Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I love and hate this weather.
In the morning there is a barely there whiff of can smell it and then its gone..I dont know if any of you know this smell...its cold and crisp in the morning..and the leaves are starting to change colours...
This time of the year, this part of this country..gets chilly. So if you wear a are hot. If you dont wear it you are cold. The sun comes out you are hot. The clouds come in you are cold. Its too warm to wear boots, too cold to wear sandals... in sleeveless your arms freeze, in full sleeves, your hands freeze, its too soon to wear gloves..I guess mid weather shopping needs to be done.

I hereby revoke the previous blog entry. This weekend is shopping day!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

High maintenance woman!

Now why is it that everytime I pick a glossy and look at the whole range of products they advertise..I like the one that is the most expensive..I dont know how I do it. 20 belts..I like the Gucci one. 20 Shoes and Jimmy Choo is the best. 20 tops and Chanel comes on top. 20 bags and I like the Prada. I am not even talking about Laboutin, McQueen, Balenciaga, Valentino yet....

Is it me? or is this a common phenomenon?

Its not like I know which is what brand till I read the miniscule print under it with the brand name and the price tag! Or is this the classic example of good design speaks for itself?

And most of these magazines seem to be designed to reveal to you, how little you have, and how much you need to buy. They also constantly push, parade and argue about the whole new 'Must haves' for every month. Every month you must, simply must spend well over 1500£ to be 'with it'. Obviously there are stories about women who own 500 pairs of shoes, and 160 pairs of lingerie, and 50 handbags...I mean, yes I do get the QED bit here..

No I am not being snob here, am sure there are women and maybe even men who take all this advice well. And they maybe smart, intelligent beings as well. All I wonder is, do the people who write for these magazines feel just the tinniest weeniest silly at any point of time?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Prisoners approach to world peace

Some 18-21 year old male convicts in my class decided to think about why we have wars and crime and so much violence in our lives. Primary reasons they came up with were:

- Religion.
Every single thing around us seems to be fought due to religous differences. If one of us seriously believes that the other is wrong/ bad/ evil because of his / her religion then we have a problem.

- Money.
The difference between haves and have nots and the expansion in whats available if you have the money has made people greedy and this leads to violence.

- Women.
A man might not fight for any of the above (God, or money), but he will fight for his girl/ woman.

So the bottom line after much thinking was..if there were no women to defend it would mean peace, better still it would mean not having to things for them which means no need for money. And since no women means no kids, it puts an end to faith and religion!

How is that for world peace!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I suggest a week

Instead of 5 working days and then two holidays together..which means that fri you are too tired to plan sat, and sat goes by too quick and if you are like me then sat night i start feeling :( sun-day goes slow but sunday evening goes quick!!
And before you know it the alarm is ringing to wake you up to yet another week!!

This is how I think it should be

Sunday - Monday - tuesday - (after 2 days of work comes weekend) so..Saturday - wednesday - Thursday - Friday.

Perfect! work two days, rest for one. Work 3 days rest for one..and fridays are good days anyways! Which means the equivalent of 2 fridy nights in a week, so you can sleep and party till late coz its a day off the next day :)

The idea of an endless week that DRAGS and a weekend that does anything but. Is depressing..maybe I should think about not working...just be at home..relax, paint my nails, brush my hair, go for walks, shop around, sleep till late...and do...Nothing..zilch, zero...nothing...ahhh!! Sounds good to tired old me!
I think I shall need a RICH husband to be able to do that..but then he shall tell me what to do and what not to...

Naaaah! I shall stick to hoping that some where some one shall accept my new week and the world shall be a happier place.

NB. As you can probably see I am a too tired to make sense.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wise Woman's Wisdom

As I sat on the train back from Edinburgh to Leicester I saw 3 old women and 1 old man, climb in. They came and sat right next to me. The train journey is long, takes about 5 hours from Edinburgh to where I live. Longer for them as they were heading to Bournemouth, which is on the other end of the country.

The train moved and I could make out the 3 old women were good friends. The man was married to one of them. The old couple cosied up and sat down, I could see a level of warmth, concern and love between the two. He wiped her mouth when she finished a croissant, passed her the Review section of the newspaper without asking. She gave him a pen to do the crossword, when he turned the page to reach it. It was interesting.

