Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Happy Ending"

She took an oath to make a change in her lifestyle.

So she joined a gym, got up at 6am five days a week to work out for an hour.

She kept off the junk food, ate healthily and sensibly, and did not succumb to temptations.

Eventually she lost weight, becoming half the person she had been physically and twice the person she had been mentally.

What's more, she found the determination to continue that lifestyle and keep the weight off both her body and her mind.

And that, my dears, is what I call a happy ending.

Sunday Scribblings - "Guide"

One word, multiple associations:

- That iconic 1965 movie starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rahman, with beautiful songs and (according to me) a terrible ending. Terrible in the sense that it upset me very much to watch a man die of hunger, forced by his ego at the start and then by the sheer expectations of his devotees.

- Sri C P Seshadri (“Master” to everybody, whether they knew him or not), my first, best, and only mentor when I started work as an apprentice sub-editor in the Indian Express, in my first job.

- Those awful “cram notes”, in deplorable English, available for students who couldn’t be bothered to think independently, instead learning by heart the pathetic essays and answers to exam questions from the guides.

- Those fat, tantalising books bursting with information about exotic countries and fascinating cities - how to get there, what to do, where to go, where to stay, what to eat, how to get around, how to behave, what to do, when to visit. I’ve spent hours reading The Lonely Planet guides to all sorts of places, hopelessly aware that unless I win a huge lottery, there’s no way of travelling everywhere in one lifetime - yet too enthralled by the history and culture of each country to desist from tormenting myself with dreams…

- A career that seemed so incredibly romantic to me when I was learning German and French, and I came across advanced students who earned good money as guides, escorting foreigners to places of interest. Some of them were independent, some associated with government tourism, some with travel agencies… and some were just moonlighting. A career as tour guide was never meant to be reality to me because I’m simply not friendly enough or patient enough to put up with silly questions, finicky people in hot sweaty weather day after day after day… But the idea still retains its aura of romance and excitement.

- Teachers... who should all be guides and mentors, ideally, taking up that vocation from a need to teach – unfortunately too many of them do not live up to that ethic, too many are unwilling and uninterested in helping their students to do better, to achieve their potential, to let free their imagination.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The 10 secrets tag

Lekhni tagged me for this meme. It’s a bit of an awkward one, this, because secrets aren’t meant to be outed. They lose their exclusive, known-to-nobody status the moment they are turfed out of the cupboard (well, duh). No, wait, it’s skeletons that lurk in cupboards. Ok, I’m not sure where secrets hang out, but wherever it is, that’s where they should remain. However... especially for Lekhni, and to show that I’m a sincere taggee, here are my 10 secrets :)

1. I love strawberry preserves, the really fancy kind where you get chunks of strawberries in every spoonful – I don’t bother with butter and toast or scones, I tend to eat the preserves straight from the jar with a spoon. Yum.

2. I’ve never read Ulysses by James Joyce.

3. When I was young and impressionable, I had a crush on practically every male Bollywood movie star, all at the same time. Except Kumar Gaurav.

4. I used to take rejection very personally – even auto drivers could hurt my feelings merely by refusing to take me somewhere.

5. I used to be referred to as “Auto Rani” by my friends in Max Mueller Bhavan because I invariably jumped into one after a token wait at 5.30pm for those incredibly jam-packed 29C buses on Nungambakkam High Road. Spent a lot of money, but at least I didn’t have to travel footboard or cope with creepy guys.

6. On one terrifying occasion I made a running jump for a moving 23C and travelled footboard for 6-7 stops, getting on and off like the guys. There just wasn’t enough space to get inside and I’d let 4 buses go by, all of them just as packed. None of the guys misbehaved in any way although I was crushed in a bunch of footboarders. I got a couple of comments on the lines of “Couldn’t you have waited for another bus?” and “Ladies shouldn’t travel footboard”, though. (Didn’t have enough duttu for an auto that time.)

7. I dallied with a theatre group from the Alliance Francaise for a brief while. Enough said.

8. I’m uncomfortable in crowds.

9. I once ate so much Aavin cheese that I threw up. (See? This is why secrets should not be revealed! Heheh)

10. I’ve always wanted to be able to dance.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Page 123 - The Book tag

This tag came from Mumbaigirl, who’s also very kind to have remembered me while choosing people to tag. It shouldn’t have taken me such a long time to get around to doing it, but I was either too engrossed reading to bother with the computer, or the book I was reading wasn’t handy when I was at the computer. Naturally enough, the one place where the two could coincide was in the office (kidding... maybe), so here at last is the Page 123 tag.

