Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mr. G Turns a year old(er)

Yup. On a certain a day in the April of 1979, G was born. Duly celebrated on a day close enough to that one this April-with some rather Loud Flamenco (by someone who considered Flamenco "serious" business and was very convincing as a flamenco-isnt-for-the-cheerful-or-the-faint-of-heart task mistress), fine wine, and three course Spanish fare, in the company of numerous well wishing freinds, at a relatively chichi establishment on the Lower East Side. Much fun was had, with a surprised, even overwhelmed G and confused maitre'd (this part was not that pleasant).
Oh and from yours truly ..G cheerfully received a membership to a wine club, where exotic(hopefully) wines come with particularly interesting wine quotes.
In very other news, my life continues with some heavy duty finance studies, and work and occasional(very) blogtrotting.
So much to say..but so little time. Until then..sleep is much required.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Traveling to India for the New Years was a last minute, great-tickets-on-travelocity-so-probably-a-good-idea type decision. I had over 2 weeks in holidays so instead of getting drunk and sleeping through new years without G, I decided to be on a plane for 19 hours (wow, much better) with mom (i.e. can’t drink or flirt on the plane). Although she let me flirt, she promised to report all such incidents to interested parties.
Flew over to Baroda. ‘Nothing’ has changed- 5 years. But I some how felt like I was in a Hindi movie or in some Indian advertisement as I walked in through the big grilled front entrance. In the midst of all of that hadn’t changed-my house seemed wounded and worn. In some desperate attempt to stay the same, the marbled floors shone from underneath the layers of dust and dirt.. Paint held on to the walls and the rooms smelled of all the rains, winters and summers they had weathered with no one to shelter.
Our House- Thakuma’s House-where she lived for over 25 years-Fed the birds, chanted hymns, bathed me, told me stories, read me poems, waited for us (her son, my mother and me) to come visit, and died. Baba’s House-that he fought to buy and took a large debt for, brought his newly wed bride and eventually, became a yearly guest to. Ma’s house-possibly her’s much more than ours - It stood there as if a testament to all her pains to build the house without Baba around, her Pujos, her sacrifices for us and the family, and her copious tears when I left for Grad School.
My house- where I went to school since I was 9, studied long nights for my exams, rejoiced at the end of it, partied with my friends, fought with Ma to get cable TV, got introduced to Star TV, ate numerous Chinese dinners from Hot Stuff, attended my valedictory function in High School, applied for and finished Engineering school, applied for grad school, and left. Putul’s House-where she came as a shy, scared frail young girl of 15, became a part of all of us and left as an older, married woman of 27. Thakuma died, I moved to New York, Ma, Baba and Bhai moved to Toronto- the house got left behind, and stood still exactly where we had left it.
Not a complaint on its lips, not a sore we could see.

And yet, as we all moved on, our house hung on- to our disappointments, our victories, our joys, our tears and our neighbors. Its all there-frozen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Dear Men -

I was about to get this post out there long ago.But it took a great post from my friend and favorite blogger to give me that final push. Indians(men and women) apparently have a lot of clarity of intent when it comes to making that big decision of their lives.In other words, you are less likely to hear a " I dont think I am ready for a commitment, there is too much going on in my life!" type fluff from an Indian born.
Come 25-26 and a nice cushy job, the desi is all set to take the plunge - Man or Woman. The Indian remained (and in some sane quarters still remains) unfazed by the American dating paradigm -
" Lets see if this works"!
" I think it is crucial to live together before we get married."

Although you might hear a couple of
" I need to marry into a Brahmin family"
" I need to marry a girl who cooks like my mom."

Honestly,I might as well have written the above as my mom. Enter Salaam Namaste. With all the girls (Indian and otherwise) available to the club-hopping, beer-guzzling,hottie-ogling Indian techie/investment banker/research analyst/(gourmet chef?) who are all ready to "try it out for a little while" , the Indian man sees no need to become "pot bellied and married" to the woman who gets to nag him.
The joy of marital bliss ? La-Di-Fuckin-Da!

