6 December 2010

The ultimate accolade

My teenager is taking me to the movies tonight.

Not just any movie: we’re going for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1'.

Not just with anyone: with my teenager and her friends.

Why? Because, apparently, I am ‘cool’ enough!

19 November 2010

Paper cuts

I’d never heard of these when I was in India.
I’ve never quite gotten rid of them since I came to NZ – the latest one, 20 minutes ago.

8 November 2010

More on Aish

Ok, no one can ever say that I am not fair. I’ve just seen Aish on a talk show and a reality show and I have to say that she isn’t half bad in them. And I feel guilty at having been so bitchy about her in my last post. So let me say now, that I could even get to like her at the end of my nth janmam.

It’s only in movies that her cruelty to me and my ilk is intolerable. Movies mean more than 2 hours of Aish trying to act, all the while trying to emote while just managing to hold off the smirk of being ulaga azhagi.

So I’ve decided. No more Aish movies for me anymore, even if they are as hyped up as Endhiran. And from what I hear, that may not be too hard for me to manage in future. Apparently she’s preggers. Who know, she may have triplets and become such a devoted mom that she won’t have any more time to act. One can only hope….

28 October 2010

How much do I hate Aish? Let me count the ways...

I know, and have known for a while now that Aish is definitely past her best-by date.
Seeing two Aish movies (Endhiran and Raavanan) almost back to back only re-confirmed it for me.

But this post isn’t just about Aish being past her best-by date. There’s no big deal in that. I can think of plenty of other actresses and actors who are post their best-by date, but are holding on like grim death.

What I can’t figure out is why watching Aish on screen is such an excruciatingly painful experience. It was never easy, but it only seems to be getting worse with time.

I think this has nothing to do with how old she looks. It has everything to do with what sort of an actress she is. And she isn’t a good one – yet (am being charitable here - I added 'good' to my original sentence).

While she couldn’t act for toffee from Day 1, she managed then because most of her early roles were ‘running around the trees’ and ‘looking too good to be true’ roles. But, I have never been able even stomach her, leave alone take her seriously, from the minute she started taking up roles that required serious acting.

And that, I think, is because, she lacks ‘X’ – the quality that the greats have, which makes you, the audience, forget that you are only watching a movie.

Okay, let’s be generous here – very, very few people have that ‘X’ – so it may not be fair to expect her to have it. But even in the group of second-raters, why does she stick out like a sore thumb?

Maybe its because she gives the impression of being too conscious of her status as ‘ulaga azhagi’. Even if she is running off a cliff or being tied up like a dog, this unfortunately comes through. You feel no sympathy for the character she is playing – rather, all you feel is irritation at how vapid she appears. I actually wanted to smack her.

Although this comes too late in the day, I think she should have stuck to modelling, where she could have easily hidden her acting flaws and capitalised on her ex ‘too-good to be true’ looks. Unfortunately for me and my ilk, she chose acting....

But not even that any more though. Her face looks like the desi version of Pamela Anderson now – and if you don’t believe me, just google the internet to see before and after versions. Here’s just one link to help you out. Even when she is in the middle of the jungle in Raavanan, she still manages to look plastic. Eeeks. What really bothers me is why directors still run behind her.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system (phew, thankfully – I can tell you its been simmering in there for a while – I hate that woman for messing up my Endhiran experience), what do you think it is that drives people in equal lots to the Hate Aish and Love Aish clubs? What is it for you? The "I think Plastic Ash is fantastic' queue is to the left, while the eco-friendly, sane ones can line up behind me.

24 September 2010

CWG Delhi

Aaah, the Delhi CWG have made me an athlete/gymnast.

When I see colleagues coming towards me to ask why we messed up so badly, I run in the opposite direction.

When I am not successful in running away, I squirm and writhe fluidly with the shame of being labelled, not an Indian, but by being lumped with those Indians (and even Pakistanis) like Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot, and the zillion others who have dirtied India Shining, thanks to the CWG exposes.

The daily dose gets dirtier as the days pass by.