These are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

The book I have with me is John Mortimer’s Rumpole and The Age of Miracles, first published in 1988. Horace Rumpole is a quintessentially English character, described by the Sunday Express as "a lovable, irreverent, claret-swigging, Wordsworth-spouting criminal lawyer". The book is very funny and the writing is a bit long-winded – sort of Wodehousian, but not as much exaggerated for comic effect.

The relevant extract from Page 123 for this tag is:

"Peanuts Molloy wasn’t alone in feeling that being bound over in the sum of fifty pounds wasn’t an adequate punishment for the attempted drowning of a wife. This view was held by most of the newspapers, a large section of the public, and all the members of the North Islington Women’s Movement (Chair, Mizz Liz Probert). When Guthrie arrived for business at the Judge’s entrance of the Old Bailey, he was met by a vociferous posse of women, bearing banners with the following legend: WOMEN OF ENGLAND, KEEP YOUR HEADS ABOVE WATER. GET JUSTICE FEATHERSTONE SACKED."

Now for the most difficult part of this meme... tagging others. I only tag y’all because I HAVE to. Doesn’t mean you have to feel obliged to do it (and thereby resent me), okay? :)

1. Lakshmi in NZ
2. Shoefiend
3. Chronic Worrier
4. Shruthi
5. Teesu

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily

Married So Maybe We Should Just Forget This...
Note: (That was the rest of the meme topic - it wouldnt all fit in the title space!)

Then again, maybe we shouldn’t. How could anybody resist a stealing a meme that’s kinda literary but also frivolous, and most definitely interesting?

PS. If I list a female literary character, it’s because I’m pretending to be a man... so you might as well go with that pretence instead of letting your eyebrows register disapproval - or some other, more prurient feelings!

PPS. If you find this meme interesting, do one of your own and remember to leave me a link. Or just leave your list as a comment here.

PPPS. I'm just nosy :) I want to read about everybody's choices!

So here goes (and not in any particular order):

1. Atticus Finch - the perfect, gentle, principled, courageous, understanding father in To Kill A Mockingbird.
Author: Harper Lee

2. Dusty Miller - the wisecracking, cynical, world-weary explosives expert from The Guns of Navarone. Not very literary, I know... but he was my first proper hero, one whom I worshipped for years!
Author: Alistair Maclean

3. Kim, of the book by the same name - he's just such a cool character.
Author: Rudyard Kipling

4. Samwise Gamgee, from Lord of the Rings. Not as glamorous as Legolas the Elf, not as hugely heroic as Aragorn, not even a major character like the (wimpy and whining, IMHO) hero Frodo... just a solid, uncomplaining, dependable little hobbit.
Author: J R R Tolkien

5. Rhett Butler, from Gone With The Wind. Who doesnt love a cynical guy with a mushy heart? But, I have to add, it's the Rhett Butler of my imagination that I speak of - not the bat-eared, snaggle-toothed Clark Gable. Author: Margaret Mitchell

6. Psmith, with the P silent, hero of the Psmith trilogy. Gotta love the guy who gets his own way, smooth and assured and yet with a social conscience. One of my earliest heroes.
Author: P G Wodehouse

7. Beatrice - She wasnt the heroine of Much Ado About Nothing, but she was the more interesting character with a whiplash tongue and a deadly wit. And yet soft-hearted.
Author: Shakespeare

8. Steve Carella, detective in the 86th Precinct novels. Almost too good to be true, gentle yet macho.
Author: Ed McBain

9. Angua, werewolf-woman and constable in the Discworld novels set in Ankh Morpork. Kickass lady, that. Smart, sassy, dogged, beautiful. Author: Terry Pratchett

10. Dina Dalal, the independent, strong-minded widow in A Fine Balance.
Author: Rohinton Mistry

There are more heroes and heroines, of course... but not enough time to list them all!

Updated to add: When I was speaking to my sister earlier, she pointed out that I'd left out one of the BEST characters from Discworld from my list. And when she mentioned who it was, it seemed quite incredible to me that I'd missed him out. I'm going to rectify that omission right away.

11. DEATH - skeletally thin and tall, compassionate yet dispassionate, the BEST anthropomorphic character ever, who appears in lots of Discworld novels and always always SPEAKS IN SMALL CAPS. Cant imagine why I didnt think of DEATH the first time around...
Author: Terry Pratchett

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yet another choice nugget

Give me a good painting of something I can understand and appreciate (and marginally do), like nature or portraits, something I recognise as art. Or even something I cant understand and cant appreciate but also cant do, like streaks and slashes of clashing coloured paints on a large canvas. I’m willing to call even that art.

