Tuesday, December 30

The perfectionist is here again!

(No, I’m not talking about myself. Read on, hasty judgmentalists!)

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the one and only Amir Khan! The actor’s done it again – he has made an exquisite movie, and has lived up to his one-blockbuster-a-year code.

Ghajini - In one word, terrific. In two words, absolutely terrific. In three, I ain’t kidding.

The movie is a remake of a Tamil film by the same name. (“The first ever movie”, my dad commented, “to be named after the movie’s villain.” I’m not sure about that, but all of us anticipated Amir to be Mr. Ghajini.)

I’m told that everything in the movie, right from the storyline to the characters and actors (except Amir, of course), even the songs are a complete copy of the original. But hey, it’s done very well, and there’s no denying that.

The plot is, Mr. Richie Rich falls in love with Ms. Helpful, who is bumped off by some goondas. In the same incident, Richie gets whacked on the head and is struck by anterograde amnesia thanks to which he forgets everything every 15 minutes. He still remembers he swore revenge, and the story is about how he locates the khooni-darinda and achieves his life purpose.
(I actually researched my graduate-level Abnormal Psychology books, eager to know more about this medical condition, and refreshed my study of dissociative fugue and retrograde amnesia in the bargain. How information is not transferred from short-term to long-term storage, and the person is unable to recall anything other than what he knew before the accident.)
Not a very extraordinary tale when you read it, but the way it is filmed and narrated is nothing short of exceptional. I was prepared to return home disappointed, and proclaim to the world that Amir is all hype, no substance. But my plans were foiled, and the 200-minute long flick did every ounce of justice to the excitement. Worth the wait after Taare Zameen Par (TZP) last December. Truly worth it.

It’s no secret that Amir is a fabulous performer, and he outdoes himself in this one. His emotional outbursts and facial expressions, his composure and confidence take your breath away. The way he looks around like a lost baby after his 15-minute clock times out is a fine glimpse of his proficiency at the art. A stickler for details, Amir’s character in the movie also searches for a suitable weapon to murder the adversary. He resembles bhatija Imran in quite a few scenes, but his impish grin is utterly inimitable. Whatta brilliant 6-pack!

And need I explain how tremendously cute and charming he looks in the Van Heusen gear?!! This is one individual who can carry off anything with ease and enthusiasm – be it his formal half-shirt sleeves rolled up in Ghajini, or the crazy fluorescent T-shirt in Aati Kya Khandala (Ghulam) or the whacky yellow dress in Rangeela... Hats off to him buddies! (Pants, too, if you insist.)

About the rest of the crew, Jiah is in appalling need of a wash and some food. The anorexic female with a slap-worthy, arrogant face is nothing but a pain in the movie, butting her nose into other people’s affairs. Asin, as Amir’s love interest, is pretty and endearing, and you actually find yourself praying that their lovey-dovey, funny-mushy story ends well. The crook in the movie is downright contemptible, as he mutters “shooort-term memory loss” each time the camera zooms in on him.

My mum liked the movie, an opinion hindered by the presence of too much action and violence, especially in the climax. However, we were both unequivocally impressed by the systematic way in which the protagonist files and stores his possessions. (All you folks who have trouble getting organized, take note!) “Switch off light”, “remove T-shirt” are a few post-its that are stuck around the house for the hero to combat his medical condition.

Here are a few learnings that I gathered from the movie:

One, follow your aim with single-minded focus and perseverance. Like Amir has “Kill him”, “revenge” splashed across the walls. Similarly, let your entire life revolve around your greatest dream or wish. Work fervently to achieve it, and don’t give up, come what may.

Two, being kind and helpful is perilous. In kalyug, people who do good are doomed and punished, and evil-doers are hailed and protected. That is why Madame Asin is slaughtered, though nemesis soon catches up with the assassin.

Three, none can escape or thwart fate. You may have your own plans and ambitions, but fate decides what course your life will take. Why else did Amir with his business dream that races into the future land up in a murky, forgetful present? (Ya, I know I said this
yesterday as well.)

Well, what else? Salman Khan has turned 43, and I’m wondering whether he ever plans to tie the knot. Besides speculating about his marital aspirations, I’m also connecting with tons of friends and folks on Orkut, Facebook and Linked-In. Check out this amazing question posted by a Mr. Phil Johnson on LI : “Who are you?”

Looks effortless, eh? Wait until you read this - you need to say who you are without referring to your name, age, sex, physical appearance, habits, characteristics, reactive tendencies, location, profession, title, religious beliefs, group affiliations, family history, personal history, anything that others have said or written about you, education, income, financial worth, political beliefs or affiliations... Now, what say?!!

Have a great time exploring yourself, people!
Here’s wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year! May the new year bring you many new hopes, promises and reasons to celebrate!!

See you in the new year!!


Monday, December 29

Zindagi ka Safar

Zindagi ka safar, hai ye kaisa safar,
Koi samjha nahi, koi jaana nahi...

Ever wondered how some people battle and emerge victorious at the bleakest of times, and how some crumble at the teeniest hint of trouble? Ever noticed how some folks get the best of things without striving much and how some break their bones trying to achieve a goal, and pass out a millimeter short of the destination?

Call it Karma, Luck, Destiny or Fate.
What is in store for you, you will definitely receive. No one can take it away from you.

It’s all in your Kismet (aka Kismat).

Like in the
Mahabharata, when Dhritarashtra gave the Pandavas the most barren and desolate of areas as their future kingdom to rule, Yudhishtira accepted it without a protest. (Love Krishna’s dialogue here – His words are warm, but the heart is cold.) The new king was not destined to live in miserable quarters, and so Khandavaprastha became Indraprastha, the most thriving and stunning empire of the country, reinvented by magic and mysticism.

(Also, in Ghajini, that I saw the day before, there was no reason why the phoren-return, rich, ambitious, handsome and destined-for-good-times Sanjay "Amir" Singhania should land up with a blow on his head that ruined his life and love... But naseeb ke aage kaun kya sakta hai?!!)

Life is a full circle, I think I’ve said this before. The good that you do unto others will return to you, as will the bad. Nothing is forgotten or overlooked. Even when the people involved move on from incidents and sentiments, the account is still pending until the time justice is done and fairness is established. If I trouble someone, it’s gona come back to me, some way or the other, at some time or the other. And it may not return the same way, in the same form, as it was at first. It will change into a phenomenon that will affect me in a comparable manner, and only then is the story complete.

(Did I make sense or was I too philosophical a moment ago? Can’t record examples and personal observations on this page; it would be too private and delicate. Chew those brains, people!)

Does that mean you control nothing in your life? No. You do. How you construe a particular situation, and how you behave in that situation is your baby. (Though of course, books and people say even that is pre-destined, but won’t that thought render us completely helpless and miserable?)

Besides, you only know what you were destined to do AFTER you’ve actually done it, so don’t give up!!

Probably the best way to discover the goodness and joy in your life, is to count your blessings as compared to those who suffer in diverse ways. (Not a very polite proposition, but certainly one of the most effective.) Like when you see the underprivileged living on the streets, or when you see people suffering in the hospitals. Those are the times when we invariably notice just how advantaged and blessed we are. So what if I do not have my own room at home? I at least have a roof over my head... OK, I don’t earn as much as a few of my peers, but I at least don’t have to yearn for “necessities” that I already possess...

“Samay ke pehle aur naseeb se zyada kisi ko kuch nahi milta” is a popular saying in Hindi as is “daane daane pe likha hai khane wale ka naam” (Roughly, the two translate to : nobody gets anything before time and more than what he is destined to get, and every morsel holds the name of the eater.) Once imbibed, these two lines can ease and eliminate quite a few or your hassles and sorrows.

Better said than done. I know. I’ve been battling it myself since times immemorial. Just thought I’d share. Maybe you’ll have better “luck” in following it.


Saturday, December 27

Lonely... I am so lonely...

A lot of people have asked me why I call myself Lonely Princess.
Frankly, I never gave it much thought. It just appealed to me, calling myself a princess, and lonely at that, coz I considered loneliness my steady companion.

