Monday, March 15, 2010

Puppy Love!

This is Pogo - he lives next door, loves biscuits and grapes, is young and endearingly wrinkled, and has a fetish for the sari-clad :)
It's no surprise therefore that Amma is his favourite two-legged friend - aside from her clothing preferences, she treats him to a biscuit every day at 5 pm - and Pogo experiences a life-altering moment.
Having crossed the obesity boundary a long time ago, and now on a calorie-free doggy diet, Pogo lives his life from biscuit to biscuit.
He waits patiently on his haunches in rapt attention, alert to the sound of the kitchen cupboard being opened and closed, followed by the steely clank of the biscuit tin - its only a matter of time before Amma appears, with the 'treat' in hand. Pogo reaches up, and in a smooth and slick operation curls his lip around the cookie. He then proceeds to savour the experience, curled up on the door mat. Smacking his lips in evident satisfaction, Pogo never forgets to be hopeful for more, but sadly for him, one is all he is allowed.
Pogo is universally loved - his squinty gaze with the enormous, limpid brown eyes shout out the self-same appeal - 'Will you please feed me'?
I love my biscuit-bandit - it's not hard to see why, isint it?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

V for Volvo!!

I am a train junkie – the whistles and pit-stops that invariably accompany a train journey would be akin to the sensations experienced by a cocaine addict after a swift snort!
My fondness for trains means that I am not similarly fond of buses or air-planes, since I don’t perceive the same magic when I use either form of transport.
However, the ‘Volvo-Vajra’ is an exception. Every Bangalorean worth his or her salt knows and ‘respects’ The Volvo.

It’s too big to ignore. On Indian roads, where might is always right, the big, red, monster trundles down narrow, pot-holed roads, elbowing out everything else. The mantra that pedestrians and motorists follow is simple – fly; never stay and fight!
After being bullied into submission by this weighty vehicle, I parked my compact in the garage and decided to board the Volvo instead. I have loved it since my very first ride.
Stepping into the Volvo’s comfortably climate-controlled interiors, I leave the blazing summer heat behind and sink into welcoming cushiony seating. I always carry a book – but seldom read it; absorbed as I am in watching my co-passengers.
The rides in the Volvo are a rapidly changing tableau of new actors and scenes – a kaleidoscope of human emotions and interactions and I never seem to notice time flitting by, the moments continually framed and sometimes archived in my memories….

A replay of one of my commutes to work:-

I am traveling in reverse with my back to the road – the bus-driver imagines he is Schumacher aiming for pole position and ploughs mercilessly into the throng…
5 rows away, Boy in jeans, blue checked shirt, earphones in place and hormones in overdrive, eyes pretty young girl in yellow tee as she titters constantly into her mobile phone. Girl’s instincts, I imagine, feel a pair of eyes on her and she turns around to catch the boy staring. As expected, she quickly looks away and continues tittering; albeit in more pronounced fashion. Exactly 5 seconds later, she pats her hair, curls a stray lock firmly in place behind her ear and surreptitiously (or at least tries to) casts a backward glance at Boy, whose eyes apparently are by now frozen on the scene in front of him. Girl quickly looks away – again; however, the ‘looking away’ is slower this time round…and so it goes on, the forward and backward glance, the overt interest and apparent disinterest. It is another ho-hum courtship as played out in generations of homo-sapiens. Will it not ever get more creative???
2 rows in front of the laws of attraction dance, a man sits, picking his nose and looking dreamily out of the bus. I don’t even want to know what he is thinking and quickly avert my eyes from the socially-challenged specimen.
Instead I train my sights on the person sitting diagonally opposite me, engrossed in a book – I crane my neck to see the cover (am uncharacteristically inquisitive on this particular day) and am amused by the title – “20 ways to be more creative at work” – a how-to book on creativity and innovation? Wow! That indeed is creative!!
The guy sitting next to Picasso has more spiritual aspirations – he is reading Robin Sharma.
Bored, I turn away, only to lock eyes with someone who appears to be watching me...It appears that I am not at the top of the food chain…the thought is sobering and I bury my nose in my book. Ten sentences later, I look up and am glad that Peeping Tom is not around; so I begin scanning all over again.
The bus is getting fuller, now that we have reached Techie Heartland a.k.a Marathahalli – everywhere you can see the unmistakable signs – state-of-the-art mobile phones, Bluetooth, ubiquitous laptop, gelled hair, harried looks. There are no more seats vacant and so the ones standing are now hanging on for dear life, swaying along with the motion of the bus which heaves like a giant ship on troubled seas.
The scene is still fun to watch, though. An especially nimble traveler demonstrates his ability to multi-task while standing on one leg and with one prehensile limb clutching the tenuous hand-rail above – he puts time to good use by reading the day’s paper over another’s shoulder, even while balancing his lunch box in his other free hand.
The conductor, meanwhile, weaves his way in and out of the human maze, selling tickets. He has devised a nifty way to dispense change that does away with having to rummage around in a bag. All the notes he gets in lieu of tickets sold are folded lengthwise and stacked between the fingers of his left hand. Ergo, ten-rupee notes are perched between his thumb and fore-finger, twenty rupee notes between fore and mid-finger, fifties between mid and ring-finger and hundred rupee notes between the ring and little finger. The big-ticket denominations (five-hundred and thousand) are packed in a wad and tucked away into his shirt pocket. It’s fascinating to see him demonstrate sleight of hand – he peels off a ten rupee, leaving the neighbouring notes intact and inserts a fifty without disturbing the arrangement!
Every conductor has his own peculiar flourish which he brings into his daily work - it might be the panache with which he announces a pit-stop, or like in the case above, in the way he manages the days collections...colourful characters in a changing scene...
The ride in the Volvo is easily the most engaging and enjoyable part of my work-day. Every ride is an enchanting landscape of scenes and colour, which is somehow missing, when I drive down to work, ensconsed in in my little car, with no one but Radio One blaring in the background, to keep me company...

