Monday, June 28, 2010

and it's still raining, though not stories

Mid-day column for the last two weeks... it comes to an end soon - and the sub-editor is showing this by giving the last one a title they used for an earlier column already! Perhaps I should ask for that job...

My friend P called up annoyed one day, scolding me for using a word she did not understand (au courant and pulchritude). I felt this was a good way for her to learn new words - but maybe the sub also does not understand some words and feels fed up and decided - yeh tou generally against normalcy type of character hai, so when in doubt let's just title the column Out of the Box.


Last Sunday's on Not Having The Number

Meanwhile here in Berlin it is summer.

People have put TV sets out on the pavement and were watching the match on the street with beer in hand.

I was told that if Germany lost the match yesterday, against Englad, there would be big, grown men walking down the streets clutching their heads in despair, gathering in street corners crying.

I was looking forward to it.

Instead they won, and car horns tooted, people walked around hooting and calling out German slogans which I mercifully did not understand, trailing cloaks of German flags. Nicole cringed while I was rather wide eyed and interested. When I said to her, come on, it's not so bad, she said: would you walk around on the streets of India with the Indian flag painted on your face? Hmm??

I was silenced and resumed chopping sweet peppers for the eggs, accepting my womanly position in life, even in sunny Berlin where roses bloom shameless on the streets and men go out on the rampage because "their team" won at football.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love and Rain

I used to think writing a column is like a little craft exercise - each time I've written one, I set myself a different writing task and try to keep at it. I find I get good at one thing - but often it becomes a kind of vice, a tic if I'm not careful.

Here are my last three Mid-day Columns

Now I realise it is more like being a different part of your personality - as today I went looking for a very old column I wrote for Mumbai Mirror in 2005. One could argue that that's life anyway, trying on a different part of your personality in different phases of your life...anyway the search for the column was prompted by the weather which has been promisingly cloudy but which refuses to rain..


After the exalted sweaty suffering, when it rained last weekend, what could be better than to pile into a rickshaw and head to Sea View on Juhu beach for Sunday Brunch?

The rickshaw is not yet rexin curtain-ready for the rains so I reach with one pant leg wet. But Imran, my friend’s four-year old son, is with us and we are too excited to care. Imran and I have a Bunty and Bubli thing going, as I’ve had to babysit occasionally and due to a complete poverty of wholesome ideas, have resorted to corrupt practices – like film song and dance routines. I say, ok Bunty we’ve reached and he says, ok Bubli, that’s good. We’re a restrained twosome.

Sea View is without contest the best hang out in the suburbs, a verandah café so true to its name it makes you want to call your daughter Lakshmi. Its has the best view of the beach, friendly crows and English breakfasts.

But. No eggs, though it’s 11 a.m. “It’s because of the rains.” I try to solve the zoological riddle here but the waiter takes pity on my foolish expression. “ The eggs come from Dadar no, but first day of rain, so truck is delayed.” When will it reach we ask in dismay? “It has left, that’s what they are saying. Let’s see.” Welcome monsoon. Due to my fear of authority I don’t ask the uniformed waiter why he can’t get some eggs from the kirana shop at the corner for us old customers.

Anyway, driven mad by our hungry fantasies, we greedily order everything but the eggs. We eat quantities of very greasy bacon and very buttery toast and soon enough, feel heartily sick.

The rain stops and the city is a distant spectre in the mist. The clouds paper over the sky and the beach is full of people and vendors roaming around in a timeless light which flattens colours, makes them mute. Even the purple of the yo-yo we buy, with its shocking pink tinsel stars and green plastic cockroach floating inside is subdued.

I am sure as we head home all sticky, that the egg truck will have just crossed us. No matter. On Monday morning I call the Jain kirana store and order one dozen baida – they don’t keep but they will get – like good Bombay shopkeepers. I hang the yo-yo from a dead plant on my window-sill where it wobbles like a bad dancer in the wind. Monday sounds drift up - the 7 a.m., 1 p.m and 4 p.m Jana Gana Mana of three mournful shifts of students on the first day of school.

For some the rain brings homework; for some, fried eggs.