Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "The future of the planet"

Who can predict the future of the planet? Its end has been forecast for thousands of years now by doomsayers, but it’s still going pretty strong. Jet-setting eco-warriors like Al Gore pride themselves on pointing out exactly how badly we’re doing, and how much worse we are going to do unless we all stop travelling by air or anyhow else that requires fossil fuels, give up using disposable nappies, plastic bags, electricity, water, fertilisers (unless they’ve been personally passed by said eco-warriors, perhaps? to rephrase an old joke) and everything else that makes the modern world what it is. And before anybody starts throwing personally passed fertiliser on my house, let me hasten to add that I do my bit by recycling, using organically grown things, etc. It’s just that I don’t believe that what I do is going to have any effect overall on the future of the world.

My motto is que sera sera. What will be WILL be, no matter what we do now. The most anybody can do is the best they can do or are willing to do. It’s like religion – there are various levels of belief and action. There are those who are fanatical about it. There are those who believe, but do so in private (my favourites). There are those who don’t believe, but pretend to do so to conform, or for worse self-aggrandising reasons. There are those who don’t believe, and say so loudly and often (which is very nearly as bad as the fanatics). And finally, there are those who don’t believe, and do so for the most part without shoving their disbelief or unbelief down everybody’s throats. Most of the time, I belong to this last group. (It’s only since this blog that I’ve moved up to the last but one category! Blame the blog.)

So, do I believe that the world is coming to an end? Yeah, I do - but in its own time. All the frantic scrabbling of little human creatures (in the larger scheme of things), who have an ego all out of proportion to their importance, isn’t going to make a great deal of difference one way or the other to the future of the world.

You could believe that the world is going to hell in a petrol-driven handcart (is that possible?), and live a life that’s totally eco-friendly and totally lacking in modern comfort, in the belief that it will slow down that handcart… but a whacking big meteor could wipe out Earth and all life on it completely randomly at any time. Not in a million billion years, but at any time. And there wont be anything that anybody will be able to do about it.

And me, since I know that life is equally random, I’d rather live my life as best I can, as decently as I can, with as much comfort and luxury as I can afford, seeing as many different things in this world as possible, and with as much joy as possible.

Because you see, when I die, my world dies with me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No inspiration? Do a tag, the white noise of blogging.

Last Movie You Saw In A Theater:
Ahhh… so long ago that I barely remember. Oh yeah - Sweeney Todd.

What Book Are You Reading:
Salamander Cotton, by Richard Kunzman

Favourite Board Game:
Carom board.

Favorite Magazines:
Time, National Geographic and (before people start throwing around words like “snob”) all supermarket mags for the trashy stories and Grazia, Heat etc for celeb photos.

Favorite Smells:
Pete’s deo, roses from the 6 fragrant varieties I’m growing, cardamom.

Favorite Sound:

Worst Feeling In The World:
Being unable to help someone you care about.

What Is The First Thing You Think Of When You Wake?
"What’s the time?"

Favorite Fast Food Place:
Don’t really have one in the UK and I’m so out of touch with what’s available in India in the eateries with which I was familiar that I cant name any.

Future Child’s Name:
Pass. (No, that’s not a name, I’m just bypassing the question! Heh.).

Finish This Statement. “If I Had A Lot Of Money I’d…”
Quit my job, buy a house, travel a lot, buy books books books. And more books.

Do You Drive Fast?

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?
I think it’s rude to call my husband a stuffed animal. Animal he may be, but stuffed he aint! :D

Storms - Cool Or Scary?

What Was Your First Car?
My first car IS a gas-converted, 2-door, 4WD Mitsubishi Shogun.

Favorite Drink:

Finish This Statement, “If I Had The Time I Would …..”
do more embroidery and painting and learn a couple of languages.

Do You Eat The Stems On Broccoli?

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Color, What Would Be Your Choice?
Black with a plum sheen.

Name All The Different Cities/Towns You Have Lived In.
Jamshedpur, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Madras, Singapore, Shrewsbury

Favorite Sports To Watch:

One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You:
Nobody sent it to me. I tagged myself from Mad Momma’s post… but since I feel like being nice today, I’ll say that MM writes really, really well. I might not always agree with what she says but I pretty much always like the way she says it.

What’s Under Your Bed?
A family of dust bunnies. Growing exponentially, I think.

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again?
No. Change is always nice.

