Saturday, July 29, 2006

Home Affairs

OK. Back to one of my pet topics of discussion, mothers and matrimony!

If you are single, and unattached female and that side of 25 then chances are some one has asked you at some point of time if you are married, and if you reply in the negative..a match making conversation starts.

Add to this the fact that you live far away from the Mum that you love to bits but are increasingly finding irritating due to her obsession with matrimony. This later graduates to starting to talk about careers are important but 'not everything', independence is good but there is a need to 'settle down' and eventually to the 'you are female and have a clock that's ticking'.

Heaven forbid if you drink or smoke coz then the mum would be convinced you are beyond redemption and you might just be treated to Ekta Kapoor worthy dramatics of 'I must have done something bad to deserve a child like this' who is selfish beyond comprehension! And will not marry for my or her own happiness.

Not all is lost, coz sometimes the mere mention of someone you are dating is good enough..thats till you have been together for long enough to want to talk to him and preferably also his parents!!

Sometimes mums get astrologer obsessed and that is kind of bad...I mean it sucks, because then some stars tell you that the man you shall live happily ever after is going to come knocking on your door. Bearing in mind..several marriage proposals come together..stars would have to be a BIT more clear than that about the man!

Not all is lost till your dad gets involved too. Senti dialogues from one parent is enough..from two is torture and I am not even getting to the 'settled' siblings you may have. This kind are the worst I think. For the longest time these cousins and brothers and sisters are your best mates, your staunch supporters and nodded in agreement and support for any decision you took. You could confide in them. Post marriage they tend to convert over night into what I call the SMC (Smug Married Couple) who have a mission in get every single person they know married!! They show support but are in most cases mouth pieces for the match making family!! Argh!!

If you are really really unlucky you might just have old friends who are also 'married and settled' and are in touch with your folks..its best to end friendships like that temporarily while you are single.

So you see..being single, independent and female is similar to what they call in physics unstable matter. You cant remain in that state for too long!
You could have it all...a great job, that you love, a house, a car, lovely friends, warm family, no health issues..but life is incomplete without the Mister to look after you..and if you intend holding on to your single status...RUN!!! Run from well meaning mums, SMC and married friends. Avoid attending weddings and such like.

If you do and are pretty sure no amount of pressure shall change your write on this blog and let me know how you do it :)

Cranky Ol' me

Went to Vasant the good old days when I was at Lady Shri Ram, a bunch of us used to 'cut' class and reach this cool place for a quick film, a hot chocolate fudge at Nirulas, a shared Pizza and catch an auto rickshaw back to college. We used to go to what was Priya. There was Benetton, Nirulas, Sugar and Spice, Fact and Fiction, TGIF and ofcourse the Cinema which showed English films that had shows in sync with the most boring hours of lectures at College. Few shops were around..what was obvious in those days was the proximity of MSVV (Modern School, Vasant Vihar. School kids in the blue and gray uniform were visble, being cool or trying their hardest to be..with an air of practiced-a-million-times nonchalance and a smoke in one hand. Hitched up skirts and rolled down socks, slouchy postures and bored with everything body language. Also obvious was the fact that there was nothing to do but eat and watch a film at that complex.

Well those days have gone. There are many new stores and a lot of shopping. A complete lack of parking, which I admit is nothing new to Vasant Vihar. Also a whole range of cigarette shops welcome you into the main arcade, I think I counted about 8 big ones. There are also a lot of pavement stores, selling a whole range of 'ethnic' stuff. Priya is now PVR..with a bigger facade to the building..a very cool looking queuing system, and no privacy for those who want to sneak in for a quick peek at the film or a make out session right in the back aisle.

It made me nostalgic about hot summer days, cold HCFs, Air conditioned Priya cinema and the ever present auto rickshaws that would bargain till eternity to take back college students, desperate to reach in time for the next lecture. Ofcourse traffic was not that bad and we could manage to get back to LSR in half an hour at the most..there were no flyovers then you see!!

Anyhow..I shall stop sounding like a cranky old woman..I am talking about 10 years ago..and let you see a picture of Sleepers you can buy at PVR, Vasant Vihar. Sleepers that are all yours for rs 250 and you can keep them forever.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Monkey Business

This morning..I went up to see if there is any chance of yesterdays performance in terms of rain..looked like it! The show started when I switched on the computer!!

I reached the roof, and stood there looking around. As I stared, I felt something was watching me, after yesterdays thinking marathon..I was not quite sure what to expect. A pair of green hazel eyes stared back at me.

