Monday, July 25, 2005

Bombay-ite to Bamboo-ite

Bombay in the monsoons becomes even more of a shantytown than before. As the rains head towards the city, restaurants, caf├ęs and cinema houses begin to construct bamboo awnings that will protect their entrances and alfresco dining areas from the rain. Well, bamboo awnings seem too posh a way to describe these contraptions, as they are more of the humble shamiana variety using plastic sheets instead of cloth. Fame Adlabs whose ticket counter is usually open to the sky has erected one of these as have a host of restaurants like Little Italy, Myst and Kailash Parbat in Lokhandwala. Inorbit Mall in Malad has even gone as far as covering half of its parking lot and making a walkway to the mall entrance for the convenience of their shoppers. Fury of the monsoons be dammed, shopping and eating must go on uninterrupted.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Life

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 22, 2005

Summer Reading

Some of the books I have read lately.

Five Point Someone---Chetan Bhagat
Five Point Someone is an engaging book depicting the intense competition, struggle and adventures of three students at IIT Delhi. The tone is quite unlike what one would expect of an IIT-ian and therefore unexpectedly enjoyable. The title is a take on the rigid rating system that immediately labels all students on the basis of their grade point average.

The Broker---John Grisham
A thoroughly enjoyable light read. This one has the barest minimum about lawyers in the deep south of America. Instead, it is about a lawyer on the run with the world’s smartest bad guys after him. The setting is Europe and so there is quite a bit history, folklore and language thrown in the background.

The Inheritors---Aruna Chakravarti
A family saga written in great depth about the Vaidic Kulin Brahmins of Bengal, their traditions, marriages, education system and children. The narrative starts in 1996 in Germany and through an assortment of letters, memoirs and characters.

The Conquest---Yxtra Maya Murray
It is a story within a story. A rare book restorer delves into the lives of the characters of a book she is working on, evoking memories of her past and of turbulent times in Mexico after the conquest of Mexico by Cortes.

The Koh-I-noor Diamond---Iradj Amini
The story of the Koh-I-noor Diamond and its momentous passage through history.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Notice board memories

It’s great to be back in the rhythm of things, sitting at my desk with laptop, surrounded by my familiar, well-loved things. The board behind my desk currently displays an artwork I made in college. It is a collage of sorts, some portions enlarged, some reduced, pasted together to make an interesting form of jagged lines, peaks and valleys, all in black and white of course. Therefore, I consider it an artwork rather than a painting.

My notice board also has a collection of photographs, of my grandparents with my sister when she was a baby, of me and my husband, and a lovely, peaceful picture of the Golden Temple taken in the 1950’s. I also have a wonderful shot of my family taken on a roller coaster ride with a Viking theme at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, the type they develop and hand you as you exit the ride.

There are two postcards of Subhodh Kerkar’s etchings depicting fishing boats, along with a portrait by Pablo Picasso. Other items on the board are business cards of our apartment complex’s Honorary Secretary a.k.a. the Resident God and the AC repair man. Two poems, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ and an unnamed one by Claude T. Bissell are also tacked on my board.

These are the things that ground me, the things that make each house we move into a home almost as soon as I unpack these items and place them on the desk. The notice board keeps changing and that’s what makes it fun and interesting. I take a photograph of my notice board every time I change as a keepsake as it will remind me of all the things that were going on in our lives at the moment. In fact, the photo of my college room notice board is one of my favorite photos from those years.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Connected, finally!

Ah, to finally have internet at home. Bliss, absolute bliss, I tell you. Five and a half months in Bombay and now we manage to get connected at home. How did it happen this way, that in a city like Bombay, it should take anything more than 48 hours to get connected. Its the amazing reality of Bombay. This is why international companies are wary of entering India. Rightly so!
I recently wrote an article on my song and dance with the ISP's here in Bombay and submitted it to a content development site based in Bangalore. They declined to put my article on their site as they wanted only good things written about India, ie. to show that India is indeed "shining". Oh well!
The reality of life in India is so different from what the magazines and statistics state. The simplest example is the way banks and credit card companies function. Their employees, yes, the ones who handle all our personal information, have very little technical training and absolutely no civic training at all about how to safeguard the information that passes through their hands every day.
Since coming to Bombay we have had 2 experiences of this negligence, with salesman coming to our home/office and taking our personal information for phone/internet and then just vanishing (one even had a cheque of ours which he took with him, luckily we got it cancelled in time!).
Anyhow, one battle at a time. This one took us quite a while but we did overcome it.

Incredibly simple, right?

How many of us go through our days parched and empty, thirsting after happiness, when we're really standing knee-deep in the river of abundance?"
— Sarah Ban Breathnach
From Hold That Thought by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Warner Books)

Friday, July 15, 2005

My sudoku vacation

Can a person have too much of relaxation, reading and sudoku's? I don't think so! I've had the luxury of doing just this for the past 2 weeks in Juneo where there is no internet as yet so its relatively guilt-free. I read 5 books and solved countless sudoku's (plus a few unsolved too!!) and so am refreshed and rejuvinated enough to face Bombay again.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Juneo

Ah, to be in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh again! Absolute Bliss! To smell the fresh pine air, wake up to the chirping of birds, see butterflies fluttering amongst the flowers. It's great to be back in Juneo, to one of my favorite places in the world. Its a place where one can unwind, rewind and just chill. No TV, 2 radio stations, an on and mostly off landline and only from last month cellphone signals! But lots of books, crosswords (and sudoku's!), board games, music with words you can understand and a variety of nooks to sit-back and read, day dream or just watch the sky. Its great to be back.