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Thy will be done

Deccan Herald. Sunday, December 14, 2008. The heavens reached out to us the other night. Jupiter and Venus shone bright-eyed side by side and the moon, in resplendent splendour, smiled joyously upon us. While a dear friend (among a host of others, I now gather) was fortunate to witness this celestial merriment, I, courtesy cloudy intent, had to make do with a journalist’s report in the next day’s newspaper. The picture alongside, of the unmistakable smiley against the dark sky, was breathtaking. Galactic businesses aside, we have always believed heavenly bodies to be personal scribes of our individual destinies on Earth. So whose destiny were the heavens condoning on the night of the second of December? And what need could be so great as to bring about a planetary repositioning that manifested a message such that all the addressee had to do was look up and receive? And if this hallowed recipient is techno-savvy, then this message would have been interpreted without any error, whatever…

Woo-Man-ly pursuits

Bangalore Mirror, Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why, at 8:45 am, is an attractive, young girl in ill-fitting mens’ trousers, short, braided hair and a purposeful smile, strutting bare-footed by the central reserve on the high-speed airport road, chatting up rather eager truck-drivers?

Hmmm… quite.

So why did I not stop watching this gaucherie? Because Britney Spears slithering ‘Toxic’ out of the radio could not have added more masala to this highway drama unfolding before me. There were 112 more seconds on the traffic lights countdown. There was nothing else to do. And I would give this intriguing little interplay, my absolute and unadulterated attention, anyway.

In the past, I have adhered to repeated warnings by well-wishers, to be wary of ‘sidey’ attractions along these parts, but this brazen encounter was too enticing not to give audience to.

For goodness' sake! This was early morning, on a working day where fleets of school busses ferrying less than happy kids, plied at that ve…

‘Left’ enlightened.

Since being back in Bangalore, it would have been my third or fourth solo drive in my dad’s car, in the city’s rather exuberant traffic. This time, however, I had with me a wholly participating witness to yet another Bangalore Bombaatness*(as I have come to lovingly call my experiences here). Scene I:
RT Nagar traffic junction just after the Hebbal flyover. I was among the first line of vehicles. Having just caught up with my friend for the first time since I last visited, I was relying on the movement of other motorists around me instead of paying attention to the traffic lights ahead. As engines started to rev, I pushed the pedal and inched forward before noticing that the green light was still off. A good few vehicles had sped past and I hesitated, though way ahead of the stop line.As a driver new to these reformed and ill-marked roads, my confusion was mounting to near panic. My friend had gone completely quiet and I was solo again.Never to be beaten, this is what ensued between me…

On par with instinct

- Bangalore Mirrorr. Monday, November 03, 2008.

Coorg was out. There was simply no time. Mysore was too far. Everything else was sold out. My son had already spent an entire week of Dussehra holidays sitting quiet and being exceptionally good. There was one more week to think about and nowhere to go.

Raves followed rants and everyone who was willing to listen, got an earful of our bleak situation, courtesy an unforeseen, unrelenting and grossly unwelcome commitment.

It really got ugly when I lost availability of the last vacant accommodation in the only resort that was still taking bookings for that weekend. The camel’s back broken, my husband hit the finger on the key and we decided that for the first time in our settled lives, Ayudh pooja would be spent travelling and Vijayadashmi would bring us, for that one day, prosperity of fresh air, fortune of being close to nature and good health that comes as a package deal with the other two.

We told our son of the tent and log hut only late…

A sojourn of remembrance

Why pull a page out of history when you can step right into the book? And in a repository of such eminence, every one of my steps bore the entire awe and reverence of my being.The art connoisseur’s fantasy, the historian’s paradise, the devotee’s sanctorum and the cynic’s crucible, this sovereign city-state, seat to the catholic authority - the Holy See - contains itself within two square miles of the city of Rome.Like a jewel, Vatican City stands tucked within its impenetrable walls, in the middle of all the din and razzamatazz that the Italian capital is famous for. Inside, its serenity is as imposing as its flamboyant opulence. Where the present is a breathtaking legacy of yore and the past just eyefuls above, the psyche becomes a humble melting pot of emotions that linger on forever.In this vast conglomeration of museums beyond compare, each sculpture, painting and tapestry, passionately delivered and blindingly precious, recites its legend. I drifted into a sublime state of consc…

Importance of being earnest

- Coffeland News. Fri, September 12, 2008.
- Bangalore Mirror. Sun, September 14, 2008.

