Back Home - Update 2

Thursday, 20 December 2007 0 comments
Just got back from Kolkata last night and it was quite a trip! I went there after almost 12 years (we don't have many relatives there so didn't find a chance to visit) and it was something... unlike Delhi which has undergone so many facelifts and plastic surgeries, Cal is not in the crazy madness of change yet. There are lots of changes, yes, and there will be more to come, but the city hasn't lost its character. There were the Communist Party rallies, the French shutters of the old homes and the omnipresent smell of food everywhere. Some culinary highlights were: steamed prawns bathed in mustard curry and wrapped in a banana leaf at Sonargaon, mutton kathi rolls at Nizam's and mishti doi and kachauri at Mithai.
No trip down memory lane would be complete without taking a look at my old school Modern High School for Girls (MHS) where I spent 3 very impressionable years. This was the only school I actually walked to from home, which was about 15 minutes away. Home was 44, Ironside Road, a leafy secluded compound near Ballygunge road, which holds too many memories of My First Best Friend, My First Crush, My First Great Book I Read, etc. etc. It was definitely one of those places that defined my childhood... in a blessedly good way!
So back to Delhi, my present home, and where preps for the shaadi tamasha (not mine, chill!) are well and happening...

Back Home - Update 1

Saturday, 15 December 2007 0 comments
It's Sunday morning and am munching a neatly diced guava peppered in chaat masala. Delhi's winter sun is playing hide and seek but in a couple hours I'll hop onto the nearby metro to walk the streets of Chandni Chowk at the other end of town. Ah! it's good to be home :)
Got in a few days back and have happily caught up with some of the ol' faces... A who finally got hitched after what seemed like The Eternal Courtship (8? or 10 years something like that). C, a recently returned expat and school chum, who was the same as ever... went to one of her famous parties and got introduced as "the journalist from Washington, DC." haha. And S, a former colleague, and Cuban Cigar Convert, who clearly hasn't stopped his brand of madness.
Since my folks have moved into this suburban multi-storeyed haven called Dwarka, getting anywhere into the proper city takes at least 45 mins. to an hour. Thank God for Delhi Radio to keep me company in the traffic, even though the music is constant Bollywood. Not that I mind, but every tune seems to have the same dhin-chak beat!
I went to SN Market and South Ex. They both keep getting bigger and flashier each time. But the aaloo chaat and juice guy at Sarojini has held on tightly to the same corner. Lots more fake jewellery and shawl walas too. Need to go back and get me some...
Tomorrow am off to Cal (or Kolkata if you were born in the 90s) for more reunions, shopping and food adventures!!

Haunting Memories

Tuesday, 6 November 2007 1 comments
Halloween has come and gone but the ghosts of some events linger. Last year I remember a certain tow truck driver who was trying to charm me with peppered questions such as if I had the pleasure of seeing a male stripper. At that time, I had vigorously shaken my head and rolled my eyes. I wasn’t exactly dying to see a naked man gyrating in some itsy-bitsy thing (much to the chagrin of said tow truck driver). Until I was invited to a bachelorette party recently. My friend, who is getting married next month, had generously donated his condo for his fiance’s stripper party! That’s one healthy relationship.
“So bring your dollar bills!” said another common friend, who was organizing it. “It’s going down, Vegas style!” Admittedly, there was a lot of nervous excitement. All the invitees were new to this sort of entertainment. Some girls who could not make the actual event still managed to make a cause célèbre out of it analyzing the workplace hazards involved and why it could never be a question of choice for those who do it. Suffice to say, I wasn’t impressed. It’s not that I was lacking for a point of view (no pun intended), I was just curious.
Well, the evening in question arrived. And as we chugged down our wine and discussed the numerous possibilities of embarrassing our bachelorette – who was squirming in anticipation by now – our stripper kept calling to ask for directions. That’s right. The stripper was lost looking for a place to park in the rain soaked street. Talk about an anti-climax. Finally he showed up in mandatory police uniform, ready to “arrest” us with boom box in tow. He turned out to be yet another white boy who couldn’t dance to save his life from hip-hop. But he managed to redeem himself by doing a headstand and giving everyone lap dances. Later, he even informed us that he was college-educated and had a real job. “And if any of you want to get coffee or just want to chat, here’s my card,” he said. Umm, sure. There’s the door.
We called the owner of the condo – our friend who was at a watering hole nearby with his buddies – to say it was safe to return. After laughing about it with us, one guy said it was clear we were novices. Why? “Because you took pictures,” he said. Point noted.

Happy Dussehra

Monday, 22 October 2007 0 comments
This past weekend was my multi-culti desi-connecting back-to-the-roots extravaganza. Never having gone to garba fests in India, I tagged along with some enthusiasts here and went the whole hog – joining the Gujju community in their own version of country line dancing – replete with a live band and a hall packed with sweaty, earnest and might I say, some very aggressive, dancers. But we put on our desi gear and our enthu smiles and went to expand our cultural horizons. Only thing missing was Falguni Pathak.
Never having been a regular temple-going devotee here or in India (lack of spiritual cravings, lack of mode of transportation - take your pick), I tapped into my outer Hindu shell and inner Bong pride to sniff out where Durga Puja was being celebrated. The trail led me to a high school auditorium somewhere in the suburbs of Maryland. After having seen pujo in Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago with my cousins there, it was my first time to check out how opulent/crowded it was in the DC area. The one I went to was very simple and well organized by the Ramakrishna Mission. The Goddess Durga was not a huge marquee idol but just a large painting with pictures of Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna and Saradava Devi at her feet. There were 2 priests – including an American – who convened the gathering, much like a church. There were some bhajans and rabindrasangeet songs devoted to Maa in between the chants and prayers.
But we know the second-most important reason why everyone celebrates festivals: it is a great time to dress up. You come to pray and you must wear freshly minted new clothes. It’s nice to check out what others are wearing and do the customary ooh and aah or in some cases, what the heck? As for me, although I did want to use this ocassion to wear a sari, I ended up with the more practical salwaar kurta, which thankfully, generated some positive reaction. Then after the prayers or anjali, when the food was blessed, it was time to eat bhog. Or for some fasting devotees, a time to attack. The line began to snake around the hall and before you knew it, you could feel the pushing and the pulling. One gentleman behind me was practically drooling on my shoulder with his kid in toe while expressing angst at the slow-moving line: “People are talking too much, that’s why the line is held up,” he told his wife. The wife muttered, “Why are you so anxious? The food is not running away.” How could I feel homesick under these conditions?
Of course, this was nothing compared to the frenzy and excitement of the festivals I grew up seeing in Kolkata and New Delhi. The endless adda sessions, the pandal-hopping, the mughlai parathas and the khichadi, the month-long rehearsals for the dance drama or music session, and of course, finally wearing those 10 outfits in those 5 days. It was our very own Christmas and Mardi Gras combo.

High School's Over... Or Is It?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 0 comments
No matter how old you get, you can’t shake off the high school years. All around us, there are the jocks, the class clowns, the fashionistas, the punks, the nerds and the gossips. Even as we leave our high school years behind, within our friends circle, it’s easy to identify the Monicas from the Chandlers, the Rachels from the Rosses. And whatever the stereotype, each one of those characters loves to gossip. Who was so-and-so dancing with? Did they go home together? They are together. They’re not together? They broke up. Or did they? The rumor mill is constantly churning and some, more than others, keep their minds occupied and tongues wagging with trivial details of other people’s lives. Don’t deny it. You may not always participate in it, but if there is talk, you don’t mind listening.
I don’t deny I’m one of those people. I like hearing stories, I like telling stories, and guess what, I write stories too, for a living! But for others to perceive that I am the only one who likes telling stories would be a complete fallacy. Since I started the blog, trust me, there has been enough fodder in my own life – let alone anyone else’s – to write a soap opera. But this is not what this blog is about. It is not a forum to air anyone’s dirty or clean laundry.
I’ve been told often enough that I like talking, or that I was the resident “gossip girl.” I was fine with those labels only because I knew the gossip was never malicious and it was mostly about me – my silly dates, my run-ins with the opposite sex. But to be labeled as The-Friend-Who-Cannot-be-Trusted-to-Keep-Mouth-Shut, I was amused and frankly, mystified. People who indulge in name-calling are gossiping about something else as I write this. People who choose to ask “so what’s going on?” instead of genuinely asking about my well-being, shouldn’t be fooling themselves. You are looking for a story and I know it. People who give me these labels should not be calling me their friend.

On the Beach

Thursday, 13 September 2007 0 comments
I think it was a brick-colored umbrella that shaded us from the omnipresent sun,
As it baked eager tanners — the shirtless and the hairy, the skinny cats and the curvy hens —and other beach bums.
We frolicked in the high tide with families, friends and other fearless devils,
As a preening beauty walked over and made her intentions almost vocal.
We dozed among shifting sands and medieval castles in mid-construction,
And amicably people watched before rudely getting cut off from a baby-cooing session!
Food was there aplenty: bagels, boardwalk fries, smoothies and funnel cake,
Plus a Thai lunch which gave us plenty of other options to forsake.
A mild distraction on our way back proved a little ominous —
An amusement park; it left one of us positively reeling in a shape that was circuitous.
Finally, homeward bound in our Bhangra Bandwagon ie. the suburban mini,
It shook and heaved as the skies parted but gave us radio waves for company.
Then, there in the distance amidst the pouring rain, was the Golden Arch —
We could eat a non-nutritious dinner and wait for the storm to pass!
A little after midnight we silently rolled back into the city, to our homes, to our beds,
Twas a wonder five crazy women spent the day together without killing each other dead.

It's Mah Birthday!