No one here sees mera Bharat as mahaan. How can they? They only see Bharat as the land of stench & corruption. Bharat the beggar, who cannot, will not, do any better, tied up as she is, in the unbreakable shackles of her corrupt leaders, inept systems and helpless people. And I cannot explain this away. I lack both the words and the conviction. I don't want to explain this away!

I am proud to be Indian, but not of this India. My India, somewhere, maybe in a parallel universe, still lives.

17 September 2010

Ten to one..

Ten hows:
1. How did you get one of your scars? I have none.
2. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I didn’t.
3. How are you feeling at this moment? Pretty good – it’s a Friday.
4. How did your night go last night? OK
5. How did you do in high school? Comme ci comme ca
6. How did you get the shirt you’re wearing? Got it as a gift from the Queen!
7. How often do you see your best friend(s)? A LOT less often than I'd like to.
8. How much money did you spend last month? More than I really wanted to.
9. How old do you want to be when you get married? Just right
10. How old will you be at your next birthday? A year older than what I was last year.

Nine whats:
1. Your mother's name? Amma
2. What did you do last weekend?
Sat: Listened to Gyaneshwari discourse, got little one ready for dance class, made a garland, went to temple, listened to abhangs, housework and puja for Ganesha as it was Ganesha Charuthi. And overall spent time with the kids.
Sun: Listened to Gyaneshwari discourse, housework, went to temple, listened to abhangs, And overall spent time with the kids.
Last weekend was special though – the discourse/abhang bit doesn’t happen often in Wlg.
3. What is the most important part of your life? All of them.
4. What would you rather be? Be rich enough and responsible enough to make the world and my mind a better place.
5. What did you last cry over? Not telling.
6. What always makes you feel better when you’re upset? Myself & my friends
7. What’s the most important thing you look for in a significant other? A sense of humour.
8. What are you worried about? Worrying too much.
9. What did you have for breakfast? Curry puffs

Eight yous:

1. Have you ever liked someone who had a girlfriend/boyfriend? ??
2. Have you ever had your heart broken? Not really.
3. Have you ever been out of the country? Which country?
4. Have you ever done something outrageously dumb? Too many incidents to recount
5. Have you ever been back stabbed by a friend? Friends – no. Relatives who I thought I was friends with: yes.
6. Have you ever been seriously ill? Nope, not yet - give me some time though!
7. Have you ever dated someone younger than you? Stop being so nosy!
8. Have you ever read an entire book in one day? Of course.

Seven whos:
1. Who was the last person you saw? Someone I didn’t want to see
2. Who was the last person you texted? Dana
3. Who was the last person you hung out with? My family and friends in Wlg
4. Who was the last person to call you? To call me what?
5. Who did you last hug? My baby.
6. Who is the last person who texted you? Dana.
7. Who was the last person you said “I love you” to? X

Six wheres:
1. Where does your best friend(s) live? All over the world. Chennai, UK, NZ and more.
2. Where did you last go? To work.
3. Where did you last hang out? The washing on the line.
4. Where do you go to school? I don't.
5. Where is your favourite place to be? With family and friends.
6. Where did you sleep last night? At home.

Five dos:
1. Do you think anyone likes you? Yes, Thank God!
2. Do you ever wish you were someone else? Not often.
3. Do you know the muffin man? Nope.
4. Does the future scare you? Nope. The present is scary enough.
5. Do your parents know about your blog? Yup.

Four whys:
1. Why are you best friends with your best friend? She's always there for me, even if we are continents, natures and time zones apart.
2. Why did you get into blogging? To keep in touch with writing and myself.
3. Why did your parents give you the name you have? A granmother’s name shared between two grand-daughters. So my cousin got the first half and I got the second half.
4. Why are you doing this survey? Chumma, just like that.

Three ifs:
1. If you could have one super power what would it be? To make the world a happier, fairer place
2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, would you? Yes.
3. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could bring 1 thing, what would you bring? I honestly don’t know.

