Friday, February 29, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Time Machine"

It’s a somewhat whimsical thought – and therefore open to gagging noises from the less fanciful folks out there – but I cant help feeling that dreams are the time machines used by our sub-conscious to take us to places we’ve never been, make us do things we’ve never done, meet people whom it would be physically impossible to meet in the real world … and usually all at the same time. Time machines of the sub-conscious don’t care about logic, anachronisms, the time and space continuum or anything that makes sense when you're awake. There’s every possibility of meeting yourself coming and going while another you does something else somewhere else. That’s the thing about these journeys – anything can happen, and ALL of it seems logical. Sometimes the journey is thrilling, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes scary… but whatever it is, wherever you find yourself (or lose yourself), what you experience is always very real.

And have you noticed, you cant have boring dreams. (Note: I’m not ordering anybody to have boring dreams. If you want to be bored while asleep, feel free!). I’ve had dreams where I’ve wanted to wake up because I was scared, dreams where I’ve woken myself up laughing, dreams from which I didn’t want to wake because I knew that the people I was with weren’t alive in reality… all sorts of dreams, but I cant remember a single instance where I’ve thought “I’m bored”, or woken up feeling “Boy, that was one boring dream. I need more interesting story-lines”.

The most irritating part is that sometimes, even if it’s been an absolutely riveting dream, the moment you wake up, you cant remember what it was about. You know you were having fun, you know it was like a really GOOD movie, you even know that you wanted to remember it - but not a fragment of it can be grasped consciously. Those mental notes you make during the trip ("must remember this when I wake") are erased the moment your eyes open.

That said, though, I’ve been able to parlay a couple of dreams into actual short stories that got published… so not all those time machine journeys were a total loss.

(Previous posts about dreams – here and here)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We had an earthquake

And I slept through it.

I slept through it!!!


It woke Pete at about 1a.m, he said. He thought it was an extremely noisy goods train or something. But me, I slept through it. I've experienced only one earthquake before, quite a few years back - in Madras of all places, and it was a fairly mild one. It wasnt scary, just exciting. The crockery rattled, as I recall, but not much else happened.

I've no doubt that I would absolutely hate a full-sized quake with all its attendant horrors - loss of lives, damage to buildings, and so on, and not the least, even a possible tsunami following. But a wee little tremble of the earth? I wish I'd been awake for that.

I dont suppose the folks in Lincolnshire, at the epicentre of this 5.3 magnitude quake, would see it my way though. We probably got the .3 of it in Shrewsbury, they got the whole caboodle!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So THAT'S what stroppy teenagers need!

An Amygdalactomy! :)

PS. The Guardian didnt say it, I did.

The actual article here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The A to Z tag

MadMomma kindly tagged me, so here's my take:

A - Available?: No, and if I was, I’d be unaffordable. As in priceless.
B-Best friend: I have more than one (for every occasion).
C-Cake or Pie?: Cake, I suppose.
D-Drink of choice: Water. Or milk.
E-Essential thing used everyday: Glasses.
F-Favourite colour: Orange. It’s bright without being showy, and cheerful without being blinding.
G-Gummi bears or worms: Neither. I gave up eating rubber in school.
H-Hometown: Madras, I guess.
I-Indulgence: Cookery books.
J-January or February: February. Cold like winter but close enough to spring to make me cherish the fading days of winter.
K-Kids and names: NA.
L-Life: Is meant to be lived exactly the way you choose.
M-Marriage date: July 23 2004
N-Number of siblings: 1 sister, 1 brother
O-Oranges or apples: Oranges
P-Phobias: Heights, I suppose. Although I hate wriggly creepy-crawlies too.

