Monday, February 06, 2006

India Travel Thought

India Travel Thoughts

Top 5 reasons one should drag family in its entirety for vacation destinations instead of lounge around at home when on India trip:

  1. Vacation in India is never really that. You could be home all the time and still come back thankful to be back, and, well, exhausted. Add to that sitting around while the world goes on as usual for rest of the junta, brother off to work, mom visiting ill friend [who you don’t know] and back, dad’s attempts to hold on to government banks while planning his trip around which days they ARE open. Better to make everyone have a vacation no?

  2. Most parents don’t take trips unless someone is a) marrying or b) delivered a kid or c) has bought a home. And hey, most parents would love to see the sights they hear of only from their friends or broad-minded neighbors. Granted there will be withdrawal symptoms from mailman fights, but mentions of renewed energy and promises of curd rice availability everywhere should do the trick

  3. Lets admit it, there is NOTHING one can take from here that they wont get a better form of, in India. Sponsor parents’ trip instead—they will probably even learn to make the trip sound cooler than a “oh this? My daughter got it from the U.S”

  4. You will never come back from India plumper this way—granted there will be atleast one bout of stomach issues if you plan to travel 60% of the time in India, within India. But hey, stomach issues=cant eat. Cant eat=cant even see food. Cant even see food=lassi and lemon juice diet for two days. Which equates to slender you and well-rested tummy. It adds up ya know!

  5. Moms can never make all that they want to. It’s a fact of life. But this way, they get the break they so deserve from kitchen duties. And hey, nobody says “so does your daughter cook well?” and expect a demo. Wheee!!

Speaking of India trips, my next one will be aimed at Corbett National Park. I would personally prefer to go to good ole Mudumalai [spent a number of childhood summers there] but am intrigued by the tourism developments within India. They, frankly, blew my mind away. Recent Rajasthan trip was solid proof—Fantastic highways and reliance sponsored restrooms on the highways made for one helluva comfortable trip. Kerala, no less [yeah yeah, I hear your ‘commercialization!!” screams. But face it, if done well, tourism industry DOES have a lot to offer to the state in general]

Airports excepted—Man, for all the fantastic journeys I had on this trip [I did flights, auto and trains during the trip] the airport at Mumbai on the way out was fantastically, unbelievably horrible. As it is, I HATE the Mumbai international airport. One  just needs to see how the Jet terminal in the domestic terminal is, to realize how much worse the international airport is [The Jet terminal is very much like the SFO airport actually]. After toiling hours to stand in line and get baggage checked in, my visit to the restroom was the last straw. Sleeping on the floors, near the restroom entrance AND near the washbasin, were the cleaning ladies. Self literally had to ask them to wake up/move to inch my way to the washbasin. To that end, am hoping the airport revamp does some good, inspite of all the controversies.

Belated India travelogue,

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Stories Hallmark Will Never Know

Nope. Archies and Hallmark didnt pay me for this [heh heh]. Well, I figured, its February,season to mourn St.Valentine’s death [as well as P.G.Wodehouse’s death on the same day]..might as well do that by writing [in PGW’s memory] about luv [no no, not ram’s son..LOVE as in the stuff St.Valentine apparently pushed to the world]

So here is the first of a few stories for the season—Call it what you will..

Theirs wasnt even a real love story to begin with. Hell, they didnt even have anything much in common. His parents tragically died when he was four. Her dad remarried and produced a home full of kids [14 at last count]. He was adopted by a kind relative who raised him as his own. Her dad probably doesnt even remember her name. He was handsome as hell, they said. She was ordinary-looking, they whispered [“Tough to find a groom for her” the father boomed the few times he was in same room as her].They met each other the traditional way, they married the traditional way. And they promptly had children, i guess, the traditional way [heh].