I walked into my parents-in-laws’ house one day, to find the kitchen and part of the dining room under siege.

Warm and sweet-smelling, the vapours of steaming rice filled my senses, as I stood in the familiar aroma of my favourite dish. For a quick moment, I tranced back to a life I was married away from, just months earlier.

As my husband pushed past to get the car ready for the long drive, my mother-in-law was already onto her second round of kadambutté.

The sekala simmered away on the hob and the pandi curry came to a boil. As I tucked into the putté - my first involvement with a community I was yet to meet, my father-in-law wore a beam on his face and proudly educated me on what was to come.

We were getting ready for the annual gathering of the Coorgs in the UK- an eagerly awaited event at home. For six long years, my father-in-law oversaw these re-unions, with my mother-in-law in the background, co…

Bangalore Belles Rock On!

.
Aha! Got you there.

Now, for the mix: A bit of movie. Four belles. And a lot of Bangalore.
It wouldn’t work any other way.

There would have been more of us, but hey! you can’t have it all. Not always. Why, we even had to make do with Arjun Rampal in a 2D 70mm format. And then, we were crazy enough to miss him in the flesh too!!

Ok, we still don’t know how Rock On! starts, but by the time magik’s reunion got underway, we had our own little magic working outside the cinema.

Time, it seemed, had stood still all those years we’d been away, and yet, a city had metamorphosed.

Here we were, the four of us, springing up with funny incidents at college, not allowing any to be forgotten.

All characters – the poker-faced prankster, the ever-hungry foodie, the always agreeable rebel and the invincible bright-eye – well alive, it was a back-in-college-on-the-bunk escapade, as perfect as the richly iced chocolate cup-cakes we greedily devoured.

But this came at a price. After my usual grind on the road an…

A Date with Time

The Temple of Divine Caesar immortalized the greatest ruler of the largest empire in history, by inscribing his words ‘Veni, Vedi, Vici’ on the altar erected where his body was cremated. After he came, he saw, he conquered Imperial Rome, he made another conquest. A conquest as significant then, as it is now. From January, through July and every fourth February of our present times, an ancient verdict keeps our busy lives on a track that remains consistent - all eventualities calculated and logically catered for.

This fascinating story begins in ancient Egypt, picks its threads through various civilizations, withstands many political deviations of the Romans and after a long period of sustenance, finally settles along a more stable course only in 1582.

Three constants remained - the natural cycles of days, (lunar) months and (solar) years.

And though our perspective remains largely influenced by the shape Julius Caesar gave history the way we know it today, a very mature civilization, muc…

Maid-en over

akaOne-Day maid service is here
- Bangalore Mirror, Wed 3 Sept, 2008

At a recent gathering, the topic of conversation, inadvertently, settled upon domestic help. As always, there was a lot of cricket in the background.

Both, subjects that everyone has ample to contribute to. That day was no different. While the men whined about missing crucial cover drives and third eyes, one senior lady went glum just thinking about her predicament at having to endure an in-form-out-of-form-out-of-town kaamwali. Another friend posed smug at the loyalty her mother enjoyed irrespective of malle, jaatre, habba, maava or akka na thangi!

Woes of trauma followed. Few scored and two were caught behind. India, in the meanwhile, was doing well with Dhoni on strike. That’s when a phone rang. Smug friend’s maid needed a week off! Her maava na magaa had been put into aaspatre. Well, well.

While the rest of the crowd looked on half amused , half sympathetic, my mother revealed our unique situation. With apartments spr…

R-oh!-ma

printed asVicarious pleasures
- Deccan Herald. Sun, September 28, 2008.

The stole clung to me in a frantic embrace as the howling wind soared phoenix-like, as if to obscure me from a vision that unfolded numerously in an age of ravenous cats and human game.