"Its the same isn't it ? We will live under the same roof. She does not want children at this point either, so what's the difference between this and getting married. Atleast this way, if we find something about each other that is particularly unagreeable we can just call it off, without having to make that trip to Reno !"- said an investment research analyst who supposedly makes wise investment decisions .I continue to be amused ; By his enthusiasm to invest his time, energy even loyalty in a relationship that he hopes will go wrong some day - so he will have a good reason to call it off!

Yet I have heard it countless times. From a number of buddies who loosened up after a couple of drinks.
" Where is that nice sensible, funny, intelligent Indian girl I am looking for?All the nice ones I see want to get married or are taken!"-
And after this ,disheartening stories about the hopeless New York City dating scene come pouring out in a sickening dizzy.

"She was such a freak!"

"Going to bars to pick up women is so hopeless. 9/10 times the woman refuses the guy. What's the point?"

"She used me!! I took her to all the fancy places, great dinners for what ? She was great in the sack...but she found some one else who is more sensitive and loving apparently! I hate women!"

And yet they remain blind to the obvious-hand it all to them on a platter, and they are ready to run the other way. Laughable. Even pitiable.

Then there are the more forthright ones that I truly respect.I just hope they are just as forthright to the woman as well. "All I want is some free action in bed." -fair enough.

All men arent the same though. There are those with a long term relationship who are finally coming to a closure. Here's what they have to say " I have been dating her for over 5 years now. Can't expect her to wait any longer, so I figured I might as well get married to her!" - Thanks! For the rest of you life now, you can leave it to the woman to be charitable.You've done your part.

The truth is gone are the days when marriage and living together was upheld as a true commitment to stand by each other, more than anything else. To marry the woman of your dreams is something men disdainfully do to free the girl and her parents of their worries-all of which is followed by constant fearful anticipation on the guy's part of the pretty fairy deteriorating into the fat, child-bearing mother who has no time for him.I agree times have changed. We have a choice now. Men and women(both equally desparate ,albeit with completely different expectations from one another) are all over the place. You can date, abandon,live with your girl-friend to see if it works, look forward to abandon it all, regret, be too busy to regret till you are 30... and not be answerable to anyone. You dont know what you want. Your girl friend is the best thing that ever happenned to you. Yet you dont know if she is what you want for your life. You hope to figure it out at some point. Till then you can afford to be confused. After all its all available to you. So why even think about it? You have the freedom of messing around . After all you get to flirt with a girl at a bar, and not have to reel under the guilt of being a married man. If thats the temptation you aren't sure of, you wont exactly be able to get rid of it any way. Even if you get married at 40.

So my dear commitment phobic men, lets all make our lives easier. There are enough women in this post-salaam-namaste and post sex-and-the-city world who love commitment less dating action at all locations including the bed. And like Carrie Bradshaw, they aren't afraid to admit or ask for "good sex" if you may. But the same women, just like some of you, havent quite figured when they'd be ready get married and have kids but certainly want to do so at some point. All you have to do is in a sophisticated, civil sort of way, let the woman know that she is the hottie you want to have some fun with .She will welcome it merrily even take it as a compliment, and dump you conveniently when she finds someone who she wants to marry- a situation you are looking forward to anyway! Everybody wins! It's much easier than you think!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pujo the Probashi Way..
That's pretty much the way I have known Pujo all my life.Even before I knew what Probashi really meant ( Beleive it or not, I was informed (not so politely) only in Grad School by fellow Bongs, that I am, a not-so-fellow Probashi(not very native,yet qualified) Bong!I confirmed with Ma, you know to double check,just to make sure these guyz weren't just giving me a hard time! anyway thats another post).

So ya, I grew up in Baroda and hence qualify as Probashi. Ma is very religious. She made sure the kids went for Pujo. To Kirti Mandir Pujo AND to the other Pujo. She even got me to participate in the whole song-and-dance cultural fare! I,ofcourse,dutifully complied. I was little so knew better than to object.But that was another time...

This year's Pujo was a different ball game altogether.This year's Pujo was more Probashi than ever before. Ma repeatedly asked me to buy tickets to Toronto for Pujo. I ofcourse ignored for the longest time. Less than a week before Pujo weekend I bought the tickets, I found the best air fare in years.
In Toronto, and in the US for that matter, Pujo has to be during weekend, folks cant afford to chuck work to do all the work for Pujo before hand. Sad.Thankfully, this time around Pujo was during a long weekend, the Columbus day weekend. And I coaxed Baba to fly over from Calgary, who ofcourse was more than willing.

