Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bloody hell...again

I am too shocked at the terror incidents in Mumbai. For eight years, almost everyday, I have walked down the D N Road in the heart of South Mumbai. I studied at St Xavier's College. I would cut across the Cama Hospital campus to go to the Mahapalika Marg. I have lunched at the police canteen on the Esplanade Court premises. I have worked at the Times of India Building for nearly 4 years. I have met officials at the BMC and the police commissionerate. I have taken trains from CST. I have watched movies at Metro cinema and shopped regularly at Colaba Causeway and even enjoyed a few evenings at Cafe Leopold. Till yesterday, I wouldn't have even blink if I were asked to go to CST. Today, I realise, I am actually made to think whether I should go or not. Overnight, this stretch of road has become the deadliest mile in Mumbai. As the events of terrorist attacks unfolded on television last mind numbed. I won't even talk about the Taj and the Trident - as I have looked to them as symbols of this great city's past and future. The Taj was founded so that Indians could use a five-star hotel. The Trident (earlier known as Hilton and Oberoi) was Mumbai's answer to the Ritz. So many press conferences, so many celebrity shoots and interviews I have conducted here. I have attended their food festivals and marvelled at the luxurious suites that offer an awesome view of the Marine Drive. Never, never, in my dreams did I think that they would also turn into graveyards. My friend said yesterday, "Mumbai's gone...finished." Are we?
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Come into my parlour

The Spider and the Fly
Mary Howitt
Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there.
" Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile,
I'll snugly tuck you in!"

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, " Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome -- will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now,
I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple -- there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue --
Thinking only of her crested head -- poor foolish thing!
At last, Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour -- but she ne'er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words,
I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,

And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

Pedi? Sure
I got my first-ever pedicure recently at my neighbourhood beauty parlour in Dadar. Surprised? I'm sure. For those who don't know me and have been following my blog and articles may wonder why I waited till the age of 25 to get my feet cleaned at the parlour - after all, girls nowadays start attending to their cuticles when they barely enter their teens. Those who know me may believe that I have succumbed to a form of witchcraft. Most people who know me believe I don't have the patience to warm a chair for too long - let alone watch someone else cater to my womanly needs.Anyways, that's not the subject of this blog. The pedicure experience is. The attendant started by applying some canary yellow foot cream. She then worked on my nails with a file and clipped my cuticles with a remover. Next came some shocking pink soap gel followed by a grey sandy herbal pack. I twiddled the toes that were dipped in a tub of hot water. Then came the shocker electric blue paste she smothered on my calves. Jesus! That colour would have put a flaming cocktail to shame. But I thanked my stars that it was on my foot and not my face - like the girl's in the next chair. And if that wasn't enough, I heard the attendant shout to another, "Woh vibrator idhar pass kar." I almost fell off the chair. Later that day, I told my friends about it. They cracked up, "Are you sure you got yourself a pedicure?" Well, it seems like it. I haven't soiled my feet.

Mane blame
Getting a haircut for your own wedding is a task in itself and with my kind of curly frizzy just becomes monumental. So I stepped into VLCC at Churchgate looking for my favourite hairstylist Arif. Arif's been cutting my hair for three years now. He's bald and reliable. But this time I was disappointed when a woman hairdresser took a pair of scissors and approached me. I looked to my right and found Arif working on a girl's hair. He nodded to me, smiling slyly. The woman took her scissors as I cowardly told her that I'm getting married and all I wanted was a trim. She asked me if I had a particular hairstyle in mind for the occasion. I cringed. My unpreparedness for my wedding was soon going to be exposed to a complete stranger. I muttered, "A bun." "What kind of bun?" "I think she'll clip on some extensions and place them in a bun. I just don't want it too short." After 45 minutes in the barber's chair, I woke up to the reality that my hair was much shorter than I was prepared for. She blow-dried it to make it look longer, but I was no fool. I could only betray my disappointment and hope sincerely that my hair would grow by at least 0.3 of an inch till my wedding.