Thursday, 23 August 2007 0 comments
After one turns 30, any expectation of celebrating one’s birthday in some mad frenzy ie. partying till dawn is quite low. Especially when it falls on a Monday and Hurricane Dean is smashing its way across the American continent. So when the celebrations started from last week, it was a special treat to see many of my friends actually show up at the happy hour at the basement lounge of Saint Ex, a nice downtown bar/restaurant. The DJ was not in the house but the bartender promised to play my ipod playlist. And with hardly any other patrons downstairs, it somehow managed to become our own private space. That had a lot to do with the insane amount of fun we all had. If you don’t count the amount of alcohol consumed.
My road to intoxification began with two quick glasses of white wine, followed by an amaretto sour, a whiskey and tequila shot and generous sips of gin and vodka tonic from whoever was standing next to me. I think I kept saying in my head – must not puke, pass out or make out with anyone. As long as I stuck to that credo, I considered myself pretty sober! But, of course, I was sloshed. Sample behavior:
1. Dancing to “Big In Japan” at least 5 times.
2. Waving a chainsaw-type knife that was going to be used to cut the cake.
3. Saying “I love you” or “I’ve known you for 5 years” to anyone who cared to listen.
4. Singing Spanish songs – without knowing all the words, of course.
5. Stumbling out of the loo, and getting asked if I needed help climbing down 1 step.
6. Taking off my heels, sitting on the sidewalk to eat pizza. New black dress be damned.
7. Telling some random redhead that she was so “brave to carry off those streaks.”
8. Trying very hard to read some menu card on a display window.
Phew! It’s another year… and it’s already off to a brilliant start with news of friends getting engaged, expecting babies and what not. The celebrations continue this weekend on the beach.

No Impasse Here

Tuesday, 14 August 2007 0 comments
Recently, after walking for what seemed like an eternity in the hot and sticky mess known as The Outdoors, I was welcomed into the cool environs of a Capitol Hill joint, appropriately baptized the Recess Café. I wanted to grab a quick brunch before dashing off to do some errands. It was one of those self-service places where you get food by the pound in a box, dump it on a weighing scale and then pay at the counter. Only when I flashed my debit card, I realized I had to eat at least five bucks worth of food for the card to be accepted. Anything less than five bucks, they would only accept cash. With a shrug, I turned around to pile some more stuff on my plate. But I was stopped. An old lady with a string of pearls (a vision that conjurs a name like Eleanor or Gloria) decided to pay for my $3.95 scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausage with coffee. “Thanks, but you really don’t have to,” I said embarrassed and took a quick look in the mirror to make sure I wasn’t looking like a homeless wreck. Nope, I didn’t look too bad for 11:45 a.m. “It’s my good deed for the day,” she insisted and proceeded to pay for me. I couldn’t believe it. She was such a doll. And I had to write about her. God Bless!

Packed Week

Monday, 6 August 2007 0 comments
A lot can happen in one week and a lot has happened in the past one week. Let’s see, where do I begin? For one thing, my roommate and I discovered a huge infestation of flies in our apartment. A few of them had sneaked in through the porch door at the back and then steadily reproduced – like flies. And apparently they reproduce every 4 days. So after spending a couple nights at some good samaritans, it was time for the fumigation. I got the defoggers and placed 3 cans around the whole house. For extra precaution, I also got a can of Raid for those pesky ones that didn’t die quickly enough. It was time for the extermination process. My friend and I sealed off the cupboards before placing the cans in strategic corners before locking up the place. On my return the next day, the mission was accomplished: dead flies everywhere. Didn’t stop to count but all I knew was that those flying insects were better dead than alive.
I also went hiking to Shenandoah National Park for the first time. It’s a beautiful park with a lot of nice trails and when some friends made a last minute plan to go, I was a fool not to say yes. Unfortunately these friends, who are pretty frequent hikers, failed to mention we would be tackling the second toughest trail in the park. Anyway, I huffed and puffed my way through and enjoyed the amazing scenery. On our way down, however, we had to help a partially blind man navigate the rocks and crevices of the trail. Not only was he blind, he was having some averse reaction to his medication and we got quite worried. While the rest of his hiking group had clearly abandoned him to go off and set up camp at the base, it was left to us (especially one of my friends) to guide him down, carry his backpack and make sure he was not getting too sick. Where was the National Park Police when you needed them?? We weren’t even getting cell phone signal. Finally we got him down near his “buddies” before taking off.
And finally, in a week punctuated with news of heartbreaks and tragedies, the weekend was a time for renewal and healing — with dinner soirees, clubbing and potlucks, of course! My friends A&P had gone on a 7-week tour of Asia and they decided to put up a power point presentation of their adventures. I can only imagine how creative they will get once they start having kids :) But it was a lot of fun. More fun was a sort of impromptu cooking fiesta we had at our place – 7 friends, 6 wine bottles, 5 entrees, 2 desert dishes, 1 broken glass, and just a whole lot of crazy fun. It’s going to be quite a while to live that down!!

Spellbound

Tuesday, 24 July 2007 0 comments
HP is over. Long live HP!! I finished reading book 7 with a sense of relief, sadness and slight confusion. I couldn’t believe JK had written such an amazingly fast-paced finale and ended it with such an overdose of nostalgia. But I suppose some of us Muggles will be senti fools for the wizarding world for quite a while... otherwise the book is deserving of all the hype and if you’re not a HP fan then too bad. It’s like if you were around in the 60s and never heard of the Beatles. How could you not read Potter?? But it is evident there are enough Potterheads everywhere. I saw at least three heads buried inside the book at the Metro this morning. And there were a few more heads when I went out to grab a bite last night. Of course I felt like shouting, “I know what happens in the end!” but that would be bloody unfair, right. You feel such a kinship with Potterheads… no matter where you’re from or what you look like, you have that one thing in common… like being part of Dumbledore’s Army of Resistance… It all started 10 years ago when the Asian Age gang in Bombay became Potterheads… I read the first three books at home, on the train and even at work… basically whenever and wherever I got a chance! Then, it was time for the post-mortem. Endless theories and arguments over why, what, when things would happen to who and You-Know-Who. As the novels became more violent with near-Nazi undertones, it became apparent why the series had got a grip on us. In spite of the fantasy and the spells and the charms, there was always something everyone could relate to… friendship, love, betrayal were just the obvious themes. But JK’s greatest feat has been to expose everyone from a 70-yr-old literary critic to a fourth grader to bigotry, death and loss. It’s never too young to know and never too old to be reminded of those themes.

Pub Crawling

Friday, 20 July 2007 1 comments
As part of Japanese style team-building exercises, the whole lot of us from work went bowling to Lucky Strike. This was maybe my third or fourth time bowling in my entire life so I didn’t feel all that lucky. However, with an open bar I was hoping that my strike rate would improve in proportion to the number of beers I was guzzling down. By the time we finished our practice round and got around to playing an actual tournament with 3 teams, it was time to test my skills of speed and accuracy in relation to my sense of gravity. My team came in a respectable second place, plus I managed not to score the lowest and provided a dramatic finish towards the end of the game: I got my lucky strike! People, welcome the new bowling protégé.
It was almost 4 in the afternoon, nobody was planning on going back to work, so what to do next? Proceed to next watering hole. Fado was the Irish pub down the street with the requisite Guinness on tap and some shady contractors in Hawaiian shirts. But our table was soon haunted by Al, a random guy in a wife beater and ponytail. “Are you from Greece?” he moseyed over to ask me. “Err, yeah, sure,” I said. “How about you?” he asked another colleague. “Oh, I’m from the Seychelles Islands,” she said. “Where is that?” he wanted to know. “Google it. Just Google it,” she said. In the end, Al preferred the attention of another gentleman and got a bit too friendly. "Al kissed me on the cheek at least 7 times," he said.
Our next watering hole was La Tasca where the sangrias flowed just as easily as the beer. It was here that I realized I was on a slow, but irrevocable track, to the land of intoxicated suspension. This is also where some of us finally bonded – alcohol has that affect – and it was surprising to find kindered spirits (pun intended) where one would normally think none existed… By the time we moved to our third watering hole at Zatinya, there was no doubt that the remaining troopers had become a solid team. Mission accomplished. Coming to work the next morning was a whole new story.

It's Over Already!

Friday, 13 July 2007 0 comments

Back in 1982 when I lived in the former Soviet Union, state sponsored television had nothing to offer for a 7-year-old like me. Except for two things: the 8 p.m. cartoon and Wimbledon. So out of sheer curiosity, boredom and fascination I religiously watched my tennis with a side of strawberries and ice cream. The tradition has continued and even though the fortnight is over, I promised some "loyal" readers my two cents about it…
So can I just say this was the best Men’s Final I’ve seen since the 86 or 87 Becker-Lendl final??? Besides an amazing match and all the records it has made, I think am officially falling for Nadal… although the tears from Fed obviously made me melt. As one of my gay friends put it: "I wouldn’t kick either of them out of bed, although I’d prefer to put Federer’s face on Nadal’s body."
And why, oh why, does Fed have to be so gracious in victory and defeat? What a sportsman. Sigh.

White Only, Please

Friday, 6 July 2007 0 comments
July is here which means I should start sweating about turning a year older next month. But who cares about a number when other symptoms of ageing are more obvious. Stress is doing a number on me and it’s showing, my friends. Grey hair has started sprouting in all directions and when I went to a “wear white only” party recently, I was pretty sure I was wearing it from head to umm, let’s see, below the waist. I could blame it all on genes (dad’s side has a healthy crop) but that would be too easy. Instead, I will go to the mirror and search frantically for some new ones… like waiting for the birth of amphibians waiting to attack in short, sporadic moments. There’s one! And another one! Ooh, I think this is a pretty long one there. At last count, there were about six strands. Maybe I will get my hair coloured the next time I get a haircut. But I don’t see a big deal in keeping it au natural because technically speaking, white is also a colour, right?

One Year Later...

