert late lunch and for the last few months have not been reading at all. Right now going through a phase where I just cannot concerntrate. So I did some creative work to keep my mind off. I had picked up these bells when I had gone to Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh way back in May. These bells are sold in Dilli Haat and while I have a few small ones cant get enough of them. While in HP I kept meeting cows and bullocks who had these bells on their neck. Asking around I was told that I would find these bells in hardware stores. So next time I was in a market went to the nearest hardware store and got it. But unline the ones which are sold in Dilli Haat these bells came without any frill. So decided that I would decorate them with some beads. Now where to find beads. Bought some beady wristlets and got the beads from them. Finally after a good 5 months of planning one evening of stress got me finish these.I made some fishes for my office soft board last year or so. While making those promised Jayshree that I would make her some as well. Finally Jayshree got her fishes this Saturday.

Playing hookey and going to Lodhi Gardens...





















Friday morning dawned cloudy and rainy in Delhi. I woke up, took one look outside and decided that I do not want to go to office. Told Anubha about my decision and went back to bed. Jayshree came by my room a little later, all dressed in her lawyer's clothes ready for office. I announced no office for me today, she jumped right in that then she would also not go. Yupppppppppppppiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeee. Decision taken I sat up on my bed, ok what all to do...lets go to Lodhi Gardens, yes and Sarojini Nagar Market. My plan was to laze for sometime and then go in the afternoon. But Jayshree being Jayshree of course she was not ready to wait till afternoon. Finally we went out around noon, crossed office fugitively and then we were free birds for the day. Had a great time.
For those of you who have not been to the Lodhi Gardens very briefly this garden was built by the Lodhis roughly around the 15th century. Just before coming of the Mughals. In fact Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat in 1526 and started Mughal rule in India. This is an amazing garden right in the middle of Delhi, it is huge and has lovely trees and lawns and two masoleums and one mosque. Once you are inside the garden all the traffic, noise and grime of the city fades away and you get transported to the world of the Lodhis.
Enjoy the photographs!

Tuesday, 16 September, 2008

Domestic Violence

Just beneath our terrace house lives a family. The husband is alcoholic, does not work and basically lives a parasitic life and is extremely violent, the wife still believes that her husband is some dashing knight or circumstances make her so deluded. There is also a mother-in-law who works in a gurudwara (sikh place of worship) and is the sole bread earner of the family. There are two children.

When we initially shifted, this man had come up one day with his baby and tried to chat with us. All three of us felt he is a slimy looking no-good fellow without even knowing his background. We cold shouldered him and later asked our landlord and got the full version. Our landlord seemed really fed up with the never ending marital crisis of his neighbours.

Ever since we hear sounds from downstairs on an on and off basis.

Yesterday night we went out for dinner, while climbing the stairs heard a huge commotion. The husband was roaring and he was hitting his wife so hard that we could hear her hit against the wall. The children were crying, muffled sounds of the mother-in-law could also be heard.

The neighbours were all quiet. We stood in our terrace and could see other heads peeping from houses but no one said anything. Anubha wanted to go and ring the bell. There is a campaign against domestic violence, whenever you heard violence happening just go ring the bell, that would put a stop to it at least temporarily.

Jayshree was not happy with the idea, neither was I. So on Jayshree's suggestion Anubha called the police. As usual there was jurisdiction problem. In India I think administration and police are more bothered about their jurisdiction than anything else. If only they put that much effort in their work. Anyways, about 15 minutes later a police man did turn up. But he could not locate the house. We did some mad and silent waving from our terrace to indicate the house. He climbed up and knocked. The man said it was his personal matter, in flats even if you make a little sound (banging your wife is making a little sound) it escaltes. The wife said her husband is a good man and has supported her through and through (by of course turning her into a pulp) and that she has no complaints against him. Only the mother-in-law said that she was a heart patient and that such episodes make her feel really sick. The police man then asked them to lower their sound and went off with a warning.

Thankfully after that, the sound from that house stopped coming.

Who is at fault here? The husband who beats his wife up or the wife who keeps supporting her husband and would till finally he injuries her so much that she will die. She must be dying a little everytime he is so violent. Why does she take it? Why do parents raise their daughters up to take such shit? When will we stop giving this crap about private matters being outside the jurisdiction of the public? Violence is violence, whether it is happening on the roads or inside houses, right? Why is such a simple thing so difficult to understand?

I know of women who have been in such violent situations and they have emerged out, though the process was long and draining. But women do come out with their family's support and lead healthy and normal life.

Reading Shantaram...