Two would you evers:
1. Would you ever get back together with any of your ex’s if they asked you? What ex?
2. Would you ever shave your head to save someone you love? For sure. But if they loved me, they wouldn’t ask me to!

One last question:
1. Are you happy with your life right now? Yep.

Aaah-mir Khan

Reading Shyam’s post on George Michael brought back so many memories of college days and the unlimited jollu-ing that was part of life then.

While we loved our firangis then, we also loved our desis just as much. Of course desis and firangis may come and go and they did (George Michael was one of themJ). But did any of them stay the favourite forever – or at least, as close to forever, which means till now, when I am twice as old as what I was then?

I racked my brains (yes, really had to) to think of who has been a constant favourite since my college days.In fact, the first and the only name that came to mind with the accompaniment of a resounding YES was Aamir Khan. There wasn’t even a close second after him.

Initially of course, I liked him for being the cutie in QS QTJ and many other movies. He was perfectly drool-worthy. Even during the times when I was ‘off’ movies, I’d make it a point to see his films (how did he continue to keep looking so young, damn it!). The last movie of his that I saw (with my best friend from college and fellow joller) before I left India, was Sarfarosh. I loved it, especially the patriotic thread that ran through the movie.

Then, after I reached NZ, there was a break – he didn’t seem to be doing any movies. What was he doing? Till Lagaan happened. And ever since then, he stopped being just another pretty face in Bollywood. And became much more.

How many other stars of his calibre and with his status would have dared to do Lagaan, at a time when to do so would have been career suicide. But now we know that was a huge hit. And then he followed on with movies like Mangal Pandey (although patriotism had become hip by the time MP came out) and Dil Chahata Hai. And then in the last few years, it’s just been a case of the best getting better.

Rang De Basanti - playing the eternal college goer at 40 and being able to carry it off. And doing only one movie in three years? And again, that patriotic streak (psyching other Khans into doing patriotism too).

And I can’t think of a single superstar in Mumbai who would have dared to produce/act in a movie like TZP? A movie on kids with learning difficulties – made so sensitively, it touched our hearts. And having been gutsy and visionary enough to do that, how did that man make it a commercial hit too? Beats me.

Then, of course, came Ghajini, and then 3 Idiots. ‘nuff said.

When we have our stars, both from Bollywood and cricket, endorsing everything from underwear to outer space, he’s someone who has chosen to do minimal endorsements. And said no to being waxed at Tussaud’s ( I seem to remember this, but not sure:-)! And doesn’t mind taking a stand on politically sensitive issues. And all the while still being commercially viable and bit of a marketing genius and selling his stuff, even the unorthodox ones like TZP and Peepli Live. I mean, the stuff was great in the first place. But you still need good marketing to sell it well.

And for keeping up too - blogging and twittering and what not. Beauty, with brains! What more can one ask for?

Do I sound prejudiced? Of course, I do, because I am. And I for one, will be rooting for Dhobi Ghat, Delhi Belly and whatever else Aamir comes up with.

26 August 2010


Inspired by and dedicated to my big N:-)she is a good girl

The ball, the ball, the ball
We've been hearing about it since last Fall!

Where to look, what to buy, what to wear
And what to do with that thick black hair.

The long and the short of the ball gown
What colour should it be – pink or brown?

The moaning, the whingeing and endless texting
The decisions have to be made NOW, no resting.

Buying the make-up, the accessories,
While not forgetting other necessaries.

Working to a budget that might be shoe string
Still buying as much as that money can bring

Comparing notes with friends, all anger vented
While driving the parents almost demented.

It’s here. The big day finally dawns
Weekend it may be, but today no yawns,

Off to get the hair set in a classy top knot
Back with Mum for make-up, thanks a lot.

Then the ball: dancing,laughing with all the mates
Entirely happy since the photos have come out great

At the end, getting Dad to do the chauffeur rounds
Happily eating, for now she can put back on the pounds.

The ball, the ball, the ball
Finally, it is now all over, come this Fall!