Morning Person Or Night Owl?
Night owl, I guess.

Over Easy Or Sunny Side Up?
Over easy.

Favorite Place To Relax:
Couch at home.

Favorite Pie:
Don’t have one. Don’t much like pies.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavour:
Madagascan vanilla

You pass this tag to -
Anybody who wants to do it and say nice things about me :) (This might rule out a lot of wannabe taggees…)

Of All The People You Tagged This To, Who’s Most Likely To Respond First?
Havent tagged any, therefore cant say. Just as well!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'd like to be a book, too!

You might have noticed that I tend to rant about the weird and/or seriously annoying news items here... but this time it's not a rant, it's a salute to a positively cool idea, something in which I'd LOVE to take part. Isnt it just the best way of getting to grips with things? You actually get to talk with the object(s) of your stereotypes and prejudices! Brilliant!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Compose"

If I don’t compose myself mentally before speaking on the phone – whether it’s to ask a question or reply to one – I tend to lose the power of sequential thought. My mind simply goes blank. If it continues to stay blank, things get worse – I get short of breath through nervousness, my face gets hot, my voice becomes sort of hoarse as if it’s being forced through bellows… it’s not a pretty sight and it cant exactly be riveting listening for the person on the other end of the phone either.

Ad libbing isnt my thing, which is why I’m all admiration for fast talkers and blaggers and people who can speak on any topic given to them, on the spot, with barely a minute to think. Given that, is it any surprise that one of my all-time favourite TV game shows was/is “Whose Line Is It Anyway”? And that Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Wayne Brady and Brad Sherwood are on the top of my list of entertainers?

The British shows compered by Clive Anderson, starring any or all of these guys, are the ones I enjoy the most. When the show went over to the States and began to be compered by that obnoxious, unfunny loudmouth, Drew Carey, it went downhill pretty quickly. Instead of just being a compere, Drew Carey couldn’t resist trying to show off his talents on the stage – talents, when pitted against the genius of Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, turned out to be a dismal flop. In my opinion, anyway. Worse, they began to get “famous guests” (of the likes of David Hasselhof!) on the show – as if Whose Line would have required such cheap attempts at gaining popularity, had it only stuck to the original format.

Just thinking about Drew Carey is enough to discombobulate me (and isnt that a lovely, if very old-fashioned, word!), forcing me to take a few deep breaths and try to compose myself mentally… and since that’s where I came in, this is where I go out. Composed and all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Radically stupid

This whole Muslim-terrorist-radical-jihad issue just gets ridiculouser and ridiculouser. I'm really beginning to feel like Alice in Wonderland... but an insalubrious version of Wonderland (I make a perfectly salubrious Alice. Just so you know).

I mean, does the UK government really have to import supposedly moderate imams from Pakistan to beg plead with teach British Muslims not to go about conniving with Middle Eastern terror-mongers? Are there no "moderate" imams in the UK who can counter the jihadi propaganda in the UK? Have ALL the British imams been branded as radical? Do any British Muslim moderates not have a voice themselves? Do none of them have any control at all over the younger members of their flock who are apparently so terribly disillusioned with their life in Britain that they are able to coolly make plans to kill their fellow citizens?

Anyway, what is a Pakistani cleric going to tell the radical restless that British clerics cannot? Why would they have a better effect anyway? Wouldnt the young local Muslims have more in common with local imams? Why arent the moderate and the open-minded (what's the correct de-escalating terminology here?) imams here speaking up to say "WE will teach our youth to put country and fellow citizens before religion, we dont need foreigners from a non-democracy to do this"?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I didnt want to be the only one feeling ill after reading this, so I thought I'd bring it to the attention of my blog readers. Misery loves company, or so I've heard. So... read it and retch, people. Read it and retch.

"Most cockroaches eaten
Ken Edwards of Glossop, Derbyshire, England ate 36 cockroaches in one minute on the set of The Big Breakfast on March 5, 2001. Swallowing cockroaches is "like having an anaesthetic at the back of the throat," because of the scent they emit to ward off predators, he says."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Fearless"

For many reasons, I found this a difficult topic to write about. I really had to think about it. It was difficult not so much because of a mental or physical block or emotional trauma, but more because fearlessness has never featured in my personal life. Neither has fear, really, because I've mostly stayed away from situations which required either quality.