Well well well...how life changes.
My flatmates Anubha and Jayshree have become readoholics and for the last one month or so I have not read anything substantial. The only book I finished was a M&B and that too took 2 weeks when I have a consistent record of finishing a standard M&B of 180 pages in 1 hour.
Right now both my flatmates are reading Shantaram. Jayshree started first. She was all gaga for it and used to make Anubha and me read bits and parts of it. We even sat in Barcos, a Chinese resturant reading part of Shantaram aloud and laughing helplessly over it. For those of you who have read the book it the part about how men in India wear under underwear. Since the book is a heavy one Jayshree could not lug it around with her to the various courts she goes to, so she downloaded the soft copy. Wheneven she gets a little time in office between her cleitns and drafting she is into Shantaram.
Jayshree has forwarded this copy to Anubha and now they are both deep into it. Everytime we three are together these two go off discussing the book. Usually I am the one who has read a book and knows all about it. So this is indeed a very new sensation where I do not know about a particular book and have nothing to contribute. It is a strange feeling being in the unknown and being dumb forced by circumstances.

Monday, 15 September, 2008

Pampering...

Before bombs blasted and all, I was having a very indulgent Saturday. Once a month I go to pamper myself in the beauty parlour underneath our house. This Saturday when I went to the parlour it was totally empty so all the three girls who work there concerntrated their energies on me. Boy it felt so good. I felt totally pampered and very very good. Sitting there with three girls working away on making me feel good I just could understand what the princesses and queens of yester years must have felt. Ah imagine daily dose of such indulgence. What pleasure. Me being me, I started thinking whether it was worthwhile to surrender all personal liberties for such indulgence. Then I told myself "Suchismtia snap out, no one is giving such an option to you, so stop finding fairness even in your day dream". Anubha also had a similar experience on Sunday. While I thought of erstwhile princesses and queen, Anubha thought that it was her wedding day and hence the pampering.
Silly us women, we pay for services and then end up feeling so good that we forget we are paying for it and start day dreaming about it.
But it was a great feeling indeed.

Sunday, 14 September, 2008

Cant Get It Off...

Yesterday a series bombs blasted in Delhi. I guess you all know that by now. I was out with my sister-in-law and three year old nephew. We were out shopping in Lajpat Nagar Central Market. After finishing our shopping we had just entered Mac Donalds when suddenly I got a call from my eldest mama (uncle) that television news says there has been three blasts in Delhi. Then within 5 minutes he called to say that there has been another blast.

My brother called asking where we were. By then we had come out and was trying to get an auto back home to my sister-in-law's place. There were loads of panicky people on the road, few policmen, those lucky enough to have their own transport were zooming out, shops were closing, shutters were coming down, police were announcing on the microphone how not to panic and not touch any unknown object etc. We did not realise it that time there was evacuation going on. There were a handful of autos which were being fought over. Usually there are loads of cycle rickshaws. That day there were none, those who were there were all going away. We walked for sometime, my sister-in-law was totally in a panicky mode but thankfully nephew was calm and quiet and walked with us, without making any fuss. Finally we got a rickshaw which took us till the main road. It was utter choas in the main road, my sister-in-law was literally jumping into empty auts with her son. But autowallahs were refusing to go. Finally found a man who was ready to take us and that too for the right amount of money. This is Delhi on normal days you get autowallahs who are ready to rip you off and then on a crisis you meet this nice man who wants the right money, is cool headed and zigzaged his way through crazy traffic and got us into relatively empty lanes and reached us home safe and sound. By then I have had 4 calls from my mama, 2 calls from home, three more from my brother and some other assorted ones. The network was totally jammed and I just could not call anyone. All my Delhi friends were scattered everywhere around the city but there was no way I could reach anyone. It was a pretty helpless feeling.

After switching on the television at home the full extent of the tragedy hit us and also the realisation that how easily it could have been Lajpat Nagar market istead of GK1. We sat watching television reporting all gory details for a long time. Both my sister-in-law and me, we realised that the situation was bad and it was scaring us but we just could not take our eyes off the news.

It was a very shaky day of my life. A perfectly normal and happy evening turned into a nightmare. Also my three year old nephew was there with us, had it been just us, two adults, the equation I am sure would have been very different. But with us being responsible for his well being it added to our helplessness and panic.

Saturday, 13 September, 2008

Why September????

They did it on 11th September.
Again they did on the 13th of September.
Why September?
What is so inauspicious about September that they chose September again and again?
I was born in September, hence it was always special to me, but now they have spoiled that feeling.
Now all I feel is "wake me up when September ends"...

Why? & Who? & How?

I am angry, I want to talk;
But who will listen to me?
Who wants to listen?
Who cares, who bothers?
Does anyone?
Where is our protector?
Is She sleeping?
What will happen to the family of those who died today?
What will happen to those mothers who lost their children?
Would those fathers be able to forget the trauma ever?
Who will go and get the medicines from outside shops?
Are the shops even open?
Did anyone check before asking?
From where will the blood come?
Would I be able to walk those roads again and feel safe?
Whom am I bothered about more, me or them?
Those who died and those who got injured?
Or it is just me that I am bothered about?
I was not even part of it, then why?
Why am I angry?
Why do I have the urge to cry out loud?
Why do I want to lash out?