Truth be told, I had to choose a name for my blog, and I chose “Life”, and when I was prompted to choose a url, I typed life.blogspot.com. Rejected coz of its brevity, I mechanically clicked life-lonelyprincess, and it got accepted. That’s the story. (And then of course, my namesake told me to personalize it, so I changed it to anujarathi.blogspot.com. But don’t you already know that!)

Now when I think of it, I think I identify myself with the “lonely in a crowd” expression. I’ve met a zillion people in my life, but inspite of being close friends, people always moved on. And I didn’t. I thought that just like me, people would be loyal to the relation and stay, even if they physically moved away. Maybe my temper, maybe my expectations, maybe the monotony – don’t know what made them seek newer pastures. I felt bad, disappointed and hurt. But then, that’s life. Doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to...

Be it school, when the Marathi crowd stuck together, or college when the hostel-ites formed a clique, I found myself trying to fit in with my peers. (Cleared out my cupboard yesterday, and was amazed to read the many dilemmas and conflicts that occurred between 2002-2007, all safely preserved in my Dear Diary, now reduced to scrap and rubbish in the trash can.) Perhaps it was my inferiority complex or my insecurity that urged me to be close with the ‘hep’ people, who I now realize only “appeared” to be popular coz of the aura we built around them. Perceptions at play again, you see... When you delve deeper, you will observe that they are just like us (maybe worse!) in more than a few areas.

The point being, people came and people went, I still carry their memories with me, but I have now come to terms with the fact that not everybody is out looking for lifetime companions. When in Rome, be like the Romans, and forget the others, is the norm of the current age. (It’s amazing how Abba still has childhood friends who he doesn’t meet for ages, but are in contact, and as close as if they’d met the day before. But then, that's another generation altogether.)

So, signing off as “lonely princess” does not mean I’m alone or unsocial, it just means that life has taught me that in the end, you’re always by yourself. And you’re the only one you can rely upon. It is difficult, especially as feedback and support are my blood and oxygen. Nevertheless, one must go on. Through times testing and people indifferent. Life goes on...

As does this blog!

Hey, if you’re one of those who say or hear constant grumbles like “why does this always happen to me?”, then here’s an answer to the whine-o-thon. In the Mahabharata, Yudi asks the same question to Lomasa muni – “Why does a man who treads the path of dharma suffer, while those that are steeped in evil come to no harm?” We all see the good folks living in pain and penury, and the bad ones enjoying life and luxuries. And we ask WHY???

The response is this : The evil ones don’t flourish, but only appear to, that too briefly. No man prospers by sin. He is troubled by his own conscience; his own crime consumes him from within. Someday those that he sinned against will recover from the harm he did to them, but the sinner’s guilt remains with him. It torments him till his hour of retribution arrives. There is no escape, justice overtakes him and brings his destruction. Besides, life isn’t as short and simple as it seems. What you’re suffering today may be the punishment for some previous sins. We all have lived many lives before this...

Hope that gives you the persistence and poise to go on and tackle the multitude of challenges that life poses.

Keep the faith!

Friday, December 26

I can walk English, talk English, laugh English...

Hi readers!

No Mahabharata, no news and no books this time.

You know I was an English trainer, don’t you?

Worked with inlingua for 2 years during my Masters as an ESL / EFL instructor (stands for English as a Second/Foreign Language). Twas super! Not only coz I’m smitten by the language, but coz I’m besotted with teaching as well!

I was initially a tad apprehensive as to whether my raging temper could cope with imparting knowledge and skills to a bunch of students. Especially those brats who think they know it all, or those that do not make a pennyworth effort. However, I think I did pretty well, counting by the number of students who made exceptional progress at the end of my instruction, or those that returned asking for “Anuja Ma’am” to tutor their subsequent batch. Gigantic ego-booster!

I taught formally for only 24 months, but I have been guiding people in the language for as long as I can remember. Be it my classmates asking for help with their essays, or my colleagues asking for some tips to speak better, or parents and relatives desirous of improving their conversation skills. Can’t say I’ve always enjoyed it; there used to be times when I got bugged for being approached at odd times to troubleshoot and coach. But well, all in all, I loved the adulation and admiration. (I’m a Leo, what else shall I say?!!)

I met some wonderful people at inlingua... Including a 60-something gentleman who couldn’t come to terms with the fact that the institute targeted spoken skills rather than writing/spelling/grammar issues, a 10-odd year old girl who was mentally retarded, and several folks in between who each touched my life in varied ways.

There were quite a few similarities among the batches, despite the level and strength. One of them obviously was the student concerns and problem areas; most students found pronunciation and word order a challenge. For example, “Why you are doing this?” instead of “Why are you doing this?” Plus the accents – Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, South Indian, Bihari. We shared quite a few laughs thanks to each student’s unique mannerisms. Miss those days!

This post comes as a response to the many times I’ve heard people say that they have trouble thinking in the language. Their usual process is:
1. Listen to a particular tongue
2. Translate it into their mother-tongue (which is often the language they think in)
3. Think of an appropriate response in the same tongue
4. Translate it back into the language that is being used at the moment.

Quite tedious, eh? You got my empathy, fellas. More so coz I’ve never had this difficulty. My mother-tongue is Hindi, but I read English voraciously during childhood and conversed with schoolmates in Marathi. So, I can say I’m tri-lingual that way. (Poly-lingual actually, coz I know Marwari, a little Punjabi, Bengali, and German as well.)

Struggled with German in high school, though, as everything has a gender (der mann, die frau, das kind... Ahem, was that correct?!!) This is further complicated by the Dativ case (the dems, dies, ders drove me crazy!) Whew! Sooo glad to have said goodbye to the language.

As a matter of fact, I’m aware French is far tougher. Let’s see when I can realize my teenage dream of learning Spanish (te amor con toda mi alma... te quiro... hola matador! Vocab over.) Also want to learn the Salsa, but na partner hai na time... Desires galore!

Back to English. Look, the best way to learn any language is to speak with someone who knows it reasonably well. All those Rapidex-es and other language books will NOT help. For the simple reason that you do not speak the language as you read/write it. (When was the last time you said “My name is (XYZ) and my occupation is (driving)”? Bet you say “I’m (XYZ) and I’m a (driver)”... Yeah?!!) And another thing to remember is, it is OK to make mistakes, as long as you know you’re working hard to learn and retain.

Translation is a BAD idea. (Seen Instant Khichdi on Star One? How Hansa ben says “Hello! How are?” which is a direct translation of “Namaste, kaise ho?”) Each language has its own rules and intricacies. Especially sentence construction and prepositions (the Hindi “pe” can be the English “on”, “above”, “over”, “at”... all at once!)

Most students I saw also goofed up with tenses, especially the past. Very understandable, as verbs that all end in “–d” are still pronounced differently. For example, “walked” is pronounced “waw-kt”. Irregular verbs and perfect tense have their own twist as run becomes ran and hang becomes hung. It’s a zany language, indeed! (Yeah, I know the vocabulary is terrific, but don’t fret! Of the millions of words in the language, we barely use a few hundred on a daily basis.)

I could go on and on, but I guess I should call it a day with a few recommendations for you and a confession myself.

The recommendations first:
1. Read a lot of books/magazines, and keep a dictionary handy. This will improve your vocab like nothing else can. It may seem tiresome at first, but soon, you’ll enjoy the process. Please do NOT memorize the dictionary, though you may scan a few pages while looking up something new.
2. Watch BBC and Discovery and other authentic English channels. (Star Movies and HBO are good, too, but that might have a lot of American slang.)
3. Speak a lot. You’ll make mistakes, so ask a person more proficient than you to correct you when you go wrong. Keep revising and practicing, as language is a skill after all, and can be forgotten when not used.
4. Surf English sites online. There’s a world of info out there on English language teaching and learning. Lots of games, exercises and useful hints. All for free!

Well, that’s good for starters. Now for the confession. This might unsettle you, and you may scoff at me when I say I feel my English could do with some improvement. I’ve seen folks who speak so incredibly well, I consider myself an amateur in front of them. The speed of thought and response, the intonation, the aptness of the terms and phrases. Man... I envy those guys! Wish I could speak like them...

And here’s a note for you all – Even the best of speakers make errors at times. Just because a person can handle situations and get through them with a language does not mean he/she is good. However, not all mistakes are easily noticed. So, be confident and speak away!