A monkey! Sitting cool as you please on my roof, giving me the 'looks' as if I was invading its territory. As usual, you never find lone monkeys, I saw another head peering down at me from the top of the water tank, then another and yet another. Varying in size, but carrying the same VERY bored expression. And last but not the least was a tiny baby one..with grey eyeshadow on and kohl rimmed gave me this heart wrenching 'I am only a little monkey' look.

The thing is...I am invading its territory. This part of Delhi where I am living right now was a mass of trees and fields a few years ago, this was monkey habitat. Now the original residents of this place, sit on top of flats and buildings, plucking domestic potted plants, stealing from the kitchens and upending garbage sacks, in search fo food. The human residents moan about these destructive creatures. But as is usual in India...the land of physics, law of physics applies...for everything you find, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Some people encourage these monkeys (either by feeling sorry for them - like me) or by thinking they are incarnations of Hanuman (the monkey God). Hence piles of bananas and cooked rice if to be found in places when you walk around here. Whiel others have resorted to keeping heavy bamboo sticks around them to beat a wandering monkey if it comes too close.

For my part..I sat there, watching and being watched. There was some amount of respect there. We could see each other, I was not threatening them. I did not have anything they wanted. I could not be bothered to be bothered by them. And vice versa applies to all those. So we all sat there, waiting for the rain! Evolution Indeed!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Indian Rain

I stood in the Rain today. 10am, thunder clouds had been lining up. It was hot and humid, lightening, big dark clouds lines up. The performance started at 10.15. It poured, big fat raindrops. There was a cloud of water that decended. I sat there, on my roof, drenched. Feeling the cool water, the warm breeze, the scents of Jasmine from the roof garden, mixed with the smells of pollution from the nearby highway.

I sat there and thought about things that I hide into the deeper recesses of my mind. I bring them out to think and ponder when I think I can spend some time, sorting them out...

I thought about things, we all do at some point of time, with varying degrees of success at finding answers:

- Why am I here?
- Do I like being in this time, space and place?
- Am I happy here?
- What makes me happy?
- What would be an ideal case scenario for my life/ perfection?
- What makes me unhappy?
- What can I do about it?
- Have I learnt anything so far?
- Am I using what I have learnt from my life so far and the books I have read?
- Do I know the answers?
- Am I honest with my answers?
- Do I have choices? or do the freedom to make those choices?
- Do I want those choices?

Lots of questions, each has two answers, the straight ones..the kind everyone likes to hear. And the honest ones, that need thinking and discussion. And also one final question...
Am I thinking too much?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gone forever

I came home to India last night.
For the first time in 6 years there was no dog at my door. With love dripping from her eyes, her tailless backside wiggling with delight. Getting slurped and licked till I beg for mercy and then I could sit down and get rid of my bags.
Nothing like that happened yesterday.
The afternoon meal with meat was strange with no one begging with soulful eyes for scraps from my plate (despite having eaten her own food)no one looking out for bones. It was quiet.
In the evening..the walk felt lonely without the dog, no one to drag me from one side of the road to the other, chasing scents, smelling car tyres and every single piece of dirt around.
At night, I did not have to feed her or walk her one last time. I did not have to leave the doors open so she could walk around. I did not have her soft silky head on my pillow..did not share my bed with Tweety last night.
And this morning I was not awoken by enthusiastic licking and short sharp barks indicating yet another day and a glorious morning.
And now..I am sitting on my computer, with no one peering over my shoulder as if she could read what I was writing. Its lonely. And heart breaking.
When I was in UK, I did not let the news sink. Now I am home and have to re-adjust my heart and mind to living without the dog I loved to bits and perhaps more than life itself. Everyone else at home seems to be ok, I feel I did not even get a chance to say goodbye.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


No person is an island but I guess one can try to be (Oh dear!! I sound like the Queen)
One would like to think that all ones happiness can be self generated. And no one can make you unhappy unless you want to be.

Well over the past few days I think I have written sad, low kind of things, because that was the way I was thinking at that time.

