Saturday, May 30

Jaago Re!

Human processes and behaviors are not the only thing I learnt in Goa.

Fortunately for this nation, all youngsters and adults do not mirror my dislike for politics and civics. As the elections were in full swing when I was going through my lab, I often caught people discussing their candidates and political groups. During one such conversation, I overheard a woman speaking animatedly about something called the 49-O (read Forty-Nine-Oh), a government sanction to reject candidates contesting the polls.

An interesting excerpt I found on
www.dnaindia.com ... “All of us are aware that casting one's vote is a democratic right, and exercising that right is a civic duty of the highest order. But what if a voter doesn't find any of the candidates in fray from his constituency suitable for his or her vote?! The answer is - I Vote Nobody. As per Section '49-O' of 1969 Act, a citizen has the right to cast a vote by using 'I Vote Nobody', which means the citizen is not finding any of the contesting candidates eligible for his vote.”

A glance at Wiki tells me that the 49-O is a decree in The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. It describes the procedure to be followed when a valid voter decides not to cast his vote, and decides to record this fact. The purpose of this section is to prevent the election fraud or the misuse of votes. Since the ballot paper / Electronic voting machine (EVM) contains only the list of candidates, a voter cannot record his vote under Section 49-O directly. He must inform the presiding officer at the election booth (violating the secrecy of the ballot).

Unfortunately, not many of us know that we have such a right, so most people choose NOT to vote at all, thus bringing down the overall percentage of citizens voting across the country.
Wiki further relates that a hoax has been circulating which claims that if the '49-O' votes are more than those of the winning candidate, then that poll will be canceled and will have to be re-polled. The contestants will be banned and they cannot contest the re-polling.

Critics argue against this rule stating that it is the duty of every citizen to educate himself about the agenda of the candidates and to vote conscientiously for the individual they think is better than the others. Also, annulling an election would result in much waste of public funds spent to conduct polls.

I find this idea very intriguing, very commanding. I know it has it’s flip side, but the thought itself is very revolutionary...

Enough about that, I’ve got other things to share, too. Like this lovely sentence I read somewhere: The only way to make some things work is to give them a chance... How touching!

I was also touched when I saw my bro bounding and squealing like a kid when he was playing cricket with the children of a visitor. I haven’t seen him so jolly and enthusiastic in ages. He normally enjoys laughing at others expense, so this pure eruption of happiness was very refreshing. Guys are so happy when they watch/play cricket, na?!! It’s like their biggest dream ever has come true...

More about the books I’m reading/have read – Did I tell you about Twilight? I recall having told you that the book is fantabulous, but I didn’t let you in on the plot. It’s about this girl who falls in love with a vampire in school. The handsome and caring monster finds himself drawn to the girl’s blood, but more so to the person she is. And then starts their love story... Quite a teenage novel, this, but breathtaking all the same. I’m captivated enough to want to read the sequel New Moon, probably after I finish Almost Single; perhaps within a week.

A line that stayed with me long after I finished Twilight is when Edward says, “I’m essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should.” I get goose-bumps and butterflies and all that when I imagine such romantic situations. Cheesy, eh?!! That’s me - a silly emotional fool who sobs through mushy scenes on TV and melodramatic incidents in movies... LOL

Almost Single is an uproarious novel with some very witty observations. It’s the life story of a woman in her late 20s, who is unmarried and caught up with all the wrong people. Quite the Bridget Jones! This one has smart statements, too. Like “Life’s like a book. You can get desperate to reach the end, and you skip a couple of chapters. When you finally get to the end, you have an icky feeling that brings you back to the missing chapters – knowing that without them, you can never say goodbye.” Ain’t this overwhelming??!! Besides that, I also learnt the very obvious but new (to me) interpretation of the term “liquid diet”... Booze, booze all the way!!

And a more profound one - you can only trust and commit to another when you understand and accept yourself... And what terrific one-liners!! A must-read for everybody!!

While we are on the topic of reading, let me also tell you that the Sunday Times last week said that metrosexuality is nothing but the forceful feminization of men. And I must say, I agree!! It’s wonderful till it’s about cleanliness and hygiene. However, men waxing and doing manicures is not exactly my idea of a perfect partner!! The rugged look actually endears at times!

(Don’t stop shaving guys. And bathe twice daily in this summer heat. And don’t forget the deo; Denim’s my favorite! Hint hint.)

Hey, forgot to tell ya, Mum's bought a Panasonic LE10 32" LCD for the house! Whata woman I tell ya... She just goes out one fine evening and comes back 30k lighter... LOL

Cheerio!
Anuja

Friday, May 29

Shubh Lab(h)

May 11-16, 2009 has been one of the best weeks of my life. So fulfilling, so powerful...