Happy learning!

Wednesday, December 24

Cheerharan... And Christmas Cheer!

25 pages, 40 minutes and a reservoir of tears...

That’s how I can describe my reading of the game of dice and ensuing catastrophe that occurred when the Pandavas were invited to Hastinapur by Duryodhana after the Rajasuya yagna.

Never once was I so touched when I saw the
Mahabharata on television. (Ramanand Sagar’s direction, wasn’t it?) The emotions escaped me and the actors did little or no justice to the role. Or maybe I was too young to understand the authenticity of their lengthy dialogues, garish gestures and overstated expressions.

As I read
Menon’s modern rendering, I can’t help forming a few ideas and hypotheses. I feel the mishap could have been averted, had Yudi declined the invitation and accepted his inability to win at dice. But then, what fate plans, mere mortals can only follow. And so went the troupe to Dhritarashtra-land, courting disaster. That fateful day when Yudi lost his head, and thereafter ended up losing everything he had – his dignity, wealth, kingdom and family.

To recount the course of events, Dury asked Shakuni to play for him, and it was no secret that Shakuni, besides being an evil and avaricious chap, was a master at the game. (Did you know his dice were made from the bones and ashes of his departed brethren? When he and his siblings came for sister Gandhari’s wedding, the host family starved the guests, and the brothers kept Shakuni well-fed and alive to take revenge. Shakuni, in a bid to destroy the in-law clan, kept nurturing his nephew Dury to become wicked and wanton.)

Despite Yudi’s initial refusal, the game began, and Yudi lost control as his losses mounted. Gambling is a nasty thing, it kills your sensibility and murders your intellect. After his material possessions went under, he put his brothers at stake. (I’m compelled to consider that had this taken place in kaliyuga, this debacle would never have transpired, as the brothers would have questioned and then disowned Yudi’s irrational decisions, thus ending the game.)

However, the brothers bound by dharma obeyed their eldest brother, and found themselves slaves of the Kaurava clan. Draupadi wasn’t spared either, and the insult she bore at the hands of Dussasana, Duryodhana and even her husbands and elders (indirectly) is narrated in a painfully distressing manner. Imagine being stripped naked by a stranger amidst a huge audience that comprises of a thousand men, half of whom are your cousins, husbands and elders, and none of them voices outrage at this dreadful affront...

Vikarna, Dury’s brother, gives a couple of reasons why Dro can’t be treated as a slave won by dice. One was that Yudi lost himself before Dro, so she cannot be put at stake by him. Another was that the other 4 husbands weren’t asked before this decision, and Dro belongs to all 5 after all.

Moving on, Dhritarashtra, gripped by fear and foreboding, finds himself returning to Yudi all that was lost by him in the game, and requesting his nephew to forgive and forget what had occurred during the day. (Prior to that, when Dhri granted Dro a few boons, you know what she asked for? Yudi’s freedom first, followed by the freedom of the other brothers and their weapons. Watta woman!!)

Off went the Pandavas, burning with shame, but perhaps willing to forsake the thought of revenge. Things would have been peaceful had Dury not asked his father to call them back again for one last throw of dice. And Yudi (curse his nobility!) relented yet again. This time, they lost their kingdom and were exiled for 13 years. (Not that Yudi really minded, he was always more of a sadhu-sant than a hungry-for-war kshatriya! But, Dro’s and Bheema’s emotional and verbal demonstrations are worth a dekko!)

That brought me to the end of the Sabha Parva. I’m now on the Vana Parva, that’s section 3 in the first volume. It describes the life of the Pandavas and Dro in the forest. How Dro received the magical food-bowl from Surya Deva, how Bheema killed Kirmira the demon, how Arjuna waged war against none other than the mighty Shiva, and a host of other intriguing tales. So faa, so good... (What WASN'T so great for me was the Arjuna-Urvashi rendezvous. What with Indra sending Urvi to Arjy so that he could "taste the sweetest fruit in Devaloka" and Arjy calling Urvi mommy! And what does he get for his sincerity? A curse that will render him a eunuch! Good for him though... Takes care of his last year in exile that required him to be undiscovered.)

Enough Mahabharata... What plans for Christmas, people? I’m probably going to visit Camp, slurp on some Dorabjee Frappe and walk around enjoying the festivities. No Christmas stocking for me this season, as Santa’s missing in my life... (Miss you, Sarikadi... It hurts when we chat formally on the phone, and end up saying nothing half the time...)
Well, let's not take off on a sad note. Here are some Christmas carol links to cheer you up (WITH the lyrics, for all my lovely readers who do not know them but would like to sing along!)
Jingle Bells -
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer - http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=ONxKfG60CwU

I’m eagerly awaiting December the 31st... Unfortunately, my colleagues don’t share my enthusiasm. Obviously. Considering it would be their last day in the office. Alchemy has downsized, and this leaves me and the boss to grapple with the new business that’s coming in as a fruit of my BD efforts. Reminds me of my power of perception post : the same situation, but such vastly different outcomes and perspectives for different individuals... Hope the going’s great for you!

Wish you a wonderful holiday season, ladies and gentlemen!
May all your dreams come true!


Tuesday, December 23

Pati, Patni Aur Wo (Stress, What else?!!!)

Men often find their “Miss Right” early in life; it’s only later that they realize her first name is “Always” ;-)

When two people meet and the timing is right, they like each other and enjoy being together. One thing leads to the other, and Cupid strikes. Officially or secretly, the duo call themselves a couple, and are visibly and self-admittedly mad about each other.

As time passes and the relation grows old, novelty and enthusiasm fades. Complaints are commonplace as are silly, exaggerated arguments and meaningless yet terminal fights. Each thinks he/she has made more sacrifices for the relation, and each confesses of having unfulfilled expectations. What was initially endearing and adorable now becomes irritating and appalling. “I am not at fault, and even if I am, my mistake is pardonable as compared to yours” or “How COULD you do that?!!” or “You should be more understanding and tolerant” dominate daily conversation, that ranges from 2-200 calls a day. Sometimes pleasant and mushy, sometimes not so nice, and at times bordering on the civil.

Having been through a lengthy love-hate relationship myself, as well as several deep friendships, I know exactly how this works. How frustrating and depressing such cycles can be. How things get blown up, and the girl feels “you’re not the man I loved” while the man frets over the futility of any kind of justification or constructive effort.

We tend to think it’s over, that the love has died. But refer the brilliant tale
about fires and relationships that I shared with you last August, and you’ll be crammed with hope and exultation.

And even as I ponder over relationships, the surrounding annoyance and disappointment, the setting is just right for what I found while rummaging through Abba’s recently updated bookshelf – Why Mars and Venus Collide by John Gray. The book says it is an “essential companion to the multi-million-copy bestseller Men are from Mars and Women from Venus” by Allan and Barbara Pease. (You may recall I’ve written a
post in October on their sequel Why Men won’t listen and Women can’t read maps)

So, the current book essentially talks about how the genders cope differently with stress, and how this awareness can improve relationships. As I was flicking the pages, I caught these interesting lines:

- Women today are so tired and stressed, they too want a happy wife to greet them at home.
- A man loses interest when he sees that he can’t continue to meet a woman’s expectations.
- The problem is never just our partner but our own inability to cope with stress.
- If a man forgets a woman’s need or a woman remembers his mistakes, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.
- It is inconceivable to women that a man can effortlessly sit and not think about things.
- When a woman is not getting what she needs, she feels an urge to give more.
- And remember the post I wrote on
shopping and dressing? Here’s one related to that – Men shopping with their partners may feel exhausted as if they are wandering in the dessert!

Then there was this entire section on what mistakes men and women make in a fight. For example, women keep comparing the man to another or to how he was in the past, and they expect the man to make them feel good instead of just doing it on their own. (Jeez! I didn’t know this was a gender thing! I thought it was a case with just me! I am SO glad!!) A man, on the other hand, justifies his actions by proving her interpretation wrong, and corrects her priorities instead of supporting her values.

Towards the end of the book is this interesting part on “”In the Beginning and Later”. Some fragments:
Men : Before – He plans dates / After – He waits to find out what she wants to do.
Women : Before – She is delighted by his plans / After – She seeks to improve on his plans.