So this morning..after finally sleeping (the heat and humidity has kept me awake) I woke up at dawn, watched the sun come out. Made a cup of tea, sat and stared at the swans on the river (below my house) and enjoyed the chilly early morning breeze. I also watched thunder clouds draw up, and turn every perceivable shade of orange, yellow and pink in matter of minutes..and then blessed rain, thunder and lightning..on the dry earth! Everything felt cleansed and green!
It had all gone by the time I was ready to step out to catch my bus (good mood can change the weather I think)..I skipped away to work, thinking smiley thoughts. Off to usual. It was a good day. No wise cracks from the inmates... nothing!
A few meetings and 6 hours of teaching later...I skipped home. And though I am tired, I am happy.
Thinking of the Chumbawamba lyrics
'I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down'

I think I shall skip home, and paint!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

English Weather

Yes I know its a boring topic. I also know that it generally rains..and people curse that..but its not been this hot for a long long long time. Temperatures have hit 35 and are rising. The roads are melting

The trains are being cancelled and delayed as train tracks buckle with the heat. The beer is sold out and you cant buy an Air Conditioner or a Fan in the market. They have sold out.

Ladies and Gentlemen..ITS HOT!

Bearing in mind that houses on this part of the planet are designed to keep the heat in and the cold out, means windows and doors are small and placed to avoid drafts and cross ventilation. Which now means that I can warm anything in my house without a flame..its hot enough.

The fact that airconditioning is a concept few people know about or bother to invest in means..its a slow roast in offices and restaurants.

Have consideration also for the fact that at this latitude the sun rise is at 5am and sets at about 9.30pm..with darkness falling at about means sleep is little if any at all. So we have the Sun lord raging across the skies at all times...and its a bit unbearable.

The point of this all. The weather in England always sucks. Either its too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or too windy, too dark, or too bright. Its never perfect. And whoever told you the English summer is gorgeous was lying.

Its hot and its never been this bad ever before!! Perhaps heading to India right now might not a be a bad idea afterall!!

Of Ex-es and such like.

Ever met the kind who keep looking back? Do you know of someone who cant let go? Anyone who thinks that its ok for them to move on but not their ex?

I dont know if its a female male thing or just a personality set up.
Relationships being the way they are, some break up. The break(er) tends to be the first to move away and move on, and in most cases is not keen to look back and see whats up with the one they left behind. The break(ee) is the one who takes time to pick the pieces and take their time to move on. This is a general thing and is not a rule as such. Sometimes both parties move on and never look back.

Sometimes the one (who thinks him/herself) to be the better one turns around out of curiousity to see how the other is doing without them. Hoping, in a tiny corner of their hearts, to see the other being heart broken and unable to cope. To still be carrying a torch for the ex. The problem strikes when one sees the ex being better off and happier without them. Then they think 'hey!! you were never like that when I was around!!' hmph!! Big sulk happens and hopefully they turn around and keep going on with their new lives, put off by what they see to never want to turn around and look at the past again.

Sometimes both parties know it won’t work. And split. Both move on and carry on. Someday fate or destiny, or maybe even the ever shrinking globe makes them cross paths..and they think..I know are you? And that’s it. There is no spark, no resentment, just neutrality and hint of curiosity maybe. But the happiness they might have found in the new relationship is overpowering and erases everything about the chance meeting.

Men I think more than women are able to put things aside. To put them behind and move on. Women are more dog-in-the-manger type. They have what they do (which is a new-er, happy-er relationship or life), but they often don’t want to ex to move on. They are also soppy enough sometimes, even if in a new happy relationship, to want the ex to love them forever. The fact that most women want to always know that 'somewhere in the world there is someone who will always love me' does not help.

Okay before you think..for a female she is pretty lopsided in her thinking. Men can be as bad if hung up about the past. Well this is honesty from my perspective.

This I think should be the normal course - For a long time most people wish all sorts of 'bad' things to happen to the ex. Then neutrality takes over as memories fade. And then everyone knows, a good new relationship brings rose tinted glasses..where you want to world to be happy as you are..and that includes the ex. And then eventually you forget about it..well honestly I dont know about forgetting, but you don’t think about it anymore..memories fade eventually and so does negativity. And you move on..that's life.

There are few people I know who are keen to keep in touch with the ex-es ..I think they happen to live in Hollywood or act in Friends :) Make believe land.

For everyone else who has a new relationship and a past that’s fading fast. Let it be. Don’t let curiosity lead you!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pictures of

OK, photography is not allowed in the red light distrcit of amsterdam. You can take scenic ones but none of the girls or the stores can be shot. Here are some from the area.

Okay. I did not want to go at 11.30 in the night to see someplace where women sell their bodies to men who have an appetite for more than what they can get elsewhere.
I also did not want to go and see, what is an essential part of the tourist trail in Amsterdam. I did not want to see sleazy corners with scantily clad women. I had visions of Grant Road and Kamathipura in Bombay and NOPE! I did not want to go.
However my friends insisted it’s worth a look, coz it is unlike anything I will ever see. Ok, bearing in mind I had read somewhere that drug related crime and teenage pregnancies are at the lowest in Holland. I thought the information did not compute to making any sort of sense. So I went. Curiosity leading me once more.

