Friday, April 18, 2008

Pleased to meet you?

I wonder how Lucknow will introduce itself.

It has made every effort to shake off its lineage, the nawabi blood coursing through its veins blocked by the malls, flyovers and miscellaneous accessories of 21st century India. The legendary Pehle Aap drowned out in the honking cars, swearing car wallahs and abrasive bollywood influenced 20 somethings. Tunde ke kebab in easy -to- take -home, cold and barely satisfying joints everywhere you go. Not a single ghoongroo heard at Kathak Kendra, and innumerable footfalls at the afternoon show of Race. The dilapidated and seemingly mildewed Urdu Shiksha Kendra overshadowed by the glistening swanky Riverside, Wave and Fun malls...

Having Said that, Not that I am complaining!!!

The city is a calm getaway with all the amenities of big cities and one-fifth (give or take a decimal more) the hassle. Month of traversing the city and not a single traffic jam (Hallelujah!), movie tickets as and when you please, no 20 minute queues at restaurants on weekends, gyms where the equipment is free for long enough to break into a sweat, the lilt in hindi which feels like home..
Though savouring it all, a thought plagues me - Was there no way to resolve the dichotomy harmoniously? Having spent 3 months (admittedly not long enough) in Paris, I have experienced a city that has embraced this contradiction with easy grace. The malls and meccas of the millenium have not eroded the historic essence of Paris, and that stems from an inherent pride in its glorious past. With no pretensions to undertstand the pressures that policy makers work under... All it takes is a thought. A concerted thought and an orchestrated effort to save Lucknow.
PS: Are you modern, brash, conservative, pensive, poor, hedonistic, soft-spoken, grungy, rich, sophisticated.......Maybe my conversation with you could have been lively and stimulating, Ill never know till I get the introductions out of the way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Opine or Otherwise

Opinions and intellectual conversations are over-rated. The fuss about seeking stimulating conversations is mostly a yearning for a platform and an audience to expound one's beliefs.There is barely any listening. The self loves to hear its jokes , the conviction in its voice and think of itself as particularly clever.
"I think, therefore I am and I dont really care about the other persons etre as long as my raison de etre has a voice" -That seems to be the flavour of the season.
Its infinite and dull, yet people are enraptured, here is a person who thinks, what defines thinking though is elusive- Is it rattling off facts from the morning read of a newspaper? Is it forming an opinion in ignorance? Is it rigid and unyielding?
Under influence of certain books (everyone claims to be a book lover nowadays), in the influence of witty sitcoms and even wittier newspaper columns, Are sensibilities stuck in limbo?The word pseudo comes to mind.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random....Bored...Thoughts Thought.

Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta ,Kahin zameen to kahin aasman nahin milta

Always, Always loved this quote. To some, it might seem cynical, but weird as it might seem it makes me feel better. Thats life, most of us would do better to accept it but ofcourse, as with most things, some people take complacency too far and end up having neither.

Its an instant pick-me-up.It can make me smile, no matter how low the low or high the high in my life. Its the perfect companion- effervescent (for lack of a better word), diverse ( everything but monotonous), chirpy without being intrusive, full of surprises (the odd twists and turns), can make me dance to its tune like nothing and noone else and always just a click away (the ipod kind ;) )....

Music is my elixir ..and how I wish I had learnt to create music.

Heres to all the musicians in the European streets, metros, crossings and monuments. To the times when hearing a familiar english song has made me feel at ease in any pub/ monument/ party/moment. To musicians...who are making the world a happier place for people like me. To the ipod... well better not get mysef started on my love for it. To that escape that I shall always have...

PS: If any one's wondering why the long spell of silence is broken by incomprehensibly related sentences pretentiously put together as a blog, Well!! I dont know and thats the pleasure.. to be random without really knowing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just another life in Paris

As the name suggests, this is a blog post about living in Paris. The post very unpretentiously is an effort at noting down the moments that I spend here… decades later, as my memory fails me, the words shall be the cue.. So apologies to the reader if some parts are incomprehensible or vague because somehow somewhere I am hoping that they will make sense to me.

Its been two days in Paris now and I have experienced melancholy and joy, the urge to head back to India and the conviction that Paris is my ultimate destination, bewilderment at the transport system (Metro, RER or trams) to the comfort of a seasoned metro traveler. I have felt uncomfortably hot in my room on the first day (Caveat: The french DO NOT have fans) and terribly cold on a cruise on the river Seine the very next day . In the stark sunlight of a Monday morning, I have felt horribly conscious of the fact that I am an Asian amongst the debonair Parisians and in the basement of a night joint I have realised that whether American/Mexican/Italian/French, we are all the same at a certain level. Within a span of hours I have gone from feeling deeply philosophical looking at the monuments of Paris to completely hedonistic with a drink in my hand.

It all began on a cold Sunday evening with the innocent wonder at the infrastructure and the taxi with GPS system. The wide eyed fascination with the make of the cars and the critical view of our own simple Maruti's ,not to forget, the first brush with a frenchman (cab-driver) who was not too pleased with our incompetence in the Langue Fran├žois. To contrast our displacement to the land of the french, we met Good 'Indian' Samaritans who understood the urgency of informing the ma, pa and dadaji , back home that - "Here we are!!! In La Ville Lumiere, stranded on couches for a couple of hours waiting to get into our rooms". There are other details which need not be mentioned..but ofcourse about the rooms, well all I have to say is that God has been kind and for the other people - Well Paris has $*#@ ing expensive real estate.

