Showing posts from 2008

the continent of incontinence

A suggestion no doubt specifically made for those of my friends (M and S you know who you are) who stop frequently to pee by the road You will have to click on the picture to see what it says on the truck's ass.

therein lies the rab

I am very concerned - and I say this without facetiousness - about Aditya Chopra's mental health. I know that a lot of people will think Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a crap movie. But frankly, I thought it was quite lovely to start with - uptil the scene where she tells him she'll never be able to love him. And it had a pretty good ending sequence or two. But of course in between it was like - as hapless as Suri's character. In the part where the female protagonist has her completely ridiculous epiphany I started yelling Bachao Bachao quite loudly much to my friend's horror. This sort of tapori-pan is much tolerated in Bombay but in Bangalore there was only a horrified silence. People acted as if they hadn't heard. Or perhaps they had been stupefied by the sheer gone-to-lunch-ness of the script. But to return to AC's mental health. Now, I genuinely feel this could have been a beautiful film. The ideas at the heart of it are eternal questions about love and romance: as

Bishakha's 10-pointer on 24 hour news reporting

While I (and others) have been flailing with incoherent rage at TV news coverage, my friend Bishakha has put together this excellent, coherent point-form critique below. Fan mail can be sent to 10 problems with the 24-hour TV news reporting of the recent attacks on Mumbai:by Bishakha Datta 1)Speculative, not fact-based. The numbers of gunmen entering Bombay dropped from 20-25 to 10 across three days and from 5-7 at Taj to 4; 7-10 at Oberoi/Trident to 2. This causes needless panic; many of us still think there are gunmen out there. Ditto vis-a-vis boat routes to enter Bombay (one day Badhwar Park, next day Gateway of India). Don't report what is just said can't be verified - or atleast question statements from politicians! Otherwise, it's like reporting rumour: which is what happened Fri aft when channels reported non-existent gunfire at several places. 2)Unquestioning. How many gunmen were there actually? How many people actually died? How many boats

Tea for two - and everyone else

(IMAGE BY SEBASTIAN E., BRAZILIAN ARTIST) There is nothing more and plenty more to say about the attacks in Bombay this November end. Watching the news has been frustrating, both for the kind of news and for the kind of views being bandied about. The one thing instantaneous media seem to resolutely deny the need for is reflection. Reflection inherently requires time and thought. But the very next day people want to talk about Solutions. Anyway, more about that elsewhere... But another thing that makes me marvel is the easy talk of the Taj's iconic status. I don't want to be callous about those who've suffered directly by indulging in reverse classism. But I do think that before Ratan Tata and others demand that the Taj should be protected as PUBLIC icon, it needs to do something about becoming one. Terrorists understand what really divides our society - and they've hit out at the things that they know we really value. They understand that the temples of modern India, li

the report card of love

Yesterday I needed to find my Class X school leaving certificate- as that's what the government considers proof of age. I'd needed to find it for many days now, but I'd been dreading the exercise. Everytime I'd remember I'd go hot and cold with nervousness and feel that heavy feeling of gloom in the pit of my stomach. Looking for it was part of so many pasts - it was the misery of those teenage years. Being 13 or 14, in a new school. Growing up and feeling confused about boys (not much has changed there!); feeling ugly, feeling dumb, feeling peculiar and not like the other girls, unable to translate their mysterious language of groups and giggles and arch phrases. It was the fear of board exams, the inability to soldier on past the inarticulate, inaudibe, intractable, self-hating teaching style of Miss Kalra from physics, Miss Saumya Das from maths, Mrs. Subramanium from chemistry. It was the confusion of seeing marks that had been really good, plummet to borderline