But don’t give me a
rock wrapped in a cotton sheet, call it art and offer it for ridiculous amounts as a “Tracey Emin original. As far as I’m concerned, the only originality here is the artistry of this Tracey Emin in carrying out this con-job in broad daylight – probably with the approval of “art connoisseurs” who are loaded with money rather than sense. Are you wondering who the whack-job editor/reviewer was, who thought this piece of “sheet” worth endorsing in public? I’d like to know, too... but for the moment I’m going to assume that the entire Art section of The Independent have rocks (covered with hand-embroidered cotton sheets, no doubt) in their head!

I bet Tracey Emin didn’t even embroider the sheet herself. That would be too much like real art – or real effort.

Unwilling to do a lick of work?

Ok, I’m lazy. I’d rather read a book or do some embroidery or watch a re-re-re-re-rerun of Friends or Scrubs than ... (OCD-type pernickety clean freaks look away NOW. You've been warned) ... clean the kitchen, wash the clothes, do the dishes, weed the garden, or any such mind-numbingly boring household work that needs doing way too often for my liking. Hey, I SAID I was lazy.

But, as lazy and indulgence-prone as I am, I still have enough get-up-and-go to lick my own ice-creams – not to mention those of anybody who’ll let me at theirs. It’s part of the charm of ice-cream cones that you hold them yourself and lick away frantically (especially if it’s a hot/windy day) before the melting drips and dribbles of icecream run down your arm. Not that it’s a problem if you DO drip... you then merely go on to licking your arm. Like I said, not a problem.

So how incredibly, unbelievably slothful are the people at whom
this sad invention is aimed? There’s no excuse for not holding your own cone and turning it around as you lick the icecream – unless of course you cant physically manage it.

Otherwise, jeez... let your tongue have that workout, the one that Kitchen Craft seem to think is too much effort!

You don’t want a fat, unfit tongue, do you?

Monday, June 09, 2008

First of two tags

This meme is from Shruthi, who never forgets to tag me AND Mandira, who's been kind enough to remember me for the meme. I might have done this one before, but what does that matter? :) Read on...

I am: a realist.
I think: I might have done this tag already, but so what?
I know: I can be unreasonable
I want: to travel travel travel - in comfort!
I have: a loving family and great friends.
I wish: I could get rid of all that’s bad in the world
I hate: manipulative, two-faced people
I miss: those summer holidays when all us cousins would get together at my grandpa's house.
I fear: being a burden.
I feel: itchy and sneezy because of the hayfever
I hear: birds chirping
I smell: my sunblock cream
I crave: for perfect Punjabi samosas, good lassi and lots of talk and laughter with friends
I search: for things that go missing.
I wonder: why people are the way they are.
I regret: not having joined the NCC in school.
I love: books
I ache: when I see people in pain
I care: a hoot? Two hoots?
I am not: rich
I believe: what people say
I dance: very badly
I sing: to myself
I cry : in private
I don’t always : try hard enough.
I fight : when I’m pushed to the wall
I write: when I want to
I win: at caromboard
I lose: mostly gracefully
I never: know what to say when I’m in the spotlight
I always: try to be on time.
I confuse: myself when I have to read a map.
I listen: when asked to.
I can usually be found: reading.
I am scared: of losing my loved ones.
I need: love and understanding.
I am happy about: being tagged.

Sunday Scribblings - "My Nights"

About 10 years ago, a goodly portion of my nights were spent at work – doing the night shift at the Business Line newspaper in Madras, which was Seriously Good Fun. Much to the surprise of my older colleagues and people in general, I genuinely enjoyed being on the night shift. I was much younger in those days, I guess, and much more resilient. Also, it was nice to go to work when most people were coming back home, and the traffic wasn’t so bad. Of course, if my friends had not been pretty much in the same line of work and keeping similar hours, I would have been a lonely gal... but as it is, we were either on the night shift together, or had our work times overlap by a few hours so that we got to see each other every day.

I had to be at work by 7.30pm, and got back home by about 3 or 4a.m (depending on the who-gets-dropped-home-first rota). I’d sleep till noon or so, which left me pretty much the rest of the day to do as I wished... which for quite a while was to go off to the Max Mueller Bhavan and hang around there with my non-work friends and classmates. It helped that the MMB was centrally placed for anything else that we might want to do anywhere else. Sometimes we even had German classes to attend.

I cant remember any particular night as being “the most memorable” – at least, none that I would want to make public. Nowadays, though, I hate the very thought of having to work beyond 5pm. And night shifts? No thanks. Been there, done that, enjoyed it and now pleased to be out of it.