In such relationships, i suppose, love is too strong a word. It implies, rightly or not, fanciful delights, escapades and romantic adventures that didnt exist in their lives. Fondness? yep. Absolutely. Laughter? you bet. He made her laugh, his silly forgetful ways..his balding head [the time a crow pecked his head thinking it was shiny plate]. She was a regular little trooper–climbing trees to make that mango pickle. She was a slight, tiny person–“so thin” he said “that she floated down from the terrace when she tripped” [it actually happened]. He was well-read, articulate, a man of impressive words [he was a journo after all]. She was creative and neighbors said she sang like a nightingale. They grew old together, fighting, bickering, laughing and worrying together. She constantly chided him for not taking enough care of self, he did the same to her.

One perhaps doesnt really know when old-age creeps up [some say its when you have grandkids, but when you gotta run behind errant grandsons, one would doubt that]..but creep up it did. She fell ill often,troubled by heart conditions and what-nots..shrinking like a dried-up leaf…He was always there, never complaining. He didnt believe in God much, prefering simple ideologies and morals to be his only guide. So he didnt pray when she was in hospitals, he read little stories in newspapers and regaled her with gossip. “They are so much in love!” sighed the nurses. The body gave in one day, and she died peacefully in her sleep one night. He dabbed his eyes, expecting this eventuality. She wanted the ceremonies of the religion, he obliged her last wish. “14 days” said the priest–“a ceremony for each day, for 14 days”. He agreed. His children made plans to move him out of his home, to theirs. He didnt complain. “What do i do without her?” he said sadly, as he moved his things into the truck. The night of the 14th day, he passed away. He wasnt ill, overly old or ailed of anything. He simply didnt wish to live without her anymore. But 14 days of rites she wanted, and he gave her that. Asking only that he join her on the 15th. And he did. Love you say? I dont know. Now it seems too tame a word for them. Smiling

But their is probably the sweetest story I’ve ever heard–or seen. Grandpa and grandma were no Romeo and Juliet,and they probably never said the word ‘love’ all through their lives. But their story probably is the best proof that it doesnt always have to be LOVE that fulfills one.

With Fond thoughts,

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Do Ree Mi

Do Ree Me?

Its easy actually..Ignorance that is. One would think its difficult, like unlearning something or accidentally learning a lot. No siree. Look at me, I say! Living in a town, then a city, then a metro, progressively so, its only easy to live in a bubble and not realize 'it' exists in reality. Nobody ever talks about it, really. No wait! I did come across it a couple of times, VERRY hush hush. Someone's someone's someone was gonna get married, and the groom's parents wanted the entire home furnished. They didnt really use the D word. It was already illegal by the time i could talk. Its got a more subtle, implicit
term to it. Expectation. "Its just an expectation from the groom's side" they said.

Every other time I've come across the D word in exactly two places--family dramas of the 80s [the kiran kumar/visu/aruna irani kinds with bad mother in law and meek son and such] and in newspapers.Regularly so. Family tea-time was usually reserved for climax of such movies.Yep, thats the part where kerosene soaked daughter-in-law is about to be set alight, and her good brother-in-law is delivering memorized bhashan to wicked mother-in-law. For what it was worth, those movies had a social message atleast. And in my heart of hearts, i believed it was like slavery or smtg. Sure, there are movies about it, only to show how wicked it was. Of course it doesnt exist anymore, its illegal for gods sake.

Then comes the time when i am reading newspapers like its going out of style. Headlines, bylines, reports, everything was gobbled down [even obituary columns, though that was coz grandpa wanted to update his address book]. Dowry cases were reported there of course. "Kitchen deaths" of brides. There was always a suspect, so it kinda became like murder, you know? you read murder reports, someone is always captured or guilty, its illegal as hell and hey, of course tehre is a 2% chance anyone in your family or friends circle who do it. Makes sense right? Apparently nope. Coz you run along in life, hop skip and jumping into the next birthday, growing older, none the wiser, thinking education is the solution to all things idiotic. AIDS, female infanticide, etc--education works right? Well, wrong apparently.