Nosy that I am, I was staring!

The couple sat and read, the other two women got bags out. One of them was knitting a jumper, the other was making some strange looking green, fabric triangles with a needle and thread. The average age between them would have been 80-85 yrs I guess.

Getting a bit curious, I asked the old woman with the stars, what she was making, coz it looked quite interesting. That was it, she put aside and a most interesting conersation started.
She told me her name - Pat and introduced her friends, they have lived near each other all their lives and have been friends since childhood. She was making stars for the Christmas tree. She asked me where I was going and what I do, etc. After a while came the question about marriage and children, as is typical. And my luck!

She spoke slowly about life with her husband, how it was simple and straight forward. How we young people want, family, supportive spouses, close relationships, good friends, lack of boredom, exciting holidays, amazing gifts..and the list goes on. She said we also spend a lot of time wondering and thinking 'what Ifs' which is a waste of time. Her mantra was..if you think you will be happy and you are true to yourself and to the relationship, any relationship would work. She said, things change, life moves quickly, marriage, children, jobs, locations are all a part of life and things we should learn to tackle anyways. You have to commit and not change decisions and never look back.

She went on and on about philosophy, about life, God, husbands, grand children. And I could see one thing, which she admitted herself, she had lead a long fulfilled life. She said her life had been tough, with wars and depression and uncertainity. But it was a complete one..she had ups and downs, but she had seen a lot and now was proud she got through all of it. And wished me the same. She said...

'Somewhere some special young man awaits you, you could lead a perfect life like I have, see things for what they are and look ahead, don't delay and start living! Have friends, built a home, have children and smile every day!'

As she said this I was asked her where she hid the crystal ball. Pat laughed aloud and shook all over..and so did her friends...they said..she says this to everyone she meets and managed to surprise everyone with this straight fortune telling statement..but really..a broad generalisation like this could be applicable to everyone and anyone..who is is, in most cases, obvious from a lack of a ring!

It was one surreal experience for me. I must say spending a journey with someone this interesting yet predicatble was amusing. Wisdom from a wise old lady with needles and yarn!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Free and Independent..

As India celebrates yet another Independence Day I do wonder what it means to me..does it mean anything? I mean, am I happy that we are Independent? Are we really independent in every sense of the word?

To most people who were born in free India, 15 August is a holiday. One day that everyone gets off from work. One day when we bring out the flags and wave them, and then put them away till February approaches, when we bring them out for Republic Day celebrations.

To people who watched freedom being granted, like my grandad, it meant something more. He used to listen to the Prime Ministers speech from the Red Fort. He used to stand up, despite his really bad knees, for the National Anthem. For him independence came at a high price. In leaving Lahore, where many generations of my family had lived, he lost more than just property and wealth. He lost frieds, he lost his ability to move amongst a mutli religous group of people, and his roots, his culture which was steeped in Urdu poetry and walks around Lahore, family traditions which had been kept in place at the Haveli he lived in, he never thought we would not go back to his house, his friends. The finality of the Partition and Independence that came along with it, was something that took many people, a long time to get used to. He had to redefine his own identity. The price of freedom was high.

For me, a free India defines identity for me. Yes we have progressed and moved ahead in many many, many ways. Yes we have now a definition of whats Indian and whats not. yes we as a nation have made the rest of the world sit up and take notice.
India is homeland, its the country where I walk in with a passport and sail past immigration. Hindi is the language I speak. Freedom to make choices is something that cost us a lot, personally and as a nation. Yet at times, when I watch whats happening in India..politically, economically and socially...I do wonder if we forget at times, that we became free to be able to self determine our futures.

Tagore wrote a poem, Where the Mind is Without Fear, which I learnt in school, but which means a lot more every time I go to India. And now I think, his work, is still being ambitious. For a lot of us, freedom has arrived, for many more people freedom was something that came and went. A country of paradoxes, of extremes, of every possibility being likely is how I see India. For every poor person, a ridiculously rich one, for every illiterate - well educated qualified one, for every nice person - a terrible counterpart, for eery hovel, jhuggi and shack - a large mansion with the landscaped garden.
There are indignities, unhappiness, disappoinments on a daily basis. But..but we have, well, some of us have moved on to say, yes we can make a change,no we wont accept anything that is given to us, yes we shall question decisions and issues, we have rights and we shall use them. Some of us have stopped blaming the 'system' and looked inwards. That is something I am proud of.

