Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sugar cane juice and other things

All pics clicked by me recently around where I live

Many of you have written asking me to post about life here. Well—here is an honest take.

It is nearly two months since we arrived here and I feel like the children in Narnia who discover a new world when they step inside a wardrobe and the back of the wardrobe opens out to a completely different land—the wardrobe in my case being a Jet airways flight that transported me from Mumbai to London.

Everything is so sanitised, pristine and orderly here. The people are so nice and polite and oh so quiet. Most of all, it is the silence that strikes you initially. Everything is so quiet. I feel like I am perpetually in a movie hall—except that I have stepped into the screen and somehow become a part of the grand saga unfolding before me. It feels so weird, to be actually living here as I have seen these scenes countless times in movies. It feels magical to look outside my window and see lovely English trees just beginning to bloom. And the flowers—oh my God—they take my breath away. Every corner you turn is a burst of colour—all kind of flowers, greenery, grass—all well cared for, all picture perfect.

The people here seem like characters out of an Agatha Christie or a Sherlock Holmes. Any moment now, Mr. Goon from five find outers will walk up and ask us to “Clear Orf” or maybe even Hugh Grant may pass by. The children? Blonde haired, blue eyed, it feels as if the dolls in the toy shops back in India, have come alive and are walking about! It doubtlessly feels like I have stepped into a book or a movie.

But, this morning sitting four thousand miles away from home (to me India is always home), the weather being a marvellous eight degrees and a bright sunny morning ( by English standards of course—eight degrees is marvellous weather I am told) sparkling in the back ground (or at least trying to sparkle—even the sun has no warmth here) I am filled with an intense longing for all things Indian.

The air here is so unpolluted that when I first arrived here I had difficulty to breathe such pure air, my lungs being conditioned by decades of living in various Indian cities like Mumbai , Bangalore and Chennai. We haven’t yet subscribed to cable (our television itself having arrived from India only two days back) and all I hear is English and English and more English. In India, no matter which region in the country you are, you hear at least three languages. I am dying to hear Hindi, Tamil and Indian accents.

In fact my pining is so bad that I have even put Himesh Reshmaiya into my i-pod (don’t be horrified—try living here!) something that I never did when in India, and also Chamkila. I don’t mind listening to anything as long as it is Indian !(yeah I am so desperate that I will even listen to Rabindra Sangeeth or Udiya or Bhojpuri or Mallu songs)

And a little while ago I was filled with an intense desire to drink sugar cane juice. When in India, the children and I used to go and have it from the vendors on the roadside who were in every nook and corner. I very badly want it now. It’s the little things like this that I mostly miss. When I mention this to one of my closest friends who is based at Gurgaon, he says that it would probably be available in a tin here. But is not the same I tell him. I want the noise in the streets. I want the flies hovering around the machine. I want the loud voices. I want those glasses that they pretend to give a quick wash in suspicious looking water stored in a bucket. I want the sugar cane juice with pieces of ice broken from a huge slab covered with a wet sack. I want to hear the jingle jingle of the machine as it turns round and round.

“Aah” he says. “Sugar cane juice is my favourite too. And now that you mention it, I too feel a craving for it.”

So I say “You can at least get it—you are in India. But I can’t even get it here.”

He smiles and pauses. I wait for him to empathise with me and fully understand my craving and helplessness.

Then he says “ I am gonna run off in the middle of office to somewhere close by and then have it and let you know how good it tasted and felt.”

The devil! (Does anybody know where I can hire a gunda type aadmi to beat up the guy? Preferably someone who can be hired online. Anonymously ,of course—'Gundas anonymous 'or something like that—quick, fast, reliable service. To make the matter easier I have even linked his Orkut profile for ready reference.) For a moment visions of him being tied up by four strong hulks and beaten up placate me –but only for a moment, as the vision is very quickly replaced by a Giant glass of sugar cane juice mocking me tantalisingly. Then I think of something more practical—the French fair that I had attended a few days back.

I send him this picture which I clicked with the caption “They were delicious. Had bought them at a French fair here where they were selling the most divine, mouth watering and scrumptious things” and as a footnote add “ And oh—the French people who sold them were very very sexy too.

But still it is not the same as having sugar cane juice in India. Damn!!


Addendum: This friend of mine is looking for a Flatmate. If interested (or you know anyone who is) please contact him thru his orkut profile.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Which? Who? Why?