Men : Before – He showers her with love and affection / After – He becomes engrossed in his work.
Women : Before – She happily gives her love and support / After – When her support is not reciprocated, she feels taken for granted and resentful.

Whew! Looks like I’ve summarized the entire paperback in this post! Hope it puts the zing back in your relationships!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 22

The Supreme Conqueror

I spoke to an old friend after ages the other day. We live pretty close by, but have lost touch over the last couple of years since each went a different way in college.

I recently heard she had lost her mother, but despite our school-day intimacy, I could not find the nerve to meet her and offer my condolences... I’ve always had a tough time facing death and the relatives of the deceased. Be it one of
my junior college-mates who drowned in a freak accident, or a school-mate who hung himself, or another college-mate who expired due to cancer...

Death is the final reality, the ultimate victor. No living thing can say it has evaded vanquishment coz none can elude this destiny. Yet we shun the topic, and the moment someone near talks about it, we are filled with a sense of dread and annoyance. Like when my mum talks about making a will and donating her body/eyes, the men in my familysnap at her and change the subject. WHY? If a person wants something to be done some way after he/she is no more, then why don’t we respect their wishes? Why do we consider talking about death ghastly and distasteful? It IS a reality after all. And it is going to happen to everyone. You, me, our neighbors, colleagues, everyone...

Yet we
behave like we’re gona live forever. We accumulate wealth and luxuries, we hurt people and exploit opportunities as if we shall always govern them. As if we have an eternity to make things right that we ruin today, and as if we shall always be in control of things/people around us...
Death comes without warning; people in their mid-20s receive no notification as they run head-first into its arms, while those on their deathbed continue to live for many more decades... All we can do, is wait... And watch... And hope for the best.

I skirt going to funerals and death ceremonies for two reasons. One, because I feel very inadequate and at a loss for words. Two, coz I want the bereaved to get over the incident. Which they will not be able to do if people from all over come at different intervals of time and talk about the same episode again and again.

expects that people will cry forever. That each time someone mentions death or the departed, people will mourn. Lets be candid, it doesn’t happen. People cry once, twice, thrice maybe, and then tears dry up. Memories remain, as does grief, but that does not necessitate loud bawling and visible lamenting. Genuine anguish is discernible even in the absence of a single sound. And haven’t we all seen that the ones who cry the loudest are often the ones who are least bothered about the event and most concerned about making an impression?
(Note : No offence meant. I completely agree there maybe exceptions. Just cited an observation of some of us who have encountered a demise in the orthodox and conservative areas in India.)
I remember seeing my grand-dad’s dead body laid out for all to see when I was barely 4-5 summers old. I wasn’t sure what was happening, though I think I understood that he was not alive anymore and people were grieving for him. He was a good man, a famous chap, and he even has one of the main streets in the village named after him. But how did that affect us kids? Me and my cousins played a merry game of pakda-pakdi (Tag!) in the backyard as the ceremonies went on in the front.

I now know that someone who really loves and cares for you will be by your side when you suffer a calamity. And that I need to be with those I know when they undergo a tragedy. Be it joy or sorrow, one must stand by those he/she deems important in any way. It is OK if you don’t say a word, it is OK if you don’t do the most thoughtful things. Just be there. That is THE right thing to do. Avoiding that person or trying to spurn the issue only makes both feel worse.

I apologize to all those who I did not meet or talk to, when there was a mishap. Please forgive me, I was weaker than you, unaware coz I did not comprehend how much it means when people stand by you in times of trouble.

And thanks, Bhabhi, for helping me come to this realization. Had we not had that conversation the other day, I would still be grappling with the dilemma of how to get back on talking terms with the old friend...

I’m with you, people.
All ways.

Lonely Princess

Saturday, December 20

The 3Ms - Mobile, Magnolia, Mahabharata

Something weird’s happening with my cell-phone. I think meri nazar lag gayi hai...

Remember I told you the teeny darling has everything I’d possibly need, and is my most cherished handset till date? Well, seems like it has taken offence. My hands-free doesn’t work until it’s tilted at a particular (and may I add, highly awkward) angle. Besides that, either the Airtel network is screwed, or my sim has gone nuts. I thought my friend had gone barmy when he said I was messaging his from some other number. But, it was true! When I sms-ed him, instead of my number, there was some other number that was appearing in the sender’s details. Not only that, when I was trying to make a call, I was told my outgoing was barred! Hell! Even the customer care number was not going through. (Thank god it’s toll-free!)

Visited the centre yesterday, so I hope things function normally now. I’m sick of the switch off-switch on, remove sim-insert again formula day in-day out... Besides, I was really freaked out that my sms went as another unknown number. What with the terrorist threats and high-fi technology crimes like identity-hacking and password –hacking, I thought my sim was hacked!

My latest discovery has been the Magnolia restaurant. Abba’s in town, and it had been a while since we caught up, so he suggested dinner. Ammi had gone to attend some Bramhakumari discourse at KP, so it was just the two of us. I’m tired of the same old joints in Pune, and in my quest for “something new and different”, I nodded as Abba said Magnolia. Located in Aundh amidst plush electronic and furniture malls, this Thai and Chinese restaurant is not as heavy on the wallet as my favorite Mainland China, but has a comparable ambience, service and fare.

What considerably added to the experience, was the fact that I did not have to order, as I passed the buck to “the man at the table”. (I find it a very onerous and tedious task as the menu seems purposely built to perplex and distress diners.) So, it was Hot and Sour soup, Crispy Chicken, Shanghai Chicken, and Egg Fried Rice that landed up on our table. I wasn’t quite prepared to see coriander and olives floating in my soup, but maybe my understanding of said broth is flawed. (I resolve to henceforth order clear soup at Chinese/Thai restaurants.) The starter was pretty decent, and the main course scrumptious. I had a few laughs as the cute waiter there described the Shanghai Chicken and Chicken Hongkong in almost identical terms, even as he recommended a white gravy Chicken Hot Pot.

As conversation hovered around married and professional life, I ordered Sizzling Brownie for dessert, and watching-my-diet Abba willingly sneaked a few spoonfuls. Sound like a perfect dinner date, eh? What makes it even more ideal, is the bill that came to a measly 300 per person! They also serve wine and beer, so the place could be a good venue for friends or lovers. My rating – great place, must visit once!

As far as reading goes, I’ve resumed the Mahabharata and reached the part where Krishna slays Sishupal, his own cousin, at Yudi’s Rajasuya. I had no choice but to shut the book (with the bookmark firmly in place, of course) and ruminate. Have you any clue WHO Sishupal was??!! I, for sure, did NOT know this eerie connection between Hiranyaksha-Hiranyakashapu, Ravana-Kumbhakarna and Sishupal-Dantavakra... They were all he same two people, born and reborn as demons and each time killed by Vishnu Himself!! Jay-Vijay, the gatekeepers of Vishnu’s Vaikunth were cursed by some munis coz they did not let them in when Vishnu was resting... Kya na, kisi bhi baat pe shaap! If such things were still true today, can you imagine what would happen?!!

“You refused to let me go out with my boyfriend, so may you be separated from your husband forever”... Followed by the mum wailing “Noooooooooooo...”

And if one doesn’t give a penny to the beggar (the monarchs of the Indian streets and public places), “Jaa sale, tu bhi apni agli paanch zindagiyon mein loola-langda bhikari banega”...

Whew! Thank God for small mercies...

So, wassup pretty people? I’m thoroughly bored of work, though there seem to be some refreshingly different assignments in the offing. However, my core responsibilities remain the same, so, it’s not a breather for me just yet. Maybe by December-end, early-Jan things should change. Massively. Psst psst!

Christmas next week and New Year eve the week after that. Time’s a-dragging! Thought of any resolutions hitherto? I can’t conjure up any. But I’m sure New Year’s gona be rocking. Got some plans in mind, but will tell you after it actually happens!

That’s all for now. Be back after the weekend.


Friday, December 19

Striking a balance

When we were younger, we learnt that balancing is no easy job. But at that time, things were a lot simpler. All we had to balance was our bicycles.