The Other Me (would rather be the nice one): a rant and a half

Last night I went to see Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion. Don't ask why please. I did. Maybe I'm growing old or what I don't know. But lately things like this arouse only utter violence in my breast. I want to run into Madhur B wearing Doc Martens (me, not him) and kick him senseless. To kick him senseless I would have to kick him in the crotch because that's where our man's sense and sensibility both reside. Then, as he lies there disintegrating and groaning I want to shout loudly - dude, ever heard of ANOREXIA?? No?? BULIMIA then maybe? Oh, you thought all those models that you saw throwing up during your ASSiduous so called research were just pregnant out of wedlock and getting a reminder for their next abortion. How can someone be so unempathetic? Oh well, I guess it's easy if you're a racist, homophobic misogynist. How can anyone write such a bad script in which plot point 1 is - Meghna smokes a cigarette - drums and synth full power AND Interval! Plot

latest object of desire

With renovations in the house there have been many objects of desire which cannot be had. Handmade tiles in colours with polysyllabic names- chartreuse, turquoise and so on.. but priced at a 100 each. But one cannot, even in one's fantasies, only think of the unreachable. It is necessary to reach into the inner pocket of your soul and find the thing that fulfils your most visceral desires. In my case, this: The Built NY Cargo Computer Sleeve. Those orange thingys are pockets. Sigh. Need I say more? Other than - I must have it?

What big, umm... you have mama

I'm all for niche markets but this defied even my evil imagination. Anyway, all the mama bears out there, you cannot say you are not prepared with this handy helper. It is a book that tells you how to help children cope with MUMMY'S PLASTIC SURGERY!! And there's more to be had HERE

Jhoota kahin ka mujhe aisa mila Not that we loved Shahrukh for his muskels... but it's hard to love him for the amount of dissembling he's been doing of late And before anyone casts aspersions on my character or surfing habits - I only found it while looking for the show times of Mamma Mia! Speaking of abs - I saw the broadway show of Mamma Mia! in New York last summer. There were a couple of items with very gorgeous effotlessly 6-pack boys. Maria who'd come along said she was seeing it for the second time and she did not remember all these half clad men from that time. I figure the show figured out its primary audience soon enough - women near-abouts 40 (who might have ABBA nostalgia) and gay men. So they rewarded us for our loyalty - any problems?

a certain azaadi

A producer I'm writing for says - I'll call you in the afternoon, after I've read the draft. I say - actually you won't be able to reach me between 1 and 5 because I'll be at the Queer Azadi march. ""Oh," he says, "is that today?" Yeah I say enthusiastically. I wait for him to say, "Maybe I'll come too." He says, "Ok I'll be sure to call only after." The day of the march my aunt and uncle stop by for raksha bandhan on the way to their farm, where they go on weekends. My aunt says, "why don't you just come along with us?" I say, would have been great to. But today's the day of the Queer Azadi march, so I definitely don't want to miss that. I see her trying to look poised even while her brain makes loud noises - is that why she's not married? But unlike in my youth when I would have only zoomed in on the disconcerted look in her eyes, today, I am impressed by her desire to remain poised, as

no more rain checks

For the first time in years I've been in Bombay over three months running with only a two day trip to Poona in between. And luckily for me it's been in the monsoon, which has been pretty here - as if to underline the ironies of life: those of us who kvetched about the South and North Bombay divide as proven through drainage in the 26/7 floods never think of the ironies of the say Bombay and Bihar divide: where for us it's romance, for someone it's death. Although that also applies in an everyday sense here in Bombay for those who live on the street. Because the monsoon light disguises the passing of the day I am less anxious and more able to think; yet unable to find the exact right answer of how to live with one's own pleasures without blocking out others' pain; to be compassionate of others' pain without disregarding of the small daily pleasures that sustain. To figure out that balance is obviously to be at peace, to be less pointlessly self absorbed. Som


