Wednesday, June 28, 2006


And globalisation strikes. Nothing here is not available anywhere else.

Apart from that..the windmills, the tulips, the beer and the drugs are every where. As I sit here typing on the net I am surrounded with smoke from the pots from the Ganja here. I like the way the red light area, the church, the palace, the drug joints co exist here in complete harmony with each other.

As usual there are a lot of tourists, but this place is prettier than the pictures I have seen. The Van Gogh museum is my next target after Leiden, Den Haag and Rotterdam. The house of Anne Frank was creepy.

The language a mix of German and English. The people sweet and helpful, the trains clean, the houses tiny, the roads even smaller..infact its like a BIG dolls house..I feel that if I could lift the roof from any house..I shall see dolls walking about doing things dolls do.

Very pretty.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Eureka Moment

After the shit day at work. I headed home..feeling glum and low I thought I shall go to sleep..and wake up happy, as always.
Went home and spoke to a fellow Kashmiri who likes Chaaman amd is coming for dinner tonight (cottage cheese / paneer) I thought I shall try and make some. The ready made one available here in UK is like erasers mixed with plasticine. Its bad enough to make you go off Chaaman for life...SO!...
so one large bottle of milk and some lemon juice, and much to-ing and fro-ing..and fretting and wondering when the damn thing will boil...i did what was required..I watched in wonder as the milk split into two..and jumped up and down at my own genius.
It was a Eureka moment for me ...needless to say I am my own worst critic and also my best admirer. I dont recall watching anyone ever make Paneer at home and it seemed miraculous. Ahhh!!
I discovered cottage cheese!! I hopped all over the kitchen in delight. And was waiting impatiently for it to cool down, have heard that it wont set if you fiddle too much. I did not. It did set and its perfect..soft and sweet and perfectly formed. I feel like a genius.
The shit day was not shit anymore...I smiled all through the evening!
Ahh!!!For the simple pleasures and small happinesses in life!!
Ramble ends, this hungry Kashmiri heads home to eat!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Shit day!

Has anyone ever thought why there are shit days?
I had one of them. My head hurt when I woke up..was up at night thinking my myriad thoughts..wondering about things, people, places, thesis, work, India, changing flats...generally thought for a long time and eventually slept..the 6 am alarm was a killer. I dont have a voice due to a throat infection, which makes teaching impossible..but when you get only 7 days sick in a CRAWL to work or call in dead!
The prison sucked! The prisoners spoke only in F words today. Sheets of paper on which they are supposed to write flew and so did my temper.
In the middle of my class I had had enough. I wanted a stiff drink and a cigarette! Hmm!!
Perhaps shall go home and look for either or both!
Needless to say they shall get punished for behaving the way they do outside the prison (which is why they ARE in prison) telly for 3 weeks..HA!!! there goes the world cup. An evil voice in my head says..well done. The sympathetic one are pathetic.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

And then there was music

Dark clouds on the horizon, and the leaves get lighter
A strong blast, and a rustle
Big black balloons in the sky, some silver linings.
Obliteration of the orb, drop in temperatures
And the sky is hungry, as it rumbles and grumbles
My flowers tell each other in whispers, to be prepared
A dark grey hand holds the sky, the fist getting bigger.
The blue patches run away, as if afraid.
Big bottom tear drops splatter and splash.
The wind leaves some on my window sill.
I stand still under the sky,
feeling the drops play join the dots on me.
Soaked to the skin,
and not shivering for a change.
I return, with the rain on me,
and the thought of the Indian monsoon in my mind.
The smell of rain on dry dust in my heart.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And here comes the pressure

For the past few months I have been travelling, dragging my feet with my work and thinking about what a pain this PhD has become. I want to move on and do the thousand things I have in my head. And I cant. Coz I am stuck with this never ending thesis. I have thought a lot, but done very little.
My supervisors were ill. And when they came back I was not around. Now I have had the chance to meet them again and have got the 'danda' from them. Yup. I need to slog my butt off so I can finish in time. People and places keep moving and I need to get done before the next big shift.
There are promises of brighter futures at this University and elsewhere..there are promises of a sweeter life with a perfect person, there are opportunities to work with the people who need me the most, there are choices to be made. But right now I need to finish what I started less than 4 years ago. I need to do this and soon, before I have to pay thousands to the University. Before my supervisors leave for the US. Before I disappoint the people I love the most. Talk about pressure!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Want a baby?

Last night I watched a BBC reporter, Kate Silverton, talk about how her being 35 is making her a bit jumpy because she has had not children till now. Her career was and is important to her and hence she did not want to take time out to have a child. Uk, like most European countries has a declining population, where in more and more women are chosing their career over their kids. This program, Right time for a baby, made me really think...

I did think from my feminist point of view. When has a man ever needed to think or family? what should I do? Have they needed to juggle nappy changing and measles and temperature with a project deadline? Its not fair. The fact that paid maternity leave is so meagre that you need to be crazy to leave a full time job to be a full time mum is important to bear in mind.