(Quiet sigh of relief)

30 July 2010

Wellington winter day

Seagulls at Petone beach (right opposite my office building)

Petone pier

Eastbourne on the hills

Wellington CBD from across the bay

The ferry coming in from Picton

Loving it:-)

How can you not?

20 July 2010

At work.
Out of the blue, I am seized by a sudden and powerful longing to be back home, a violent wave of homesickness.
Why, after 11 years away?
Why, when I’ve just gotten back after a long holiday in India?
Why, when I am the object of envy among all my friends, not just for living abroad, but for living in clean and green NZ?
Why, when we have friends, a life and much more here?
Why, when even our family back in India says: “What are you coming back here for?”

8 June 2010

Never too early to start

Last night, out of the blue, little N (who is all of 7 years old) said: Amma, I am sad, because K is not my friend any more (K is another girl in her class).

Why, what happened? I asked.

K said she won’t invite me over for her play day at home, said little N, looking sad.

Why did she say that, N, I asked.

Well, she said I am too Indian and that means I am too boring. So, she said she doesn’t want Indian people in her group any more, said little N, shocking me into complete silence for half-a-minute.

Well, if that isn’t one of the saddest things I’ve heard of in recent times, I then don’t know what is….

But there is something even sadder (and scarier). K is an Indian.

21 May 2010

Of sulky teens and sambar

My absence over 6 weeks when I was in India, actually made our solo teenager stalk the kitchen. Not just to rummage through the pantry to devour anything edible that didn’t need further processing, but to actually do the processing herself – ie, cooking.

Just thought I’d mention that, because her proud dad S actually told his mom (ie, my MIL) that N made sambar that was as good as what her mom (ie, moi) makes. S being S, won’t ever say that to my face:-)

*sob* My sulky teenager is finally qualified enough to be called a SIndianBrahm…in NZ! All my 18 years of nurturing her (including the time she spent in my then gigantic tummy) hasn’t been wasted after all. What more could a mom want?

7 May 2010


Every time I go to India, I go with an avowed aim of eating certain types of foods at certain places. At home, of course and in some specific restaurants such as Saravana Bhavan in Chennai, Utsav in Hyd etc.

This time, though, I had not planned on any such thing. There wasn’t any time to plan any of it. So off I went with little N.

And turns out that I’ve never eaten out as much as I have on this trip. Nor have I eaten so many different dishes in any of my other Indian trips. Thanks to all the travel I did within the country in the nearly 6 weeks I was there. The travel is also probably the reason why my NZ weighing scales tell me I haven't put on any weight in spite of so much intake. Needless to add, have not lost even a gram either:-)

In Tamil Nadu: I was heading down south, Tiruchi, Rameshwaram, Karaikudi, Srivilliputhur, Madurai and finally Thiruvannamalai. So, beautiful idlis for breakfast, massive traditional rice spreads for lunches and lovely palakaram varieties for dinner. All served on vaazhai ilais.

And a couple of Mexican dishes I had in Tex Mex and also at Veg Nation. And of course, no Chennai visit is complete without a meal at the ubiquitous Saravana Bhavan.

Only grouse: It was almost impossible to find filter kaapi for love or money in Madurai after 6 pm.

And even when I was not travelling, got to eat palaa pazham (jack fruit), maam pazham, sapotta (chiku), maangai (raw mango). Not bad at all.

In Andhra: Stayed only two days here. So did not manage to find any traditional Andhra food. But did some traditional shopping here with P:-)

In Maharashtra: Travelled almost every day – Kolhapur, Pandarpur and Shirdi. This meant a lot of different dishes. Kanda poha (owl uppuma), sabudhana kichidi, sabudhana vadas, ganna ras (sugarcane juice), alphonso mangoes, missal, and Chitale Bandhu mithaiwala treats like Bakarwadi, shankar pali, ambe burfi and chivda. And dhoklas at an auntie’s house.