  • Which song is this?
  • Who has sung it?
  • Why have I posted this? (Of course I love the song but that's not why I posted it!)
[If you cannot see the media player click on the yellow bar at the top of the page to temporarily allow pop-ups and active-x controls for IE or wait till it loads]

I am not going to tell you (like those over enthusiastic Television Promos) that you'll have a chance to win a Home theatre or a Skoda--after all I am not that rich or that famous. :) But if you are like me, then I know it's hard to resist a challenge. (The first two questions are easy--its the third one which I think might be a tie breaker.Lets see!)

I shall wait for all your answers and then update this post with the link to all who answered it right. (Please don't spoil the fun for yourself by reading the comments before you before you answer!)

Fret not--if you don't have a blog I shall link whatever page you ask me to link (FB profile, Orkut profile , Twitter--you surely have something!) or mention.

Your time starts now!
Here is the update as promised:

More than 200 people visited my blog yesterday.Yet only two got all the three questions absolutely right! Some cheated, read the comments and answered--never mind :) I accept with grace. But the clear winners are

*drum rolls*

Sumit from 'Thoughts of a confused mind' and
one of my favourite bloggers 'Prats from 'Retrospections! Emotional Ecology

The answers are as follows and thank you to all who answered:

The song is '14 years' by Guns N Roses sung by Izzy Stradlin. I posted it because yesterday was a special day-- our 14th wedding anniversary. (The connection betw
een song and day ends here, although I must say I am tempted to sing the song whenever I have a fight with him--heh heh)

We met on 17th of March 1995, very reluctantly because our parents insisted we meet. I was certain that I would not be getting married at that time (as I was only 23 then) and he too was fairly certain that he would meet me, just to get his dad off his back. But life is strange--it is what happens when you make other plans.

We clicked as soon as we met. The thing they say about love in movies and books--that you just know--it is so true! On 27th April 1995, we were married after a dizzy courtship that saw sky rocketing telephone bills and astronomical courier bills (we were based in two different cities).

Now 14 years and two lovely children later, (Touch wood) my face still lights up at the end of the day when I see him and I am so fortunate that I decided t
o follow my heart and it all worked out. (But please don't tell him I said so--He already thinks he is God) :)

The children made two lovely cards for us. My son has mad
e a three dimensional rose and my daughter has drawn me and my husband in great detail. They really took very long over the cards and the messages inside are very touching. We pretended that we did not know that they were making cards for us.

A recent pic of both of us

Socrates had said
"My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher."

He hasn't become a philosopher.So I must be good :) (He is not the only one who is modest in our family. heh heh heh).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Laughter is a gift

Really sorry--I have had to remove this post as it will soon appear in a book. Making it available online would have been very unfair to my publisher who has placed so much trust in me. I hope you enjoy the other posts as much as you enjoyed this one. A heartfelt thanks for your support and understanding.Thanks for continuing to read what I write.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What kind of music do you like?

Thick, Wavy Music Notation Pictures, Images and Photos

“What kind of music do you like?” is a question asked often, very innocuously when you meet someone and are trying to make small talk, trying to discover common ground. And if the answers given by both parties match, there is an instant camaraderie struck up-- as instant as g-mail messaging --and foundations of a lifelong bond (Ok—at least a short term bond which could be a potential life time bond) are laid, over exchanging notes in eager tones, punctuated with “Oh have you heard this number?” and “Oh yes—I absolutely love it.” But if the answers given don’t match, a thin layer of frostiness develops and before you realise you are ensconced in a dungeon or a pedestal (depending on whether you have high self esteem or your self-image alternates with feelings of total worthlessness and despondency) where you can’t be reached, rescued, seen or even heard and the potential friend has turned into an object of disdain, not worth bothering over, banished mentally into the ‘land of awful music lovers.’

A friend of mine who considered (or should that be ‘considers’?) himself a connoisseur of music and had no doubts about his supreme good taste used to classify people based on what kind of music they like. “Tell me what songs they like and I shall tell you what kind of people they are, right from their taste in movies, to books to toothpaste they use, to underwear,” he would bluster and more often than not he was absolutely right!