Q-Quote: Unquote?
R-Reason to smile: Got many. I'm alive is the best one.
S-Season: Spring
T-Tag three people: ChronicWorrier, Merino, Teesu
U-Unknown fact about me: There's a reason it's unknown! :)
V-Vegetable you do not like: Brinjal (aubergine/eggplant)
W-Worst habit: Laziness.
X-x-rays you have had: Chest.
Y-Your favorite food: South Indian. On a broader scale, Indian.
Z-Zodiac: Pisces.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Passion"

A somewhat early Sunday Scribble, considering that last week's scribble took so long to happen! Ofc there's no cookery TV show that I know of called "Topchef" - and equally obviously there IS a real show with a bald guy and a pompous guy as the judges... but I wont name it! heh. I'm also not sure how inspired this effort of mine is, but here goes anyway...

He hated competitive cookery shows. With a passion. He didn’t mind the chef-based programmes so much - those were obviously meant to showcase one person and his or her cooking. Those were okay. Nobody tried to pull down anyone else there. Nobody’s character was shredded finely with sharp criticism, nobody’s nascent career consigned publicly to the rubbish bin.

But pompous shows - like Topchef - really stoked his oven, so to speak. The judges always announced that they were looking for innovation and a fresh approach on food. But the moment anybody – for instance, him – tried to deviate from the “tried-and-tested” route to the untrodden path of true innovation, the all-powerful judges turned on him with sneering remarks that were only thinly disguised as knowledgeable comments. What did a fat, bald "vegetable expert" know about cooking? What did a pompous restaurateur only interested in profit know about real innovative food?

Yes, he hated Topchef. He hated the judges. But he had made it through to the final, although it had been a close call in the previous episode. His food was not very inspiring, the pompous one had said. His food hadn’t inspired any passion, the bald one had said. Luckily for him, the other two competitors had done even worse, so he was through to the final by default.

He was ready for the live show tomorrow. The bald one wanted to feel passion, did he? He was ready for that too. He had a little brown mushroom among his ingredients that would inspire in ol' Baldy the very Passion of the Christ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Teeth" and/or "Sleep"

A profession that I find really repugnant is dentistry. I know there are plenty of jobs that are worse in plenty of ways, but for some reason, just the thought of having to peer into strangers' mouths makes me shudder.

Call it weird, but there’s something about teeth that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I hated the idea of the Tooth Fairy. When I read a story by Enid Blyton as a kid (ok, as an adult too), where these little gnomes carved toys out of human children’s teeth for the fairy children to play with, it made me feel ill. I loved scary stories but disliked the horror comics because of the skeletons – specifically, the skulls with their grinning teeth. Ugh. And even as an adult, the thought of parents keeping their children’s baby teeth as keepsakes sends a shiver down my spine.

I wouldn’t be a dentist for worlds, not even for the money – and they do make a good deal of money, especially in the West where they seem pretty thin on the ground and even thinner in the NHS. Getting an appointment with a good dentist inside of 6 months is near impossible – you could get a politician to tell the truth quicker than that. Or perhaps not. In any case, cutting short the waiting time by going to a less busy – and presumably less competent - dentist wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do… not even if your teeth are ready to fall like overripe fruit. Dentists use drills on your teeth! Enough said.

But getting back to dentists and their job, it beats me how they can face going in to work, knowing that they will, for the most part, be in close proximity to the vilest breath and the rottenest teeth. Day after day after day. Well, I don’t see people with perfect teeth and gums spending much time with a dentist, do you? And halitosis is nothing to laugh at when you’re up against it. Some of my colleagues could stop a charging elephant dead at 10 yards – just by opening their mouth. My lung capacity has improved enormously since I started work here because I’ve had to hold my breath for minutes at a time in sheer self-defence. (You can avoid halitosic (new word alert!) colleagues for only so long in an open-plan office.) So, a job where you have to face (pun unintended) a sort of assembly line of open mouths and festering teeth is pretty much at the bottom of my list of dream jobs. Actually, it doesn’t even figure on the list.

There ARE worse jobs. You only have to read this to know. But for all that, I still wouldn’t want to be a dentist. Ever.

Which brings me to my dream job – that of a mattress tester. What I wouldn’t give to be paid to sleep!

Friday, February 15, 2008


are why I dont have kids.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Salivating for...