Perm in Patna
I happened to walk into Sterling near CST the other day, where I saw a guy with cool tendril-like jet-black curls. Now, that's something you don't see on heads too often. As I ogled at him, my friend from Patna turned to me and said, "You know I had once permed my hair.I think I was 14" I was shocked. I've seen my pal bald. But a perm? That too at 14? Having studied at a rigid Protestant school in Pune for a greater part of my life, I simply couldn't belive that a guy could keep his hair long and permed and still attend school. I suspected my friend was a drop-out. Why, in my school in Pune if our hair grew even half an inch longer than shoulder-length, we were forced to oil and tie ponytails. My friend assured me indeed had completed school. "It was a government school in Patna. The teachers couldn't care how we looked. Plus,all happened during the study leave before the final exams so I couldn't really wear it to school to show off." Mercifully!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Clothes maketh the best man

One advantage of getting married is that I get to do a lot of shopping. I detest shopping...but scouting markets is an experience I tuly relish. I was in Baroda recently, looking for stuff for my fiance when I stepped upon the concept of packaged shopping. We were at Bob Tailors at Alkapuri. Bob started off as a local darzi who would tailor suits and sherwanis for men. Slowly, his clientele expanded to other parts of Gujarat and even to Gujaratis in New Jersey and London. Bob isn't Catholic. He hails from Jamnagar and speaks English with a slight Gujarati accent. In his low-waist tight blue jeans, fitted T-shirt, designer belt and Adidas sneakers, spiked-haired Bob tries hard to project the image of a cool-dude designer who is at home with an audience that ranges from Mumbai to Manhattan. Bob showed me pictures of clothes he had designed for NRI weweddings in New York and London. In most pictures, the attires of not just the couples also the entire baaraat were carefully coordinated. Bob said, "NRIs have many foreigner friends who don't stock up Indian outfits. So we do a whole batch bf 20-25 uniform outfits for all the grooms friends and relatives so that, in the pictures, only the couple stand out. We make a killing in December. But here in Baroda, we do only the groom's outfits. People here like to invest in their own wedding clothes. They all want to stand out." Bob's right. Baaraatis in uniforms would rob Indian weddings of all the colour.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Here Cathy, sit on my lap

I didn't know when Julia entered my friend's life. I was going to scrap him on orkut, when I noticed a message that a common friend of ours had put on his scrapbook. It read, "How's Julia?" Now, curious as I am (and I wouldn't have been a journalist if it had been otherwise), I sifted through his pictures keeping an eye on any new chicks in there. Gradually, the scowl gave away to a smile when I saw a photo of him and Julia together. Julia was all red and my friend was gushing over her. They seemed very much like a couple in love. Only, Julia can't talk. She makes a lot of noises. Err...uh...hmmm. Before I describe further, let me tell you that Julia is my friend's scarlet Blaze. Quite innovative to give a bike a name. Julia and Elton have been together ever since. And when I first met her two years ago...I simply loved her...for, she was redder than my specs.
When another friend of mine bought a new Nikon camera - he decided to name it Niki. "That just sounds so cool and I feel like taking good care of her," he said. I'd scoffed. Because, the next thing I saw him do is take out a dirty rag to clean Niki's eye.
When I was in college, I would raise my eyebrows at folks who'd waste their time naming plants - Jen, Ben and Chrissy, or watches - Tiara, Swa or even cellphones - Sammy, Noke, etc. But then I got my laptop. My brother's old Toshiba was anything but a regular hand-me-down. I loved the silver casing that gleamed even in the dark. It was my first laptop and I had to name it. I started calling it Toshi, Tosh, Iba, Oshi...we'd communicate at our own frequency and I would caress it everyday before going to bed. Yes, there was a connection between us...and we could have very well been in love. Except...I had a boyfriend by then. I thought my laptop was great, till I saw something even better. My friend Vishwas tagged it along with him when I recently met him at a Barista. The moment I saw this amazing red microsatin-finish Dell laptop, I told Vish, "I like your laptop more than I like you." Vish was aghast. "Nobody has ever told me that," his disappointment was written all over his face. "I am human. This is a machine. I can talk, this can't," he argued. I just couldn't care. I couldn't stop drooling over it. I then suggested he should name it. He thought I was crazy. I came up with Rosy and Dell-amore. He said, I should do better. Next day, I came up with Catherine. He loved it. The next thing I saw...his picture on Orkut captioned, "Heathcliff with Cathy on his lap". Ahem!