...for a recording of this ghazal sung by who-ever (I don't know who sang it though I thought it was Begum Akhtar) Bas Ik Jhijhak Hai Yahii Haal-e-Dil Sunaane Me.n --Kaifi Azmi Bas Ik Jhijhak Hai Yahii Haal-e-Dil Sunaane Me.n bas ik jhijhak hai yahii haal-e-dil sunaane me.n ki teraa zikr bhii aayegaa is fasaane me.n baras pa.Dii thii jo ruKh se naqaab uThaane me.n vo chaa.Ndanii hai abhii tak mere Gariib-Khaane me.n isii me.n ishq kii qismat badal bhii sakatii thii jo vaqt biit gayaa mujh ko aazamaane me.n ye kah ke TuuT pa.Daa shaaKh-e-gul se aaKhirii phuul ab aur der hai kitnii bahaar aane main The only person I ever heard singing this was my dad, who'd sing it beautifully. He was of the generation that had never studied Hindi in school. He couldn't even write his own name in Hindi (his name was Ravi, but he'd write it and say - see - and it would be Ram - someone had obviously taught it to him as a joke). He'd studied Urdu so his relationship with Urdu poetry was

the b-side of this whole rock music thing

Sunday releases me from my newspaper dilemmas - I get 6 papers and spend the mornings voluptuously drowning in their various registers. Today's Times Life! quoted Riddhima Kapoor sister of Ranbir, saying "Ranbir has a wide social circle compromising both sexes." Now I see why the boy is a gay icon.  Also I read one of those survey type interviews with the heroines of Bachna Ae Haseenon, where they were asked to complete lines like - I am turned on by a man if he.... /I get bored by men who... etc. In a bad habit I have had since I could read These Are a Few of My Favourite Things in Stardust, I imagined myself as a famous and sexy person being asked these sorts of pertinent questions. This would qualify as the most serious thing I did today unless you count eating last night's left over olive hummus and drinking a glass of rose as a noontime snack. I agreed with Minissha Lamba that what I like about men is that, well, they are men, my most heartfelt response was to I

the times they are a-changing back

So a historic decision has been made in the Vohra-Andheri (E) household. Some years ago, fed up of the page3fication of the TOI I decided to move to the Indian Express. It wasn't easy because all my life newspaper matlab TOI just like orange boleto Gold Spot. But if the Parle factory could change its goldspots to bisleri surely I could change my paper? In truth, I went back and forth - to the Express, then back to the TOI until I finally made the transition in 2003. I stuck with the Indian Express for the next few years, even though it got thinner and flimsier and less and less satisfying. So what if the main paper was iffy - at least Newsline was good I'd tell myself. IE was the default choice of the progressives. Then in 2005 the Hindustan Times which I used to read and like in Delhi, came to Bombay and without thinking I switched, relieved that I had a way not to give in to the insistent promotions of DNA and Mumbai Mirror.  And I was quite happy with it for a while - it was

To All The Girls I've Loved Before

And while I'm thinking about all the ladies from the past whose style I love - the Miss Johras and the Sulochanas and the Sandras from Bandra, here's a piece I wrote for Time Out's last anniversary issue where they'd asked some of us to write about an era we'd liked to have lived in in Bombay.. TELEPHONE GIRLS It’s the 1930s and freedom’s in the air. Not only because JRD Tata makes the first civil flight from Karachi to Bombay, or Gandhi issues a call to Do or Die from Manibhavan. Bombay in the 1930s is not a bad time and place to be a woman. A Congress sub-committee on women draws up recommendations based on radical feminist ideas which see women as individuals with rights to work, property, divorce, and equality within marriage. Amid some shock, R.D. and Malati Karve start a family planning clinic with contraception counseling. The archbishop of Bombay suggests starting the Sophia College for Women. An alluring magazine advertisement asks: “Have you a Telephone in

zara hatke meri jaan

This is just a random associative post about words and language and life- one of those days when too many thoughts trip over each other in your mind without necessary developing into a big pattern.. Have been listening to Rabbi's new album. While much more uneven than his first - which I don't think people ever listened to fully - his big hit did him a big disservice - this album has a some really nice tracks and most of all, I think his ability to make very urban seeming songs and touch on some in between note of relationships is his strength. Another reason I like him is that he sings in Punjabi - a language I ought to know but don't, and now regret not learning. But because the jacket carries the translations of the songs, because they aren't the hey ho, let's bhangra type of thing, I can listen to the words and learn new ones and make pictures in my head. I think he's very good with grown up love songs (which means they contain an element of sexual tension a

budding promises

Yes! There are buds on the chinese rose plant - I'd been losing hope. Meanwhile the mogra is sitting as sullen as a backbencher - I don't think it's grown even a leaf since it came. But the double jaswanti blooms and blooms and blooms. Each morning I get up and shuffle out of the bedroom and then I see a fat, showy red flower blooming with its chest stuck out and it wakes me right up. I hope this lasts.....