In Uttarakhand: The best and hottest alu paranthas straight from the tawa at various roadside dhabas, eaten with pickle and dahi for breakfast. A first for me. Then pannier dishes, dum aloo, rotis, pulaus, phulkas, samosas, jilebis etc throughout the day when we were in Joshimath. Meetha paan too.

In DDN, Indian cooked breakfasts like pongal, puri, idlis, etc at home. Rossogollas and petha from the shops.

In Delhi: Spent just half a day at a relative’s place. But got Punjabi chole and gobhi curry as well as kantola-potato curry – the first time I’ve eaten that – all served with piping hot puris, that were being made fresh.

Not to forget the vethal kozhambu, rasam, koottu and usual homely varieties of TamBrahm S.Indian food that I ate throughout my trip………and the endless cups of coffee in S.India and chai in N.India.

And the gallons of Mazaas, Nimbooz, Slice, etc that we consumed during our stay there, just to keep cool. As well as elaneers (tender coconut water) and iced teas.

I admit I am nostalgic…I am trying not to think of the couple of unpleasant days I had with a Delhi-like belly. But even then, it was so worth it. And best of all, I had to cook/make none of these – I only had to eat.

But that was then (last week).

This is now (today): day-before’s leftover pulau and yesterday’s leftover dhal for dinner tonight.

How much life can change in a week!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone (Sunday, May 9)!

6 May 2010

Depressing Delhi

For real! Normally I don’t do this, as I love the uniqueness of each city. And I have personally seen too many friends/relatives badmouth Chennai, and still think that is such a hateful attitude to take towards any place.

But this time, I too make an exception. Delhi was dirty, dreary, depressing and almost appallingly impersonal and terrifying. The people I knew there and met were lovely. But the city itself?

From the searing 43.6C heat that greeted us when we landed there, to the security person routinely going through the airport rubbish bins for bombs, it was all a bit too grim and grey for me.

The security thing really gave me the heebie jeebies. Metal detector doorways everywhere I went: at the impressively modern metro rail stations, Pahlika Bazaar, Connaught Place…

And Chandini Chowk! What a misnomer. And the Red Fort standing in the middle of all the decay and dust like an anachronism. Looking dirty, but still imposing.

I am not sure if it was because of the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. But every time I’ve gone to Delhi, there have always been thousands of people stretched out at all the main train stations there: New Delhi, Old Delhi and Hazrat Nizammudin. This time was no exception, with my Hazrat experience taking the cake!

We were 5 of us, and the driver, bundled into one Maruti Esteem, and being driven from out hotel rooms near Old Delhi train station. In a car whose boot was mostly filled by the LPG cylinder that provided the ‘green’ fuel for it.

So, 6 of us, plus our 9 bags squeezed in anyhow. The taxi, though filled to the brim, was proceeding fairly rapidly towards Hazrat, thanks to the 11pm light traffic on the roads. The train to Dehradun was due to depart at 12 midnight from Hazrat.

Then we ran into the IPL crowds dispersing after the match (Apr 18). The Feroz Shah Kotla stadium lights were all still blazing brightly.

After a fraught few minutes when the car barely moved a few inches every few minutes in the traffic snarl, we finally crossed the busy stretch and then reached Hazrat, with a few minutes to spare. The usual haggle with the porters ensued there and SK finally struck the deal with 2 of them (thanks to our numerous bags, we needed 2 porters). A wheelchair for MIL, who can’t walk up steps, was also arranged.

And then suddenly, the lights went off. All of them!

A power cut at a main train station! I couldn’t believe it – I’d never seen such a sight in all my life, and I’ve travelled extensively by trains all over India.

So, I waited confidently for all the lights to come back on again immediately. Surely, there would be a generator or inverter or something. But no such thing happened.

Time was ticking by, we had to get to the train. So, we split into two groups, SK pushing MIL along, having to go to our train via a different route due to wheelchair access restrictions. Me, following both porters and Amma following me, holding little N’s hand. All in complete darkness in this unknown place.