Monday, 2 July 2007 0 comments
Last Saturday while Princes William and Harry put together a concert for their mother’s 10th death anniversary with Duran Duran, P.Diddy and other stars in attendance, my cousins and I put together something small, but equally significant, to celebrate the life of our cousin brother Raj, who passed away last year before he turned 32. Behind his one-bedroom apt. on Chestnut St. in Philadelphia was an open alley. There, in front of a few dumpsters and next to a shuttered establishment was McGillan’s, the oldest Irish pub in town started in 1860. Raj would frequent it often with his friends on hundreds of occasions. “It was our place,” as one friend told me. Some of us wondered if it would be right to commiserate in a place which helped him in his downfall – but in the end, it was about being at a place where he made some happy memories with his friends. And so we remembered him: we watched his childhood videos, drank Guinness, ate chicken kababs, laughed out loud, danced all night and sang to Bon Jovi, Chris Isaak (he once played “Somebody’s Cryin’” 30 times on a loop) and U2 (Bono was his God). I’m sure he was with us cheering us on.

'Allo, Are You There?

Friday, 22 June 2007 0 comments
In the pre-Internet days I didn’t think twice whether I would actually keep in touch with certain people. [In the case of my Class 2 crush, Thomas Hulings, who made solemn promises to meet me “one day.” Do you see me holding my breath?] I did my best to keep in touch and if it worked out, it was great. If it didn’t, it didn't. But now, like it or not, you’re all of a sudden confronted with people from your past thanks to the web. For the most part, it’s fun to see how people have grown and changed. Sometimes there are a few who serve as ugly reminders of the person you used to be (terribly naïve) and you wonder, “Could I possibly connect with this person beyond catching up with our lives?” But good or bad, it’s always a surprise.
And so once again, I was gobsmacked with some bizarre moments that say how incredibly small the world can be. I reconnected with at least 4 people from my wasteland of youth.
First, S got in touch with me over IM. She was visiting DC and would I be around? We were in that Group of Eight or the cheesy “Glo Friends,” as we liked to call ourselves, and outside the group dynamic, we bonded over some of our greatest fears and heartaches. Now, I was going to see her in her latest avatar — working on a brand new degree and a brand new marriage. How long has it been? More than 5 years.
Then, I needed to ask a random favor so I got in touch with A. He used to live in my colony in Delhi and studied in the same section as me for about 2 years. We would wait for the school bus and strategize over the latest debate topic. Now, A is still debating in his law offices and a doting dad. How long has it been? Around 14 years or so.
And then Orkut connected me with A who asked not only if I lived in a certain colony, but also if I stood in that Mother Dairy line! As it turns out, when my family first moved to Delhi from Cal in circa 1989, we were living in a temporary housing colony before moving to our home. And yes, there was a Mother Dairy where I would often go to fetch milk. Standing in line and keeping me company was A, who also went to school with me, but was in a different section. Now, A lives near DC and is thinking of doing research on the social implications of networking websites (kidding)! How long has it been? More than 15 years at least.
Finally, on a whim I decided to join a friend for dinner the other day. From there, I tagged along for a drink. S introduced me to her friend visiting from out of town. I stared and asked him if he ever lived in Ironside Road? He did. It was surreal – R was in the same colony in Calcutta in the 3 years I lived there. He hadn’t changed much and good grief! even remembered my nickname. My friends and I, who were then aged 10-12, practically looked up to him (he was soo tall, right), and now here he was, digesting the fact that I was over 30 and chatting with me in a pub in DC. And how long has it been? Close to 20 years. Geez, we’re almost fossils.

Diplomatic Relations

Tuesday, 19 June 2007 0 comments
This past Saturday I found myself in one of the most scenic places (kidding) of the U.S. called New Jersey to attend a friend’s wedding reception. As my cousin sister and I played “spot the desi” from the car and passed road signs which screamed Princeton, I did my own version of the Munch painting. Oh, yes, memories of yet another strange meeting with another marriage/Ph.D. candidate from the Ivy League school. Apart from a long trek to the lake and an insipid snow fight, I didn’t take much from there. That was January 06. Was I going to meet another charmer at this said wedding? Err, no. I was perfectly happy to go for the food, drinks and the bhangra. In fact, I was more than eager to see my cousin network her way through the Bongdom of East Coast.
The couple – who just got back from a honeymoon in Disneyland (yes, better believe it) – had seated us at a table with a couple of other couples. But seated on my right was a guy who used to live in DC and moved to Manhattan. We chatted amicably for a while about people, places, work and the weather. He was interesting but in a boring sort of way. My cousin nudged me, “he’s cute.” I nudged her back, “so what?” Besides, he was too busy trolling his BlackBerry. Finally I had to tell him what was nagging me since I saw him: he looked oddly like someone I knew.
Me: “Have you ever seen a picture of the Indian ambassador?”
Him: “Who?”
Me: “The Indian ambassador to the United States. His name is Ronen Sen.”
Him: “Oh, and does he live around here?”
Me (trying not to sound impatient for my first Diplomacy 101 lesson): “He lives in DC and basically he’s like the official representative of India. Every country has one of them... unless it’s Iraq or Cuba, I suppose. So anyway, you look like you’re related to him, almost like a younger version of him.”
Him (finally getting it and smiling): “Oh, is that so. Thanks.”
Now, I don’t know if that did it or if he was generally taking precautionary measures but all of a sudden he strategically places his left hand on his face to show his wedding band. Like, whoa! don’t hit on me, woman! I’m good married boy and my wife is not here doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself, ok! I don’t know what he was thinking. But seriously, he should have chilled out. If defining the role of the Indian ambassador was his definition of flirting, it was a good one. Maybe I should try it next time with someone else. And hello – why didn’t he bring up his (missing in action) wife in like, the first 10 minutes of our conversation? There were numerous ways he could’ve done it and I don’t want to get into that. But clearly he thought showing his wedding band was going to banish off any evil designs I was apparently making on him. Relax dude, even if you knew how to spell "diplomat" backwards, I couldn't be sure about you!
So a word of advice to married men: please don’t think every other woman is making a move on you. We understand that your hotness/coolness/cuteness makes you totally desirable and totally unavailable. And although there are some women out there who don’t care if you’re married or not, for the most part we usually comply with respectful resistance.

Capri-cious?

Monday, 11 June 2007 0 comments

Third time's a charm! The Fed is depressed again (remember Ivan Lendl and his Wimbledon trauma?) but what do we make of Rafa's capris?? An informal/totally unscientific survey:
1. He can wear what he wants as long as he's playing tennis.
2. Finally, a male tennis player who's not afraid of being a Nike design team guinea pig.
3. Eww... so terribly... gay.
4. Who cares?
Vote now!
pic courtesy: AP

Gay Assortment of Things

Sunday, 10 June 2007 0 comments
It’s one thing if my roomie and I are acting like a couple but it’s another thing if friends start treating us like one. Last week the two of us were invited to meals by common friends. I couldn’t make it to one of them and M opted not to go, either. Then both of us wrote individual sorry-can’t-make-it notes to the invitee with the word "we" jumping out of the message. This is too much. I feel so.. so stifled.
As it happened, Gay Pride Day was on in full swing at Dupont Circle this Saturday and it was great fun to see the different kinds of floats in the parade. With the number of jolly same-sex couples carousing the streets, we (see, just can’t help it!) could pass off another pair. Just the holding hands part was missing. In India, there are plenty of straight men holding hands or putting their arm around each other in affection. Somehow, if two straight people of the same sex dare to touch each other here, people start raising eyebrows. But I digress.
So our friend A had just topped her French cooking class and in that honor, she had cooked... an assortment of things. But I knew we were in for a treat anyway. Her boyfriend J had gifted her a pasta-making machine and she made ravioli from scratch. It’s a really tedious process and no wonder people get the readymade stuff. J and A’s friend S from Boston acted as her sous chefs and did the chopping and frying. There were shrimp pot stickers with a tangy ginger and soy sauce; spinach salad with balsamic vinegar dressing; beef ravioli with tomatoes and olives; and finally, blueberry tarts with light cream. Really good flavors. We stuffed ourselves silly and talked about everything related to food... and recounted how our families have the habit of sitting down for a meal and discussing the menu for the next meal while eating!
J also has this very cool fish tank, but I wondered how can a Bengali girl live in the same place with a shrimp floating around without wanting to eat it? "It has long tentacles, so no point," she explained. Both M and I also stared in quiet wonder at J’s super efficient cleaning abilities, which explains the German in him. What else did I learn? Not to underestimate the collaboration of 3 MIT grads in the kitchen. It definitely produces amazing results!

Peacemeal

Tuesday, 5 June 2007 0 comments
Can 4 cooks spoil the broth? There is potential for a lot of tension but you can still manage to put together a decent meal.
It was supposed to be a relaxed Monday night dinner where A would show off his desi cooking talent to me and M. The menu was discussed and the ingredients were debated. We were told to show up anytime after work. When I turned up, I was informed that chilli powder – that essential ingredient for desi cooking – was missing from the pantry. I trudged to the store and sneaked a peek at the “list of stuff” A had made. It included ginger! garlic! cilantro! More do-or-die ingredients. Grrr. Would there be enough time for all the chopping and cooking? A is totally unperturbed - so what to make? Aargh. Did I get conned? Again?? This time M was coming to help, but she mentioned work delays – smart move. Oh, but K was visiting – he would definitely kick ass in the kitchen.
When K came, he let out a diatribe of four-letter words (in a good way) to describe his third honeymoon since his Dec. marriage.. but this was only an adventure trip to the Amazon. “I haven’t slept in 4 days man,” he says. “And it was because of the snakes and bugs.” We told him to chill out... help out in the kitchen... another spew of four-letter words (not in a good way) followed. Oh, the poor thing is missing his wife.
The menu was finally decided: okra, chhole, daal, chicken. Some leftover peas and mushroom and baingan ka bharta (spiced eggplant) which M claimed – “Don’t touch it! It’s ALL mine!!” Then the tamasha began. A’s chopped okras became a joke, I burnt the onions, K started swearing about chicken not being marinated properly. We finally simmered down over wine and Yanni. When it was time to chop chop, the boys did a good job. K marinated and cut the chicken in such loving fashion we didn’t know what to do with it next. M made noises about the lack of whole masalas (which were eventually found at the back of the cupboard) but salvaged the okra and chicken. I made my standard chhole (slightly low on salt) and A made the daal (slightly high on salt) but when we finally ate… at some 10:30 p.m. … and listened to the soundtrack from Fanaa, it was quite good, subhan’allah!