The ISABS event happened, as you know, during this time... I actually had a choice whether to go for the national summer event in Goa or opt for the more economic regional event in Karjat. I realized that if I put off my decision for now, there’s no telling what might occur in future. “Kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab” was playing on my mind, and when I got an attractive discount for the Goa event, I had no excuse to ponder anymore.

The lab has been a win-win decision every which way. A weeklong holiday in an excellent resort in Goa, many new friends and acquaintances, and plenty of time for reflection and solitude are some things I have enjoyed. I forgot the world, I forgot God even! I had to remind myself to say the Ramraksha and Hanuman Chalisa that I recite religiously everyday in Pune. Beat that!

I went thinking I’m a terrible person, always hurting others, completely misunderstood by society. I returned with a sense of peace that previously had been evading me. I also sense a feeling of tremendous joy and acceptance in me. A few objectives I had in mind were understanding myself and my triggers, building my tolerance and understanding of others, and a break from my mundane Pune life.

My impression about myself was that I need to undergo a complete transformation in order to be a better person. But I realize that I AM a wonderful person, unique and admirable in so many ways! In fact I am sweeter, more compassionate and polite than most other folks in society. I do have my shortcomings and irritants, but nothing that cannot be set right with a little tweaking and effort, determination and perseverance. I am happy to be what I am; I rock!!

An added bonus was the varied compliments I received there. Right from the regular “you’re bubbly and cheerful” to the flattering “you dance very well”, “you’re my benchmark for spontaneity” to “the girl I wanted to marry in college was exactly like you”... But the more official feedback came from my facilitator who said she found in me the potential to be an excellent facilitator, and she’d be more than glad to welcome me back for the Advanced and the PDP thereafter. (You have to be promoted to the next level, you can’t move up yourself. Pappu paas hogaya!! Cheers!!)

Being the feedback-lover I am, I got to know a few more things that people notice about me...
1. I’m a very genuine individual with an expressive face, and I have the ability to make others think.
2. Anyone can upset me easily, and I get defensive when challenged/interrogated.
3. I look strong (mentally), so people are shocked when I fall weak.
4. I tend to make others feel comfortable and I accept compliments gracefully.

A few insights that I had during the week are that though I am capable of taking care of myself, I like it when someone else stands up for me and protects me. Also, I get attached to people very soon, and then visibly detach myself when I see my possessiveness creating trouble for either me or others. I also take responsibility for the way others think and feel. It’s not my problem, dude! You deal with it!!
(This emerged as the most popular statement during the course of the lab!)

And hey, how can I forget the VERY IMPORTANT difference between thinking and feeling. We often confuse “think” with “feel”. For instance, “I feel like having a drink”. Where’s the feeling man? “You THINK you should have a drink” or something to that effect would be more appropriate. “I feel” statements ought to be completed with an actual emotion – whether joy or sorrow, anger or irritation, boredom or hurt. And every single phenomenon makes you “feel” something and “think“ something. Be open, explore, accept... And you’ll be amazed at the depth of seemingly plain things.

I’m planning to go back, not for the next 6 months of course, but surely sometime. When I attended the Basic Lab (BLHP), I had a rough idea about the objectives of the lab, but I was clueless about the methodology and expectations. All I thought was “This is a brand new experience, one that I would certainly like to have”. The trip has been worth every penny spent, and I have absolutely no regrets at having gone there.

If you’re encouraged to live through all that I’ve felt and shared, here’s a tip from me that will benefit you – just be yourself, and experience the lab fully. Don’t think about “what ifs...” and “but...” Speak whatever comes to your mind, and be truthful as you disclose yourself. Clamming up or faking isn’t gona help you here...

The return journey was mostly spent in catching up on my reading, ruminating over things I’d done / seen / said / learnt in the lab, and contacting my ISABS-mates. As on the previous journey, my bogie again had a cranky kid who had me wondering about the nuances of parenting and whether people really know how to bring up their kids. And then, back to the grind... Back to Pune, work, family, friends, routine... But with a changed outlook, a new zest, and a hitherto missing serenity...

One of the best weeks of my life. So fulfilling, so powerful...

-Princess

Wednesday, May 27

Lab-o-logue

Hiya!

I’m busy making FIRO-B reports, doing the accounts, and outlining plans for better Business Development at work. (Boohoo... I hate selling!) Got no choice there, so guess no use complaining...

Back to Lab-o-mania... Sunday went pretty well, I relaxed a bit and then chatted with the roomie. Being in Goa and not hitting the beach is not very Anuja-esque, so I made a quick trip there and said hi to the waves while being introduced to a whole gang of women professionals. And I made an observation : Women talk TOO much, TOO fast.