I’ve not been the adventurous or athletic type of person who climbs precipices using just their fingernails and possibly fancy boots just to prove a point to themselves or others. Nor have I been the sort of person who volunteers for relief work in the worst war-hit areas of the world. Never mind not being them, I haven’t even come close to knowing any such person on a personal level. (Unless a cousin in the Indian Navy counts.) So much for physical fearlessness.

Now for mental fearlessness. I’m not a stockbroker who fearlessly gambles with fabulous sums of other people’s money on a hunch that the shares will rise or whatever. I’m not a mother, so that rules out being fearless about bringing children into this world – and also being fearless about their future… what they might or might not become, good or bad. I’ve not even been the sort of fearless journalist who risks his life by going undercover in the criminal underbelly of society merely to get a scoop – no, all I turned out to be was the editor who rewrote the articles sent in by such fearless reporters, and put them in the newspaper.

Other than that, let’s see now – things that scare me: spiders, quicksand, being lost somewhere foreign where I cant speak the language, dentists, haggis, whirlpools, cold water, high heels, articulated lorries, leeches, lawyers (Freudian connection there, you think?), oatmeal (I take my cue from Calvin), maths, electric staplers… you name it. You can see why I was having trouble with this prompt.

I guess the closest I’ve come to being fearless was when I fell in love with a man who not only was not a Tamil Brahmin, but wasn’t even Indian to boot – and to add to that, he had been married before and had two children as well. Telling my mother and family about him, moving to the UK to be with him (leaving behind a lucrative – but hated - job in Singapore) was probably the one fearless thing I did…except that, really speaking, I was NOT fearless. I was nervous, anxious, had trouble sleeping and second-guessed myself all the time.


There was one thing that DID make me truly fearless about my future at that point. Only one. And that was the cold fear of what my life would be if I DIDN’T make that leap of faith to be with the man who is now my husband.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Isnt that one of the most misleading words in the English language? If you were seeing this word for the first time, you would NEVER imagine that it meant "beauty" or "loveliness", would you? I know I didnt!

Ugly looking word.

POOL-kri-tyude. ("POOL-kri-tood" in American.) Ugly sounding either way.

It might denote beauty, but I dont think I'll be using in my writing it if I can help it.






(Other than in this post, that is.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Photographs"

This prompt was meant to be about one photograph... but I've chosen 4. At least they're all on the same subject!

This is my first dog, Penny (for short) or Penelope (for long). I’ve always loved dogs, but circumstances ensured that we never had the opportunity to keep pets of any kind when I was growing up. So I was delighted to inherit Penny from Pete’s mother, who found it difficult to look after her because she (Penny, not Pete’s mum) was a bit of a handful, and also because there wasn’t much space in the house (Pete’s mum’s house, not Penny’s).

Penny was a beautiful, loving, shaggy-pelted, black-and-white, pure Welsh Border collie with the most ridiculously slender legs and dainty paws. You had to wonder how they held her up instead of snapping like twigs the moment she was up on her feet. Paws, I mean. She loved me no doubt, and was always pleased to see me, but she absolutely ADORED Pete and his brother Mark.

I don’t know what she saw in them, but the moment she heard Pete’s car come down the road, or Mark’s voice outside, she would be at the door, wagging her tail so hard that it wagged half her body with it, hopping about on those ballet dancer’s paws of hers, whimpering in excitement. Of course all this excitement always culminated in a little involuntary weeing when they came in the door. It didn’t matter if Pete had been out of the house for just a minute, a few hours or a few days – the excitement was always at peak pitch every single time, and there was always a little wee involved. Penny reserved some love for me, but her heart, mind, soul and bladder were always Pete’s. The little tart.

In all those years that I didn’t have a dog, I used to wonder if I would be able to understand my dog (if/when I had one) and make out what it wanted. Well, Penny settled any doubts I might have had about non-verbal communication – she had these liquid brown eyes that left you in no doubt about what she wanted. (Most of the time what she wanted was to cuddle up against you, sit on your feet so you couldn’t move away from her, and stick her cold, wet nose in your hand – or better yet, lick any exposed part of your skin. That was her version of bliss.)

When Penny officially entered our home as our official dog, she left us in no doubt that she was nervous and displaced and didn’t feel at home, cowering at the door with her head down, stealing sneaky looks at big bad me, like I was standing there with a stick, just waiting to beat her. We made a comfortable bed for her in the conservatory, in a great big roomy basket that I’d bought specially, kitted out with a lovely new, warm rug and a few toys. Hell, I was half ready to get into it myself, it looked so comfortable! But did Penny? Huh.