Whenever someone asks me the kind of music I like, I am at a total loss as to what to say. My answers vary with bi-polar extremes and are directly proportional to the snob quotient of the person in question, which if it happens to be high, I kind of say nonchalantly that the way Giocomo Puccini’s opera Turandot was adapted into the 1990 Soccer World Cup theme interested me (well—I just said it was interesting, never said I liked it—heh heh—but usually they don’t notice that) or that I find Vivaldi’s four seasons utterly uplifting. (which I do) Or perhaps that I like Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia playing Beethoven’s symphony number 3. If the person is about 16 to 20 years old, I’ll usually say that I like Rihanna or Avrill Lavigne ( It's strictly not a lie—I do like some numbers) or Akon’s ‘smack that’ (My eleven year old loves it and if you listen to it five times in a row it kind of grows on you). If the person is in their fifties or sixties I’d usually say “I like the Old English slow songs” or the Beatles (I do like some of their numbers too). If the person is my daughter’s Bhartanatyam dance teacher (who incidentally is a Sangeet Natak academy award winner) I’d usually say “I love M.S. Subhalakshmi” (I do really like and admire deeply her recitation of the suprabhatham or her vathapi ganapathim) or S.P.Balasubramaniam’s Asthalingam. If I am talking to one of my mother’s friends from Kerala, I’d usually say that I like Chottanikara Bhagavathi’s devotional song. (Which again I find deep and moving, maybe because it brings back fond memories).

I also absolutely LOVE the jhatka-matka bollywood numbers. I love Just chill chill’ (I like anything with Salman khan in it ,Period!) as much as I like ‘Behka’. Most people cannot relate to such varied and extreme tastes. Most people are certain what they like. They know where they stand and where their loyalties are deeply embedded ,somewhere in the pecking order of music classification. They know their pedigree and are happy to belong to some order, blending effortlessly, mingling with their like minded brethren.

Me?--I am a mongrel—a very ordinary one at that, with simple basic taste in music. If it makes me want to dance, I love it. I don’t care if the lyrics are bawdy or the dancing is full of pelvic thrusts and er....amply proportioned South Indian Heroines. If by some chance my ‘respectable musically inclined friends’ saw me dancing to such numbers ---which I do when I am in the mood, but given how I look I am sure I won’t qualify anywhere near the main heroine, but my enthusiasm would certainly earn myself a place among the junior artistes dancing in the background, not in the front row, I am not that good, but somewhere in the back row for sure—I am sure they will faint out of shock. Years ago, when I used to live in Pondicherry, there was this video which was a raving hit. It was played full blast at parties, gatherings, social functions—everywhere you turned you could hear this. I still love it after all these years. I draw the curtains in my living room, turn it on and dance, copying the steps with a fair degree of accuracy. When my musically inclined, slightly snobbish friend (Yeah the same one who classifies people on the basis of their taste in music) asked me what kind of music I really like, (I didn’t want to discuss Atif Aslam’s Rabba Sacheya with him which I knew was his favourite) without any hesitation or doubt and with a slight degree of sadistic pleasure I sent him a link to the above discussed video that I embed here:

When he saw it, he said “ CHEEEEE, YUCK--Oh horror of horrors. I thought your tastes would be more refined!Come on—I look better than the hero! How can you like it? Gosh, don’t you have any better taste?”

“Of course I do,” I replied smoothly.”See—there’s something I absolutely adore and it sets my foot tapping, heart racing and I am singing along even before I realise it.” (It was 100% true)

Then I sent him this. :-)


Ps: All the words in colour are links

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A longing for things that can never be

Longings churn like lazy broth
Bubbling from the depths of my soul
Rising upwards like billowed smoke.

Unable to contain themselves any longer
Tears swell and fall
Make their way down.

At least they know where to go
Unlike me
For I am utterly lost without you.

If a tear drop could speak, this is what it would say
I yearn for a glimpse of you
It would keep me going a long way
I yearn to hear the sound of your laughter
It would give me strength to face another day
I yearn to feel the warmth of your hand in mine.
It would make me believe that nothing else mattered.

I seek out substitutes,
Looking for you in others
Hoping they will take away
A part of the longing, or at least a part of the pain
But none match up to you.

Why did you have to be so perfect?
And why can’t some things ever be?
Why is finality all binding like death?
I know you cannot answer me for you are helpless too
Despite your irrefutable love for me
Or perhaps because of it.

And so, the broth brews
Billowed smoke continues rising
The tears continue falling as an outlet for longing.

A longing for things
That can never be.
© Preeti Shenoy
Kindly do not reproduce without permission