(I was praised for my keen sense of observation by my lab facilitators, so don’t pass any smart comments...)

Enough of the details. Let me get to the main plot. Day 1 (Monday) was baffling and strange. I came back to my room after an entire day with my lab-mates, knowing a few basics about them, and no input from the “Sir” and “Madam”. My head was reeling with unanswered questions, things about me and my behavior, aspects that irritate and frustrate me, make me restless and upset. I did silly things like crying without any known reason, and hanging up on my family when they called. I felt eccentric. And I came to know it was typical of first-timers... Thank heavens!! I thought I’d lost my marbles...

The next couple of days were better. I did have my conflicts and disagreements with the group, but things went wonderfully from the human process point of view. We dined at a Benaulim shack on Tuesday night, and I headed to the Amalia bar at the resort every evening for some music and gupshup. It was fun. And surprisingly, even things that weren’t exactly “pleasant” according to my standards, I learnt to take them in my stride and not let myself be bothered, as I did earlier. Now that’s an achievement, I say!

I met a lot of people, and saw the beauty in each one of them. The part I liked best about the ISABS culture, is that people are very warm and genuine. Throughout the week, I saw people hugging in merriment and sorrow, and that made me feel close to even those I didn’t know too well.

Oh, I didn’t tell you this - My lab-group consisted of 8 interesting participants and 2 darling facilitators. (Hi guys, if you’re reading this! And hullo to all the rest who I met outside the lab! Love ya all...)

I formed good connections with Bhanu (Mr. Smirky who hides his face as he giggles over long-forgotten jokes), Nikhil (his carefree saunter irritates me, but sucha caring chap!), Snigdha (this woman can keep secrets like nobody else, and whatta smile!!), Pranav (I managed to piss him off every time I interacted with him, but yet, he’s a charming guy), and all the others to varying degrees. (Space too short to mention them all, but here’s a few more names – Kavita, Gayathri, Runu, Sushma, Mohan, Pratim, Sweta, Abhirup, Ami, Rosy. Muaaahhh!!)

The lab sessions helped me come to some realizations. However, I learnt more than a few lessons at the beach, watching the sand and waves. If you’re willing to reflect, and draw analogies, life is a great teacher all along the way! For example, “firsts” are usually so fantastic. The first view of the rumbling sea, the first time you set foot on the sand, the first moment when the waves cuddle your feet, the first time you fall in love, the first time you enter your office, your first bike... Memories to cherish for life!

And then the way the waves erase anything you write on the sand. It’s like the brain, na? Things that you inscribe inside your head, and then they get forgotten... leaving a clean slate... to write new things... just like the sandy beach...

And the manner in which we judge or misinterpret things. We see things coming, but we sometimes fail to determine their implications and consequences. Just like the waves that seem humongous from afar end in barely a ripple next to your toes, and the smaller ones that unexpectedly manage to wash you ashore. Lorddd... It’s beautiful!!

I spent 2 hours alone on the beach in my reverie. By the time I bit adieu to my philosophical trance, I realized it was dark and there was no one around on the beach. Except this sidey character who had walked past me a couple of times as I was seated in deep thought. I got up with a hustle and he took this opportunity to approach me.

Thankfully, at this exact moment, Bhabhi called from Pune asking about my health and trip. I slunk away as he mumbled, “Can I speak to you for a minute?” Whew! Whatever the guy had in mind, he sure had me scared for a couple of minutes.

Time to say bye. Will be back later, alligator!

Cheerio!
Anuja

Monday, May 25

The Times of Anuja

Nice title, eh? I was actually considering changing my blog name from “Life...” to this one, but then decided against it. Life is so much more closer to my heart, so what if the term’s overused and random...

(By the way, that statement was grammatically incorrect – you can’t use an “–er” comparative form with “more”. For instance, comparative of fat is fatter, not more fatter. But hell, I just used it for the sake of emphasis. Kindly excuse.)

This break from my Goa trip description comes as a result of certain new experiences that I’ve had over the week in Pune. So, our agenda for this post encompasses my dinner at Chinese Room Oriental followed by the Chocolate Paan debacle, my book shopping with Abba and an alarming experience at the Inox multiplex. Stay tuned.

Last week was funny. I returned from Goa and my parents left for a wedding. When they reached Pune, I was off to Khandala for work. By the time I came back, they were packing to leave for Mahabaleshwar with their friends. And I won’t be surprised if mum has any more travel plans in the offing. Already told you what a travel-o-holic she is...

So while she was out of station over the weekend, I accompanied Bhai and Bhabhi for dinner to Chinese Room on Karve Road. (Bhabi loves Chinese, so my bro seems to have developed an unusual fondness for that place.) The liking seemed well-founded as the restaurant was full of patrons, both young and old. My suspicions were set to rest when I crunched through some scrumptious Spring Rolls and Veg Manchurian.