South Indian-style boondi laddoo with kalkandu, the occasional kaju and drakshai or clove (cant think of the Tamil word for it at the moment) that you might encounter within... PROPER boondi laddoo, not the Northie-style motichur. I think the laddoo I'm dreaming of is usually served/made for kalyanams. *sighhhhhh*

*Kalkandu - lump white sugar pieces
*Kaju - cashewnut
*Drakshai - sultanas/raisins

*Kalyanams - weddings

Should we start a benefit fund for Kapil Dev?

Poor ol’ Kapil Dev – and the stress is on the “poor”. He must be living in penury. Could there be any other reason why he would beg for his pension with this pathetic, tug-at-your-heartstrings statement: The only way of earning a livelihood for us retired cricketers is through the game and the board cannot... deprive us of the benefits.” How can anybody blame the man for wanting his BCCI pension while – presumably – still earning money for being on the executive board of the ICL? Don’t they understand that this ex-cricketer, who did so much for cricket and his country, needs money from all possible avenues to maintain his privileged lifestyle, since he is retired from the game? How hard hearted of the BCCI, how unsympathetic and mean-spirited!

Seriously, doesn’t the man have any dignity? He makes it sound as if without the pension, he would be living in abject poverty. It might be a possibility for lesser cricketers, those who didn’t earn undying glory and untold wealth at the international levels, but we’re not – and HE’S not – talking about them and the BCCI, are we? Considering his years in the game as top cat, of sponsorships and truly dreadful TV ads, for all of which he would have been paid extremely well, he and at least 5 future generations should be well set up financially. (Unless he’s been living a profligate life with much disastrous gambling involved?)

It’s one thing for him to fight for his position as head of the National Cricket Academy where presumably he could be doing some good… but quite another to bewail his lost pension. Doesn’t greed have any limits?

Am I being unfair to him? Missing anything that might justify that preposterous statement? Somebody enlighten me.

Edited to add: I've been enlightened... and with enlightenment comes the realisation that I've been unfair. Sorry, Kapil ol' pal.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Will e-books take over the world?

With the advance of the e-book, there is a real possibility the real-book will suffer the same fate as Little Nell

That blurb in the Times Online site caught my attention, as it was meant to. My first reaction to it was “Not with me, never, no way” – pretty much to be expected from any book lover, I guess, not just me.

E-books didn’t attract me in the least, not even when one of my favourite authors, Stephen King, offered a book written specifically for the Net. The book was not available nor would be in regular shops like other regular books. E-readers were meant to pay for and download the book, chapter by chapter. I’ve never been a fan of serialised novels, so that was a minus. But even if the entire novel had been offered at one go, I still didn’t like the idea of a book that I had to read on my computer. I couldn’t carry it around conveniently and printing the chapters off on regular paper didn’t appeal much. A book has to look and feel and smell like a book. Papers clipped together do not a book make. Not in MY book. Not even Stephen King’s books.

Then it dawned on me that e-books (the kind you have to download and read on your computer) have been around a while – so why an entire gloomy article on what sounded essentially like re-hashed news? That was when I decided to read the article and then re-consider my initial reaction on a slightly more informed basis.

I have to say that although in the back of my mind, I was still stubbornly thinking “Not with me, never, no way”, the front of my mind was actually considering the latest take on the e-book. Apparently it is “portable, lightweight, with unlimited operating time and no battery worries” plus, it is “wireless and cheap”. It certainly sounded perfect… lugging around books can get pretty heavy quite quickly (although it’s still more convenient than a computer!). For instance, struggling with a handbag, a piece of hand luggage, a bottle of water, sometimes a coat and a book or two (which rapidly gain weight quite out of proportion to their size) at airports should be an experience familiar to most people.

So on the face of it, one small, light, cheap e-book that could contain many books does seem like a good idea. I don’t know what these e-books look like, or how they might work, but I’m assuming that the font type, size, colour, background, etc can be changed according to individual tastes. That bit sounds like fun, sort of. I'm sure even I'll get an e-book, just to try out its novelty value. But I dont see it taking over my "real" books.