A Hearty Breakfast

Friday, 1 June 2007 0 comments
9:15 a.m. I am just getting my daily fix of coffee and croissant. I catch an old lady talking to a young girl from the corner of my eye but turn to pay for my stuff. Suddenly, a voice behinds me says: “Do you mind getting these things for me?” It was the old lady. She didn’t look homeless and was holding a glass of orange juice and a bowl of hard boiled eggs. “I’ve stopped receiving my disability checks,” she explains. I couldn’t see any form of disability on her. “It would be so kind of you,” gently – no, liberally – spooning out the sucker in me. Obviously, the young girl she had spoken to earlier had not been so kind. I offer to get the juice. “I have a weak heart, I need the eggs,” she whines. “Eggs are not good for your heart,” I reply and fish out a little more than 3 bucks for the juice. For that much money, she could’ve got a gallon of juice at the supermarket. Anyway, I request the nice lady at the counter to give her the eggs for free and she agrees. A brief thanks from the old lady and I dashed off. It’s probably better to get food/drink for someone than randomly shelling out cash, but I wonder if the word “sucker” is written all over my face? I really didn’t mind helping her, but someone who needs a good meal and a disability check is the homeless man with elephantiasis near 17th and K. He can barely walk to the nearest coffee shop.

Ce'st Magnifique

Wednesday, 30 May 2007 0 comments
Overheard on the Orange Line.
Confused Gay: I think I’m going to break up with him.
Bored Girlfriend: Shut up.
C.G.: yeah but I don’t know when I should. I mean, we’re going to Paris for god’s sakes!
B.G.: oh yeah, Paris.
C.G: not just Paris. Roland Garros for god’s sakes!
B.G: oh yeah, French Open.
C.G.: who am I talking to? When was the last time you played tennis?
B.G: Bitch, I played tennis with your grandma. Shut up.
C.G.: So I guess we’ll have a good time in Paris... but what if we get back together?
B.G: You’re going to France! f*** him, f*** FedEx and stop f***ing with my brain.
C.G.: I guess that means I shouldn’t break up with him now.
Speaking of which, FedEx almost cruised to the third round by beating Ascione 6-1 6-2 7-6 (8). At least the Frenchman put up a fight in the third. It could have dragged on but Fed hammered in some aces as if to say, “let’s just get it over with…”

Memorial Update

Tuesday, 29 May 2007 0 comments
Sometimes you read about someone like Barbara Holland and think hmm, I hope I’m living a full productive life even if it’s not as smoke-filled or Scotch induced as hers. But even though the weekend was lazy and chilled out, it was well lived. There was lots of sleeping (what’s new, you say?), good eats and drinks (kathi rolls! truffles!! bloody marys!!!), impulsive shopping (that brassiere was dying to go home with me) and some escapist interludes courtesy Shrek and Pirates (some cheesy lines, all good fun).
The soaring temperatures also made me run to the pool. But imagine having to swim in a lane with 3 other men who are all super competitive. I quickly realized that a) it was like driving on a freeway (and I know all about that one, right) and one must stick to the right side if you’re slower than the others and b) if someone wants to overtake you, keep maintaining same speed and distance or else you will be hit. After 45 mins. of this madness, I was all but ready to get out and collapse when some random dude who is just learning how to swim, says – “Oh, that’s it?” Oh, Shut Up.

Feat of Clay

Monday, 21 May 2007 0 comments
Over the weekend, I did some strength training by carrying 4 bags of groceries over 6 blocks and cooked some pretty decent chhole and met a dear friend who felt I had made great strides in my personal growth. All fine achievements, wouldn’t you say? But all that was nothing compared to some serious tennis action. According to the ramblings of an old, old man: Rafael Nadal runs his clay court win streak to 81 (81!!) matches. Then Roger Federer fires his coach, Roche. Then, Rafa and The Fed Express meet in the Hamburg Masters Series final. Then Rafa wins the first set 6-2. Then Federer evens things up with a 6-2 set of his own. Then, Federer ends his personal clay court losing streak to Rafa (0-5) by blanking him in the third and deciding set. And then, the 20-year-old Rafa says, "Well, I lost against the number one and one of the best in history." What a gracious guy! Man, I can't wait for the French Open! Can't wait! http://tinyurl.com/243s3k

Georgia State of Mind

Tuesday, 15 May 2007 0 comments
I wish I could post the pics from Atlanta but of course something is up with my camera. But I did see Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical corres at the CNN Center for all of 20 seconds before he stomped off looking v.busy with a production assistant. He is short and cute and presumably very smart (doctor, na). He is quite a rock star down there… huge billboards of him all over.
I also saw Margaret Mitchell’s apt. which she shared with her husband, John. She was a reporter for all of 4 years at the Atlanta Journal, which she called the Black Hole of Calcutta because soot from the nearby trains would make the walls dark. When she had to sit at home with a foot injury, John would bring her books from the library but she would finish them so fast, that he finally went and got a typewriter for her and said, “Write your own goddamn book.” She did and called it Gone With The Wind. I remember it as my First Big Fat Book ie. more than 200 pages, before I moved on to the Biography of Charles and Diana at age 12. Mitchell seemed to have fashioned Scarlett after herself (stubborn, pretty and rebellious) and Rhett after her first husband (dubious profession, charming, alcoholic).
Later I dragged my friend’s sister to the Botanical Gardens. We huffed and puffed our way over, thinking it wasn’t a bad walk. Big mistake. Anyway, 45 mins. later we entered a real oasis – the gardens were not just lush and green and full of all things blooming (except the roses, they looked so sad), there was also some sort of exhibit of Big Bugs… ladybugs, caterpillars, ants, spiders, etc. that were made by some artist and scattered all over the garden at strategic locations so you could jump out and say ‘Ooooh! There’s a bug.’ Other highlights were the beautiful orchid conservatory and some bullfrogs that were enjoying the lily pond.
Atlanta doesn’t have the best transit system – the MARTA – but parts of it reminded me of Boston and Chicago. Perhaps it was the old geyser platforms or the marble stone carvings that were being passed off for artwork. But what’s a big city without a dirty subway system? Sadly, the subway also has remnants of the Old South... where segregation still exists and some surrounding counties don’t want the subway to be built for fear of “bad elements” entering their localities.
What Atlanta does have is classic Southern hospitality and food. The people are really warm and friendly, saw the women with pearl necklaces and the church lady hats on, saw the porches and swings that spoke of a lazy summer's day, and of course I had the best chicken and biscuits. I’ll be back for more.

Soul Sistahs

Wednesday, 9 May 2007 0 comments
I was going to write about my Atlanta trip after returning to DC but so much happened in the past 2 days, it was hard to keep it all in my head! A few highlights from the show:
  • First, a taste of history. Spelman, one of the oldest historically Black colleges for women founded by antislavery activists, played host to a dialogue betweeen Anne Roosevelt, the granddaughter of Eleanor and FDR, and the Rev. Mazie Ferguson, the great-grandniece of Mary McLeod Bethune on race, class and gender. Both agreed those 3 things were artificial constructs and gave some insights into their foremothers' great friendship. One story was how Bethune went to visit Eleanor and was told that she had to take the stairs, not the elevator. She went up and Eleanor took her back down in the elevator and then said: "Oh, I forgot something, we need to go up again." They forgot to have tea :) Roosevelt, a vice president for Boeing, and Ferguson, seemed to show the same concerns as their relatives. "If they were alive today, they would be fighting for the same things," said Anne. "Amen," said Ferguson.
  • I met some cool grandmothers. They were in their 60s, running corporations or contemplating retirement and all very passionate about education. There was Patty who was into designing e-learning tools and crazy about hot rod cars, there was Ann a former CEO who talked of how a trip to [the former] East Berlin changed her outlook and made it possible for her to go to HBS after having 2 kids at 22. The word they used often was "intentionality." If there is intent, or a will to do something, the stars align themselves.
  • And finally the American Indian tribal leaders. Fierce and proud. And still carrying wounds of the past. Someone asked Beverly, a tribe member from Martha's Vineyard (yes, they were there before the Kennedys) "What kind of an Indian are you?" All of us were stunned into silence. Brenda, the first woman chief of an Indian tribe - the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Princeton, Maine - spoke of still existing rascism and finally, Sharon from a Texas-based tribe ended on an emotional note: "We just want to be included in the conversations. When you talk of Hispanic, Asian, Whites and others... don't forget about us.. we're human beings, too and we want the same respect."
  • My media panel went off pretty smoothly... I was a kid compared to the veterans surrounding me and the lady to my left was this publisher honcho who kept plugging her magazine (and i refuse to plug it here for her benefit). anyway, she forgot to switch off her cell phone!!!! ugh. thank god it was ringing while she was speaking. and then at some point she was in the middle of telling some anecdote and it required her to take off one of her shoes - aren't they cute?, she says - and i didn't know whether to duck my head for cover.