Ma had it all ready. My new clothes, Saree (which I carried around myself for two consecutive days!!!Folks I need a pat for pulling this one off!) and everything! First thing I did (as always) was to gorge on home cooked goodies ( Mustard Hilsha Fish, Chicken, and fish again....). I made Ma cook Fish on days she wouldnt even touch non-vegetarian food, but thats another story.
Just like Baroda,there were two big Pujo's- One in a Mondir- the Toronto Kali Bari, and another in a local establishment.
We ofcourse went to both.

This up here is the Pujo at Toronto Kali Bari.Check out the Devout Mashis!

Apparently Toronto has the largest population of Bongs in North America. The milling Pujo crowds, the smell of incense and ghee, the dhaak, the shonkho,the "Pushpanjoli",the "Panjabi" clad lil kids", the all-too-busy Maashima's distributing flowers and such among the countless over-extended flower-seeking hands , the adorable Didu's sitting in the corner ... it was all there. Oh and the scramble for Bhog.More of a scramble than I have ever known, but khichuri and chatney was totally worth it!!Missed thorkari though.

Ma's best buddy from high school(or was it even before that) showed up too. They hugged and reminisced old times and their school years, it was kinda cute,difficult to imagine to imagine Little Ma though. Anyway, M Aunty's (Ma's best buddy) daughter who bore a canny resemblance to Protima Bedi , did some great Odissi to Nazrul's songs.I ofcourse ,for the entire duration of the show, thought it was Bharatnatyam she was doing (hey the M.C said so ! )And then there were these numerous Mashis and Kakus who felt free to step up on stage and sing! Some didn't do too bad though (Baba ofcourse frowned through the entire episode and said all these people were venting their pent up musical energy on us unsuspecting victims!He maybe right,but I have a feeling he was jus jealous.....)

I came back to New York after fabulous weekend .. and promptly wished everyone Shubho Bijoya.

Probashi Shubho Bijoya perhaps?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mr. Tharoor

Last year around this time,I volunteered to help out in an off-off broadway production.( I used to think 'off-off broadway' was a nasty adjective used by the snooty or the ignorant, now I know its an official term. Ouch.) Anyway the play and my life then is another post. This is isnt about it. Shashi Tharoor was the special guest of honour at the opening. Thats when I met him for the first time. I had devoured 'Great Indian Novel' and 'Show Business' by then, but you dont have to meet the novelist to read his novels. So that worked out.
Now as cliched and quivering-school-girl like as it sounds, he was spiffy.Very Stylish. Even Sexy in some strange way. Much to Mr. G's chagrin.
I live on his website now. Bookless in Baghdad next.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rose from the..
Talking about myself here anyway.Been a while since I have posted anything.
So since I have too much time and am vain enough to look myself up on the internet,
apparently I won Miss Congeniality

Didnt think a rare name like mine could have pulled something like that.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Fall of the Rising

Mangal Pandey, ‘The Rising’- Ketan Mehta’s tribute to the great martyr who was responsible for lighting the first spark that led to the long and glorious Indian Freedom struggle, made me look back at the chapters of an old history book with a little less disdain than before (which was 12 years ago, before a test), even if it was to strictly fact-checking purposes, which the movie seemed to merit among a lot of other things.
Based on the Sepoy mutiny of 1857, which was sparked by Mangal Pande who refused to use rifles rumored to be greased with the cow and pig fat for fear of being deemed an outcast, ‘The Rising’, although potent in its subject matter and star power (which remains grossly untapped till the end of the movie), unfortunately fails to impress on the whole.