(Picture courtesy -

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Digging up dirt

Like most Bangalore city dwellers, I live in an apartment; which means that my little patch of green is confined to a 2x3 ft space which is packed with ‘precious’ plants – aloe, golden pothos and tulsi...
Today dawned bright and sunny – I decided to roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty in squishy mud – the SOS from my potted pretties set my alarm bells ringing. They were besieged by a tangled web of weeds and cried out for immediate attention and respite from the marauders….
Weeding is a Herculean task, any gardener of repute will testify. Weeds are survivors and stiffly resist being uprooted. Oftentimes, they do manage to withstand complete annihilation and live to sprout another day. Seemingly innocuous when they start out, the insidious roots drill deep, choking out their more genteel and refined neighbours, that are ill-equipped to deal with guerilla warfare….
I sweated, hemmed, hawed, tugged and toiled the morning away – all the while, the conflict between gardener and guerilla took its toll on the rest of the plant population…
It got me wondering – my healthy, fertile mind that imagines ‘green pastures of calm’ would also probably breed ‘weeds of conflict’ – anger, irrationality, indecisiveness, - the list could run into reams.
While conflict does take its toll, it also paves the way for the ‘turn of soil’ which the prudent gardener does, so as to stop weeds in their tracks, stem the rot within and allow for fresh ‘germination’.
How many of us are prudent gardeners who stop in our tracks, take stock and indulge in ‘weeding out the unwanted’ so that the ‘good grows stronger’.
I would most certainly want to be one such, but like all good things in life – this attitude involves a lot of learning, a lot of patience and a lot of practice, to ultimately master.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I watched "3 Idiots" today - for the second time - with Amma...
It was a particulary emotional cinematic moment and there was not a dry eye in the packed hall - when this little girl sitting next to me, munching on popcorn, whilst seated on her dad's lap, suddenly turned her head and watched me wiping my streaming eyes...
In an instant, before a frank, appraising 'infant' gaze, my 'adult' guard went up and I pulled myself together. I looked around to see who else was watching.
Afraid to wear my emotions and vulnerability on my sleeve - something I discovered about 'me' today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year Resolution

Now that I have been well and truly been bitten by Reality, I have made peace with my ho-hum, high-paying but zero satisfaction job which spells Daily Drudgery with a Capital D
Anyway, I will keep the crib-chorus down to the minimum, since DD pays my bills and EMI - this is the only cheer I can honestly ascribe to DD, which is quite pathetic, since I spend an astounding 2880 hours per annum on it!
I therefore, intend to spend whatever precious time remains this year on the things that will give me unadulterated pleasure - such as learning to play the violin, watching a Kathakali performance live, travelling to Madhya Pradesh and Tamilnadu, knitting a woolly dove-grey scarf, learning to cook a full-course appetising Mallu meal, begin research on Indian History....Whew! that's quite a list.
I am waiting to take stock of how far I get with it!

Of Train Journeys

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;And charging along like troops in a battle/ All through the meadows the horses and cattle:All of the sights of the hill and the plain/ Fly as thick as driving rain;And ever again, in the wink of an eye,Painted stations whistle by. Here is a child who clambers and scrambles, All by himself and gathering brambles; Here is a tramp who stands and gazes; And here is the green for stringing the daisies!Here is a cart runaway in the road / Lumping along with man and load; And here is a mill, and there is a river:Each a glimpse and gone forever! - Robert Louis Stevenson
There was a time when every yearly vacation involved a long and winding train ride, with the wind whipping my hair into a messy muddle. B and me were always fighting for the 'window-seat' and never tired of training our eyes into the distance, watching the landscape flit by. Squinting into the changing vistas, eyes smarting and streaming, I enjoyed every waking moment. The night was fun too...clambering into my bunk bed (sometimes the middle, oftentimes the upper), the train morphed into a cradle, rocking me to sleep with a rumbling lullaby. In between waking and sleeping, there was eating - vadas, bread-omelette, cutlet, idly, dosa, masala chai - it was a veritable cornucopia of gastronomic delights - dispensed by vendors with colourful personalities to match the wares they hawked...Those are some of my most pleasant memories, especially since the number of train journeys have drastically reduced, of late.
Avion travel is so clinical - there is no interaction with your co-passengers; no eye-contact, shared food, story-swapping, steely machine smell of a second-class cabin...
I wish I could take a break - a nice, long train-break...chug away on my steel steed Faster than fairies, faster than witches,Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What makes New Year's Eve different from any other Eve?
The same sun that rose today will rise again tomorrow, in the same place, at about the same time.
Time - expansive, nebulous, unfathomable...slotted as 'closed chapter' and 'new dawn' reality, Time hasn't changed, never does; we do - even though we wish we didnt...
Banshees beneath my window, looking forward to 2010; the night is still young....Only Time will tell how the tide will turn.....