Market Value

Monday, 7 May 2007 0 comments
After much serious dancing and revelry on Friday night, I was looking forward to a relaxing Saturday morning walk (think 11 a.m. not 6 a.m.) with my former roommate’s husband’s ex who was somehow fated to be my neighbor. Angie and I subsequently bonded over random things like the key change to a 16 track song, where to find the best burritos in town, and the ability to speak in a Maldovian accent while picking apart the Paris in Prison sentence. Eez veree good, no?
Since Eastern Market was still quite gutted from last week’s fire, we decided to trek to the RFK Stadium Parking Lot No. 6 for another version of a farmer’s market. Less hip, more hick. Less quaint, more urban chic. After about 40 minutes of walking past New Orleans-style porches and Tudor facades, the rose bushes and the jasmine trees, we obviously crossed some sort of “invisible line” where the gentrification stops. But the smell of barbecue from church stoops and the stares from the barbershops kept us going. We reached lot no. 6 to see a football match in progress in a baseball stadium parking lot. The match clearly attracted a large South American crowd and I was reminded of those lechy Delhi men. Luckily, we managed to find the market towards the other side of the lot.
There were the sunniest of oranges and the reddest of potatoes and the greenest of spinach leaves. It could be so pretty in a cobbled lined street with overhead umbrellas. The only thing below was a layer of concrete asphalt and an overhead bridge where metro trains periodically kept rattling over. We ogled at the produce before making a bee line for the food van emanating smoke signals. But first, a sign that read: “Candy Man’s Candy Shop This Way.” Oooh, that’s what 50 Cent was talking about! More like Willi Wonka methinx... a dollar for all kinds of tasty treats... but we resisted the temptation and moved on. At the food pit, we ordered up our rib sandwiches and looked at each other and said – “Well, here we are sittin’ at the parkin’ lot and havin’ some barbecue.” How country do y’all wanna get? Since rain was imminent, we took lunch back home where her two Black Labradors were waiting with wagging tails. Since the hubby was out, the girls – Java and Laska – had patiently entertained themselves by watching Squirrel Reality TV in the backyard. Now they sat and cuddled with us, blissfully napping. How do you get a life like that?

What Was I Thinking?

Monday, 30 April 2007 0 comments
As I went through the particulars of yet another gentleman sent by the efficient matchmaking services of Parents’ Network & Co., I thought to myself why not? It’s been a while since I had allowed myself to get set up like this and I kept telling myself: “It was time to step out of my comfort zone, take chances, if not now, when, etc. etc.” Besides, how bad could he be? My friends were already excited about him.
Older? Check = mature, knows what he wants.
Gainfully self-employed? Check = sitting on shit loads of money.
Spouting Shakespeare, showing off French? Check = incurable romantic.
Extra bonuses? Check = enjoys cooking, speaks with a lilting British accent and (claims to have) read Lord of the Rings.
Hmm, all quite intriguing. However, for a change, my mum wasn’t enthusiastic. Are you sure about him? Sounds bit shady. Forget the money, forget the cooking and the faux accent – is he a nice person? Well, if I don’t meet him and try to find out, I’ll never know, right. Reverse psychology was at work here…. aaaaaaarrrrgh.
So on my trip to NY this weekend, I finally decided to see what the fuss was about. Get it over with. Oh! Wait, gotta stay positive right… he could be The One and all that jazz.
Sunday, 1:30 p.m. lunch at Bukhara on 49th and 3rd. It’s 70 degree weather and he’s wearing a black turtleneck. And a scarf. And a jacket. Anyway, we get seated inside and he recommends the lamb chops and the chicken tikkas. He orders up a Scotch and I need a masala chai. It’s 2 p.m. and it’s down to the nitty gritty. The nitty gritty is all about him, his vision and his post-retirement plans ie. next year when he turns 40 and wants to travel the world twice over. zzzzz… what time is it already? Where are the lamb chops? Oh, here they are. Ummm, wonderful. Now about me… I haven’t got a 401k yet and retiring is not on my agenda for a while. I love traveling too but I need something to return to ie. some form of work. Great lamb chops, by the way. The man is sweating profusely now, because duh! the black turtleneck. On top of that, he asks if I am feeling too hot in my jacket. It’s cotton, so I’m fine, thank you very much. Great lamb chops, by the way. I ask him about his other interests. Music? Movies? Star Trek conventions? The poor chap hasn’t had the time to take a vacation in the past 15 years, forget about cultivating a hobby. He has seen 3 cities in all of India and they were all terribly dirty and so, so crowded, you know. Ah well, moving on… did I mention the lamb chops were excellent? I did.
Finally the time has come. For goodbyes. It’s 3:15 p.m. at Penn Station and after a fairly not-interested-in-that-way kinda hug, I promise to email and say I reached DC in one piece. Which I have and I can’t stop raving about the lamb chops. They were great, did I even bother saying that here? Tchah, silly me.

WW II... Well, Not Really

Wednesday, 25 April 2007 0 comments
I had to put this one up after a recent chat about good ol' DPS (RKP) days... Meeta and I were in the same section in class 11th and 12th. btw, when I talk about nationalities mixing i mean the kids who were learning the language. the "overflow" refers to the 20 kids learning German who couldn't fit into the original "G" section for the German kids. "F" had the French kids and clearly, there was no way they could accomodate the Germans.
Meeta: what section were you in before the 11th? H?
me: I don't remember.. think the one with some Germans and Russians mixed
Meeta: ahh..overflow :)
me: every day was like coming to the Polish front.. but not.. haw haw haw

Bizarro Week

Friday, 20 April 2007 0 comments
As if coping with this week's tragedy was not bad enough for everyone, NBC decided to air all the images and the video of the madman's rant. I'm sure they must be gloating about how they nabbed the "exclusive" but networks seem to have a double standard about what they should or shouldn't air. If you want to air the manifestos of psychos, why just stop with this one. Why not air the suicidal video rants of bombers and every other terrorist act. The last time they decided it was "ethically fine" to air disturbing images in the name of educating the public were the pics from Abu Ghraib. You can argue the video would land up on YouTube anyway and if you're in the news business, you wouldn't blink an eye to question the news value. But if the major media outlets even pretended to be a little responsible about this instead of going ballistic about ratings, it would be a far more different, and even more compassionate, story. And speaking of compassion, I was surprised to see Paula Zahn's complete lack of it. She was practically forcing students to admit how screwed up the university admin response was... NYT has more on the TV coverage here.
On another note, Sanjaya Malekar was finally booted off Idol for singing "Let's Give Em Something to Talk About .. other than hair, yeah yeah." Watching that cheesy show will not be the same again. I think Simon said it best somewhere: "He was like a good horror movie." And a quick mention of the Big Fat Bollywood wedding production which has captured the hearts and and wrists and minds of people everywhere. It was interesting to see that both of Abhishek's exes were there.. in spirit.. Karishma's grandma and uncle as well as Rani's current beau, Adi Chopra. No appearances of Salmaan in court or Vivek holding a press conference.

Mid-Week Stupor

Thursday, 12 April 2007 0 comments
Like going home again, up the flight of stairs
And met with the familiar banter of so-how-was-your-day and stuff.
There were the suits and ties and frazzled hair,
That spoke of a day’s work gone by in a fluff.

Daniel was his name and he made key lime martinis,
For the birthday boy’s drink of choice was a gin and tonic.
But the girls gushed over and some got the freebies,
Between talk of whether Gonzales and Wolfowitz were truly apologetic.

In the middle a furry creature was found sitting in calm composure
Amidst the din of who did what to whom when and where.
“I think I’m drunk” was a tossed around phrase of guilt and pleasure,
But the usual lovers of all things malted surprisingly stayed (mostly) sober there

Finally, the troops remembered the curfew – we all had jobs to keep after all,
Trudged down into the pouring rain and the sleek wet streets -
To munch on Julia’s hot empanadas and mull over other birthdays to recall,
Before our knights in yellow armor drove us home to be tucked under the sheets.

Culture Vulture

Tuesday, 10 April 2007 0 comments
Recently I went to two DC institutions for very different reasons. No, I'm not talking about Ben's Chilli Bowl or the Soviet Safeway. The Kennedy Center showcased the Spinning Wheel Film Festival where I saw 3 documentaries based on the Sikh experience. “My Mother India” was about a mixed marriage – an Australian woman comes to Delhi after marrying a Sikh and through historical and personal events, becomes more Indian than her daughter thought she could be. Very Sonia Gandhi-type story. Gurinder Chadha’s “Acting Our Age” was about a group from an old folks home in London who film and talk about their generation’s struggles. Lots of entertaining humor, especially a folksy song on taking to Guinness. Finally, Ali Kazimi’s very powerful “Runaway Grooms” which chronicled the stories of two women from Delhi and Punjab who met and married their NRI husbands, only to be abandoned by them in a matter of weeks. According to the film, there are 10,000 brides who are abandoned by their husbands (mostly from Canada) because they fail to pay dowry.
The other place was the 9:30 Club, which has been around since the 80s and is known for supporting alternative bands. So my first time there and a bunch of us went to see a UK band called the Kaiser Chiefs. The experience was complete with the mandatory club brawl, spilt drinks and the random crowd surfer (who fell down but got back up again with a triumphant woohoo!). I could hear a lot of different accents around the place and it was just cool to be around people who really knew their stuff on music. The band finally came on and put on a super energetic performance. The lead singer had very Bryan Ferry kind of vocals and the audience lapped up the curtain call number and yelled out the chorus: "Oh My God I can’t believe it I’ve never been this far away from home." Someone said that song should’ve been on the soundtrack of The Namesake!
Speaking of which, how many times can you see that film? Definitely not more than twice. Someone bought me a ticket by mistake and I had to run out after 10 mins. and snuck in to see 300 instead… not sure how accurate it was historically (did Persians have African slaves at that point? and did the more liberal-minded Spartan women dress like the Roman women?) but it was a wise choice if only to check out Gerard Butler’s very fine abs. So worth the ticket price!