Then I thought from my logical side, it does make sense to postpone kids, so you dont have to think, at any point of time, that if you (my dearest child) were not here, then I would have been travelling the world and making a lot of money. A child should not be something you resent or regret.

The reasonable side of me thought, well most women are pushing kids back because if they earn more they can give that much more to their kids in terms of resources. They can provide better. Maternity leave again is for 6 months only..after that it is unpaid. Where does it leave you financially? You need to money but you also need to quit the job that brings it to you.

The thoughtful side of me agreed with the woman, who when asked, when is the right time? Said with a smile, when you find the right guy. Hmm...Now THAT I think is yet another blog entry on its own..who is the right guy and does he come with a sign over his head that declares him to be right or wrong? With a clock ticking you really do need to know fast!!

Then the sentimental side took over. Kate Silverton looked at a new born baby and thought, I want one of those. Why is it that little tiny feet and ears make women all soppy? I sat there thinking..hmmm am not 30 yet so I have a window of 6 years to 35 when everything shall change..and I do want some little kids. But I also want to travel, I also want a career, ofcourse the right guy shall be needed too. So this is my wish list, it might be unreasonable, and contradictory, but this is what I want. I am being greedy I know:

I want a good career, with a job I love that pays a lot
I want to travel and see all the places on my list..starting from the Serengeti, Kalahari, Andes, The Mardi Gra, Rajasthan, Assam, The barrier Reef, Jagannath Puri, Amarnath..and the list goes on.
I want to have 2 kids atleast. And I dont want to be an OLD mum...i want to be able to be at home and spend time with them.
I want the perfect man who can have flexi time at home so when I need to work, he can take over
I want to settle down with some dogs in a house with a garden where kids can play.
I also want to paint in a studio, and learn glass blowing.

Long enough..well the list does go on..but as of now I can just hear the tick tock of a clock which I did not think much about till last night!

This morning I thought, all of the above is nonsense. If my parents sat and thought about what they could give me or not, chose to have things perfect before I came around..I would not have been around, and that would have been a pity. Life does not stop with a child. It slows down a bit and then picks up, changed, but still pretty much there. I think this was a selfish point of view, where you want to have it all. You can try having most of it ;) but not all. You could have a career, and pick up where you left off...ok you might have to work hard to get it back. But look at the rewards, being a mother is special...think of your own mum, right now..and think how deeply you care about her..see!! This is what you will get!! Strong feelings..some where I read..A mother holds their childrens hands for sometime, but their hearts forever!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Swear on your mother!?!

Young Offenders Prison. Conversation:

Young man, in prison for assualt : I swear on my Mother's life I dont know.
Another young man, in for robbery : I swear on my Mum's life I am right.
Yet another young man, in for armed robbery: I did not do this, I swear on my Mum's life.

I have heard swearing on the 'mum's' life so often over the past few months, that today I could not resist asking a few questions. I thought I could on..

Andrew: I swear on my mum's life I dont know this.
Me: Dont you love your mum, you keep swearing on her life, every 2 minutes
Andrew: But I dont mean any disrespect, I love mum.
Me: Dont swear then.
Andrew: But what if I have to.
Me: Swear on your dad's life then.
Andrew: I would if I knew who he was.
Andrew: The thing is Miss, you can have many dad's but you can have only one mum.
Me: Then swear on yourself.
Andrew: I would if my life was worth anything.

That shut me up.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

American Style Indian Dancing

Met a girl from new York last night at a gathering. She was American and had been to India recently for an Indian wedding. She was mighty amused with the whole thing and even bought Kal Ho Na Ho DVD to understand contemporary India.
She was confused by the 'story inside a story' concept in Indian films and the out of context song and dance sequences. She thought she was seeing a different film after the intervals...:)
Based in Edinburgh she is so happy to know about Indian films that she was wondering why edinburgh, which is a pretty and romantic place has never been used in an Indian film.
She later went on to tell me how she was taught to dance Indian style at a wedding. The idea is the have a REALLY surprised expression on your in eyes wide open and mouth open a bit or with a BIG smile. And then throw your hands and arms around for good measure in every direction, if possible, in time with the music. Hmmm...wonder what Indian choreographers would make of that.
We went on to discuss where we could shoot an Indian film in Edinburgh. The Forth bridge could be a good backdrop for a floaty slow motion run in a sari. The beach could have some sexy shots in wet clothes. And the castle would be prefect for the villain to lock the damsel in distress in the dungeons. Ahhh...I can almost hear the songs now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Peaceful perfection

A night of rest,
in the morning - peace.
To wake with a smile,
to be able to turn over
and fall back to sleep.

To know you are safe,
and loved and held.
To forget all worries
and things that need doing.

To open your eyes
and see blue skies and sunshine.
To be warm under the duvet
but cool your arms on the out.

Then staying awake and functioning
doing what needs doing.
Knowing you shall be home soon.
To relax and talk and sleep.