Midnight in the Red Light area of Amsterdam and it was crowded, men and women, some seeing the sights, some living near the 'sites', some working, some gaping, some customers, few pick pockets, some observers and ..MANY women workers.

Here is the best way to describe its dimensions:
One long very narrow street..say about 800 metres long. Now build straight blocks of houses on either side of the street, about 3-4 floors each, add a canal (Amsterdam you see) in the middle. Now every block has huge glass windows on all floors. The colours most apparent everywhere is a deep red. In each window is a female, they are all display windows, with lit interiors, carpets, a bed with cushions, curtains and a VERY VERY scantily clad woman in the middle..beckoning, dancing, sitting, or staring. So its basically like a shopping centre/ complex with the only thing on sale being a human / female body. In every window, on every shelf.

Now multiply this with 30 more such streets on a grid, interspersed with canals. Add a few shops selling sex toys, S&M material, gay and lesbian shops, couple of beer joints...and you have the Amsterdam flesh market.

What was unique was the complete lack of sleaze. This is a market like any other, supplying, what is obviously in high demand. Its business, its professional, it is well lit, it’s clean and it promotes safe sex. It’s taxed, licensed and monitored. There is no shabbiness and cloaks and darkness. No shame in seeing other people there. There are groups of stag parties, hen parties, women in small groups. Everything you ever dream, wish or imagine of related to sex is available here. yes it has special zones for men:men, women:women, women:men, men:women:men, women:men:women, every colours of skin, hair and eyes, every size and type. It’s a market that caters to all, with some dignity to their approach to themselves.

This is how it works; you walk around looking at what is on display. You like something you stop and stare at the woman in the window. A bouncer materialises and has a conversation with you. You tell them what you want/ how much you want to pay. He will check with the girl. If she says ok, the window opens, lets you in, she pulls curtains around the window and you are gone for a bit. Curtains open after payment is made and you are out and about.

What I found shocking was the clinically clean professional approach to everything. it was like buying fruits or vegetables, you look, you think, you pay and you have it. As if nothing is wrong with a woman selling her body. The fact that a whole market exists for men and casual physical encounters. A whole market!! Some people would say that no one is forcing these women to selling their bodies, which does imply that they might be doing this out of their own free will. Which woman would want to have 30 different men in one night? Ok there may be exceptions. But this approach annoys me to no end. This is women who can make quick money from selling their bodies. And there are men who should not be in this market at all. I am being holier than thou here, but this is my opinion.

What disturbed me was
- the clothing (or lack of) of the women. I am not a prude but most women made me gape in shock..wearing spaghetti noodle like clothes which you can iron on the back of a 2p coin.
- the approaches to attracting a customer (supply is high. So there is competition). Dancing, beckoning, and writhing, around poles, on beds and on the floor. It looked strange coz the women can hear the music inside the glass window….so it’s like watching a drama without the sound from the outside.

The lanes are so narrow that quite a few times I was staring right into a pair of well made up eyes that looked past me, to the next man, searching for a customer. What touched me was the blank look in the eyes. They had no expression. Yes the eyes had a come hither approach, and so did the body language, but the expression on the face was of world weariness, augury of the old. It was depressing.

I walked out of the market, surprised by the scale of the market (it is never ending) and the unassuming approach to the business. I felt sick thinking about the fact that this is what happens here every night, every month, and every year. This is a constant market, supplying what men demand. It’s shameful that women in a developed country should have to resort to selling their bodies for earning money.

I have a lot of opinions about this, all of which I don’t want to express here.
This ladies and gentlemen is Amsterdam.


Strings are things people tend to avoid attaching.
Strings are things that irritate some and make them feel..tied.
Strings are things that creep into your life unseen.
Strings are things that can give comfort and security.
And these are stretched by distance.

Distance is something that creates spaces.
Distance is something that makes you reflect.
Distance is something that makes you realise how BIG our planet really is.
Distance is something that makes you want to invent to overcome it.
It creates emptiness.

Emptiness is when you miss someone.
Emptiness is when there is gap in your life where someone was.
Emptiness is when you turn around and someone is not there.
Emptiness is when the phone doest ring as often.
When you realise your true feelings.