Coz hey, it still exists. And guess what? among the educated fools, no less. Price tags on sons, price tags on their education, price tags on MNC status and price tags on payslips. And no, lets not stop there. For every guy who demands dowry, there is a bride's family willing to pay up. Though decidedly, a simple lesson on India's social structure should indicate where the power lies. And while i am only too happy to talk of exceptional instances where there is no Dowry, implicit, explicit or otherwise, it still doesnt remove the fact that the "groom's family expects the apartment to be furnished" or the "wedding to be funded". Which is the point where your whole belief system in education comes to a grinding halt. And rightly so. Why?

coz it points out exactly where education fits in the system. Its a means to an end, given the importance for the ends, which in most cases, is a degree, a job, and a career. Its not presumed, or assumed, to make a person see the world better. Or understand the difference between logic and fallacy. Or used education as a tool to guide a person to what is simply sensible, practical, broad-minded thinking. Its a bunch of math tables, and calculus, and engineering courses. and if THAT is education, and THAT only--i cant find it in me to laugh at those who are taught 'holistically'. I couldnt laugh senselessly at those who are taught sociology, painting, social-services, imagination-classes, moral science and not just math, science and geography. Education needs to be wholesome to be complete in any sense. And if education fails to instill in people the values of equality, the respect for human beings and to question authority and traditions. Then it hasnt done its job. So the next time an engineer tells me that "our education system breeds extremely intelligent people" i would certainly like to ask for the definition of that intelligence. And if in any way, the encapsulates the word 'sensible person'. I doubt it always does.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Musical Dilettante

Well, thats one use to 'word of the day' emails. Hmm maybe self should blog a blog everyday based on the 'word of the day' in my inbox that day huh? Well, the point is, its a music review blog [hey HOLD IT RIGHT THERE..did i permit you to leave..did i??]. Admittedly [calmly composing self after hysterical outburst] self hasnt established any credentials to write one. I know I know, Jack of all blogs and master of, hey waittaminute. I dont particularly like the phrase "Jack of all trades". Why? well coz (a) umm..i can claim its coz its a guy's name..but the female version of it, if i were to insist, ends up being jackess [oh well you get the hint] and mistress [not very complimentary]..well i just think its mean to all Jacks..and (b) its made to sound like its a bad thing..which its not. Kinda like the Jack who plays all the time, hey, HEZ getting by you know?
Aaanyways, self has proposed to write albums i come across recently: first up is predictably M.I.A [Arular] lemme yoodle on..

M.I.A--didnt wanna go into the history of the singer et al, but methinks one HAS to, to explain it. Allright a one-sentencer on the artist [if you know me, sentences can take years [figuratively and literally]]

"So Mathangi [Maya] Arulpragasam is dotter of tamil tiger freedom fighter [try saying it over and over again. I did, for 3 minutes..tamil tiger freedom fighter]and lived in srilanka before running to tamilnadu when riots broke out, then to london- Major culture shock or wotever i guess, the official statement is that she used music to express herself"

The tamil tiger-chennai-london connection is important coz her music reveals a fairly strong political statement, U.K undergroup rap and what i would frankly call 'dappanguthu' of chennai streets [one of my favorite music genres--ARR could never replicate it exactly, but illayaraja did a great job of it methinks]. Never a fan of anything gansta rappish, this was a great one to introduce me to it, coz

a) the tribality of the scores- while to an unindian ear, it might sound exotic african [well some reviewer called it east bengalish indian but hey, whoz me to criticize]

b) the TAMIL LYRICS!! who would've known there would be tamil in it..rocked my senses out [once i got used to her accent that is].

c) the blasting rhythm of the music--once you get into the mould, one cant help but move and groove and all that jazz, albeit in complicated tribal indian manner.

Mind you, the music takes some getting used to --the newer beats, the undecipherable lyrics [initially atleast]and the sheer noisiness of it at certain times. Maya's vocals are husky, deep and dark--if that were possible in a voice. its not exactly kid-time lyrics, but its got enough spunk to be a club-grooving album or a gals nite album. You pick.