Blast All Away...

GK 1 Market is a cool place to hang out with your friends on the weekend...Jayshree loves going there;
Connaught Place (CP) we keep going there and Central Park is a lovely place right in the middle of CP; we all love going to CP, went there just last week;
Gaffar Market-- never been there, sometimes passed it on my way to somewhere....busy, bustling place;
All three places in the heart of Delhi had bomblasts today evening. It started around 6 and went on for the next 45 minutes. Bombs errupted killing people, injuring some more, demolishing property and panicking everyone around. Some group of people wanted someone's attention? Who are they and whose attention did they want? More to the point did they get the attention they wanted? Did they want the attention of those who died? Or that 25 year old boy whose one leg is gone forever? Or that little boy who saw the bombs being kept in the plastic dustbin?
Ok, so you have got our attention...what is it that you want to say? Tell us, let us hear...you have been going on and on...it is like the India Bomb Blast Series...have you not got enough attention? When will you stop? What is it that you get from killing and demolishing?
Can I ask you a question when was the last time you did something constructive/creative, if ever, of course other than planning and carrying out demolition of life and property?
I dont want to know all the theoritical details...today I am angry enough to want to know the real details...today I want justification....I need to know how you justify killing people? Who sanctions you? Who gives you the authority?
You kill and move away...send emails and videotapes taking "credit"...You say same thing happened to your people. You know what when you start replicating your enemies you no longer deserve sympathy even from people who were actually sympathetic to you to begin with.

Thursday, 11 September, 2008

Fly Away...

All of her days have gone soft and cloudy
All of her dreams have gone dry
All of her nights have gone sad and shady
She's getting ready to fly
Fly away, fly away, fly away
Life in the city can make you crazy
For sounds of the sand and the sea
Life in a high-rise can make you hungry
For things that you can't even see
Fly away, fly away, fly away
In this whole world there's nobody as lonely as she
There's nowhere to go and there's nowhere that she'd rather be
She's looking for lovers and children playing
She's looking for signs of the spring
She listens for laughter and sounds of dancing
She listens for any old thing
Fly away, fly away, fly away
This is a song by John Denver, he wrote all his own songs.

To My Dear Swati


Wednesday, 10 September, 2008

How can I -ever- pay you back?

So, let me get this straight:
You tear my veil to free me
You jail me to rid me of my terror
You kill my beloved to liberate me
You shoot my baby to erase my misery
You starve me to show me how to vote
You threaten me to bring me to my senses
You wage war on me to help me find peace
You slay my people to teach me compassion
You humiliate me to aid me live with dignity
You insult me to illustrate freedom of speech
You crush my bones to save me from my evil
You demolish my home to elevate my morality
You uproot my tree to raise my ethical standard
You steal my resources to bring me social justice
You assassinate my leaders to bring me security
You bomb my town to train me into democracy
You destroy my history to educate me about progress
You dehumanise me to coach me into humanity
You wipe me out to push me to civilisation
You scorn my faith to bring me salvation
Thank you sir
How can I -ever- pay you back?

Posted by nahida on September 5, 2008 at 1:25pm in Poetry and literature http://tinyurl.com/6ljb8t

Tuesday, 9 September, 2008

Scared Shit...

Are you one of those who scare easily? If you are, I totally empathise with you dear reader. If not, then this is not for you to read and laugh about the lesser mortals like us who are prone to fear. I am one of those people who is scared of everything-- human beings (leary men and scheming women), ghosts, spirits, unknown assassins, lightenings, storms, calling bells tinkling at odd hours, darkness, unknown, relationships, commitments, horror movies, creepy stories, spending the night alone in a house...you name it and it is already there on my list. I have already been afraid of it at some point.
This is what Anubha my flatmate and dear friend has to say about me and my bravery "Now Suchi is someone who gets startled even if you walk past her into your own room at any point of time, sometimes i think she is going to have a heart attack if i walk past too often!!!".
Since I was a kid I hated watching even the silliest of fight sequences in Hindi movies. So I just shut my eyes, or cover them with my hands or better still keep a pillow or at the very least a duppatta to protect me from bad scenes. I remember my father trying very hard to deter me from doing such silly things but then I would just get up and leave the room. So after a point of time he stopped and thoughtfully nod his head like "what will happen to this silly girl?".
I have just watched two/three horror/ghost movies in my life time, simply because my brother insisted and made me watch. One was Psycho and the other was Sixth Sense and another one was Ghost (imagine not seeing Ghost and missing out on all that great romance). While watching these movies, when creepy scenes came I would just cover my eyes and try and shut out the sound till my brother would shake me to inform that the scary part was over and that I can safely open my eyes.
The other night I was talking to Sapphire when he said that one of his friends who has passed away, still has got an active Orkut account and people scrap and all. The whole night I dreamt of some dead man operating an Orkut account and visiting me not only in Orkut but in real life. Just imagine! I have even thought over potential conversations with ghosts if they ever visit me. Of course this was inspired by Charles Dicken's novel Christmas Carol and the conversations Ebenezer Scrooge had with the Christmas spirits visiting him.
My cousin brother in Delhi, himself a more easily scared guy than me, takes great pleasure in trying to scare me. The first few occassions I would get really scared but soon realised the more scared I get, the more fun he is going to get. So I devised a method-- when he tried to scare me I would scream and keep screaming so much so that he would get scared himself. This method proved to be really successful and he has finally outgrown the habit of trying to scare me.
Once in home someone got a really scary looking mask and there was a mad round of shreiking and screaming. Everyone got scared except my dad. It is ironical that my father is someone who is never scared of anything and me, his daughter is such a scary being.