In our enthusiasm, we mounted the bicycle, and in our attempt to ride, we fell off a hundred times. Yet, we kept at it relentlessly, neither our vigor nor our dedication giving away. We request our parents’ and siblings’ assistance, and we finally learn to ride... Feels like flying... Free, liberated, boundless...

And then we grew up.

We realized that there was more to life than just our family or the bike. The cluster of people enlarged from a few to few thousand, and the count of activities ranged from ten to ten million. We learnt that life is not orderly and mutually exclusive. That just coz I’m busy in the kitchen doesn’t mean the irate postman at the door is going to wait patiently until the boiling milk simmers down. There are numerous things and many of them occur all at once.

Which is why we need to choose. Life is all about choices. Choices we make, and those that were made for us. Choices that we have, and those that are thrust upon us. Whether to stay home with parents on New Year’s eve and watch TV so they feel happy, or to paint the town red with the gang. Whether to take the job with a good pay packet, or to volunteer for the local NGO. Whether to invest your money now, or to just buy that stunning outfit you’ve been eyeing for the last week...

I mentioned in a previous post that
people who make choices willingly lead hard lives. But then, they at least know their destination, and they find their paths. (Or would you rather trudge through the murky shadows, with no idea about where you’re coming from and where you’re headed?)

Point noted. We need to make choices. And if we can’t, then we need to strike a balance. A finer one than merely holding our feet off the ground and balancing the handle like we did in childhood.

And it’s not just about multitasking. It’s about simultaneously doing more than one thing, and doing all of them to the best of your ability. Not just completing the task, but exceeding expectations. Maintaining equilibrium, (remember when we ride, we need to curve one way at times and bend the other way at other occasions) and at the same time, ensuring that the symmetry is “just right”... na zaada na kam... Not a little more, and not a little less... It has to be perfect. Every situation is unique, each person is different. And the keywords for success are “personalize” and “customize”.

Difficult, true. Impossible, maybe. But then, you have already made your choice about what deserves more weightage. The principles of symmetry are laid down by your needs and evaluations, your priorities and analysis.

What am I talking about? Leave that to you to decipher... My only proposition is - make a choice, and make it NOW. Procrastination won't get you anyplace.
Other updates for you - I'm juggling between the facts and interpretations of the events and characters in the
Mahabharata by Vyas muni. The Palace of Illusions portrayed Draupadi as a bechari kanya who had to endure pain and dilemma coz she was shared by 5 husbands, but apparently the modern rendering I'm reading says she pretty much wanted this decision herself! I know every book as it's own construal, and every author his own understanding of different tales. However, we cannot possibly fool around or take it lightly when it comes to the feelings of such a pivotal character!

A few readers of my blog well-versed with the Mahabharata have also commented on the inaccuracy of the Mahabharata events and emotions that I've shared on this platform. I'm sorry for the errors, but you see, I just share what I read. No personal assumptions or implications. How I wish I could actually go back in time, and see the real characters and episodes... And then come back here and put it up for you to see and react!

Hope you've latched on to the
reading habit... in a small way, if not majorly... Every bit counts!Dream on!

Thursday, December 18

The Power of Perception

You only see what your eyes want to see... How can life be what you want it to be... You’re frozen, when your heart’s not open...

Remember Madonna’s legendary track “Frozen”? The mesmerizing beats take you to another level even as the enchanting lyrics touch your heart...

You’re so concerned with how much you get, you waste your time on hate and regret... You’re broken, when your heart’s not open...

But hey, I’m digressing. (The song never fails to carry me away!) What I have been thinking these days is what is going to make up the content for this post...

Sometimes, even the best of deeds by a "perceived" rival/enemy are given the litmus test. "There must be SOME reason why THIS has been done THIS way"... The habit of taking everything concerning "that" person with a pinch of salt, chewing over notions and intentions...

I’ve said this before –
Situations are objective, it is our perceptions and interpretations that color our beliefs a particular way. So many times misunderstandings occur coz we think we know people and their purposes. How fallacious!

We have flashbulb memories. Take the
Mahabharata for instance. We are all content at believing the great war happened coz of Draupadi. But how many of us find it worth our while to actually go back to the records and see the inevitable sequence of events? That it was actually Shree Krishna, the master manipulator, who instigated Mayaa to build a palace that would generate envy among those who set eyes on it. Duryodhana, thus, green with envy, played the game of dice to win it, and then when everything was lost, fingers pointed at Dear Dro. We could also mull over Yudi’s role in the entire affair; had he not been so righteous, simple and naive, he would have seen through Duryodhana’s ploy to ruin the Pandavas, and would not have put Dro at stake. Or to consider Kunti’s part in the saga; the war would never have occurred had she revealed Karna’s true identity and lineage. (This is why Karna cursed her, that no woman would be able to keep a secret hereafter. And don’t we all know how effectual the curse still is!)

So, you see, blaming Dro and holding her responsible for the massacre isn’t the most accurate thing to do... If we put ourselves in her shoes (rather in her saree), then we’d understand how much humiliation and sadness she underwent... The grass is always greener on the other side, and others always appear luckier than the self.

That and a hundred other instances, show how our perception isn’t faultless, and there are two (or more) sides of the same coin.

We see Krishna as God, the Almighty, the Omnipotent who controls everything. How many of us know that He was as helpless as any other person, cursed to pine for His childhood love Radha? Beyond the realm of life, they could meet, but Krishna could not give up his body and soul before He had fulfilled his duty on earth, that of ridding it of evil.

Give people the benefit of a doubt, even the notorious folks. Be open. Ask candidly. Answer honestly. If someone lies to you, it isn’t too difficult to find out. But if one is telling the truth, you may manage to stay away from inhumane and imprudent blunders. The world is bad, but don’t abandon faith and belief just yet. We can’t live with misgivings all our life. We can’t mistrust all and sundry, and attempt to be happy and serene. It hurts when someone breaks our trust, but what hurts more is not being trusted despite being truthful. It kills the urge to turn over a new leaf if people keep misunderstanding everything you do or say. (My fav teenage line was – If you don’t trust me anyway, why should I explain or tell you anything at all?!!)

Krishna was a smart one. He used His knowledge about people, their behavioral and thought processes to create situations where His ends were achieved. And He got off scot-free coz He had played no part in the actual proceedings! Like He wanted Arjuna and Subhadra to meet and fall in love. Had He done so himself, He would have to bear the ire of his elder bro Balarama. The wily fellow, hence, asked Arjuna to pose as a muni, and exploited Bala’s deep reverence for their kind to land him a place in Subh’s garden, after which the Gandharva vivaha happened pronouncing Arjun and Subh man and wife.

Also, during the Rajasuya yagna that would declare Yudi the emperor of India, Kri purposely asked Dury to be put in charge of the overflowing treasury. He knew this would infuriate the Kaurava yuvraj and make him jealous.

What does it all add up to?

(No, not that we can ever be half as smart as Krishna, but we could sure do with some more wisdom and tolerance.)

One, that we should ponder before we act/operate; hasty decisions are often unwise.
Two, that before we form judgments about people, we must be sure of having the correct information and interpretation.

Quite a sermon!

Cheerio, folks!

Wednesday, December 17

Coffee-Time Blogging

Coffee and blogging, two things I’m crazy about!

Be it the lip-smacking Frappe at Dorabjee or the mouth-watering hot coffee at Pimpri Medical, the yummy cold coffee at Durga near MIT or the delectable beverage at Zaika near Symbi, the tasty thirst-quencher at Model Colony or even the Cappuccino/Latte/Espresso at ritzy coffee bars.
Hot or cold, I love my cuppa. A weekend without one is a weekend gone waste. (Waise I also like my mom-made adrak-tulsi chai, but that's weekday bliss.)

So, well, coffee... I dunno much about brews and origins, but I know I love my coffee and I know
coffee beans are horrendous to taste. And that I like coffee better outside than the one made at home. (Maybe it has to do with the entire experience – the mug/glass, the people around, the waiting/drinking/looking around/chatting, the surrounding hullabaloo, music and the like.)