Sure, the iPod changed the way we listen to music (walkmans and personal CD players are on their way out, arent they?). I've got an iPod, but I still use CDs. Maybe e-books will come into force when we run out of trees... but can they (e-books, not trees) be prevented from crashing or getting corrupted by viruses? How many books in an e-book? How many e-books in a personal book collection? And how would an e-book ever, ever brighten a bookshelf or attract interest in its contents?

Monday, February 11, 2008

"No country for old men" - Uh?

No Country For Old Men is probably a movie that everyone’s already seen and written about. I saw it recently and although I found it entertaining and funny, the ending left me somewhat puzzled. Not just me, actually – there was a collective “uh?” moment at the abrupt ending, and quite a few surprised “Is that it?” trend of remarks from the other people in the hall. Of course when the credits started rolling, we all knew that was it.

I’m not saying the movie wasn’t watchable. It was, very. Despite the blood and gore and gratuitous violence, there were plenty of laconic “cowboy”-type and “country wisdom”-type remarks to keep me amused, and enough genuine suspense to make me want to squinch my eyes shut and plug my ears with my fingers. (Yep, I’m a coward and haven’t progressed past childish responses to good scary suspense.)

You couldn’t help but like Josh Brolin for his deadpan dialogue despite his permanent scruffiness (not improved by generous quantities of gore as the movie progressed), Tommy Lee Jones did a great job as the wise-but-tired sheriff, and Javier Bardem was chilling as the relentless psychopathic killer looking for his money. I mean, the Terminator wasn’t as cold-blooded as Bardem’s psychopath, Chigeur - and not even Chigeur's ridiculous hairstyle detracted from that effect. Woody Harrelson entered as a wise-cracking private investigator halfway into the movie, but his contribution to the movie plot wasn’t much more than a slowly widening flood of blood once he’d been killed off.

The thing is, I didn’t find an actual plot to the movie. I do understand that the basic idea was to showcase the soullessness of America, how inured people have become to violence and violent deaths, and so on. But throughout the movie, at key points during key deaths, right up to the end, I kept thinking “NOW I’ll understand the plot” – but in the end, all I understood is that there was no plot.

Perhaps I’m the dumb sort of viewer who needs a rounding-off, closure of some sort… the sort of viewer who is
deaf, dumb and blind to anything that isn't spelled out between commercials on dying TV networks”. (Gee, thanks, Peter Travers.) Perhaps I DO need things spelled out… because I didn’t see the point in all the characters who started out as integral to the movie getting killed along the way, at random. Each killing was just a killing, not leading to a turning point in plot or direction. To me, the movie wasn’t much more than a documentary showcasing the mindless and gratuitous violence in America. But we knew that already.

I haven’t read the book on which the movie was based, so I don’t know how faithful to the book the movie was. Maybe if I read the book, the movie will make more sense… but I just don’t know at this point.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Fridge space"

My very first Sunday Scribbling. And the prompt is “Fridge Space”. I'm afraid it's going to be a lot of nonsense, but I'm going to consider it as an exercise in loosening the creative nuts and bolts in my brain. They've seized from disuse (and some misuse). So here goes:

Why fridge space? It’s not something I’ve thought about consciously. All I know about fridge space is that things expand in direct proportion to the space available within to store them. My fridge is always stacked four deep with things of varying sizes and shapes. Sometimes they are in boxes, sometimes in plastic bags, sometimes they just are. The items which find their way into the far recesses of the fridge stay there, sometimes for years, because once outta sight, they’re outta mind. Their discovery depends entirely on serendipity but their freedom is not always synonymous with discovery, because by then they have welded themselves immovably to the ice on the back wall of the fridge. Chances are they will not be released without the help of an Arctic explorer’s ice-pick and a lot of hard work. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Nowadays I try not to let food items go into the back because I fear that there are new life forms that have probably evolved in the ice (although I haven’t dared to check) which might take over all my food and the space within. So I try to keep everything in the front half without anything touching the iced-up walls, which is not really possible and involves a lot of time spent squatting in front of the fridge trying to balance all the items on the various shelves. It is quite an interesting task, requiring dexterity and imagination. It can be challenging too, because I tend to get quite cold while arranging my items. I haven’t found out how to get around this without having to wear winter gear, which unbalances me. Besides, wearing gloves means that my fingers arent nimble and I lose the delicate touch required to pile the items just so.