Monday, 8 September, 2008

Teasing

Growing up in a big family like mine, teasing was/still is a part of daily life. Cousins would mercilessly tease, so would elders. My first memories of teasing was in my mamarbari (mama ka ghar) where when I was all of four/five years old everyone starting from my grandparents to uncles to their friends would tease me that my father used to work in a tea shop. Now I have always been my daddy's daughter and very dad proud. To me it seemed like an intolerable accusition to call my daddy a tea shop worker when he actually worked in a tea company and visited tea gardens. I was hell bent on correcting their misconception and in the process would have roaring fights. My mother would be a silent spectator in all this and just smile, taking neither sides. But she says never once did I back down or cry. I remember calling up my dad and complaining about what all people were saying and then asking him to confirm my faith in him or rather the kind of work he did. Like my mom, my dad would also just smile and not say much. This would frustrate me but my faith in my dad would be unshakable.
In school my friends always called me mooti/ fatso. But that hardly had any impact on me, I was/am fat so why fight over an obvious truth? So unbothered was I, that my friends finally dropped that nickname in frustration.
I remember when I was in class ix/x my cousins started teasing me with a classmate of mine. I used to get so very bothered and angry. The angier I got, the more my cousins would have fun.
Over the years I polished my own teasing capabilities. According to my friends I can be quiet lethal and ruthless when I get down to serious teasing. Even my friends in office swear by my lethalness. But lately a strange state of affairs have ensued. Freinds in office are giving me back all the teasing that I have ever heaped on them. To put it in Hindi "chun chun ke badla lena". It is a bit like lif coming to full circle.
One of the major things that I am teased about ruthlessly/mercilessly/heartlessly in office is my Hindi. Oh well my Hindi speaking capability is not really anything to write home about still yaar a hapless Bong gal is trying to pick up a new language, give her some leeway. No these snooty North Indians are after my blood. Can you imagine how difficult it is for me with my broken Hindi to survive in Delhi?
Just remember dear friends every dog has his day.

Sunday, 7 September, 2008

Candle Lit Bathrooms

Candle light dinners are heard of and romanticised about, but have you ever heard of candle lit bathrooms? This is the photo of our bathroom (Anubha's and mine). The bulb went out and us being very lazy bugs weare, we just kept delaying replacing the bulb. Then one evening I tried having a shower without any light and felt a little of the problems that a visually impaired person faces every moment. As a temporary solution I got this candle into our bathroom. This temporary solution worked for a really long time till I returned from Kolkata to find that Anubha finally replaced the bulb. No more candle lit bathrooms for us.

Saturday, 6 September, 2008

Loony Toon

This guy in the photo with Anubha is a guy whose sense of humour is a little haatke. When Anubha announced one slow Saturday evening that a friend of hers is coming I did not expcet much. But this guy came and kinda threw a storm. Meeting him is like meeting a cartoon character in real life. He is funny, no very very funny and loves sitting under an umbrella in heavy rain and eating hot chocolate fudge.
I hope you are reading this Mr. Please do come over to our house another evening and this time please do not bring the rain with you. Come with a dry head and....
Keeping joking and making others laugh. Ahem!

Flags....

New look of my desk. Anant has come back from Dharmshala with Tibetan prayer flags and we decided to put them up. So now a days Anant who sits on the other side of the partition and my desks look like there is a permanent colourful fair going on.
Glumpy me at my desk while the flags wave on.

Khader Settlement in Delhi

Girls playing a complex game with stones. Some of my colleagues tried it and failed. You have to be really good at jugglary to be able to manage it.
It was really difficult to make her smile and that too look directly at the camera.
Nisha is in class iv.
Wall magazine brought out by adolescent girls.

Mother and Daughter



My friend who is also my colleague Aparna and her daughter.