As soon as we reached the shelter of the station building from the car park outside, the whole thing took on a nightmarish, unreal quality. All the available flat floor space in the station was completely filled by sleeping people. The porters, and all of us, walking oddly so that we could carefully step between each sleeping person and not stamp any of them.

The porters, however, being men carrying weights, wanted to go as quickly as possible. Amma, being old and not having good night vision, could not. So the gap between me and Amma & N widened. There was no time to stop and even scramble around to see if I could locate my cell phone for a bit of light.

Till finally, they could not see me in the dark and I resorted to screaming instructions.

“Amma, keep coming straight.

Steps ahead, careful. There are still more people on the floor, paathu vaa”.

Amma, turn left when you are at the top of the steps and go straight till you see the next set of steps on the left, leading down to the platform

Vandhachu, the train is here, just a few hundred yards more, I am waiting here….”

And to check our seat numbers on the train reservation chart, one of the porters had to use the backlight from his cell phone.

Made it, finally. And mercifully, the power is on in the train. But SK still hasn’t reached here with MIL. Where is he? With 5 minutes to spare, they too reach. We are all set to leave for DDN.

But there is still no power in the station.

Back there at Feroz Shah Kotla, the lights must still be blazing bright….

5 May 2010


After 11 years, I got to eat Indian maam pazhams (aaaaaaaam) this time around. The last one I ate was in 1999. I was told that as it was still end-March/April, this ones I ate still weren’t as tasty as the ones that would be out in May.

Were they joking? Tastier than this? Till I actually bit into that Banganapalle that I got from Pazhamudir Solai in Chennai, I had forgotten what an Indian maampazham could/would taste like.

After years and years of South American/Mexican/Aussie imitations, bought at exorbitant prices in NZ supermarkets, my palate had completely forgotten this succulent and completely Indian taste. Year after year, I would buy these pale imitations, hoping (against hope) that they would taste something similar to the Indian King. During the last few years, I’d completely forgotten the true taste of the fruit and instead settled for the substitute taste that came from fruits that you had to cut before they ripened fully, if you didn’t want them to go bad. From fruits that would darken like apples, if you cut them and left them in the open for a while. From fruits that would be full of fibre and hardly any flesh.

I then tried tinned mangoes, but those Thai versions were pretty bad. We bought up tinned Indian mango puree by the ton. But while nice in lassis or milk shakes, it still didn’t capture the original flavour and taste.

Nothing did. Till I actually bit into that Banganapalle that I got from Pazhamudir Solai in Chennai….

Banganapalle, Alphonso, Safedi….I love you all.

3 May 2010

Missing you

The thing I missed the most about India today morning was the steaming cup of filter kaapi that Amma/Priya/Selvi/Geetha/Radha/many, many others, lovingly gave me every day.

Is it just the coffee I am missing?

15 March 2010

Is it possible to die of boredom?

19 February 2010

Ok: Here’s the blogolution: at least one snippet every Friday afternoon.

I am sure I’ll stick to it if only I can manage to remember it.

Here’s today’s snippety post:
When the nitpicker at work nitpicks me next time about a missing comma, extra space or full stop, it might be time to do something drastic. Such as moving to Mars! Moving him, that is.

If only...
as they used to say: If wishes were horses, beggars might ride....

12 February 2010

Past: Working week, migraine!

Present: Friday evening, migraine!

Future: long nap, and then maybe no migraine?

Suddenly I have a strange longing to be a “housewife” – the word I despised when I was 20….only, I wouldn’t call it that now. I’d call it having ME time on a regular basis.

PS: Just found out after a visit to the doctor's this week that it isn't even a migraine - it's completely stress-related! Grrrrrrrrrrr

11 January 2010

Guess what I am doing right now?

As part of my worried mom act, I called up big N (who is in India now on a completely impulsive holiday) yesterday to check on her well-being.

"Hi, guess what I am doing right now," was her response as soon as she picked up the phone.


"I am riding a camel outside the Taj (Mahal)...."

And guess what I am doing right now in NZ? Waiting for the summer that is almost finished but hasn't yet arrived!