Rising heat, the damp of perspiration, raucous jeering of a throng of fifty thousand, mounting rapidly to a crescendo … and a gasp! A deadening quiet ... The air hangs thick with anticipation. Every muscle tense, all eyes are on a distant figure, far, far below. Nothing moves except the wind, wailing its solitary song. An owl screeches past. A deafening clang of heavy iron echoes ominously, way below, somewhere in the incongruous maze of sand and structure.

Man and beast stand face to face – terror rife, in the space between them. Each one, the hunter and the hunted.

Thoughts freeze, fists clench, chests heave and jaws tauten as the audience sits on egde, aroused.

The lion shifts its steady gaze … the gladiator moves, eyes fixed in shr…

Whim-bledon

Turn left, off Wimbledon Broadway, and take the 4th right into Effra Road. Tucked away at # 124, the temple priests piously go about their daily rituals - intermittent jingles of the holy bell soundless, outside double-glazed parameters. For the uninitiated, a Hindu temple in the middle of SW19 is the ultimate paradox. To those home away from home, this is a charming microcosm of a vast envelope that is the Indian subcontinent. A cozy bubble that will not burst. Hands folded and eyes closed in humble resignation to the remover of obstacles, I let the calm radiate through my being, disentangling my thoughts and revealing the way forward. Every once in an infrequent while, when my world closes in around me with conflicting desires and hazy identities, I look to my sanctuary - an oasis that keeps me from wilting. I stand, sound and proud in the knowledge of who I am. And I leave, reconnected to my soul and poised for another day. In the comfort of its quiet dignity, thus, thrive a people…

Beng-allure-u!

printed asAdjust maadi, with a vengeance
- Bangalore Mirror, Fri 22 Aug, 2008.
I drive in this city, out of absolute vengeance. A pleasure I would play any prank to get my foot on, is now short of thrill and purely and utterly a means to an end.

Some time ago I would refrain from any opinion on the simple basis that I have been away and the ‘locals’ (a privileged nomenclature that had applied to me) would tut-tut at my sudden and ‘typical’ foreign scoffs. But now I find that, even in my head, I am more local than most locals I know. Hence I am entitled to every serif, dot and crossed t to follow henceforth.

Roll away smogged eyes and claim greater right on any judgment because- and this is true- I have only seen the result of and not the actual day-by-day and systematic smothering of a city that once breathed pure.

But not one of you can take away from me, my prerogative to mourn. And I mourn my loss of belonging. I mourn my loss at understanding how getting to Cunningham road, the oth…

Write side up

Writing came to me because of my mother. She was always in the limelight, compering events and organising them. Watching her, I started doing the same with my dolls. I would orate to them, teach them alphabets and recite my own four-line poems. I can’t really pin-point when writing became my own hobby. What I do know is that it gives me a release. There is a sense of finality when I put my thoughts down on paper. The moment they are manifest in ink, my thoughts cease to be mere cranial processes. They become my expressions. I like that.

Two years of copywriting taught me, to an extent, the craft of succinct writing. Considering an average ad. space of 40cc where even nine words of copy were nine too many, crisp writing was really a mode of survival. Such training however left me quite inept at writing anything longer than 100 words. Even at this moment, I find myself straining to stretch my sentences, adding more thoughts and at the same time trying to avoid verbosity and putting you o…

Edinbur-ah!

My eyes are closed. I am aware only of a cold autumnal breeze caressing my face. I take a long whiff of the crisp air and open my eyes, rejuvenated. In front of me, far away, I see a curtain of fog slowly revealing in its translucency, the unmistakable outlines of a fortress. As if hypnotised, the cloud of mist sways to the light filtering in from the street lamps in the distance. The moonlight waltzes in, making the ramparts of the fort suddenly shine out in splendour. It is mesmerising, this sensuous dance between the elements. Such a magical welcome sparked my romance with Edinburgh almost immediately. Even the taxi ride felt dramatic. The moon was generous with her light and each cobblestone, smoothened with use, glistened its age. The dark, the empty streets, the narrow lanes, the high walls, higher church spires and those cobbles, all told tales many years old. It was as if I was in the 17th century, riding in my horse drawn carriage, as we rumbled through the city. Hiding every…