I know I cant change everything, no one can. But I am glad to see that there are a lot more people who think the same way and make a difference in which ever way possible, a difference to a person, a community, a location or a concept. We are redefining things..and I think, though we have not awoken to Tagores aims in totality, I think we are awake enough to know where we are going, and make our own paths.

Happy Independence Day to all Indians, lets keep at it, and keep going. And someday this poem might come true in totality.

Where The Mind is Without Fear
Rabindra Nath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

from Rabindra Nath Tagore's Geetanjali

Monday, August 07, 2006

Kid Karma

I dont know what it is about me. I dont dislike children, in fact I think most of them are long as they dont open their mouths! Yes! I am from the 'child should be seen not heard' school of thought. And I absolutely detest those pesky little things that cry and whinge and grizzle and howl. What I detest more are the parents who dont mind the fact that their child is single handedly giving the public in 100 metres space of it..a splitting headache.
Every time I travel, and I do travel a lot..I have some child who shall either talk, sing, hum or howl through the journey, its almost as if they have a 'GOTCHA!! You cant escape from me in this train/plane/bus' ARGH!
So heading to India I had this child behind me who was 'so lucky because all these aeroplanes are here today in one place'..and he kept saying that again and again and again...and again. It was Heathrow Airport! Mum ofcourse was not keen to let the child know that it has not much to do with luck..but any place with too many airplanes is called an AIRPORT! After that the child was plain lucky to be able to go to India..also asked when they shall get there about every 20 mins in a 8 hour flight!!
Yesterday as I boarded the plane I was relieved to see only 3 children in the boarding lounge..two of those were travelling business my luck to have to sit right next to this cute girl with a loud squeaky voice. She was a walking talking Tell Me Why, Tell Me How series. She sat down and all I heard weere questions..'is the plane moving? are we in air? where is the sun? where is the engine? where is the pilot? what is this food? how to do you switch on the light? when will we get there? where is nani? why does the TV not work? how do you play games on the tv?'
OH God!! Oh God!
Is it my Travel karma or kid karma...why is it..that if there is one child on a 350 people plane, a 2000 person train, a 58 person bus. Why is it ? how is it? that if there is one will sit next to me? And nope, never is it the quiet, I-want-to-sleep and I-dont-believe-in-talking (or crying) variety?
Have some mercy on me!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Indian Public Toilets

Yes, not too long ago you needed to be desperate to want to use a public toilet in India. You needed to desensitise your nasal tracts and be able to hold your breath to be able to use on of the 'Sulabh Sauchalyas' that dotted Delhi. At some point in time I remember knowing all of them in Connaught Place without visiting the stench that warned you about what lay ahead. There was also a habit developed through childhood by parents to go to the loo before stepping out of the house! A habit that does nothing for you if you are in a traffic jam or in an area that has no restaurants.
And it gets worse if you move to Bombay which works on Maths -> Space = Money. Toilets make none..hence no toilets!!I remember walking through Kalba Devi and also Mohammed Ali Road, in desperation and feeling bad for the tourists who invariably eat road side stuff and then have a tough time!

Well things have changed...a LOT in Delhi. There is a whole spate of manned Public Toilets in Delhi called Mokleen. You can expect sparkling clean interiors, brightly lit and comfortably big. You can also expect clean running water, hand wash, drier as well as toilet paper! Also present is an attendant to charge you Rs 1 or Rs 2 for usage of the facility. There are ceiling fans to keep you cool. Huge skylights to keep the air fresh and well painted exteriors that stop people from using the outside of the building as a loo. The attendants guide you to the Men's or the Ladies as there are no King or Queen tiles for indication. They also give you a big smile if they see you twice in the same day!

The toilets are maintained by Private companies and are well run. I was very impressed by them. No I dont want to sound like a patronising NRI but I do want to sound like one proud Indian, happy to see progress! Its good, its great!

This is what the Hindu had to say about Mokleen's facility.
'The story of the woman who, passing a public toilet complex at night, with all its bright lights and stir of visitors, thought it was a house of worship and directed her children to bow their heads in reverence, seems symbolic. Cleanliness is after all, next to Godliness.'