As I practiced my dexterity with the chopsticks, the gang ordered Manchow soup (which looked and tasted no better than a concoction of leftovers), fried rice and Hakka noodles. While I was not too pleased with the main course, it certainly satisfied my hunger pangs, as did the avoidable Sizzling Brownie with Vanilla ice-cream. My belief was reinforced - nobody serves desserts like Yana and Mainland China! Yummm...

What caught my eye was that all the waiters and captains were beyond the expiry date. Wonder if it’s the Chinese food or the salary that is the reason behind those grey hairs. The bill was Rs. 1300/- for the 6 of us, which I thought was quite high-priced. But, not a bad experience at all.

Or at least not as bad as the Chocolate Paan we had at Shaukeen. A fellow-diner insisted we visit this paan shop near Hotel Samudra at Nal Stop, and I was expecting the moon when I saw a huge crowd of people teeming outside the store. This weird paan is something like the Choco-Dip softy that we all love. What didn’t quite agree with my tastebuds is the paan-filling that I thought didn’t gel well with the cocoa covering. Exclude me from the fan list, you crazy Shaukeens; I’d rather have my fave Chocobar for 15 bucks.

Books!! My biggest addiction ever... After having finished Twilight in less than a week, I’m more than eager to read the New Moon – also an international bestseller like its prequel. I’m so in love with Edward that I even dreamt about somebody like him!! This dude was named Aniket (at least that’s how I addressed him in the dream) and he sported a long ponytail as he was walking into a forest trail. I just called out to him, he turned to me and started walking, and then I don’t know... Scene change...

So, I was saying, I bought New Moon, but I’m restraining my obsession with the novel. I’ve started Almost Single by Advaita Kala. A friend recommended this book to me, and I must say, the first 15 pages look very promising. The other books that I got from Crossword include The Associate by John Grisham (I’m missing the Prisoner of Birth!!) and Climbing Chamundi Hill: 1001 Steps With A Storyteller And A Reluctant Pilgrim by Ariel Glucklich (yep, missing Mahabharata, too!!) I’m very pleased with my book-shopping, and I’m super excited to plough through them within the next month or two. Shall keep you posted!

And now for the final fiasco which occurred at Inox the day before. I was actually in two minds whether to put this on my blog or not, coz it’s so shameful and disgusting. On very rare occasions have I ever felt so alarmed and dazed. But then, I decided I must. This incident speaks volumes about the security and safety in public places, and if I don’t voice it, it’s a fault on my part.

It went like this.

I went to the washroom on the ground floor, and no sooner had I entered, than I saw this ugly woman (who I mistook for the toilet attendant coz she was so ugly and unrefined) washing her hands. I paid no heed to her and went to the first loo on the right. She screeched at me in crude Hindi, “Don’t go there, my purse is inside.” I usually use the right-side cubicles coz there’s a ledge where you can place your baggage. So, I said to her, “Ok, remove it, I’ll wait.”

I was completely unprepared for what happened next. She started yelling and abusing me, “Why do you wana go there? There are other toilets also. &^*&#$%)@%$#*%@$” I calmly stated, “Look, don’t shout. Speak politely. I’ll wait until you remove your stuff, but I want to go here.” I was ready to use the other loo only is she softened a bit. When I saw no signs of that happening, my self-respect screamed out to me to stand up for myself. I adamantly stepped inside the loo and said, “Now I WILL go here.”

She dashed across the area to my door and threw it aside. I was stunned, I thought she was going to hit me. I would have done the same very gladly myself had I not anticipated that this wasn’t a woman worth meddling with. “Nange se duniya darti hai” is a famous saying in Hindi, and it is izzatdar people like us who need to preserve their esteem. However, I did not trust her enough not to rush after me and create a scene, so I called out to a guy-friend standing in the corridor. Just to show I wasn’t alone.

The freaky woman that she was, she couldn’t care less whether I was with a friend or the Prime Minister. She started abusing him as well, and all this while, there was no one who came to check out this racket. I’ll admit that I was petrified by this time, and did not know what to do. I walked out feeling helpless, humiliated and livid. How CAN people behave like THIS?!!!

As if what occurred wasn’t enough, she followed us all along the corridor into McDonalds, all the while hurling insults at us and shrieking at the top of her voice. Even then nobody bothered to find out what was wrong. We ignored her, took a meal parcel (I was too upset to be able to swallow a morsel), and left the multiplex.