Of course the ambience at expensive coffee shops is agreeable, but their expensive ware can kill desire. I can affirm without vacillation that the coffee at Barista sucks, though being there is kinda interesting and fun. CCD used to be relatively low-priced a while ago, but now, the value outdoes the worth. I still
enjoy a Devil’s Own and Mochachillo there sometimes, but not if I have other options. (My pet preference “CafĂ© Coffee Break” shut shop a few months ago, and that has rendered me a little upset, but I’ll always remember the cute and familiar setting, the lovely, decent-priced Mochachillo, and you too, Victor!)

Coffee is synonymous with “cool”. Rampant among college-goers and young professionals, the coffee culture reigns supreme! Spending hours over a cup of coffee, meeting old friends, listening to latest tracks and discussing everything under the sun, are all tantamount with “wassup this weekend!” As the Mocha tagline very pertinently reads – Coffee and Conversations.

(By the way, heard the Mocha on Law College Road closed down due to encroachment issues and financial losses. I’m not complaining! Hated the service and crowd there. KP’s much better. Hi, Gilli!)

Did you know that coffee is one of the most researched topics in the world?!! Some say it cures cancer, some claim it causes a weak heart. To me, coffee stands for “fun”, coffee stands for “relaxation” and coffee stands for “me”.

My other obsession, blogging. I’m sure THAT needs no introduction!!

The web log is a powerful medium of communication, indeed! The other day I read that someone from Mumbai blogged about his outrage at the Mumbai terror attacks and the Indian Government’s helplessness. He mentioned he would be standing at the Taj one evening, and people could join him if they so wished. Lo and behold! It turned out to be a full-fledged rally, and made headlines! Great going, buddy! And keep it up, bloggers! Proud of you!!! (Indiblogger has also flagged off a campaign; I’ve joined the brigade. Cheers!)

Surfers arrive at my blog is weird and funny ways. Like one person googled “list of gays in Pimpri” and reached my page. (Sorry to disappoint you, mate!) Another was searching for transport/accommodation in Diveagar (which I didn’t really explain when I was describing my Konkan trip), others land here looking for
Ramraksha and Shantaram.

The above info comes from my
Feedjit, and it’s fun to see the footprints visitors leave behind. Folks from more than 30 countries around the globe have been to my blog. And it feels great! To enumerate a few apart from the US, UK, India : Philippines, Mauritius, Norway, Turkey, Malaysia, Portugal, Germany, Australia, Norway, Russia, Italy, Tanzania, Serbia, Japan, Luxembourg, Canada, Macedonia, China, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Romania, Singapore, Senegal, Jordan, Vietnam, Brazil, Thailand, Egypt, Chile, France, Uganda...

Wonder when I’ll be able to actually set foot myself on their soil! Sucha splendid dream eh, to travel the entire world!! (Note readers, I wouldn’t mind visiting ya sometime. Just send me the air-ticket and I’ll be there!!)
May I take this opportunity to thank Ranu who has so kindly bestowed me with the Blogger award!! I don’t really know 8 blogs that I can pass on the same to, but leme try... There's Saiyona then there's Bitchcakes and Anju and ya, Swashbuckler and how can I forget Tia... Love your writing, fellas!! Yours, too, Ranu! (Dunno if I can return the award to you... But it's sure nice to see you back with a bang with a flurry of new posts!)


Tuesday, December 16

Loner’s Paradise

Howz it going people?!

I’m gona play the role of a middleman today; bringing you info on different topics from different sources. (Of course, with explanatory prose and my own musings... Would “Life” be complete without it?!!)

promised yesterday, here are some lines from The Dark Holds No Terrors that struck a chord with me...

- We can’t pick up life, or relationships, where we left them. People change, life changes. Nothing, not even the same situation or the same person, are identical, at any two given points of time.

- Things that you don’t know, that you’ll never know, always have a significance they don’t really merit. Like when you are dreaming about crossroads. You are eager to find out which way you took, what happened next, what lay at the side you didn’t take, and so on... And the thought continues to bother you long after you’ve woken up and started your routine activities.

- I’m going to get away from this house, this paradise of ... (linen and comforts)... this hell of savagery and submission. But what if I carry my own hell within me? Then there is no hope for me at all! (Coz after all, how do you escape your own private hell?!)

- Whoever said keeping mum saved a relation?! (Yeah, maybe when one is angry, the emotions should be delayed and restricted.) But, silences sure ruin a relationship. They grow from an unimaginable nothingness into something so insidious and unremitting; as huge and insurmountable as Jack’s beanstalk. Each time something happens and you don’t speak, you are putting another brick in the wall of silence. Majority of relationships reach a nasty end thanks to unspoken words and unshared feelings. You’re not preventing hurt and tiffs by remaining mute; you’re only adding fuel to the fire that burns inside. Which could possibly be doused by the verbal expression that you deemed unfit.

- A desire to let go, after all these years... To put yourself in another’s hands... To be protected and pampered. Not to have to worry about anything as long as the (competent) partner’s there to take care of you and make everything right. All you need to do is hand over yourself, obey, follow, no need to think or decide or fret over anything... What a life that would be!! But then, there are so few people that can shoulder burdens, even their own...

- White, soft, clean hands – For a married woman with two kids, are they worthy of vanity or self-contempt?

- And this one’s special... The moment I read “...unloved resentful, ignored Saru...” I just broke down, couldn’t control the spate of tears.

Is it because I’m in this miserable state that I’m identifying myself with the protagonist, or is it something else?!! Am I on the verge of insanity and depression? I’m dissatisfied with everyone, coz maybe I’m unhappy with myself... I’ve realized the trouble is inside me, and nothing outside needs to be changed really, for me to be calm and content...

But, I’m sure God made me this way for a particular reason. And I’ll stand by myself. I’ll not abandon me like so many others did. I’m certain they had their own reasons, and I don’t hold it against them. But, I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt either.

Uh uh... Enough of wallowing in self-pity and remorse. Leme share with you some wonderful lines by our politicians in response to the terrorist threats and attacks, quoted by the TOI, sometime last week:

Are non-state actors coming from heaven or are they coming from another planet? They are operating from the territory of a particular country. – Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister

Not an eye for an eye. But for an eye, both eyes. For a tooth, whole jaw... Please stop running to Mummy (US). – Arun Shourie, BJP

People who have done this should understand very clearly... not only do we hold lives of our people highly, but there is a cost to killing innocent Indians. – Rahul Gandhi

Whatever steps you take which would help win the war on terror, my party and NDA will support them. – L. K. Advani, Leader of Opposition.

Looks like there’s hope and good times in store for all of us. Lets see how much of it actually bears fruit... (Talking about fruit, I can’t get over
my sexy apple! Wish I could actually show it to you!)

TOI also had a highly entertaining column on the top 20 faux pas made in the advertising industry. Loved it! A few hilarious ones – Fox Pass (number 20), Be Rest Assured (19), Writing Block (15), We’ve CASTED her in the FLIM as a BRAAND (10, 9 and 8 respectively), 4 USPs (7), and number 1 was GRAND PRICKS... Hehe...

We’re halfway through December, and I’m wondering what I’ll be doing for New Year this year. My instinct says I’ll be celebrating indoors, but I’m not too sure. Would love to go partying, but I hear Pune’s on the “hit-list” this season. Beware, pretty pubbers...

Trying to race my memory – I welcomed 2008 at Manali Resorts, 2007 at Corinthian, 2006 at Mahabaleshwar, 2005 at Pyramid, 2004 at Splash Mountain, 2003 at Pancard, and then it’s all a blur. Not bad, eh? 5 years is a long time. I’m told Amir in Gajhini forgets things in a matter of minutes! The story revolves around this killer who wants to avenge the murder of his lady love. And apparently, Jiah Khan (“Nishabdh”) is doing an item song in the movie (?!!!) Weren’t item numbers supposed to revolve around sexy, sultry sirens? What Jiah seems to need is a good wash and scrub...

Well, mera kya jaata hai?!! Apun ko movie and popcorn se matlab!!

Take care, fellas!

Monday, December 15

Oye! It's Monday

Train stops at Train Station, Bus stops at Bus Station...
No wonder my desk is called Work Station ;-)

It's been an unusual, lazy weekend. Spent time at home after ages, watched a movie with my parents after decades, and had a fantastic afternoon siesta after centuries.