Cups of Joe

Tuesday, 3 April 2007 0 comments
I rolled out of bed on Sat. morning with a familiar crisis from the past few weeks: no milk for my java. As I set off with the intent of picking up said dairy product, I found myself instead wandering in to a place called Jacob’s Coffeehouse between D and Maryland Ave. I couldn’t believe such a nice place existed so close to where I live! The menu is classic café with baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and soup, all freshly made instead of plastic wrapped. While outside they have a nice patio space, I loved the inside, too: the freshly painted walls (the place only opened last October) was decorated with very nice art work – not the usual paintings of scenes from a café – and some interesting black metal stuff. Also dotting the premises were some beautiful bonsai plants and a dark wooden bookcase with a pretty decent collection… think PD James jostling for shelf space with Margaret Atwood… however, at 1 pm what won me over was a nice cushy single seater next to a glass top table on which was spread the latest issues of Vanity Fair and US Weekly. Nothing better to kill an hour with.
The next best cup of joe this weekend came from Café Bonaparte. I had gone to see my pal K who recently got married and had come down for a visit with his wife. We had intended to go for Sunday brunch but the hour-long wait turned it into some sort of mid-afternoon starvation exercise. At the parking lot across the street, a few of us ended up singing to Tom Petty songs wafting from the Marvelous Market next door and taking goofy SLR pictures of each other. But the wait was worth it: the crepes were yumm and so was the mocha cappuccino. I just didn’t understand the pictures of Italy in a French bistro... or the Russian waitress, for that matter. But the food and company was excellent.
Later in the evening, we decided to cook dinner at A’s place in Foggy Bottom. First a pit stop for the groceries where it was shocking to see A picking up chicken curry paste as opposed to making the real deal from scratch. He promised it would turn out well and there wasn’t much time to protest as we were literally herded out by K… he wanted to catch “Planet Earth” on the Discovery Channel and there was no way a convoluted dinner menu would get in the way. But we managed to get back on time – not only to watch the sad polar bears swimming for survival in the Arctic but also to make that chicken curry, daal and aaloo gobi for the junta. And actually, that curry paste wasn’t too bad either!
Finally can I just recommend anyone reading this to see "Blades of Glory." Best Will Farrell movie ever. 'Nuff said.

A Special Tête-a-Tête

Wednesday, 28 March 2007 0 comments
Maybe it was something about the amazing weather we've been having lately here that people on the streets are being super friendly... and so I found myself lo! and behold! bumping into my landlord and exchanging real, actual, you could even say near-geniune, pleasantries. In the past, I often passed T on my way to the metro or coming home late one night when he too, would umm, be opening the door for his boyfriend. The conversation would be stilted due to several reasons - me knowing T hates me for still occupying his flat (why? see blog entry on "putting out kitchen fires"); T being generally awkward and unsocial; and me silently cursing him for getting action and at the same time praying that he would not say something, anything about the flat. or why I was still in it. But inspite of the banalities, I could still get hurt as it happened once when he totally ignored me on the street while walking home with the bf and so we couldn't even have that little awkward conversation which makes a landlord-tenant relationship so special. More reason to blame the new bf, I say!
Any-ho, Monday was the kind of day when the right temperature met the right gust of wind and decided to spread a general warmth and cheer around everyone. As I was yakking on the phone and about to cross the street, I saw T approaching. "Just a sec," I told my friend.
"Hi there.. long time. How are you?" I smiled at T.
"I'm good. It's a lovely day, isn't it?" he said, smiling back.
"It is indeed. We haven't seen you around. Have you been well? Out of town?" I asked.
"Yes I was in Chicago for a conference," he said (still smiling).
"Ah, well you know M is going to India next month. If you need anything, please let her know," I said.
"Thanks a lot but if I did tell her what I wanted I might give her a pretty long list," he said (STILL smiling. wow!).
"Oh I'm sure she won't mind," I said. "OK, well have a nice day."
"You too, enjoy the weather," he said. (OMG.. still smiling)
I called M and shared the brilliant news - he TALKED to me. what's going on? Daylight Savings Time, perhaps? I'm pleased as punch.. he doesn't hate me anymore.. does he?

So Sick of It

Thursday, 22 March 2007 0 comments
What are the high and low points of being stuck at home with the flu?
High:
1. the bed/couch is your best friend. you get to sleep really, really late or just nod off during the middle of the day not because you can but because you're so drugged up you can't help it.
2. you discover daytime TV. besides looking forward to Oprah, I finally caught up with the loves and lives of Ridge, Brooke and co. on "The Bold and the Beautiful." amazing how they still recycle those affairs.
3. the bad throat makes you acquire a certain something in your voice which in turn makes you call everyone you possibly know so they in turn can make appropriate sympathetic noises and give you all the home remedies they know about bad throats but finally say what you've been dying to hear all along: "you're sounding terribly sexy!"
4. can't taste a damn thing. can't eat much of a damn thing. lost 3 lbs!! best diet ever :)
Lows:
1. idle mind is a devil's workshop... figure that one out!
2. a stuffy nose just snuffs out all sensory pleasures, especially nice-smelling food... which is kinda good because then i'm not eating it, right.
3. made the mistake of going out to cover a Hill event... trying to cough v.discreetly inside a packed committee room is the most painful thing I've done since.. since.. since.. my gums were giving me trouble last week. plus couldn't shake hands with 22-yr-old cute congressional intern coz i would make him sick too. bah.
4. no booze while you're sick.. but the alchohol content in the throat syrup is making me feel pretty good!

A Tale or Three

Sunday, 18 March 2007 0 comments

Before I say anything else, let me report that there are 2 doves right now sitting on my porch railing who are shamelessly canoodling away to glory... one of them is definitely more aggressive and the other is happily accepting the pecks without any untoward complaint. i have recorded the event with several pics.. as you can see.. i don't think they will mind a little paris hiltoneqsue kind of fame. aww, the loveburrrds.
what else? friday was freezing rain here in DC and in the middle of all that action, I had to pay an emergency visit to the dentist. basically I was told (and I quote): "you've been a bad, bad, bad girl." and I need my wisdom teeth pulled out asap otherwise I will be damned in hell. since I had the fear of god put in me I made hasty appointments with the oral surgeon, etc. but the whole wisdom teeth thing in the U.S. is such a con game.. anything to serve the interests of the dental community. hrrmpf. but those who've had it removed say it's made a difference so let's see what happens. watch this space.
I think my folks have some sixth sense about what I'm talking about here. so I think baba felt sort of left out and guess what! he just managed to do something that warranted his presence here. and the story goes that he was coming back from kuala lumpur on a business trip and one of his hand bags got switched with someone else's. baba's hand bag contained: 1 bottle of Black Label, 2 bags of sweets. someone else's bag contained: 3 bottles of Black Label. who profits? your guess is as good as mine :)

Birthday Loving

Thursday, 15 March 2007 0 comments
I don’t want to get all senti, but I’m definitely going to miss throwing a nice party for my mum who turns 60 in the next few days and is finally retiring from a long, and highly rewarding, career. So I’ll do the next best thing: write about her crazy adventures! :)
It’s easy to describe your mother as a traditional caregiver, slaving away in the kitchen, a self-sacrificing woman with multiple roles who does everything to make home, hearth and everything in between complete. I’d like to think of Maa through a series of vignettes: as a 12-year-old, sitting on the rooftop of her family home, legs dangling and freshly-applied oil dripping from her hair, the clothesline behind her as she bites into an apple and frowns at the camera because the sun is getting in her eyes. Or at 16 when she aces her class and wins the basketball trophy at school, she gets a call from the principal’s office: not to be cheered or to be chastised, but to be asked if her parents would be interested in a certain boy who happened to be a relative of the principal’s? Then a stark studio picture circa 1965, wearing one of those tight kurtas of the day and a shy smile, but a confidence that perhaps came from riding the rickshaw with her best friend to Allahabad U. and enjoying the whistles and filmi songs along the way. Finally, the Sadhana fringe and the dark sunglasses and the crowded rides on the local train that came along with her move to do a master’s at Bombay U. She was always cool and she didn't even know it.
But Maa is basically having a party wherever she goes and no matter what the age. And just last week she was having another one at a friend’s son’s wedding. They were the bong baraatis going with every intention of having fun at the expense of a punju bridal party. Maa stuck to good old Coke and watched as two of her pals happily headed towards the bar. As Aunty #1 and Aunty #2 gulped down their Old Monks and JW, the intensity of laughter increased. The good times were rolling so well that Aunty #1 craved a fag after nearly 10 years of quitting. Aunty #2 told her to shut up and breathe the tandoor smoke instead. The three 50-somethings continued to comment on the food, the lovely bride and why Sonu Nigam was still as cute as ever and considering “these times,” how he had not managed to split up with his wife, a bengali, of course.
“We were sitting in one corner and just laughing so loudly, after a while your father had to come and shhh us up,” she said. “So after that I had to look after those two properly.” Will somebody grow up, please?! :) Nah, why bother.

Sightings and Musings

Monday, 12 March 2007 0 comments
Spotted: Hardball’s Chris Matthews walking in a daze near Zara’s in Georgetown.
Spotted and Giggled: One squeaky Blue Jay bird circling one frustrated grey cat behind the Federal Judiciary building. Cat loses the old fight. Again.
Spotted and Observed: An Abercrombie & Fitch-type couple on the Orange Line playing curious flirting game: Boy (imagine blonde version of Christopher Reeve) enters train and sits down. After 5 mins. a girl (imagine Margot Kidder with hazel eyes) enters same train car and sits in seat across from boy. Boy looks down, pretends he doesn’t know her. Girl delicately places purse in empty seat next to her. Looks at boy and smiles. Boy smiles and shakes head. Girl pretends to undo jacket button, tosses hair and makes hand movement to say how hot it is. Boy, fairly amused by now, laughs and looks down. Girl rolls her eyes and sends text message to boy. Finally, boy goes over and sits next to her.
Spotted and Glazed Over: A silver hybrid Volkswagen Beetle with some snazzy wheels in Arlington ie. one of my dream cars.
Spotted: At least two women near Chinatown wearing a red and black keffiyeh ie. the Palestinian scarf. It did not look they were making a political statement.
Spotted: Man strolling in red kilt and sweater at Union Station (did not stop to spot lack of underwear)
Spotted and Consumed: Another near-perfect cappuccino at Bagels and Baguettes on the Hill. The coffee and sandwiches are to die for – on weekdays you can see the line out the door – but it’s perfect to fix a hangover on a late Sunday morning!

Stop Press!