I’m just wondering what would have happened had she actually hit me. There was not a single soul in sight who would either protect me, or take action about any mishap. Is this the kind of security we encourage in public malls and hangouts? Is the security meant to be only a pain in the a** as they screen decent-looking folk, their vehicles and bags upon entry? Is there no other responsibility upon them beyond the frisking and lounging? I guess I should have complained to the authorities. But, aren’t they supposed to have cameras installed all over the building to monitor and ensure wellbeing?

I’m very disturbed. And I just can’t seem to get this incident out of my head.

Talk to you later. Take care and TRY TO stay safe.

-Princess

Saturday, May 23

The Story Continues...

Hi fellas,

This has been a busy week. Hardly had I
returned from Goa, when I was off again to Khandala for a training program with the Monsanto Finance team. The venue was the Dukes Retreat, and I was pleased with the service, hospitality, food and general layout. The offsite was a lot of fun, as usual, but also tiring and I found myself dozing off in my chair after a wonderful lunch, the AC bang on my face.

But hey, I gotta get back to
my travelogue. Spoke about my train journey last time (didn’t expect to compose an entire post on it, but you know me, can’t stop ranting!!) So, time to move on...

Yes, my cold did get better, but that wasn’t until dusk after I’d reached the resort. Dona Sylvia is located close to Hathi Mahal, Leela Kempinski and Holiday Inn in the plush but sparsely populated area of Mobor, South Goa (about an hour’s drive from the Dabolim airport). It’s a lovely place with cozy rooms and amiable staff. They have their own entrance to the beach, and other facilities to pamper guests include the spa, gym, swimming pool, a couple of bars and banquet halls, etc.

The swimming pool was a big hit amongst visitors – both ISABIANS and tourists. While I admired watching people enjoying themselves in the pool, I also felt a hint of remorse coz I couldn’t swim. Must learn ya! It’s great exercise and so much pleasure... Soon...

GK Test – What are “reduced milk dumplings in sugar syrup”?
Answer : Gulab jamuns!

Sounds eerie, eh?!!

(This piece of knowledge is brought to you by me courtesy the menu at Dona Sylvia.)

The main course was cheaper than the breakfast, and the booze seemed to be the cheapest, but as I soon discovered, the food quality was good. I wasn’t too happy when the same menu was repeated every 3rd day, but well, life isn’t perfect all the time!!

I shared my room with a female from Aamchi Mumbai, and as she had done my lab before, I found quite a bit of respite in sharing my experiences and questions with her.

(Jeez, I can sense I’m not telling you the full story coherently. Might as well familiarize you with some facts about ISABS.)

ISABS stands for Indian Society for Applied Behavioural Science. It is a national, non profit, voluntary, professional organisation founded by a group of behavioural scientists engaged in applying their knowledge and skills for the well-being of persons and organisations. (Got doubts? Visit - http://isabs.org/ )

To cut a long story short, they conduct educational and training programmes based on experiential learning and the laboratory technology. These are carried out all over the country on a regional and national level, and are open to all regardless of age or occupation. (More details here - http://isabs.org/activity.shtml )

I’d gone for the Basic Lab, which is called Personal Growth Lab - the first step for any person wishing to start their ISABS journey, explore themselves further, or build a career in the training/facilitating domain.

The journey commences with the Basic Lab, followed by the Advanced, and then you have the Professional Development Program (PDP) which consists of 2 phases and an internship. One may choose the number of labs he/she wishes to do, and people may not necessarily join the PDP. It’s basically fun, and then if you think you’d like a career like that, then you go on... Get it?


Back to where I let off... Me and my roomie were in different labs. That’s how they pair room-mates and lab-mates; no one shares more than one connection. It's part of the learning process. So, ideally, people belonging to the same company (and I didn't realise a lot of organizations send their employees to ISABS on an ongoing basis, as part of their development) would not be in either the same room, or the same lab.

Now what IS a lab? It’s something that I can’t tell you. In fact, even if I tried, I don’t think you’d understand. (This isn’t an assumption; I still remember the facial expressions of the women in my house when I was trying to share my experience with them.)

Just take it from me that it’s probably one of the bestest things you’d be doing in your life. Whether you go for fun or learning or any other purpose, 95% satisfaction guaranteed. And you know better than me that nothing in life is 100% sure...

(Not even the Lasik eye surgery which costs a whopping 40 grand, they say you might get your glasses back even after the operation. Telling you this coz I’d planned to get it done before July this year – my birthday gift to myself – but the doc says I gotta wait until my eye power’s stable. It changed a few months ago, whereas it was constant for 4 years before that!! Dumb destiny...)

Looks like I’ve exhausted this post length in just introducing you to the resort and ISABS... Tell you what, you go have a good weekend, and when you return to this page, I’ll try to have it updated with the more electrifying stuff... I need a break too yaar!

Adios!
Princess

Thursday, May 21

The Rise of the Phoenix

Hi internetters!!