The next day's journey to college was a mere haze of stairs ,ticket machines and trains. (U have to be in Paris to experience this).The induction that day was the most unmentionable episode as it was as regular as any induction back home, of course the difference being that we sat with class mates from 21 different countries. Anyway the day was wrapped up with a pinch of grocery shopping, telephone banging (The Euro Latino calling cards sure have a typically french, read complicated, system to call home) and of course listening to Tamil songs and feasting on dosas .

The next day started similar to the earlier one, only this time we were more comfortable with the journey and suddenly the lines on the map made more sense than technicolor patterns. The seminars that day about French living style and culture were intriguing and soporific at times … but the best was yet to come..and what an evening it was when it did come- The first look at Seine and a cruise on it is something that I dare not attempt to describe in words , I have neither the prowess nor the imagination to convey to the reader the beauty of the experience. The only guarantee is that it lifts your spirits and gives u a high that not the strongest alcohol can. The snippets of conversation with a Mexican and Japanese are details that add a dash of socializing to an otherwise very personal pleasure of the sights. The evening was not to end with this memory, the impromptu plan of the exchange students to go to a bar and party led us walking down the Streets of Saint Germain to get our first look at Paris night life. The karaoke bar had us singing and dancing to Like a Virgin, Sweet Child O'Mine, American Pie, Whenever Wherever….. Ah! The list is endless. The party was the perfect end to a perfect day….. This day was our real 'Welcome to Paris day' and God Bless! That is the day when I fell in love the city {seems like it doesn’t take much :) }.

This is more or less the narration of 2 days at Paris… there promise to be more memories, faster than I can chronicle and faster than the keys can type. With a sincere hope to pen all of them down…



1. Tushar being asked by a fellow Indian student - 'Excuse Me! Which Country are you from?'

2. Our unsuccessful attempts at using the Euro Latino telephone calling card.

3. Tomato Puree being misunderstood for Tomato Ketchup ( Yeah! Yeah! We can't read French).

4. The daily effort at comprehending the food items in the Mess.

5. The shower system (You need to keep pressing a button to keep the water flowing).

6. Gopi asking a man on the station for directions in Tamil.(And actually getting the answers)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Somethings never change...

... The humor in Calvin and Hobbes
... The smell of shoes in a Bata shop
... The feeling on hearing a yesteryears favorite song
... The romance of rains
... The mistakes you made
... The hatred for the alarm
... The phenomenon called 'common cold'

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Whole is greater than the sum of the parts?

Management Jargon has an eerie way of popping up at most unexpected times.

It so happened to me, that, as I was struggling through a rubbery pav at ‘Welcome – A HINDU Restaurant’ (Ahem!! Talk about secularism), I was amazed at the speed with which their operations were working. The eatery is close to Stanc, HSBC, LIC , Colaba Market etcand everyday has a steady stream of lunchers. Yet you can be in and out of that place (with the rubbery pav resting in the dark recesses of your stomach) within 15 minutes.
The system works so fast and efficiently owing to ‘assembly line’ serving, which we have all witnessed at several Shiv Sagars, Sukh Sagars and Kamaths. There are different people assigned to cleaning the table, serving water, serving food, taking the order, getting the bill. The experience reminded me of harrowing experiences at plush restaurants on Saturday nights, when service takes ages and the glass stares expectantly to be refilled.

Is that the kind of difference that ‘Job shop’ v/s ‘Assembly Line’ can make? Is the psychology of the customer such, that, exclusivity (one waiter) is worth the wait? Is the specialization making each task of the waiters faster? Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts (generalist>specialist)?
Is a ‘Mainland China’ with assembly line serving not going to work?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Umbrella Thy name is Liberation!!!

Ask an Indian woman "What is the biggest menace on Indian roads? " and the answer shall not be potholes, street dogs, not even urchins or traffic. Bewildered? Well the answer (99 out of 100 times) will be the lecherous/staring/gaping/groping/whistling/air kissing "common man" at the humble age of 22 , when I find a solution to this nuisance., I want to share it with the world.

The panacea is an umbrella. The innocent dainty looking (pointed) umbrella.

On a day like today, with the sun beating down on my non-umbrellaed brethren, I hold it with the grip and the intention that anybody moving in within its radius .. and closer to my body than desired shall see a brandishing which shall remind him of the stuff dueling legends are made of.
For the not-so-daring side-liners (the leching kinds) I just turn the umbrella at a convenient angle such that the only curves that they will lay their eyes on will be those of my sultry (its hot remember) umbrella.
On crowded streets (Brigade Road on Saturdays), it is nicely tucked away under my arm (this is where the pointed helps) such that any expectant soul banging into my body is startled and left wondering as to what possible anatomical part did he brush against.
The fact that its saving my skin from all those uv rays that the ozone cant seem to be bothered with(yes mine does) is purely incidental.Its saving me my dignity and peace of mind which is essentially what female liberation should be about.

So here it is - I think we should quit being the victims and just get ourselves an umbrella!! What say?