Monday, December 25, 2006


7 days and 37 family members later, I am both mentally and physically exhausted. After a holiday in India, you always need another holiday.

Today am off to a 3-day, 3-functions-a-day wedding where I will be glamming myself up 3-times a day to fit in. Hope to meet atleast 5 dozen people I haven't seen for over 5 years. Should be awesome.

My mum (just as all Indian mothers with 26 year old daughters attending a marriage) is hoping I will meet the Indian man of my dreams at this wedding so that I stop changing my country of residence every 6 months. She has blatantly given me strategies to accomplish this in the 3 day period, and I am afraid she is going to be disappointed.

Hope everyone had a super Christmas, I certainly did even though it was full of chicken masala tikka and a lethal concoction of hard liquor rather than stuffed turkey and wine.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hope Floats

Sharnam Girl Shelter, Mumbai
"Didi didi namaste! come and watch our dance practise, we are going to perform tomorrow at the Lion's Club, will you come to watch us?', said Roshni, 5-years old who lived in one of the girl's shelters I went to visit yesterday.

After sleeping at Bombay Central Train Station for over 3 years, Roshni was one of 30 girls picked up off the street and given a home and education by Bombay based NGO Sharnam. She had a smile on her face, hope in her eyes - so happy to see me - a stranger who decided to pass by.

Mother and Child Welfare Society, Rajgurunagar, Pune
We visited 4 of 29 villages in the outskirts of Pune. Each village had a population between 1000-3000 people, so poor that they couldn't even afford to have bathrooms. They survived off their land, ate their hand grown vegetables, sold them when they could, drank their cow's milk, built their own houses.

The non-governmental organisation we went with worked with these villages and provided them with all sorts of support possible: infrastructure and development support, vocational training, medical services and computer training.

We visited a sewing class of about 30 girls who were learning to tailor clothes. They believed things could change for them, they believed they could contribute towards that change.

The Society Undertaking Poor People's Onus for Rehabilitation looked after about 100 street kid's who were druggies, addicted to everything from sniffing glue to brown sugar. The organisation picked them off the street, gave them shelter, worked on their detoxification and rehabilitation.

"Most these kids have poor, broken or abusive families. Their parents are mostly alcoholics or drug addicts. They are emotionally wounded and disturbed children, difficult to handle," said Sujata Gunega, who has been running the organisation for over 16 years. "They don't believe that anyone wants to help them, but once they do - the response is phenomenal. The process unfortunatley can take 5-6 years."


The last few days have been enlightening and moving to say the least. As much as I have always been grounded, meeting these children shook that ground a bit. Put my life into perspective.
All the money and comforts you have all of a sudden seemed frivolous; almost embarrassing to have. A good job, your client's PR plan, your ambitions, your 'uncertain future', all suddenly seemed like bollocks. Realising that you can make a difference just by shaking their hand or telling these kids a story was overwhelming.
These kids were all full of hope. The most important thing that these organisations do is to give them just that.
Feeling what I felt and realising how easy it is to make a difference has put my thinking cap back on. What will I do about it? Sadly, I still do not know.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Conveyor Belt Chaos

Arrived at Mumbai airport yesterday around 4am. Nice airport! still work-in-progress but pretty neat. My thoughts were reaffirmed when I saw the toilets. 3 Clean squat toilets and 3 clean western toilets - with toilet paper! I couldn't believe it.

As much as India is a stable economy, developing very fast, has the youngest educated youth population, it's a certain mentality of the masses that sometimes gets the better of me when I go to India.

For instance: I go to the conveyor belt to get my bag. Now everyone has got there way before me as they went running to the belt. Why do you need to run? your bags aren't going anywhere. So ofcourse I fall into the unprivileged lot who didn't make it to the first row around the belt, so I have to stand in the 3rd row - the second row had the trolleys of the people in the first row. Fine, I will just wait here till it clears a bit, I think.

The people in the previliged first row stand so close to the belt, that their knees get scraped by the large bags on the belt, they get pushed behind, so their trolleys get pushed behind, so they fall onto their trolleys and knock out the people in the 3rd row. Nobody will move their trolleys! It's like the bag has to go straight onto the trolley.

''Excuse me, can you move your trolley to the side please,", I say politely with a smile.

"It's not mine," he replies. And then I notice, the guys in the 1st row getting their bags are actually walking past the trolleys to another trolley kept considerably away from the belt. Who's trolleys are they?! If they are not the 1st row's, why are they there and why isn't anyone moving them?

Anyway, I move the one infront of me aside so I can be the only lucky one in the 2nd row with the trolleys.

In about 5-minutes I got pushed into the first row-which was a whole different story. People were so close together they couldn't even face the belt and even if one of them had an itch, his movement bothered the whole line.

10 minutes into waiting, people were complaining because they couldn't see their bags yet, and you had atleast 5 people trying to change their place in the line. They wanted to see where else their bag could be on the conveyor belt - maybe they missed it (ofcourse they didn't realise that the belt moves, so if they missed it the first time, I would come around to them again). This meant that they had to push through the trolley row and the 3rd row, and come back into the 1st row the same way.

What chaos man. Nobody was helping each other and the looks that were happening between people were lethal. I felt like standing on the conveyor belt and shouting out ' guys! your bags aren't going anywhere, and nobody wants your bags, so just chill out and wait for your bags!'

Finally when my bag came, when I pulled it off the belt I must have hurt atleast 3 people.

Ok I know I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, but seriously whatever happened to a bit of etiquette at the conveyor belt!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Going to India

Off to India tomorrow to see family and attend a friends wedding.