Yes, I’m back! Back with a bang... Back with with peace and understanding, joy and confidence, friends and well-wishers, realizations and solutions... Highly recommended : ISABS lab for entire humankind!!!

To be honest, it wasn’t all masti and joy. I did have my fanatical moments when I got ample annoyed and also times when I cried like a baby, occasions when I felt lonely and instances when I got bored. However, the change in my attitude, beliefs and perceptions made the difference...

For example, it’s not always bad to be angry and impatient. Or if people do not agree with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong. In fact, you are not responsible for what the other person feels. True, you may care and you may get affected by his/her reaction, but it is more about acknowledgement and acceptance than guilt or regret.

Complicated, is it? Well, let me start at the beginning then...

As I told you last, I left for Goa on the 9th (Saturday), and as it had been a while since I traveled by train, that too all by myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There seemed to be more unconfirmed travelers on board the train than passengers with reservations, so I was glad that a seat was allotted to me in the Tatkal quota.

(Some gyaan - Did you know Tatkal has a wait-list too? And when the waiting list for Tatkal is full, “no room” status is declared on the train.)

I shared the bogie with several talkative young parents and their equally voluble kids going to Goa for the summer vacation. The children were a boisterous bunch, and their danga-fasaad was cute for a while.

Then it started getting on my nerves.

The tiny troublemakers kept shoving each other and falling on people unfortunate enough to be seated nearby, and yelling at the top of their goddamned trumpet-like voices. One kiddo played “Jungle Jungle paar chali hai” (the track from Jungle Book starring Mowgli, the chaddi champ) no less than 15 times, and I was on the verge of pulling my hair in agony.

And a miracle occurred. Chhotu dropped his dad’s cell, and the dad went berserk pummeling him as if he were a sack of potatoes. Now, I’m completely against any sort of violence, especially on kids, but sometimes, it isn’t so unpleasant or undesirable you see...

Or maybe it is. Coz the cranky kid raised such a din with his howling, that I was actually praying for the Mowgli track to resume. Needless to say, my prayers were answered and master-blaster was rocking in glee again. Amazing how perspectives come alive and preferences pale in comparison...

Also amazing is the way people cajole others’ brood even as they glare at and bully their own offspring.

But what certainly takes the cake for being the-most-amazingest-thing in the history of humanity is our in-built collective unconscious, specifically, the involuntary process of non-stop ingestion in a moving locomotive. I mean, have you ever noticed HOW MUCH people eat when they’re traveling?!! Barely have they settled into their berths, than out come the chips and cookies. No sooner is that over than someone grabs at a passing vendor selling wadas and chocolates. Anywhere the train halts, pax rush to buy some nashta-pani. I mean, have pity on your stomach, folks!!

Ahem... I’m no exception either. I curl up with a book and my packet of wafers and forget there is a world that exists around me.

(Until those noisy brats start again. Grr...)

Speaking of books, Twilight kept me great company. I found myself drawn to Edward (courtesy Meyer’s excellent narration and extraordinary picturization) and I could completely relate to Bella’s thinking-feeling-behaving patterns. Aah, the first stages of love and infatuation. So perfect, so innocent, so dreamy...

I stared out of the window and saw the marvelous sunset through the tinted AC glass. It brought me a few questions about the event I was going for. I had no clue what it was about, what I had to expect, and what I’d return with. However, as a friend suggested, I had to live life this once unplanned, without knowing what I was in for. “Just live life once like me”, he said, “and see how it is..”

... It was wonderful. Thanks boy.

I’m so glad I took this chance, despite all my uncertainties and ponderings.

As I was thinking all this, I noticed that all the men passing my berth were turning to look at me as if I was from another galaxy. I was reminded of Jab We Met where the station master tells Kareena (yuck, I hate her!) : “Akeli ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai.” LOL.

I was a little irritated by all the attention, but I was in such a jaunty mood, that nothing could spoil it. Not even when my Osho chappals broke, did I so much as utter a “shit”. See what I mean?!! Bliss is such a heady emotion, it’s our legal hashish!

Enter Goa, and I could see coconut trees all around. I alighted at Vasco station around 6 am, and the weather change from the cool AC to the hot, humid climate had me coughing and sniffing continuously. It was all I could do not to punch myself for getting sick when there was an entire week of a new, exciting life ahead of me.

Phir kya hua? Did Anuja get better?? Did she have a good week???

Catch all that and more in the next episode of Life... (Tee-hee-hee!! Sidey...)

Until then,
Asta-la-vista babies!!

Muaaaaaaaaaahhh, love ya all!