Feelings can be transitory or permanent.
Feelings can be strong and positive.
Feelings can be expressed in many ways.
Feeling dont go away with a person leaving.
They remain forever.

And I believe in forever.
I believe strings are necessary for forevers to happen.
I believe that distance is painful and creates big empty spaces.
It makes you see understand and accept your real priorities.
Strings, distance, emptiness. My feelings right now.

Friday, July 14, 2006


This song..always brings a tear to my eye. And right about now it feels appropriate.

All my bags are packed
I'm ready to go
I'm standin here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin
It's early morn
The taxis waitin
He's blowin his horn
Already I'm so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Theres so many times I've let you down
So many times I've played around
I tell you now, they dont mean a thing
Every place I go, I'll think of you
Every song I sing, I'll sing for you
When I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
cause I'm leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
I'll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I wont have to leave alone
About the times, I wont have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

But, I'm leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Words and music by john denver

Monday, July 10, 2006

I have learnt

And when you look back, like you sometimes do. You see your life as it was one year ago from now..two years ago from now. Looking back you might think, I was so lost, so unsure of which way to go. So keen to move, yet so stuck in the certainity and security of what I knew, even though at some points I knew that it was not what I wanted, and it was not something that made me happy. At that point looking ahead was exciting but moving ahead was not.
And now..things have changed, some willing some unwilling changes. Some things present in your life now, that you cant think about what life was life previously without them. Ties and bonds, links and ownership, thoughts and processes. Maybe the shackles of a past that was stuck have gone. You are ok to move on and look ahead. You are happy and not keen to question and dig for the reasons behind it. You are also not stupid enough to dissect every step of the way that got you to where you are, you accept..and be happy.
You are as sure as you can be, or will ever be that you are ok. That you are taking the right decisions and moving on, in the eternal pursuit of happiness.
I have learnt
...that chasing is a game I dont like playing. trust my instinct and learn to hear it when it whispers to me.
...that eternal happiness and security are variables and never found in simultaenously in totality.
...that there are no assurances in life.
...that I cant get everything, but I can definitely keep what I already have, and cherish it.
...I have got everything I want, and satisfaction is not laziness or lack of ambition.
...that patience might be called a virtue but in real terms it is mandatory for existence.
...freedom is about choices and not only about space.
...that true love is not hard to find..but hard to recognize.
...that even though I generate my own happiness, it is linked to that of the people I care about.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The wind in the mill

This is in Leiden, where I was working. This is my favourite shot from the trip..the windmill, the canal, the clouds and the tree. Perfection:)


These were developed to keep feet of farmers warm and prevent them from getting wet. Theyare incredibly hard, yet the craftsmanship of the wood makes them comfortable with thick socks

Zaanse Schaans

A conserved Dutch village..where people live and work near the windmills

A typical dutch fishing village

needless to say the food was very good..

The floating flower markets

Me going home

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ground rules

The dutch and the way they are: A few concepts.

Anyone of any other origin but Scandinavian or Dutch would feel like Alice in Wonderland here. They are impossibly tall, add politeness to that..equals a 6 foot 6 inch man, leaning all half way down his waist to ask me how I am liking the city. It also means no clothes or shoes would be the right size for a dwarf like me. So kids section it was. It also means that all beds, benches and seats are high and in the bus it equals feet that dangle off the edge!

You have to be able to speak and clear your throat at the same time, in order to sound Dutch. Its sounds like a mix of German and English. Zaanse Schaans, Kaizerspline, Kalverstraat..sound like simple names till you need to speak them out.

Dont ever ask a Dutch person if he/she is German, its not exactly a good idea. Also dont ask for Tomato ketchup anywhere..its sacrilege to do so. You must l-u-r-v-e cheese...if not, like me, shut up. Making a disgusted face at the smell of cheese is a very bad idea

Watch out for trams that RRRING to get your attention, cars that stop to let you go. But also...the fast, furious, vile and loud cyclists who own the roads, bug one and he shall call you a 'Blu-DD-ee toukh-reest', he / she might even shake a fist/ finger or head at you! They have right of way. Period.

There is more Indonesian food in Amsterdam than in Jakarta. There is also alcohol that is cheaper beyond imagination. The former due to history, the latter I dont know why, but I am NOT complaining.

The red light area..which is something I shall write another detailed blog about. I am not a prude and I am not exactly shy, but this place left me, as the English would say 'gob-smacked'. Shall say no more. Await pictures and detailed description of Amsterdam's flesh market.