I love going to India, and always have a blast when I'm there. However, a few days before I go - I always have a heavy head and get into a foul mood. I really do not know why.

Perhaps I get overwhelmed by this sense of belonging and not-belonging at the same time.

I am buggered that although I am Indian, I have to be very careful with the food and water in India. Particularly because one year I came home with jaundice, and the next I came home with typhoid. This means that all the road side crap that I love will be out of reach - no pani-puri, no green chutney, no bhel, no Haji-Ali fresh juice. Sucks.

It's weird - I had no problems when I was in Thailand. Didn't take any shots and ate everything, everywhere.

I am going to get hassled by every other person about when I am getting married and why I want to live in Spain. Once asked that here I said I will get married in Spain. Turned out to be a satisfactory answer that didn't call for more questions or explanations - will stick to that.

I always get alot of gossip when I go to India: Dr.Patel's daughter ran away with her driver, Priyanka has a gambling problem and lost all her money in the slots, Vikram now has a zoo in his house, Kapil's marriage broke-off because he was secretly in love with his best friends wife...etc.

Other wise blogging, dancing, reading, watching Bollywood movies, and catching up with people is the plan.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

So now size doesn't matter?

Condoms too 'big' for Indian men - this article on BBC yesterday made me laugh.
In a two-year study carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Researh, apparently 60% of Indian men have their thing 3-5cm shorter than international standards.

However, Sunil Mehra, editor of men's magazine Maxim, surely cushioned the egos of many men in India by saying:

"It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters," he said. "From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well. "

Hilarious. BBC rocks.

It's just money, get over it

Bangalore based journalist Suresh Menon is one of my favourite columnists. I read nothing in Friday magazine other than his piece that comes every week on the second last page.

This week he touched upon a never-ending subject of discussion and argument:
"Money cannot buy happiness, but neither can happiness buy money."

He quotes a philosopher in his article (unsure who), who captures what we think of people who have money and those who don't, so correctly it's terrifying. He says:

"If a man runs after money, he is money mad; if he keeps it, he is a capitalist; if he doesn't get it, he is dismissed as useless; if he doesn't try to get it, he lacks ambition; if he gets it without working for it, he is a parasite; and if he accumulates it after a lifetime of hard work, he is called a fool who never got anything out of life."

We always hear - money cannot buy happiness; but in his article he talks about a study where it has been proved that those who earn $150,000 a year are happier than those who earn $40,000 a year. That it is better to be rich and happy than poor and intelligent, and that, just like Albert Camus said, it is a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.

These thoughts relate to the reactions I get when I tell people I have quit my job and will have no stable income, or atleast no high income, for the next year or so because I am following a dream where money isn't the end.

Have we really reached that stage where money and happiness are interchangeable?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Book Review: The Inheritance of Loss

82-pages and I cannot take it anymore. 2006 Booker prize winner The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai was the inheritance of misery to say the least.

The writing is painfully poetic. The sentences are badly constructed and 5-lines long. They are full of big words, and so witless - not to mention pointless - that you loose focus and then wonder what she is going on about. She has tried too hard to be funny by using Hinglish frequently which hasn't worked at all; and everything is irrelevantly over-described, be it Pond's Cold Cream, mist over a mountain or the illegal yellow paint on the taxi of an Indian taxi driver in New York. Goodness gracious me.

The characters are the most boring characters I can remember. 50-pages into the book and even if one of the characters physically jumped out of the book and put a feather under my nose, I wouldn't react.

The Grandfather Indian judge in the book is a pretentious miserable old prat. His Grandaughter Sai is this innocent rabbit of a girl with no personality. The cook who is the servant of the house - poor guy hasn't even been given a name until now. Biju, the cook's son who has gone to NY to live the American dream is tolerable, but just about.

The stories of these characters that run in parallel so far have no coherence and do not link in any intelligent way. Unimaginative and annoying characters (with even more annoying names) like Uncle Potty (translate:Uncle Shit), and Major Aloo (Major Potato) and Father Booty (!?) keep coming in and out randomly with no purpose.


I had promised myself that I would finish the book before I rape it's review, but reading further just seems like a waste of time. To my utter disappointment, most other reviews on Amazon have limitless praise for this book - except this one from a dude who also thought it was awful but atleast finished it.

How on earth did she get a Booker?

Material World

Was driving home this morning and landed up listening to this segment on radio where callers who have/had an obsession with an item called and shared their manic sentiments about material desires. A few examples of what I heard:

"My IMATE phone - I used half my month's salary and borrowed money from my parents to get this phone."

"Kinetic Honda- I scored 90% in my exams, went to a college that I didn't choose just to get this bike."

"Jimmy Choo Shoes - After seeing them on Sex and the City, my mind was so set on them, I couldn't sleep at night until I got them."

"Armani Sun Glasses - I wanted these shades so much that I borrowed some money from a friend to get them. I cannot remember feeling so happy like I did then."

And, ofcourse, once these guys got what they wanted - they didn't want it anymore. Human incoherence.

As much as it was really pathetic to hear these people share these stories, and even more pathetic that the radio station gave this so much air time; there was a certain amusement factor that kept me listening.

Anyway, made me wonder what I loose sleep over / or have lost sleep over, that I wanted so desperately I would kill for.

Not a thing came to my mind.

Not understanding how this is possible, and pushing the thought further I realised that the one thing I remember being crazy to have was Michael Jackson's first autobiography 'Moonwalk'. I was 8.

It was 9 English Pounds. With pocket money of 2.50 a month, it took me a good 6-months to obtain.

But in the last 18-years, there is nothing else I lost sleep over because I didn't have.


Wow I must be really liberated.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thought for the day

'Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds' - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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