Told you last week that I’m reading
The Dark Holds No Terrors by Shashi Deshpande. It’s an unexpectedly amazing book. Or maybe it’s my bias towards distress and grief that made the book special to me. I could relate to (almost) every word and feeling of the protagonist Sarita; right from her ugly-duckling-becomes-swan phase to her bitterness towards her more-adored kid brother. Her fears, her desires, her helplessness, her discreet uncouthness and the unrest within her – all these brought to mind my own conflicts with life, people, situations and myself. Would love to share a few things from the book with you, maybe tomorrow...

So, as I said, apart from reading and sleeping like the proverbial log, I watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi – the much-hyped and crazily-publicized Shahrukh-newbie Anushka starrer. In one word, the movie is “cute”. And that’s about it.

The movie belongs to SRK – the simple man with simple needs and dreams. Vinay Pathak generates a few laughs; the heroine bears an uncanny resemblance to Divya Bharati (the pretty lass whose untimely demise is still a mystery – suicide or murder?!) and the movie kinda drags towards the end when the producers realize the audience has been laughing for quite sometime and that needs to be altered. I missed caramel popcorn that these newly-renovated cinemas don’t sell, and all I remember, is thinking that SRK now looks aged, though his smile is still as fresh and youthful as ever.

Not a must-watch by any standards, but if you can’t wait until Amir's
Ghajini, then you can sneak a peek at this story about how a wife falls in love with her young dance partner (who irritatingly keeps squealing "Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke-Phir Milenge-Chalte Chalte" instead of a simply "bye"), and how she grasps the fact that it is her husband that she truly wishes to be with, though he’s boring and predictable. Oh, and the songs are good, so that’s one reason more.

Alongwith Taare Zameen Par (TZP) on Zee yesterday, I also watched a bit of Kate & Leopold. Both amusing films. I like the Meg Ryan-Jen Anniston-type women. They exude a kinda endearing, independent attitude with great comic timing and emotional vulnerability, all at once. Just like the women I mentioned in
“The Secret”.

And hey, there’s this fun show on NDTV Imagine, called “Oye! It’s Friday” hosted by Farhan Akhtar. I actually found him pretty weird in Rock On, especially that croaky-husky voice that he has, but truth be told, he has a good sensa humor, and he shares a great camaraderie with different actors and celebrities. The guest on this show was Hrithik Roshan, and man, is he charming! Sucha pleasant, humorous, gentlemanly chap – Envy you, Suzanne! Not only is he a great actor and dancer, but he also has his head on his shoulders and a humble, pleasing smile on his lips at any given time. Now how many celebrities do you know are like that?!!

Now before you think that all I’ve done is been a couch-potato this weekend, leme tell you a very exciting experience - I learnt how to draw an apple!! Why? There was this presentation we had on
MBTI with some local entrepreneurs, and one of the exercises needed an image of an apple. After googling some pictures, I managed to draw a cute and pretty accurate one myself, completely freehand! I’m so proud of myself!! Yippeee :-) The simple joys of life! (The boss didn't quite appreciate, said it was "too perfect"... Humphh!! When did you ever hear a boss being pleased with an employee?!!)

Have a good Monday...
Lonely Princess

Saturday, December 13

Meeting Mantras

There are 3 types of people in this world...

Those who can count, and those who cant.


Smirk smirk...

Well, ok I admit, there are a lot more types of people in this world. But I’m kind of estimating that all of us, sometime in our lives, have been to a meeting/seminar. I’m privileged to attend client meetings these days, and I have come across some peculiar behaviors that instantly register as goofy or elegant.

(You sure as hell know I’m not gona talk about anything very positive; graceful behaviors belong to all those self-help books that I recoil from!) Encouraged by your responses on
my earlier post on un-taught teachings, I’m gona share some silly things that people do (yes, even the educated, sophisticated ones) that make us squirm.

(By the way, here's an addition to the
teaching nobody taught post - Don't smear your head with some stinky, fetid chameli ka tel. The hair oil reeks and makes life hell for others...)

Without further ado, here is the list of don’ts in meetings (unfortunately, not exhaustive or all-inclusive):

Talking on cell-phones during meetings. Or worse people letting their cell-phone vibrate for ages without bothering to either switch it off or letting it sit silent without disturbing the rest with its earth-shattering rumble.

Playing with the hair, especially women. Or pens and bags and files. Whoever stopped you from faking your interest and total involvement?!!

Biting nails. Now that doesn’t need any explanation. It’s juvenile and it’s ridiculous. And certainly not the best thing to do if you want to come across as professional and disciplined.

Dressing too casually. Better overdressed than under. Dressing well always creates a good impression and makes you look well-groomed and focused. It also shows you mean business and are not out for a picnic or party. I know some companies don’t follow dress codes, but if it’s a meeting, you better be well dressed as you never know who might join or supervise!

Changing poses too often on the chair, or leaning back in a semi-horizontal fashion, or doing anything that makes the chair squeak. A colleague of mine keeps falling over the chair as he keeps moving his hands and legs one way or the other. He dresses impeccably, but the charm is lost thanks to these monkey tricks. (The latest is, he's screwed his high-backed chair by stretching it a tad too much too often...)

Sipping tea/coffee loudly. You’re not here to express how much you love your cuppa. If you’re the prime speaker, forget about the chai-pani and complete your assignment. If you’re the audience, don’t down the cup in a gulp, but don’t waste hours on it either. You can sip at appropriate intervals, silently and gracefully.

Not saying anything. You’re not invited to be a dumb duck! Say something relevant at the appropriate time. Don’t just agree with the boss and don’t just play the devil’s advocate. Be an eager listener and an enthusiastic audience even if it means just nodding your head and murmuring “yes/of course/true/that’s right” at calculated occasions.

On the same note, making a point that is extremely silly just for the sake of saying something is not a good idea. Try to understand what’s happening and observe where the meeting is going. Keep mum until such time when you feel a part of the group and believe you are on the same page. Then voice your observations and question gaps that are clearly not elucidated.

Dragging on. Know beforehand what you need to say, how much you need to explain, and how long. Be prepared to face a dull audience, and make sure you’re informed about the topic at hand. Most importantly, keep it simple (the KISS principle never fails!). On the same note, don't sound monotonous. Modulate your voice and speak enthusiastically. If the topic doesn’t excite you, it won’t interest anyone else either.

Well, guess I should wind up there. Too much broth spoils the cook.


Keep rockin!

Friday, December 12

His Holiness, Miraculousness and Loneliness

Further to yesterday's post on my family's equation with God, let's take a more universal view today...

On the whole, India is a very God-fearing nation, as compared to other countries and continents. The Hindu dharma has such an enormous variety of gods and religions, that one way or another, we all share similar beliefs and faiths. Even other creeds converge intermittently, be it Muslim Qayamat or Christian Doomsday. Our vast population that includes Sikh and Jain folks, Parsi and Bengali community, Mallus and Marwaris, and so many more that I can’t recount them all. Despite their independent deities and distinct customs, each says the same thing – love one another and do no evil. I fail to understand how with the same teachings and adarsha, how we manage to stray apart from each other. A worldwide religious summit would really unravel this confusion and communal tension.

Check this... Regardless of our mutual greed for money, none steals at temples, even if there is no security or bystander! (Guess that’s the sole right of the trustees) But this shows we fear God, and if we don’t call Him that, then we refer to Him as the Force or some Power. Something we cannot quite match up to or explain, nor can we deny or deride. Even the agnostics and disbelievers surely accept that there is SOME thing that controls the world, that makes sure we breathe even while sleeping, that ensures the sun rises every dawn, that does so many more things which we mortal beings cannot even conjecture or envisage...

I’m getting carried away now! Right from the first time when I mentioned on the blog that I have
no regrets courtesy God's love and support to the time I spoke about miracles and so much more... Explore complete sections in my blog labelled God, or call it destiny, or speak about it as faith or whatever you may...

Talking about
miracles, Mum was recently sharing that at Ramtek near Nagpur, there's this Ram Mandir where lightning actually enters the heart of the temple, touches Lord Rama's feet and returns with an earth-shattering rumble! Also, the Kiranotsav at Kolhapur's Lakshmi Mandir where the rays of the sun reach the idol kept deep inside the building. And of course, you know about Konark in Orissa - the sun's first rays touch God every single day...