Before I rant on, a little bit of background of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 – Often referred to by historians as the first war of Indian Independence was instrumental in ending the rule of the East India Company. The ‘Sepoy’s’ as they were called who were high cast Hindus, recruited by the British Colonial forces to help them make more conquests. Since the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the company had exercised its sovereignty over India. Although since then there were isolated incidents of unrest among the people, but nothing was pronounced clearly enough until ‘The Sepoy Mutiny’ as the British called it, in 1857, by the Hindu and Muslim sepoys in the army who protested against what they considered an obvious effrontery to their religious belief’s, for being asked by the British to use rifles greased with animal fat, which both religious communities considered unholy. After the mutiny, the British government discontinued

Now to Ketan Mehta’s version of the story, the movie starts off with a chained and bruised, gallant-knight-looking Aamir Khan marching to meet a death sentence by the British, when the hangman runs away, unwilling to hang the revered leader.
The movie slips into flashback after that, Mehta does a mediocre job of developing the story leading to the
Rebellion staged by Mangal Pandey, since he chooses to richly lace it with incidents of little or no historical relevance, a lip-twitching, bosom heaving, song sequence by a gaudily attired Rani Mukherjee in a brothel, cheesy and avoidable, not to mention completely forced ‘tenderness’ between the British Officer and Amisha Patel,the damsel-permanently and unnecessarily-in-distress,who is saved from the clutches of the society eager to burn her with her dead husband in keeping with the sati tradition. I mean really Mr. Mehta, William Gordon’s (the British officer in question) evident affection for Mangal Pandey, amply demonstrated when he gently runs his hand thru Mangal’s hair after rescuing him from a wicked an evil fellow officer, is enough to meet the ‘tenderness’ requirements of a Hindi movie. ( This affenctionate gesture was especially well-received by the audience!) . At very climactic moments of the story, there were script-stretching and out-of-place song sequences such as the Banjaran song with its disturbing abundance of Banjaran bosoms, and the Holi Hai song, a seemingly deliberate attempt to show allegiance to the 1970’s Bollywood school of film making. And why? A powerful film of such immense historic significance deserves to be fast paced and intense, and should induce a sentiment of awe and respect, rather than being interspersed with disappointing digressions such as the above.
That said, very successful attempts are made in the movie to depict the times and the society back then, especially in the villages, including the widely held beliefs around untouchability, the auctioning of women, slavery, the lifestyle of the British high society all of which contribute
in some measure to the development of the story and to the motivation behind the rebellion.
There is also a very colorful and authentic display of the life in Indian villages back then, the folk-song-singing group on the brightly painted elephant, the village achchut (untouchable), the rabble-rousers who gathered around for their daily chai-hookah-pani meetings where they decided the fate of the world, all of which tip the scale a little in Ketan Mehta’s favor for his story telling prowess.

Aamir Khan, of course, delivers a stellar performance, with the right power and passion expected from the portrayal of Mangal Pandey’s character as a soldier and martyr of the Indian Independence struggle. His performance is nothing short of perfect. India’s much-loved star has so gloriously evolved as an actor of such extraordinary skill and talent, that he is able to carry a mediocre execution such as this, completely on his shoulders. He has achieved unparalleled stardom strictly on the basis of his brilliant performances evident from the fact that most of his hugely successful movies are neither backed by very established directors, nor do the movies have the Yash Chopra like watch able-but-not-necessarily meaningful character to them.
Another actor worthy of much praise is Toby Stephens, who not only speaks near-perfect Hindi, but has all the right expressions as well, and certainly does not fail to impress.Another Kyra Knightly in the making?
Om Puri, as the narrator of the story, gives a very welcome,all-too-familiar, ‘Discovery of India’ type feel to the movie .Apart from these few people, performers of great talent like Rani Mukherjee, Amisha Patel and Kiron Kher (who once pledged on prime time TV to never accept a role unless its central) are all wasted, and for understandable reasons, as a story such as this, does not offer enough scope to these fine performers to demonstrate their skill, although, if the director cooked up so much in the movie anyway including the characters of all the women mentioned, he might as well have done a good job at it .

On Friday, August 12th, after the first show of the movie the audience clapped at the end of the movie. But left the theater feeling the way they would feel for an athlete who almost makes it to the finish line to win, but loses out by a few seconds. The movie had a lot going for it, Aamir Khan, a timely release, and a story never told before about a martyr worthy of worship. Makers of historic movies must understand that they are taking on more responsibility, to their audience and to history. A little more thought, a little more research and maybe a little more respect and understanding of the subject matter – and we would have had a classic, about a subject remeniscent of an inspiring victory that every Indian is proud of, and would love to be reminded of a million times over.