- Princess

Thursday, May 7

Ghar Ek Langhar

(There’s no typo there. I indeed mean to say Ghar - Ek Langhar, similar to the movie of yesteryear by the name Ghar Ek Mandir.)

The reasons are pretty obvious: just like a “langhar” in a Gurudwara (Sikh place of worship) serves free food to all that enter, my mum feeds people the same way. Be it the vegetable seller who slips her a few free chillies coz she gives him cool aam-panna in the sweltering heat, or dad’s friend who makes a halt at our place for a few minutes and cant help dozing off coz mum offered him lunch and fed him much more than he could handle, or my outstation friends who yearn for home-made food as they live in hostels.

The other day mum invited
my neighbor (the one who got married recently) for what is called “kelwan” in Marathi. It is a party given to the soon-to-be-wedded-bride/groom. Not only did mummy make 4-5 different chat dishes and snacks, but made sure that after having her fill, the neighbor carried back overflowing dishes to feed her entire family back home. Crazy woman, I tell ya!

Anyways, I’m not complaining. She enjoys inviting people to eat, and people love to eat what she cooks. What bothers me is the fact that she gets too tired at the end of the day, and nobody returns her favor... (I hope people don’t expect me to walk in her footsteps!!)

By the way, Sunday is Mother's Day, so don't forget to give your darling mommy a peck and oodles of pampering. I shan't be able to celebrate it with my mum coz I’m going to Goa next week. (I mean the coming week.)

I shall be in Madgaon between May 10-16 for the Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Science (ISABS)’s human process lab – the basic one, which is for personal growth. I have been recommended for the same by almost everybody at work, and I’m hoping it will do a fat lot of good to the way I perceive myself and others, my interactions with people and my behavioral development. You can read more about the event on this page :
http://www.isabs.org/a.shtml

The program is happening in Goa, which is a reason to rejoice in itself! The venue is a 5 star resort called Dona Sylvia (check out their website :
http://www.donasylvia.com/index1.html ) which modestly conveys that it is spread over 26 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on the southern coast of Goa, has 181 rooms and nestles on the soft white sands of the Cavelossim Beach... Sounds superb!! Bet you're jealous ;-)

I shan’t be blogging from there, as they have a tight schedule laid out for us. I will be attending sessions from 8am to 6 pm, (and I’m going to be gallivanting the Goan streets after that) so I will return to tell you about my experiences and adventures only after Monday the 18th.

Packing starts today, and I'm mighty excited at the prospect of travelling and staying alone (away from people I know, I mean) for an entire week.

Someone very sensible told me something extremely wise yesterday - That I should learn to forgive myself for making mistakes... coz I'm not God... A perfectionist like me will sure find this thought profound and difficult to execute.

But hey, you know what?? Even God isn't liked/admired by all. Nope, I'm not referring to atheists; I'm speaking about how some folks hated the resourceful and witty Krishna and criticised him. (Click here for stories in the Mahabharata) So, you see, noone can hope to be adored and appreciated by every single person in this wide world. Food for thought.

Oh, by the way, I finished
Anatomy of Deception two days ago. The book wasn't as thrilling as I'd expected it to be. The suspense was pretty dry, and I'm hoping Twilight (which I'm saving for the train journey to Goa) will be more enjoyable.

Wish me luck!!

Love all,
Princess

P.S : Hey, the rickshaw strike is off... However, Baba Adhav wins again as fares are not majorly slashed. The fare for the first kilometer is now Rs. 10 and 7 bucks for every km thereafter. Sad, eh? That's the way democracy functions, my friend...

Monday, May 4

Movie & Masti Mania

Hi,

I finally saw
8 X 10 Tasveer starring Akki. As you know, I really wanted to see it, but I missed it the first two weeks, and then the lackadaisical report I heard about the plot turned my potential movie-mates off. Thanks to the no-new-film-release strike by multiplexes, I finally went for this thriller to Big Cinemas (previously Adlabs) in Kalyani Nagar.

Let me tell you, I loved it. Enjoyed myself to the hilt. The climax sure could have been better (given the film is by Nagesh Kukoonoor), but I was not let down by either Akshay’s stunts or the pace of the movie. Ayesha Takia was a disappointment (she didn’t have too much to do actually, nor did Javed Jaffery for that matter), but there were more than a few gripping moments when you are stunned by the impeccable direction and visualization.

The movie is about a man who loses his sibling in a freak accident and subsequently acquires a supernatural gift of being able to enter into the life of another person by touching his photograph. However, he can stay there only for a minute, failing which he will not be able to return to his true life. After helping two women with his power, he needs to focus his ability into investigating the death of his own father, who he suspects has been murdered. He enters into the life of each person on board the murderous yacht at that time, and the truth when revealed is quite unpredictable.