When I was younger, sleep didn’t seem that important – there were more interesting things to do. Now, though, every second of sleep is precious to me. I can never understand people - men or women – who say that they hate to waste time sleeping when they could be... *gasp* ... working. I ask you – is that sane? At least if they said they’d rather party than sleep, I might – might – be able to understand (although personally speaking, partying, in the sense of drinking/pubbing/clubbing, is very nearly as abhorrent an idea as working through the night).

A colleague of mine who’s 62 says that the older you get, the quicker time flies. I have to admit that she might have something there… the days and weeks seem to be absolutely whizzing by of late. I wish they wouldn’t – but I’m still not willing to give up my precious sleeping hours.

There’s something incredibly luxurious about being in a cool, dark room (with a bedside reading lamp, natch), reading for a while while snuggled up in a big soft bed, then sinking back into goosedown pillows under a goosedown eiderdown and deliberately, blissfully, voluptuously giving yourself up to welcome sleep... damn, I’m hypnotising myself here. But admit it - doesnt that sound wonderful?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Curve/s"

The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the word "curve" is Kate Winslet.

Oh, I'm not talking about her figure (which is alternately praised or reviled by the yammering celebrity mags). It's her smile that I love – a thing of perfect, curving beauty that absolutely lights up her face. Beautiful woman, that Kate.

Other curves that I like, in no particular order:

The arc of a rainbow – or two arcs, if you're very lucky, which I have been – contrasted in seven gorgeous colours against the steely grey of approaching rainclouds...

The gentle dip and curve of my engagement ring – a ring that is doubly precious to me because Pete searched for it specially, remembering that I'd once mentioned the simple design as my favourite...

The spiralling curves of certain seashells that look to perfect to be true...

The buffed and polished perfection of well-kept nails with clean, curving cuticles on long-fingered hands...

The winding curves of a one-way road in a hill or mountain, the drop always on one side or the other, switching as the car negotiates each curve...

Another meme appropriated...

What’s your favourite table?
Not sure I understand the question… but let’s say it’s any table that’s got good vegetarian food laid out attractively with all the relevant napery and cutlery. I couldn’t provide this myself, mind you – but I can appreciate a well-set table as much as any etiquette expert.

What would you have for your last supper?
Probably all my favourite foods. If it’s going to be my last supper, I might as well be a greedy pig – no health complications to worry about either, haha!

What’s your poison?

Name your three desert island ingredients.
Chillies, garam masala and cardamom. What? Was this not supposed to be a literal question?

What would you put in Room 101?
People who ask “but what do vegetarians eat?” when they hear that I don’t eat meat or fish.

Which book gets you cooking?
Oddly enough, none of them, although I read (and collect) them like novels. Gotta have glossy colour photos or it wouldn’t be food porn, of which I’m an enthusiastic admirer. Anyway, what gets me cooking are the recipes I read on dozens of food blogs!

What’s your dream dinner party line-up?
Hmmm… one line-up (keeping it real) would be Ammani, Shoefiend and S from So’ton, and all of the gang from Business Line days including KiwiGee.

Another one (keeping it really unreal) – Gary Lineker, Richard Hammond, Ainsley Harriott, Steve Martin, Adam Sandler, Robin Williams, Tim Allen, Kate Winslet, Dawn French, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

What was your childhood teatime treat?
Cant remember, actually.

What was your most memorable meal?
Not an easy one to answer, so I wont attempt it. Let’s just say there have been many many memorable meals over the years, and hopefully many more to come!

What was your biggest food disaster?
As far as I’m concerned, the first pizza I ever tried making. I baked it until the dough was like flatbread and the vegetables had dried out to shrivelled bits. The peas were like bullets. I cant remember what happened to the cheese… probably the trauma blocked out that memory forever.

What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had?
On the GT Express from Madras to Delhi – it was indescribable. No wonder my family always packed the food required for the entire train journey, no matter if it was 2 persons or 20 travelling.

Who’s your food hero/food villain?
Food villain – Mr F Word, Gordon Ramsey. I hate people who sneer at vegetarians and vegetarian food.

Nigella or Delia?
Nigella, if I must choose.

Vegetarians: genius or madness?
Genius, especially for coming up with the incredible variety of delicious food, none of which involves eating dead animals.

Fast food or fresh food?
Doh! Fresh, of course.

Who would you most like to cook for?
Always like cooking for friends and family – as long as there aren’t more than 4 of them at any given time.

What would you cook to impress a date?
Chocolate cake.

Make a wish.
I wish… for world peace. And a good dinner tonight.