Was talking to an unweildy writer friend about his chronic bad behaviour and inability to finish book. Was talking with knowing wisdom and the scolds prosaic intractability. When he pointed me to THIS PIECE How accurate! How I laughed! But no, I did not write a word after, only this. But I did preen at the preening chinese rose and go out and scan a form.

not a good day for the roses

Ever since I read Heidi (about a dozen times as a child) I've wanted a magical window - like her round one in the loft with its views of a starry night. I've been quite lucky to have a room with a view wherever I've lived. Even Baghdad where there was a panorama of the river Tigris (and the orange akak against a slatey dawn sky when the Iraninian Phantom planes raided). I struggled for a while with the balcony in PMGP, making a little seat there, but the shortage of space meant it was always getting used as a storage ground and was sat in very little. In this house the window sills are big enough to sit on. My dad, the only time he visited here, used to sit on the window sill and trim his moustache, read the paper, chill - the only time in my life I ever saw him so lazy and relaxed. He too reacted with childlike pleasure to the hidey hole feeling, that unexpected extra space the window sill yielded up and would like to put things there, neatly, as was his way. Then one tim

dragonflies in allahabad

The two top unconnected searches that bring people to this blog: Dragonflies - who knew so many people want pictures of dragonflies?? Group sex in Allahabad - this I understand. In Allahabad group sex is possibly easier because after all two people on their own would be frowned upon. Therefore orgies are the only way out. I imagine that like raves they have an underground information network and those outsiders who want in on the action are left with no option but to google group sex in Allahabad in urgent if tenuous hopefulness. Poor things come here and find only dahi bataase ki chaat and Wheeler's bookshop. Also a search that often leads here is SRK without a shirt. Not much explanation needed there.

ladies and gents

This last month I watched three films that I've been thinking about for various reasons (instead of work) -Sex and the City by ( I had to google this) Michael Patrick King - I Am the Very Beautiful by Shyamal Karmakar - Sherman's March - Ross McElwee This is a rambling and maybe unclear post because I'm still sorting through the jumble of thoughts in my head.  Again it felt to me that while there's a cliche about how women are obsessed with love and romance (thanks for nothing Byron) they don't or can't seem to create works around this. Obviously I am not talking about Mills and Boons - nor am I dismissing them. That's just a separate discussion. I mean that Sherman's March and I am the Very Beautiful are obviously abiding, strong, resonant films about love and men - this is a very masculine perspective (and I am not in complete agreement that the women in this film - Ranu in IATVB and the 5-6 in SM are allowed to construct their own realities alone wit

day trip in Alexandria

While I was in Cairo I went along with my friends Svati, Sanjay, Tammy and Nehal to Alexandria for a day. I was kind of semi-aware of it - it's Mediterranean, somewhat European inflected history and that Lawrence Durrell had of course written a book there and various literary types had hung out there as they seemed to do with astonishing flexibility until World War II. How come we don't? How come we have to sit at our desks and wait for the monsoon to come so that we can write? Some of us anyway, sigh.... But I digress. Alexandria lived up to its image as a fancy holiday resort but that was after. First of all we had to negotiate a highly tedious conversation with the Tourist Police (yep, a fine Egyptian institution specialising in befuddled expressions - and pictured below). Then, we ate breakfast in Rameses station and commented on how like VT it was and nodded wisely about the Brits. Then finally we were on the train and all said how much nicer than Indian trains it was alt