Thursday, 8 March 2007 0 comments
The news is not that it’s international women’s day and how we must celebrate our womanhood by avidly following Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar’s nuptials in a castle and then a palace with Parmeshwar Godrej and Shilpa Shetty’s air kisses at all the parties thrown in between. It’s not even news that the Cricket World Cup is starting next week and the cup itself has become slightly damaged thanks to overzealous fans (in Kolkata, where else?) and for a change we don’t have to stay awake at odd hours of the night to see the matches. It’s not news that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been found guilty of lying and to say that everyone is disappointed not to hear from Karl Rove instead of Richard Artmitage, would be mildly putting it. And it’s certainly not news that Daniel Radcliffe aka Harry Potter is now making love to horses on West End.
The news IS that Steven Spielberg has started pre-production for Les Adventures de Tintin. And it’s not going to be an animated feature. Blistering barnacles! 10,000 thundering typhoons!!! Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus, the Thompson Twins and of course Snowy and Lady Bianca's parrot... all coming to the big screen... can you tell I’m excited? Some might think that Hollywood will ruin a good thing but I think Hergé would approve of Spielberg taking a shot at it. After all, worse movies have been made of other franchises. But the Batman (OK only the ones with Christian Bale) and Spiderman movies are doing their fans and creators proud.

Holi Sunday

Monday, 5 March 2007 0 comments
My roomie and I had a really fun potluck this Sunday afternoon. Some highlights included M cooking kadai chicken till 3 a.m. and waking up 4 hours later to make appetizers; playing antakshari and singing horribly out of tune, of course; C brings guest who brings another guest who knocks over furniture; D’s guest falls off papasan chair! Sits right back up to sing Rafi melodies; U brings bloody mary mix without the vodka…duh! Takes out trash to compensate; G makes cutting chai sans sugar. Su steps in for second round, makes kick ass adrak chai. And props to most women who turned up in desi outfits and the 2-3 men who obliged as well :)

Some random quotes from the afternoon:

“I really can’t look inside his brain right now.”
“I might gag if she dances on the table.”
"I look like Punju aunty on her morning walk."
“If your landlord evicts you now, you have enough people here to help you move.”
“The heat is on, yaar.. umm, sorry I didn’t mean it to come out like that.”
“What’s funny is you state the obvious and then make it worse by explaining what you just said!”
“Did you just say hermaphrodite?”
“The irony is you women can have it anytime but you don’t have the desire. Not always at least.”
“Can you please stop announcing I look like Michael Jackson?”
“Last time I had a potluck at my place you slept over, remember?”
“I am going to rediscover my roots... on Palace on Wheels.”
“Start by losing your American accent.”
“Yeah my room is cosy. It’s definitely not Starbucks or Kramer’s.”
“Am I supposed to know where your room is?”
“I’m getting a feeling you like flan.”
“How come I don’t get introduced to her… because I’m not from MIT?”
“Look at your shoes. What’s your size?”
“Of course I have talked about you… just not very good things.”
“There’s a lot of talent in this room.”

Thanking You Very Kindly

Thursday, 1 March 2007 0 comments
There are kind people and then there are those who actually perform random acts of kindness without knowing what they just did.
I woke up carrying a headache the size of the erstwhile U.S.S.R. (ie. very big) and almost couldn’t turn my head without a piercing throb attacking my central lobe system (ie. freakin brain in general). But I dutifully trudged to work and tried to gulp down my coffee without burning myself, hoping against hope it would work a miracle in 90 seconds or less. Clearly, it did not. It continued to get so bad, in fact, that I had to call a friend: “So what exactly is dizziness a symptom of?” Stupid question. “It could mean a lot of things,” he said in clipped medical tone. “But sit down, or lie down, somewhere.”
So there I was on the Metro, trying to have a quiet shut eye while listening to Norah Jones and commanding caffeine and central lobe to meet harmoniously for my sake. I didn’t really notice when some dude got in to the seat beside me. And I didn’t really notice when my eyes started watering up… just a trickle and before I knew it, I was wiping away a tear! No, the music wasn’t as moving as the train (except for tracks 5 and 13, but more on that later), the dude next to me didn’t smell of onions and I don’t think I was PMS-ing. Maybe I was stressed about a deadline or mourning my dead plant or missing my dog. No, I was just having a random emotional outburst. Anyway, this dude also has his music going on but he finally notices the silent sniffler next to him. And I can definitely feel he’s getting uncomfortable because he’s getting very shifty (not in a shady way, though). Finally he taps me on the shoulder and asks, “Would you like me to move?” I could’ve started howling – but then it would scare everyone out of the train – but I managed to shake my head and smile. He was kind enough to ask and that’s all I needed. Besides a couple aspirins and more coffee. Sanity, at last.

Such a Pansy

Monday, 26 February 2007 0 comments
Union Station. 6:30 p.m. i'm sitting on a bench minding my business when a homeless dude comes up and presents me with a flower.
dude: pretty flower for pretty girl
me (rolling eyes): huh. thank you
dude (shaking finger): do you know what that flower is called?
me: yes. it's a pansy.
dude (really shocked): gee, most girls don't know that. so could you spare me some change?
me: sorry i'm all out of change... would you like to give the flower to someone who does?
dude (shaking head): it's fine, just keep it. i can't believe you knew the name of the flower.
me: umm, sorry!
he goes off looking for other victims in clueless flora world.

It's Over

Thursday, 22 February 2007 0 comments
my no-alchohol diet for this month is officially over... i had two glasses of wine in the past 2 weeks with the excuse that it was for some celebration or the other... but yesterday under the nose of extremely judgmental bartender, i succumbed to a mango mojito (it was OK) and decided to put the final nail on the coffin of Stupid Pretentious Diet Which Was Never Going to Last, Anyway. yes, yes all of you who've been dyyyying to say "i told you so" can start singing in a chorus. and here i was thinking 28 days couldn't be so bad?! pshaw.

A Few New Friends

Monday, 19 February 2007 0 comments
While I’ve been carefully navigating the slippery sidewalks lately, the dogs in the hood are having a field day in the snow. What is it about the snow that makes kids, animals and everything in between so playful? In the past 4 months since I moved to my new place, six dogs or 3 different pairs have started to recognize me as I start making these high-pitch squeals (something like “heyyy!”) which turns into a conspiring whisper (something like “yesh yesh, show me ze love”) when I approach them.
The black Labrador pair next door are called Java and Laska, named after the software program and the dog in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Whenever I go over, they come bounding to the door together and compete to see who gets to jump first on top of me. Laska is definitely the tamer one but the minute I start scratching Java’s belly, she’s looking at me with those me-too-please kind of eyes. Soo irresistible :)
Mimi and Gigi are the pair of Scottish terriers who live around the corner from my house and are apparently retired show dogs. They still seem to be very obedient and don’t even require leashes when they go out for their walks. And having to live up to their French names and fine pedigree, they like to waltz around wearing these fine looking highland coats, too! Gigi is getting on with age and doesn’t care too much for socializing. But when Mimi comes over to sniff and say hi, Gigi will slowly hobble over to see what the fuss is about.
Recently I’ve started seeing a lot of Duncan and Macduff, west highland white terriers or more commonly known as westies (as shown in picture). The pair of them – named after the characters in Macbeth – love frolicking around in the snow and Duncan is the more excitable of the two. The other day he just hopped up to lick my face, snow and all. Macduff sniffed around my boots for a bit before looking up to declare “hmm, you’re not so bad.” I scratched his neck to show my gratitude and silently prayed my dog back in Delhi was not shooting telepathic rays of utter disdain and contempt.

Post-V-Day Thoughts

Friday, 16 February 2007 0 comments
That's the pink and teddy bear saccharine-infested manufactured holiday that's stuffed down everyone's throats by the card companies and not the World War II commeration i'm talking about. everyone's feeling some sort of pressure (overtly or otherwise) to do something. quite unfair given the fact that christmas and new year's just happened and come on, do you really need an excuse to buy chocolates?? hell no. well, since i spread the love so generously throughout the rest of the year, i randomly picked on some other emotion... such as total indifference. haha!
i decided to trudge to work in a miniature snow storm that hit the region. in case you didn't know, DC-area commuters are weather wussies. there's a little rain and people forget how to drive. there's some 2 inches of snow and it's a federal holiday. not that i mind! :) but there were like 6 people who made it in and we had a pizza party. a colleague's husband sends these huge long-stemmed roses to work every year. and every year she sighs, "when will he learn that tulips are my favourite?" and passes the hershey's chocolate kisses on to us.
later on at night, i'm at Union Station and this woman is walking down the hallway and yelling -or screaming like a banshee - into her phone, "you bastard, you can't do this to me! i can't believe this." her hair is totally disheveled, she's pacing up and down and she looks like she is going to throw the phone at someone or do something really, really bad. so psycho and so scary. "i'm going nuts!! i don't know what i'm going to do!!" she's still yelling. a lot of people stop dead in their tracks to get out of her way, but someone starts laughing at her. i mean this woman was clearly a mental case. and getting dumped by some jerk. on valentine's day. over the phone. the phone???! have a heart... and how pathetic.
On a lighter note, check this out. A math formula for the perfect parrallel dating scene. don't some of you do this already? Thanks, Chhav :D