Meanwhile, my fridge space is getting smaller because of the creeping ice in the back. I might have to get a new fridge with more space, or move house.

Friday, February 08, 2008

33 questions and answers

I appropriated this tag from my newest favourite blog, Myrtlebeachramblings. I love answering questions like this... it's sort of soothing to muse on things and discover new likes and dislikes about me. Why 33 questions, not 35 or 30? Well, why not? Not everything has to be rounded off.

1.)Q. Can you cook?
1.)A. Oh yeah. It’s the cleaning up that I don’t much care for.

2.)Q. What was your dream growing up?
2.)A. Journalist

3.)Q. What talent do you wish you had?
3.)A. Gift of the gab

4.)Q. Favorite place?
4.)A. Home

5.)Q. Favorite vegetable?
5.)A. Potato. (Well, what else!)

6.)Q. What was the last book you read?
6.)A. Autumn Bridge, by Takashi Matsuoka

7.)Q. What zodiac sign are you ?
7.)A. Pisces, not that it matters

8.)Q. Any Tattoos and/or Piercings?
8.)A. Used to have pierced ears. Tattoos? No way.

9.)Q. Worst Habit?
9.)A. Depends on whom you ask… my choice would be procrastination.

10.)Q. If you saw me walking down the street would you offer me a ride?
10.)A. Depends if you’re male or female. Male, hell no. Female… possibly, if you don’t look threatening. Yeah, I’m easily scared.

11.)Q. What is your favorite sport?
11.)A. Don’t like sports

12.)Q. Negative or Optimistic attitude?
12.)A. Realistic

13.)Q. What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?
13.)A. Hope for the best.

14.)Q. Worst thing to ever happen to you?
14.)A. Don’t want to talk about it.

15.)Q. Tell me one weird fact about you:
15.)A. I hate cold potatoes. They HAVE to be eaten hot.

16.)Q. Do have any pets?
16.)A. Not currently

17.)Q. Do u know how to do the macarena?
17.)A. Nope

18.)Q. What time is it where you are now?
18.)A. 1.45pm

19.)Q. Do you think clowns are cute or scary?
19.)A. Scary, I guess.

20.)Q. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be???
20.)A. Size!

21.)Q. Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?
21.)A. Conscience

22.)Q. What color eyes do you have?
22.)A. Dark brown to black

23.)Q. Ever been arrested?
23.)A. No

24.)Q. Bottle or Draft (draught)?
24.)A. Neither.

25.)Q. If you won $10,000 dollars today, what would you do with it?
25.)A. Go on a judicious spending spree.

26.)Q. What kind of bubble gum do you prefer to chew?
26.)A. I don’t.

27.)Q. What 's your favorite bar to hang at?
27.)A. None.

28.)Q. Do you believe in ghosts?
28.)A. No, and wont until one manifests itself to me.

29.)Q. Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
29.)A. Read

30.)Q. Do you swear a lot?
30.)A. If the situation requires it... but I usually do it sotto voce.

31.)Q. Biggest pet peeve?
31.)A. Pesky salesmen/women

32.)Q. In one word, how would you describe yourself?
32.)A. Accommodating.

33.)Q. Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same for you?
33.)A. Sure.

How about this for a horror story?

I dont think anything has given me that feeling of cold horror in my heart recently as this extract below:

A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a woman who works in an advocacy role for Muslim women in an area that, quite independently of the Bishop of Rochester, she described as a 'no-go area' for non-Muslims. Her clients were women in the process of being sectioned into mental health units in the NHS. This woman, who for obvious reasons begged not to be identified, told me: 'The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn't want. Or maybe she starts wearing western clothes.There can be many reasons. The women are sent for asssessment to a hospital. The GP referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned. She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don't you people write about this?'