Not path-breaking by any standards (Bollywood has too many movies for any plot to be wholly novel), but the film is interesting. I would have preferred Akki himself to be the murderer who enters his own picture in a bid to turn events and consequences, but Nagesh doesn’t seem to have liked/chosen that outcome. And hence my rating – 7/10.

A 10/10 place I visited this weekend - a super serene place right here in Pune – is the Lohegaon lake, close to the airport. I’m surprised I’d never heard of it before. This wonderful location is a gift for all those who enjoy an evening spent in thought and solitude, in the lap of nature. The bliss is enhanced by the non-stop convivial breeze that takes away all your frustrations and worries, sorrows and anxieties. Pure rapture!

We often talk about empowerment in the corporate and professional sector, but I am yet to experience it at my workplace. My latest tryst with the definition occurred when Ammi (my aunt - Abba’s wife if you may) offered that I change the water in her fish bowl. And I felt as pleased as punch! I was smiling like a proud baby who thinks it has an important task to conduct!

Off I marched to the bathroom with the vessel containing the little yellow-white Pisces. She was as good as numb coz the water was well past its sell-by date! As I carefully (and fearfully) directed her into a mug, she almost entered as if enamored by the thought of the fresh water that she would soon be gliding around in. Her confidence in me gave me the self-assurance with which I completed the remainder of the assignment. Cheers!! The sight of her frisking and frolicking, gamboling and cavorting in the new fluid was greater than any other reward I could have been offered. As they say, the best things in life are free!!

Just like meeting someone after eons is... The person in question is the attendant at Baskin Robbins Baner, who I knew when I frequented Baskin Robbins Aundh 2 years ago. When I went to the newly opened outlet at Baner, I was busy choosing flavors when this dark rotund guy sneaked a few longer than ordinary glances at me. He looked vaguely familiar, and the memory flashed! He smiled and said “I thought you wouldn’t recognize me” to which I gushed saying “Of course I do!”

The people around us envied our conversation as if they were overhearing the nuclear war details between Osama and Obama, while I coolly walked out with an overstuffed tumbler of Almond Praline with discounted hot chocolate and nutty toppings. The meeting would have been far more pleasant had the ice-cream tasted delicious, but well, you can’t have everything!!

Another place I discovered in Baner is a small and sweet joint called Not Just Coffee. It is bang opposite CafĂ© Basil (that has a striking green board, but sells disgusting and overpriced wraps) and serves meals and snacks. Being the only place in that locality which offers the Hookah, you can expect the prices to be steep, but what’s weird is that every figure ends in a 1; a Hookah costs 221/251, cold coffee costs 81, and so on. The service is OK and the ambience is decent. Though I wouldn’t call the restaurant excellent, it sure is a nice place to hang out, and good for a change.

Hey, I watched a little bit of Delhi Heights (I think its spelt “Delhii”, but I am not certain) the other day on UTV Movies. It is a good movie albeit not outstanding or unusual. It tells the tale of the residents of an apartment (with the same name as the movie title) and their lives and relationships.

Jimmy Shergill and Neha Dhupia have performed well as spouses from rival firms, and their tale is about how their professional obligations and suspicions mess up their marital life. Rohit Roy as the compulsive flirt and his browbeaten pretty wife Simone Singh add to the story while a group of youngsters do their age-appropriate masti. Om Puri speaks the golden words of marriage as he suggests that Jimmy say sorry whenever things are not right and take his wife out for dinner if he wants the next day to be pleasant...

What endeared the movie to me and struck a chord was the chemistry between Jimmy and Neha. How they handle situations and arguments, how they converse interminably and interact mutely, how they love and how they fight. I could see myself in Neha’s character and I could envisage the dilemmas of the boy – all so genuine and germane. Though it is too late for me to pass a review on the film (it released in 2007 I think), I will still tell you that the next time it comes on TV, do spare a moment... It’s not bad...

What IS bad for sure, is when people force you for something you do not wish to do. Like dancing at some family function for instance. A neighbor is getting married this week, and her Sangeet night on Saturday was what could best be described as unorganized danga-fasaad. (I know danga-fasaad is unorganized, but the emphasis is coz even the music was not in place.)

So, the point is, while the merry men and women are dancing without any invitation, it is quite a task for the not-so-enthusiastic ones to avoid people’s gazes who are prodding them to jig around as well. Leave us alone, folks!! If you wana dance, go ahead! Each one to his/her own! I do enjoy dancing, but sometimes it’s much more fun to watch and smirk ;-)

And hey, just in case you did not know, there's a rickshaw strike happening in Pune coz these hoodwinks won't reduce auto fares despite the slash in petrol prices. Such goondas, I tell you... Just like we last discussed...

Keep smiling, anyway!

Love,
Princess