Thursday, January 19, 2006

All hail...

...The Strand book sale!

For the twin nieces :
There's a Wocket in My Pocket! - Dr. Seuss
It's Not Easy Being a Bunny - Marilyn Sadler
Little Miss Twins + Little Miss Sunshine - Roger Hargreaves

For non-twin nieces:
Matilda, Dirty Beasts - Roald Dahl
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

For the mother of twin nieces:
At Wit's End - Erma Bombeck
Love and Marriage - Bill Cosby

For the mother of the mother of twin nieces:
Every Living Thing - James Herriot

For Me:
Wodehouse and Marquez.

Many thanks, Uma, for showing us The Way.

On another note, today's the day when we're leavin' on a (spice) jet plane, and if all goes well, will be back in the middle of February.

We shall miss you, blog-world. Please don't change too much while we're gone.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Close but no Cylindrical Brown Bundle of Dried Leaf

This is so ridiculously stupid, that I'm past my usual routine of foaming-in-the-mouth and have settled at the 'lord-these-children' shakings of the head.

NOTE (National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication) secretary Shekhar Salkar, a Goa-based cancer surgeon, has served legal notice, to Superstar Amitabh Bachchan for featuring on a film's poster with a cigar in his hand. Says NOTE secretary Shekhar Salkar, "Bachchan, being the icon that he is in India, is bound to have an indelible influence on youth."

I have two issues with this painstakingly-cultivated-bonsai-molehill:

1. Mr Salkar is obviously incredibly well-informed about the working of the film industry, and knows that every movie poster that is made, is made wholly in concurrence with the whims of the actors featuring in the film. Of course that's how it works. You didn't know? Well silly you!

I can just imagine it, Mr. Bachchan's sonorous voice saying - "Yes, yes. This is exactly how it should be. I shall sit, leaning back a little, radiating power and charisma, and the cigar shall be captured in the frame 'just so'. We just have to ensure that the *first* thing every young man or woman does, after seeing this poster is, hop around to the corner store and pick up one of these little babies! Now don't forget, boys! Focus! On the cigar, if you please.".

2. By the blindingly brilliant logic of Mr Salkar's argument, a large number of Indian youths ought to have started out in life as dodgy con-men, graduated to train robbery, served time in jail and then become the good guys.

They ought to have been inspired to start out their careers as coolies (with pet eagles), taangawallas (with proclamatory tattoos across their chests) and anthropomorphic-taxi drivers.

There ought to have been scores of anti-establishment, angry young men and women stomping through this country's roads everyday, and shooting angry glares at the population at large.

There ought to have also been much wooing of damsels through song, dance and soulful poems, recited in honey-on-gravel voices (that voice, sweet jesus, that voice!).

Sadly, there have been no activities on these lines.

There has also been, no evident increase in the number of cigar smokers, even after the sightings of the much-maligned posters.

So what do you think this tells us, Mr. Salkar?

It tells us, that while the youth of India are impressionable (like youth anywhere in the world, really), they're not bloody stupid. And the minority that are, are going to stay that way, whether or not you choose to persecute a man who has led his life (mostly) exemplarily.

It also tells us that you are the kind of strange and confused man, who is likely to serve legal notice to grass, for not tripping up a lion who was running along, looking for his lunch in some distant jungle, in a far away land.

Mr. Bachchan has apologised for the advertisement and has made it known, that he has not touched wine or cigarettes for the last thirty years, except for film shots.

Mr. Bachchan - hero, first love, for whom copious tears were shed by a certain red-nosed, four-year old - firstly, don't apologise for something you obviously had very little to do with. Secondly, please go ahead and smoke that damned cigar. And down a couple of large pegs of something oaky to go with it.

Thirty years is too long to deny yourself life's little pleasures.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The first star on the right and keep straight on till morning...

I don't understand directions.

I'll say it again in case you missed it the first time around, I don't understand directions.

I don't understand east or west or north or south. I mean, alright, I know what they look like on a map, but I am completely incapable of translating that into real life. It took me three months of sheepishly asking - Excuse me bhaisahab/aunty/scary looking person/obvious druggie, east kis taraf padega?" - to figure out that it was the railway line which delineated east from west and not the western express highway (and I have no idea where I got THAT idea).

I don't know that roundabout at Bhulabhai Desai Road. I've never seen the footbridge near Chowpatty and I definitely do not know how to get to the Barista at linking road. Hell, I don't even know how to get to blasted linking road!

And people, it's not that I don't try, I do. Honest, truly I do! It's just that, when you spend all of your traveling time day-dreaming while looking out of windows, you don't end up registering things like roundabouts and footbridges and the like.

The thing is, my brain (for reasons best known to itself) registers as landmarks, things which unfortunately don't fit any previously known definitions of that word. Like bill-boards. Now those, The Brain remembers. Directions like - "straight down from the Tanishq board with the woman with Amanda-the-panda eyes, then the left after the Lays Chaat Street board with Preity and Saif" - will get me there everytime! But you see the problem with that don't you? Tanishq lady? Preity? Saif? For the love of anything you hold sacred, wouldja please stay on those damned boards? Bill-board-people, I'm begging you! Help me, lest I spend the rest of my living days in bewildered wandering, through the streets of bombay.

This impairment is not restricted to Bombay though. I've been equally tried in Delhi - The city where it's perfectly normal to find house no. 42 happily rubbing red roof-tiles with 'The Baweja House' at no.103 which in turn, chummily shares a boundary wall with 'Shanti Van' at no. 7.

In Delhi, my brain remembers bus stops. Bus stops, which the Delhi Municipal Corporation, happily demolishes every now and then. This penchant for merry destruction, had caused me to walk up and down a street so many times on one dark winter evening, that an ancient panwaala stopped me to ask, "Beta, tum dhoondh kya rahi ho!?". I couldn't very well say, "Yahan ek bus stop huaa karta tha", and look like a complete doofus now, could I? And so the story continued.

Back then, I'd try really hard to understand the directions people gave me. There'd be smoke coming out of my ears with all the effort of mental mapping going on in my head. I'd start out okay, but the mental map would last no further than the first five steps in the right direction. Then everything would just melt like jelly left out too long. Buildings would morph into each other and the streets would just run into each other and merge, like so many rivulets just dying to get back together for a jolly little reunion.

Nowadays, the first thing I do when people start giving me directions, is tell them that I'm seriously navigation impaired and that nothing they say will make any sense to me - but it doesn't help. The result will be extreme enthusiasm and even more intricate directions, which ensure, that inside my head I'm weeping with frustration, while outside, I'm putting on my earnest-listener-and-genuinely-try-to-understand-er face. I have been known to nod enthusiastically and acknowledge (fake) understanding with cries of "Oh, that roundabout/footbridge/barista! Of course I know it!", just so that The Direction Giver would just, please, stop already!

I've even gone to the extent of telling The Direction Givers that I'm going to feign understanding and nod at appropriate times - you'd think that that'd dissuade them, but no. Their next step is to look at me fondly and say, "Look it's really simple. All you have to do is, *insert incomprehensible directions here*"

So, imaginary people, If there ever comes a day when we decide to meet, do me a favour and let me pick the place. Or just tell me where to be, but don't, please don't tell me how to get there.