Tuesday was Datta Jayanti, and also the first day of the battle of
Mahabharata in bygone days. On this day, when Arjun lost heart and was unwilling to fight his kin on the other side, Krishna started reciting the Geeta. Hence, my mum suggested I read at least 2 lines of the Bhagwad Geeta myself. I went further than that and read the entire 12th chapter – the Baaravaah Adhyaya of Bhakti Yoga where Krishna describes the different ways in which an individual becomes one with the Paramatma. Through studying the religious texts and chanting shlokas (Abhyasa Yoga), doing the “right” thing without selfish expectations, etc. The Sanksrit was mind-boggling, but the essence was relatively direct and uncomplicated. The most important take-away for me was that the ego needs to be harnessed and goodness needs to be harbored.

For quite some time I have been planning to read the Atharva Shirsha, but haven’t gotten down to doing it yet. It’s like the Ramraksha, but for Lord Ganesha. Must find time for it...

And hey, the news is I've started reading another book in the midst of the
Mahabharata, coz the boss suggested it's an interesting and stirring read - "The Dark Holds No Terrors" by Shashi Deshpande. Finished 60 pages at a go, though connecting the loose ends was challenging. The narration is first-rate; the emotions and characters come alive, you can actually touch them if you extend a finger...

From what I have understood till now, the book tells the story of the protagonist Saru. The beginning completely resembles the Rani-Vivek starrer, Saathiya, where the lady doc marries the guy against her parents' wishes, and after ages of detachment, plans to return home when she hears about her mum's death. She leads an unhappy, lonely life amidst her husband, kids and patients. How she puts on a brave front and faces the world, even as she is crumbling inside in desperate need of love and empathy. Aage aage dekhe hota hai kya...

Until then, fellas!

Thursday, December 11

What’s your equation with God?

He and I? We’re best friends. (Not the types who I've had at different times in life; those who stay for convenience and walk away when they feel like)...

We don’t meet very often, as in face-to-face, but we keep thinking of each other all the time. We talk daily, and both of us are on the same wavelength, so conflicts are few. We share tremendous trust and camaraderie. He’s always there for me, and I make it a point that he’s always on my mind, intentionally or subconsciously. As Krishna says in the
Mahabharata - "I never fail those who give me their trust"

The reward for my undying faith is that I get what I want (or something better!) without trying too hard or fretting too much. And if anyone hurts me, he/she suffers in one way or another... Well, I don’t ask Him to do it, He just loves me too much... He’s a generous buddy, and I demand rationally and responsibly, so we are even.

As far as our interaction goes, I’m not the heavy-duty pooja-paath and hardcore bhakt types. (That title is held by my mum, but more about her later.) My tryst with Him is limited to the Ramraksha and
Hanuman Chalisa that I recite daily, loyally and conscientiously, as I ride to work and back. Apart from that, occasionally lighting the evening diya-batti, saying a few mantras and bhajans, and He’s happy! Can’t help the partiality buddies; I AM his favorite child after all!

(Oh and ya, another of my pet rituals is that I say the entire Ramraksha.on New Year eve, at the height of intoxication and entertainment. To remind God that I haven’t forgotten Him! Now ain’t THAT cute?!!! Thanks... I know...)

My Mum, now she’s the pakka pandit-types... A glimpse at the scope of her piousness - spending the entire morning chanting strotras and bathing the deities, doing a zillion rituals conscientiously, carrying out a multitude of religious rites and ceremonies on a daily-weekly-monthly-yearly basis, fasting 8 days a week, reading pothis and volumes of the Ramayan (like the Sundarkaand), traveling to remote locations to visit temples and holy spots (she admits her intentions are not purely religious; she takes this as an opportunity to satisfy the travel bug inside her. Smart woman, considering Hindu sacred locales are strategically located across the 4 corners of India!) So she’s been to all the 12 Jyotirlingas (Lord Shankar’s list), 8 Ashtavinayaks (Lord Ganesha’s must-visit sites), 4 Dham, Vaishnodevi, Amarnath, Manasarovar and several more. Quite an adventurous woman, gifted in mind and body!! Love ya, Mom! (But I STILL don’t like it when you just decide to take off and leave me alone here... You know you’re my only family...)

The men in my family are both equally irritating in their own right. Dad saunters around the house driving us all crazy as he murmurs his shlokas at length and leisure. He keeps getting in everybody’s way as he bows and prays to every single idol and photo hung in every nook and cranny of our quarters. His son, though not an atheist, is as good as one. He rarely accompanies us to temples and very grudgingly does the necessary religious proceedings that have to be done by him and him alone.

So, you see, I lie somewhere in between these extremes. I dislike too many rituals and deity worship; I rely more on the
mental connect.
Which God I worship? All of 'em actually. The departments are clear cut :
For wealth, Goddess Lakshmi
For intelligence, Saraswati and Ganapati
For marital issues, Shankarji
When I am involved in naughty stuff, Krishna
When I am praying for right and good, Lord Rama
When I'm scared and need strength, Hanumanji

... And well... everybody generally...

Keep the faith! Will be back with the sequel tomorrow!


Wednesday, December 10

The Dreaded Word

Nah, I’m not talking about f***. Nor am I talking about any genital organ or anything else grotesque or crass.

I’m talking about the Spartan term CONGRATULATIONS... Or simply congrats, if you may.

I was having lunch when I received a call, saying that I had been short-listed for the job I’m most passionate about. Not just was I happy at an opportunity to get back to my fav profile, but also coz the offer came from a renowned institute in Pune, the expected compensation is respectable if not handsome, and everything else seems promising and do-able!

I’m an extremely extraverted person (if you haven’t concluded that yourself until now).

(No, extraverted isn’t a typo; both extrAverted and extrOverted are correct).

So, being an extrovert, anything that I encounter has to first pass from my lips to the ears of the ones that are close to me, and then we celebrate the emotion. (Celebrate coz only my joys need telling; my troubles and sorrows are effectively felt and sorted out by me.)

So, my first reaction obviously was to call my closest pal and relay the entire telecon. After I had delivered a monologue for around 90 seconds without even a “hmm” or “ok” or grunt or murmur from the other end, I decided to check if the "pal" was really present physically AND mentally. Apparently I made a mistake. And got hung up upon. Strike One.

(At a time when I should have been screaming my ecstasy, I was crying a river coz someone I consider my soulmate banged the phone on me rather than sharing my delight. Lost my appetite and my elation. Whoever said life is fair??!!!)

“There are others who deserve to hear the news”, I said to myself, “others who care...” And I drafted an sms to my Uncle (Abba) and another friend. I felt a surge of thankfulness when Abba promptly replied saying “Congratulations!” even as the friend responded “Yes, I remember you told me about it. We need to discuss this.” Strike Two.

(Thanks for your concern and dedication, buddy, but wouldn’t a simple congrats have sufficed for the moment? Details can wait, can’t they?)

Refusing to be trounced by disappointment, I decided to call my mum despite it being the time for her siesta. Repeating the tale for the second time, I expected a laugh and a compliment, but it was a day of surprises. She gravely warned me that I would have no time for myself, that I would become a money-making machine and repent it later, and I should not take the offer unless I modified my current schedule.

Strike Three.

Sometimes, care and sensibility can wait. Sometimes, the best course of action is the most apparent one, the easiest one in the given circumstances. But we choose to ignore it, and opt instead for more complicated and remote deliberations. Wouldn’t life be much more pleasant, if just like anger, happiness and excitement were also displayed without delay, honestly and expressively?

It happened to me. So, now I know. Hopefully, the next time someone comes to me wanting to share any sentiment, I’ll be more sensitive and empathetic.

I’ll certainly try. Even if I’m busy with something or experiencing another emotion altogether.

Just so that I don’t wound someone as terribly as I was this particular day, and on so many other occasions.
Feelings and emotions better left up on the shelf - Wise lines by Savage Garden in the Animal Song. Hoping to live these lines soon. Or get so wounded that it ceases to hurt anymore...

Lonely Princess

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