Butt Fatigue and Other Tales

Monday, 12 February 2007 0 comments
First off, this is going to be a long, but fairly entertaining post considering it was a weekend of many firsts. So brace yourself :)
We were celebrating the birthday of another friend who has joined the ranks of the fabulous Thirty Decade. So in the afternoon, 5 of us girls kidnapped her from home (covering face with ski mask et al) and took her roller skating. It was quite an adventure. The Skate-and-Fun Zone is around 45 mins. outside of DC in a town called Manassas. Naturally it was full of suburban mom and dads with their screaming little tykes rolling around in skates to the cheerful tunes of Who Let the Dogs Out? Surprisingly, the DJ refused to play even the clean version of 50 Cent’s In Da Club, but he was fine spinning “clean songs” like Tempted to Touch, Naughty Girl and the redneck anthem Sweet Home Alabama. Surrounding the rink were gumball machines, a laser tag room, a pizza joint, and just a lot of cheerful and colorful stuff. Did I mention the strobe lights and fog machine? It was like being transported back to your childhood… which was the entire purpose of taking our friend there. I got my pair of rollerskates and bravely entered the rink. Unlike ice skating rinks, this rink did not have a fence surrounding the entire periphery. My friends tried helping me a bit before I fell on my butt for the first time. But kids were falling all over the place like flies – there was no reason I couldn’t do the same, so no fear. Two more butt falls happened, but after a pizza break, I got much better. Like ice skating, I learnt the trick to keep my balance and keep moving… just don’t look down all the time!!
The birthday celebrations continued in the evening with a sumptuous Indian dinner at Heritage. There was too much wastage of food since it was a pre-fixed menu. I also made an exception to my no-alcohol diet and had a glass of red wine. I didn’t drink anything else after that. Then we moved the party to a club called Andalu, also in the Dupont Circle area. The music was pretty decent and we all had a great time dancing. I don’t know at what point the boredom seeped in. I turned to a friend and said, “I think I want to hook up with a random stranger.” And I did. Some desi dude (and it's not that i was looking for a desi in particular, he just looked as bored) was hovering around and we started dancing. He tried to make conversation but I wasn’t obliging. “What’s your name?” he asked. “Doesn’t matter. Any name you want it to be,” I said. Really, there was no point in talking. Then suddenly another girl wanted to dance with him. He clutched my hand tightly – don’t go yet. Err.. ok, so what am I supposed to do? The girl turns to me and says, “You know, he’s a total whore.” I was amused and touched his six-pack. “Of course, he is.” But then she starts dancing with me… nothing wrong with that, it was nice music until whoa! she touches my butt. Umm, thanks but no thanks. I excused myself to go to the bar. Suddenly, six-pack guy grabs my hand, pulls my face towards him and before I knew it, there I was making out with him as my friends watched in shock and awe. As I came up for air, he said, “You must be a Punjabi.” But for a Punjabi himself, he did these weird Karate Kid-type dance moves. Also he thought he was being funny by saying he worked at a 7-11 and his wife (i know, what???) was waiting for him at home. “Goodbye, have a nice life and oh… keep working on those pecs,” I said. We ended up exchanging digits, but he blew it when he asked, “Is your name Deepali?” I stared. “Something like that.” Not that i was planning on marrying him anyway!
So first time 1) rollerskating 2) got hit on by a girl and guy simultaneously and 3) made out with someone without the influence of alcohol in a public place.

Famous Last Words

Thursday, 8 February 2007 0 comments
My new diet may have already come to an end. I was at Sash's place for dinner last night. There were candles, nice wine, great music, and the smell of tender lamb shanks cooking happily - but ever so slowly - in the oven. Sash and Denn (pls bear with the 4-letter names now) did a brilliant job of feeding their friends... of whom, i have to add, were 2 other couples, besides me. apparently the 6th guest was m.i.a. so of course i had to fight off Bridgetty feelings before it hit me they were not a) smug marrieds and b) did not in the least bit make me feel like a loony singleton who did not partake in drinking alchohol. speaking of which, i started off drinking Coke and then at some point i was informed it had been spiked with vodka!! it could have been a convenient deviation of topic - from dogs and all things wonderful related to them - or it could have actually been done. whatever the case, i knew something was odd. but i think i'll try to continue this endeavour for as long as i can... only 3 more weeks till the end of the month!!

Prohibition Time

Monday, 5 February 2007 0 comments
So inspired by Oprah's fitness guru, Bob Greene, i am abstaining from alchohol for a month. According to Greene, when you are on a healthy diet and trying to increase your metabolism, it's important to keep the body as hydrated as possible. Alchohol doesn't help the cause so it's best to avoid it for a while. So no liquor and that includes beer and wine. And since Feb is the shortest month of the year, i thought i might as well grab the bull by its horns, etc. etc.
Not that i'm an alchoholic, but i was rather worried about how i would survive social situations where if one does not drink, one is not having fun or is gently reminded by friends for being a hopeless old fart. But despite the taunts, I survived the past weekend and drank water at the clubs and avoided the beer on Super Bowl Sunday. It sort of feels like the time i was 14 and wanted to be vegetarian for a while (animal rights, etc.) and miserably failed in that venture after just 10 days. So let's see how long this lasts... it's Day Seven.

Don't Worry, Chicken Curry

Tuesday, 30 January 2007 0 comments
I know this isn't a cooking or recipes blog but i had to share this. It is my version of chicken sans tomatoes. Take 4-6 chicken drumsticks and marinate in yoghurt, salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Chop an onion and a half and fry them in saucepan. Add some garlic and coriander (jeera) seeds. Dump a little MDH chicken masala for good measure. Now, take a bottle of Maggi Chat Pat Tomato Sauce and add a couple of tsps. into the pan. Stir nicely. Then add the chicken, let it cook for around half hr or so till done. Chatpata Chicken Curry is Done in a Hurry! Yumm. It was so good, i tell you.

No Bra-vado for Me

Monday, 29 January 2007 0 comments
A recent article on intimate wear got me rolling my eyes on the number of exhaustive bra excursions i've had. Back in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar Market, there was a male sales shop assistant who sized me up with one look and proceeded to whip out wholesome cotton designs like he was showing off the latest designer kurtis. when i arrived here, i ran to the nearest vic's secret to get myself all properly measured by helpful female sales staff - only to learn that to afford the best for the twins, one must go on a rameen noodle diet for at least 2 weeks. while i've learnt to acquire some decent innerwear without getting too broke, i did refrain from touching certain apparel which i knew - for the lack of a better term - was going to be a bust.
anyho, when a friend got me a gift cert recently, i finally decided to invest in that strange engineering malfunction known as a strapless bra. imagine begging a piece of material with some metal hooks to come together for a good cause. they tend to oblige but only for the sake of it. what happens when they do is a complete disaster. along with my boobs, my self-esteem plunges into this abyss until i start crying: "please, lord, give me back the straps!!"
yes, life does go on without a strapless bra... but it would be nice to have one that works. for me, at least!

Hot Salsa, Cold Weather

Wednesday, 17 January 2007 0 comments
Old man winter is pounding the door as I type so I’ll try to recall the unusually warm spell of weather we had recently instead of the freezing temps outside. In fact it was so pleasant, I finally wore a skirt to let the breeze in and let my hair hang out. This weekend my friends and I went salsa dancing at this café where the music was as good as the mojitos. I think the five salsa lessons I had taken 2 years ago did me some good, but it’s equally important to have a good lead. At least 2 out of the 3 partners I had were having some coordination issues! But it was a lot of fun.
Also watched a couple of good movies: one was the Spanish film “Pan’s Labyrinth” which I can’t stop raving about. I think it had a lot to do with the fact I saw it from the third row in the hall (it was house full) and it reminded me of the time I saw “Forrest Gump” at Chanakya... think large screen, super special effects and a very craned head staring straight ahead. But it was also how the movie brilliantly intertwines the horrors of the real world and a fantasy world through the eyes of a 10-year-old. The second was “Guru” which was surprisingly good. Coinciding with the news of their engagement, I think the AB-Ash pair did a nice job… plus we had a highly entertaining post-movie debate about tax laws and licenses that went on till the wee hours (think 4 a.m.) over pancakes and coffee at Ihop… ooooh!

Hold Your Nose

Friday, 12 January 2007 0 comments
Imagine sitting next to a cute teenager, someone who looks like a tree-hugging surfer dude type straight out of "The O.C." He's actually sitting really pretty close to you... because the chairs are really pretty close to each other... and he's telling you about how new he is to the city and how he bagged a super competitive internship and how he is studying comparative literature at Berkeley... and the only thing you can really think of is, dude you are umm, like, totally adorable but you have to do something about your bad breath. that's right. he forgot to pop the mints. or something. while i am enjoying his attention and i admit, flirting just a tad bit, at the same time i was just praying for him to basically shut the hell up. i fiddle with my phone, rustle my papers and smile ever so sweetly and say, "that's awesome!" to pretty much everything he's saying. but that doesn't stop him. finally i am forced to play the age card. i am a professional woman in a decade-i'm-coming-to-terms-with and you, young man, need to do whatever interns do... of course i didn't say all that... i had to "act" all grown up. how irritating!
anyway, back to the stinky breath.. and i know everyone has it at some point... but it's different when you're just getting to know someone vs. someone close you can be frank about it with. so once i was dating this guy who usually smelt v.good. but one day we had gone to a concert and of course you sit next to one another at a performing arts event. he had terrible breath. i was tortured for 2 hrs as he talked and talked. and talked. of course i'm not dating him anymore.

Edge of Reason and Beyond

Tuesday, 2 January 2007 0 comments
This year's New Year's Eve was so low key and mellow from last year's madness at Times Square, i had to pinch myself a couple times. ouch! like that only :)
A couple of my friends - and i literally mean, a "couple" - had a house party to break in the new year and their new apt. I love house parties but when there are too many married couples in the mix, i start having my Bridget Jones moments. There were around 14-16 people and i was probably one of 3 or 4 single people in the crowd. At first, it really didn't matter because everyone chatted each other up and stuff. Then my wise-cracking friend (and party host) inevitably starts poking fun at his wife and she gives it back, and the whole "My Spouse is Crazier Than Yours" routine gets the room rolling in laughter. However, for us singletons it starts to become a bit annoying after sometime. Alright, we get it. You married folks are besotted, especially when you tease one another in your marital bliss.
We also played a round of "Taboo" which was good fun but... and you know there's a huge BUT... it was so remniscent of the whole "When Harry Met Sally" thing when couples in their sacchirine sweetness are always fighting over points to keep score. aaargh. No couple envy, just that the last time i played board games on NYE was ages back with my family i think!!
And finally, I know we all get a bit senti as the clock strikes 12 and the new year dawns (help! i'm on a metaphor roll here) but after all the hugs and kisses got over, we singles were the only ones on the dance floor. I'm sure not all married folks are like that or perhaps some of them didn't dig the music but that night it gave you people in coupledom quite a bad rap. C'mon you guys, i shudder to think what'll happen when you have kids!! Don't tell me...