Pete had to put her old, smelly, hairy little rag of a blanket on top of my nice clean one, and toss in her favourite old squeaky ball, before that finicky mutt would deign to look at her new lodgings.

It didn’t take Penny long to get accustomed to her new owners and her new house – and of course it helped that the Love Of Her Life (who also happened to be mine) was around to make her feel at home. Of course there were a few teething problems. The first couple of weeks, she started barking at night, after we’d gone to bed - usually around 11.30pm. It wasn’t a volley of barks or whimpering or whining, it was one single bark, spaced out to perfection. Bark – beat – Bark – beat – Bark… and so on. If I went downstairs to quiet her, she’d be at the door, dancing about in delight at seeing me. The moment I went back upstairs to bed, she’d be at it again. Bark – beat – Bark - beat – Bark. One time I tiptoed downstairs and found her lying in her bed. She wasn’t disturbed or alarmed or anything – she was just lying in her basket, with her chin resting comfortably on the rim, sort of absent-mindedly doing that timed barking. Bark – beat – Bark – beat – Bark…

That was an annoying couple of weeks, I can tell you.

Penny was a pretty nervous dog on the whole. If there was something strange, she’d bark or whimper. One time at night she barked so much that Pete and I went downstairs to see what was wrong. We found her standing facing the back lawn, barking for all she was worth at something in the middle of the lawn. We couldn’t quite make out what it was, but Pete thought it might be a hedgehog or something. So we went out there, followed closely by Penny who alternatively barked warnings at us or whimpered her fears. The whatever-it-was in the middle of the lawn didn’t move even when I got close to it – and then we found out why. It WAS a hedgehog, but it was Penny’s new favourite squeaky hedgehog, a bright yellow and green in the daytime, but just a dark shadow at night. When Penny saw what it was, she picked it up and trotted back to her bed without another sound. Except for the hedgehog, which squeaked.

Silly dog.

And when it came to fireworks... man!

The first time I realised her extreme terror of fireworks was in early November, probably a couple of days before Guy Fawkes Day. It was feeding time and I couldn’t find Penny anywhere. I searched everywhere, in the garden, in the house, calling for her – but Penny seemed to have disappeared. I couldn’t figure out where she had gone… she couldn’t have run away, really, but I was beginning to have panicky thoughts that she had somehow escaped and didn’t know her way back. I was about to call Pete and sound the alarm, when I heard a very small whimper from behind the sofa. There was very, very little space between the sofa and the wall, but Penny had somehow managed to squeeze herself in there and was cowering in abject terror.

At that point I still didn’t realise that she was scared of the fireworks – because to be honest, I could barely hear them except as the odd pop. The fireworks were miles away – but I guess Penny’s super-sharp hearing made the pops seem really loud. She absolutely, point blank refused to go to her food dish which was in the conservatory, from where we could see the fireworks clearly. She simply put her head down and pretended to be a sack – I couldn’t even drag her. Finally I brought her bed and food and water indoors to the sitting room, where she settled at last, whimpering every now and then. But from then on, whenever I couldn’t find Penny, I would look behind the sofa – and if she was there, I knew there were fireworks happening somewhere in the world, which only she could hear.

And talking about things only she could hear, Penny had an immensely irritating – and frightening – habit that she reserved only for me, usually late at night when Pete was away DJ-ing. I would be reading peacefully on the sofa, Penny just as peacefully asleep at my feet, when she would suddenly leap up and race to the door, hackles up, barking or growling. The first time she did this, I thought my heart would stop. I really thought she had heard a prowler outside, but when I opened the door (I still don’t know if I was being brave or foolhardy!) there was nobody there. Not at my door, not at any neighbour’s door – nothing and nobody in sight. And yet Penny had found it necessary to spring straight from sleep to growling wakefulness… was she dreaming? Or had she heard or sensed something? And if so, what was it?

Eventually I learned to say “Oh shut up and lie down, Penny” and she would come back, giving the occasional growl, and curl up again... but despite it all, despite knowing that I’d personally locked all the doors and it would take some serious effort for anybody to get into the house, my nerves would remain a bit jangly for a while...