Check out the story on the artiste:

Here is amazon with her CD

And hey, herez an idea. Below are albums, all of which I've either listened to recently or plan to. Let me know which one I should listen/write on next, and i promise to [hey comeon..i need SOME pressure to blog]. I promise i know nothing of music, so couldnt possibly have a bias/preference.

Anoushka Shankar's Rise
Asha Bhonsle The Kronos Quartet
[both of the above are nominated for Grammys]
Rang De Basanti
Coldplay--A rush of blood to the head

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

TV Killed The Radio Star

Time: 6:45 PM
Worried about dinner? Nope
Why not? Well, i got leftover eggplant cutlets, can put together a matki salad in the time it takes to say 'oh my' [well about 1000 times] and got enough strawberries that threaten to decay if i didnt make em into a milkshake. So nope, am good.
So got time to kill huh? Absolutely.

So whats on your mind? Radio

What else? TV

Allright allright, will stop. The point is, TV killed the radio star. [aw sheesh..I cant come up with something original? well, i said TV, not 'video'] Well, I would argue that video didnt kill the radio, but killed the movie industry instead [you piracy and suchlike..but thats for another 3 hour dinner over burnt food and wimpy salad]. I mean, i get it..the optimism over multiplexes and such in India..hoo haa all over..But piracy is still out there, and my mom refuses to shell out 400 rs when the singhji at shop around the corner can give the same movie, on the same day, with no extra petrol spent. The eyebrow-raisers at my paranoid theory [which, for now, is just one person who shared that godawful meal described above] will appeal to the movie-maniacal nature of the 'masses' as normal people are classified these days, and the enormous spending capacity, and the sheer strength of the rural population that will go repeatedly to the theatres to make 'no entry' a superhit. Oh well.

Coming back to the TV -radio star connection, i would now like to declare my undying love for the medium of radio. no, no, i aint one of those "oh yeah, radio, its cheap and good" fans..I TRULY believe in it [looking intently into the camera with smokey-eyes makeup as I mouth this after Oprah asks the question 'what does radio mean to you?']. I hung dedicatedly to my pirated walkman that played radio all through my BEST bus-ride days, through my 5 hour train journeys to pune, through my 'play the movie 'aandhi' every saturday morning and it gets stuck at the same point every damn time' ASIAD bus days. I simply loved radio mirchi in bombay--memorizing the signoffs of each RJ and laughing at their jokes while the bus conductor glared at my soiled, torn and taped 5 rupee notes.

Radio, simply put, is a fabalous medium. It penetrates deep into the audience, and while it doesnt have the undivided attention that the TV claims [well that aint true anymore, but lets just say the TV is in denial]. Radio doesnt suffer from the multi-channeling syndrome for precisely the same reason--its a background thing. You might be struggling to get the damn atta outta the bag, and when you suddenly drop it all and cover yourself in white flour, you hear an optimistic DING as the host suggests "Try Denny's today..its the place to be"--hell, advertising couldnt get any better than that [well i missed the romantic getaway ads and the spa ads, but hey, ads dont get everyone all the time]. Radio is there, always, like a comforting friend. And trust me, the way i sing those jingles in the car on my one-hour commute, the ad-guys have gotten me nice and clean. I can stand in the aisle of the supermarket singing the washing powder jingle to the last key. TV-fatigue is setting in, radio-guys...the viewers are sick of all the reality shows, godawful ads, pathetic soaps and incessant rambling on the idiot box. News shows are like soaps, soaps arent real at all, and reality shows are starting to create news [notice the cyclic route there?]..ZONE IN, i scream..capture us all, us content-hungry audiences..who want to laugh, cry, dance and sing along, just like they do on those tv ads [whoops]. Which other medium has the power to be a permanent fixture onto the audience you need? [psst--none]..SEIZE the moment, SEIZE the moment of failure of TV and all thats pop-up ads..let the radio turn murderer now..and kill the TV HOST!!!

headphones forever, peps