It does sound and feel good,
finding a haven of peace and love.
This is a state of silence and contention,
when things are just..perfect.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hippy Thoughts

Had an interesting conversation with an interesting person yesterday about the joys of living in UK. She did mention that she likes the 'conversations' she had with people. About books, music, travel, politics, world affairs etc etc. We noticed that the people in this part of the world are for some reason more talkative and open to discussion than others back home.
This might have to do with the fact that a lot of them are curious and keen to know about the world around them. A lot of them are friendly and maybe the British politeness means that even if they are opinionated, they shall be open to a conversation about things they dont believe in. The fact that just about everyone in this country is a travel maniac and most people have travelled a lot does change things a bit. To plan a vacation every summer and winter to a place you have never seen seems to be a great way of changing your mental makeup.
I did point out to my friend that some time ago I had spoken to someone who mentioned that Indians are the rudest and most unfriendly people around. Broad as that generalisation maybe, it does contains a grain of truth. As i walk to work each morning, I see the same people, sometimes they say hello, sometimes they smile, sometimes they say good morning, and if we are picking an early morning cup of coffee, there is always a ave a nice day at the end of a quick chat.
People are just friendly here and they talk a lot. I have spoken to many random people in random places, mum of 3 travelling to Edinburgh who had thinning hair and talked about the cause of it being her three kids, mum with a pushchair on the London underground who was making her weekly trip to take the kids to the grandma, man who was walking a cute dog for his friends who were in Turkey on holiday, girls on the bus who shared some crisps with me, man with a hat glued on his head who was an old brigadier in the British Army. They all talk..whis is nice.
Try smiling at a stranger in a bus or a train in India and they shall stare at you. Try starting a conversation with a busy commuter in Bombay and see what happens. I do wonder why, a country with such warm people have such an unfriendly shut attitute to life? Why do we take ourselves so seriously...or am I being a hippy child and thinking the world is a sweet nice place and we should all be friends?

Not watching the World Cup

And it was a hot HOT day in was hotter still in Edinburgh. The second day of the world cup..the first England match kicked off at 2pm. So who was not watching...
Well people like me who find grown up men howling like babies over a missed goal and drinking themselves silly over defeat, and for that matter even victory.
Also a lot of women who dont like football or dont understand it
People who are SO relieved that the footbal fans are all in one place so there is no way they shall get stuck in a conversation that starts with..'did you see that goal...' and then carries on in great detail with the very real risk of death by boredom to anyone who is stuck between the chatty footbal fans
Also people who would rather catch some sunshine in peace while it is around, than sit around a big screen inside a smelly pub and watch some men chase a small ball across a large field.
Also not watching were the people of Scotland who support anyone who is playing against England
And then also all those who dont like the game, dont like the mania and hooliganism associated with it, and enjoy the empty streets while others watch.
Also not watching was the old granny who felt sorry for the man in black who is always in the match and chases the ball all over but never gets a chance to kick it!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Summer and Blackpool

I know its a cliche but it does seem that the year is running away again. Just a few months ago I was having a relaxed new year and now June is here. I mean month 6 and a few left to go and its back to winter again...and the summer is not here yet either.
Called India where the mother told me its TOO hot to talk and too hot to sit or stand..its just TOO hot..and is too cold, one jumper, a coat and tights..thats what you need here at this time.
I have been away slogging..and it does not feel too bad slogging as the weather outside sucks.

Decided to head to Blackpool this weekend. And it poured. Its supposed to be a nice English seaside town. Where families went on holiday with kids. It is also a place for heavy political activity as a lot of important parliamentary meetings are held there. It all sounded good..
...but it looked more like Las Vegas's poor cousin. There were hotels on every street and no shops, banks or cash machines for miles. Nothing. Just pubs, clubs..lap dancing type and hotels. The sea was muddy brown and the people were as tired and faded as the city itself. Antique trams rattled around and there seemed to be an air of despair around. The only happy people I saw were either drunk or about the get married..and hence drunk on their hen/ stag parties.

The saving grace was the sea. It roared and thundered and crashed and splashed. I sat there fascinated. I dont like water as it scares me..dont know how to swim..but the restlessness of the sea makes me peaceful for some vague reason. I can sit and watch the waves for hours. It was usual shell collecting for me when the tide went out. I now have a small collection of shells from various places. I was at peace near the sea and so the town did not bother me much.

Went to a circus there, after I dont know how many years. There were no animals but the show was good. I laughed a lot, and ate a lot of candy floss which made me a bit sick. But that is the idea aint it?
It was great to see a clown crack jokes and all kinds of acrobatics and stunts. It turned out to be an all female circus show that day, much to the pleasure of all the men who paid to get it. Also went up UK's tallest tower..well one of them. The Blackpool tower is Eiffel in aspiration. Now I need to go to Paris and see that one too. Have to, got to, must do..maybe when the summer finally DOES get here I will.

Next up is another trip to Edinburgh where in I am going to take a close look at the tombs and graves in the city which have now become a health and safety hazard due to drug addicts and junkies taking shelter in them. A lot of used syringes have been found there and a recent program on BBC showed how much has changed in the city due to drug usage. I want to check that out. Lets see!