Penny was a delight to have, most of the time. She was a people person and resented it very much – and expressed that resentment very vocally - if we were downstairs and she wasn’t in the room with us. A few times we shut her in the conservatory, but she whined and scratched and made such sad eyes at us that we had to let her back in. She simply loved to lean up against your legs if you were sitting upright, or put her head near yours if you were lying on the sofa.

Penny was lovely and warm, a living rug for your feet, in the winter – but in the summer it was much too hot for a living fur rug and we had to keep pushing her away. She would bide her time, though, crawling a few inches at a time towards us when she thought we weren’t looking. If we did look at her, she would put her head on her paws with a martyred expression in her soft, liquid brown eyes – it was a look that I found very difficult to resist most times! Eventually she would achieve what she wanted, and cosy up against us – only to be pushed off... and the whole cycle would start again. She never tired of it, I have to say. Immensely patient, that dog.

We didn’t have to teach Penny to go to bed – she learnt quite quickly that when we turned the TV off and the lights out, it signified bedtime for all of us. Soon enough, the moment one of us got up, she would heave herself up and trot off straight to her bed. If the sliding door was shut, she would scratch at it to tell us to let her into her bedroom! It was really rather sweet and never failed to raise a smile from me.

I need never have worried about Penny running away – she was too much of a homebody to go exploring. Once she got locked out of the house by accident, something I realised only when I went to throw out the garbage and found Penny lying patiently on the front mat. She gave me an eloquent look as she brushed past me into the house. I sure didn’t need any translation there.

When Penny was four years old (she’d been with us about two years), she fell ill. One morning her left eye seemed to have gone wonky. She was subdued and didn’t eat her food, only drank a little water, and was running a temperature. Worried, we took her to the vet. He kept her overnight to monitor her and see what was wrong. The next day we got the bad news – Penny had a cancerous tumour. She deteriorated pretty rapidly despite our best efforts, especially when the tumour metastasized and affected her brain.

We knew something was dreadfully wrong when Penny growled at Mark when he tried to pet her – at Mark, whom she loved as much as Pete. It startled us very much, because she had never done anything like that before. It simply wasn’t like Penny. I guess that was when I realised that the cancer in her brain was causing the change in her behaviour. Mind you, she never growled, barked or in any way tried to harm me or Pete, not even when Pete administered the medicines to her. He would cradle her in his arms and try to make her eat, coax her to swallow the medicines, feed her liquids.

Time and again I would go to check on her and find that she had, ill as she was, crawled out of her bed and huddled underneath some bushes in the garden. I would bring her back out, but she was unable or unwilling to eat anything. In all this, not once did Penny make a mess – not in the house and not in her bed. She was so weak at one point that she could barely stand... yet when she was sick, she tottered out into the garden to do the job. Her bed was not soiled. Every time we took her to the vet, if we tried to lift her into the back of the car, she would jump weakly out of our arms into the car, instinctively trying to do what she had always done so easily before. It was enough to break your heart.

Penny’s last trip to the vet was the day after our wedding. I was extremely reluctant to have her put down, even though the vet said there was no hope of recovery as the cancer had spread too quickly and too far. But I didn’t want her to suffer. That last trip, as always, she jumped/fell into the car and crawled into a corner exhausted. She didn’t try to jump out when we reached there – she just couldn’t. Pete carried her into the back room and placed her on the table. The vet then injected her with the lethal solution... and two minutes later, our beautiful dog was gone.

Of course I have lovely memories of my mad dog running about in the open meadow, full of the joy of exploring without anybody stopping her... of throwing a ball for her to fetch (and once started, this game was practically impossible to finish)… of Pete swinging her around upside down, holding her front two and back two legs together (she hated it but never objected to this indignity)... of her going up to the TV when she saw any dog there, leaving nose prints on the screen... of her flopping down on my feet and giving the occasional surreptitious lick... taking her with us on driving holidays to Scotland... many many memories of the two short years that we had her. But I cant help wishing that she was alive and still with us.

Penny was only four years old and that’s too young an age to die, whether in dog years or in human years.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Why do they say that?

In the news, in the newspapers, in magazines... "He/she escaped alive" (from a car sinking in a river, a mugging, a free-for-all, a wedding - whatever).

I mean, who escapes dead, right?

And on a similar note,: "He/she cheated death" (sometimes qualified with a "miraculously").

No, he/she didnt. Death merely got postponed a little.

Death ALWAYS wins, no matter how fervently anybody states they've cheated it. (Or should that be Him?)