I understand that not all Muslims (or indeed Hindus or Sikhs) are as cold-blooded as that... but to think of women being put into mental institutions for no fault of theirs, with no way of establishing their sanity during the process, or getting back out into the world - I thought that sort of thing had gone out with the Middle Ages! How truly awful that such things can happen in the supposedly free West - that such things can be ALLOWED to happen without interference from the authorities, perhaps for fear of offending that religious community. Of what use the long and hard fight for equality and rights for women, when they are unable to help themselves or be helped? And we're talking about women in the UK, not in Saudi Arabia.

Phew! It was the blast, not the bullet

UK police say blast killed Bhutto

Well, whoop de doo.

And this little nugget of information has enriched all our lives how?

Oh wait, it didnt.

Then perhaps the establishment of the "blast-not-bullet" fact improved the social situation in Pakistan and brought back to life those others who were ALSO killed in the blast.


So why WERE those British policemen sent there? Were the Pakistani police/ISI guys not capable of establishing the momentous fact that the blast, not a bullet, killed Benazir Bhutto? Or would the world not have believed them?

I'm just wondering whether that time and effort couldnt have been spent more productively.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Muslims, unreasonable? Surely not!

I find it so irritating – and disheartening – to read news like this… I mean, if the spread of deadly diseases is restricted when doctors wash their hands and forearms, where’s the harm in following that rule? I doubt that any male doctor is going to be overcome by sudden uncontrollable lust on catching sight of female Muslim forearms just before a major operation.

Hygiene experts say that no exception should be made on religious grounds – and so it should be. Seriously, even for devout female Muslim doctors, shouldn’t the Hippocratic oath take precedence over everything else, including any social rules imposed by religious beliefs? If it doesn’t, they shouldn’t be in the medical profession at all!

And they wonder why Islam is seen as a restrictive, backward religion and its “true followers” unreasonable…

Monday, February 04, 2008

A public swindle

Which is the bigger crime – employing your family members in official government posts, giving them bonuses and pay-raises thereby ensuringthat more money goes to your own family, or employing family members in jobs and giving unearned bonuses and pay-raises to them for work they haven’t done at all?

That was a trick question. At the moment, neither of those is considered a crime! But if you ask me, they ARE crimes, equally sleazy white-collar crimes. It’s legal in the UK for MPs to employ their own family members to “help” with the office work – and pay them from the public funding/allowance they get. Which is what an MP called
Derek Conway did… except that he went over to what SHOULD be seen as white collar crime because his two sons didn’t do a jot of work for the money they were paid. Of course Conway doesn’t think that he did anything wrong, but why would he, the smarmy swindler?

Pete and I had a discussion about this when the news first came out, and I was taken aback when he said that he didn’t think it wrong for MPs to employ family members! He was mainly concerned that the money that Conway paid his sons was undeserved as they didn’t really attend work, being full-time students at the time.

My point is that it is wrong wrong WRONG for public servants and elected politicians to employ their own family members! It just means that one politician and his family make more money off one job than is fair – and MPs aren’t exactly paid peanuts (although they might think so, greedy sods), especially compared to the normal working person. Jobs which are now given to MPs’ sons and daughters and wives should actually go to members of the public, to genuine employees who will earn the pay, so that the taxpayers’ money doesn’t just go to the politicians! Either that, or MPs who employ family members should pay them out of their own pocket, not using public funds!

It’s a different thing when it comes to private companies… if the founder of a business wanted to hand over the reins to his offspring, or pay them a fat salary, that’s his prerogative. Nobody can insist that he should offer the job to members of the general public. But for a public servant using taxpayers money to further his nepotistic (?) aims just seems plain wrong to me. The government should make it a law that family members of politicians should not be eligible to even be considered for jobs in their office. If not that, at least the existence of such jobs should be made clear to all, so that there’s free competition rather than privileged employment for a few. It isnt a crime at the moment to be nepotistic, but it should be made so.