Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lost in the Concrete Desert

Part - 2

The other evening, over a cuppa I told husband, "All these days I knew about only one Aman and now I know two of them". Looking over the GDN, he raises his eyebrows to know whom am I talking about. "Zeenat   Aman!, the first one  and now the second one being  Aman Plaza". Putting the paper on his lap, he starts laughing. "What's so funny, you know Zeenat Aman of our very own Bollywood and now whenever I say Aman Plaza I feel she owns this building". Continuing to laugh, husband says, "Don't talk about Zeenat Aman, everyone will start thinking about her movies "….."Ok, ok". I know where all the conversation would lead to. So I stopped.

The next day afternoon, the world cup fever caught up with us, well… it did catch us red handed though for another reason! Me not being a cricket enthusiast was sitting and watching the game when the door bell rang. Still talking about the match and not looking at the door, I open and what do I see, "Captain of the England team in shorts and T-shirt"?!! Coming back to senses as fast as possible, "Yes"? "Am your neighbor", at once the beginning 'boo-boo' incident of trying to open the wrong flat came racing down the memory lane….. "Come in". After taking two steps in with his Hawaii chappal, stops suddenly seeing our foot ware lying nearby, promptly removes his chappal (chappal, very Indian way of saying, isn't it?) and holds them both in his hands and follows me to the living room saying "WOW", which sounds like VEW, British accent, you see…. I turn back to introduce him to husband but couldn't react seeing him following me with the hawaii in hands. I politely show him the floor, meaning to put them down, sense prevails, he walks back and places them next to ours and comes forward and shakes hands with husband while my mind is telling me to tell husband to wash his hands immediately after our 'white' neighbor leaves. He begins straightaway but politely, "Am your neighbor and I'm sorry to say that you are disturbing us by talking loudly"! For a second both of us are stunned! We didn't expect this. Taking another second, husband says, "We are enjoying the cricket world cup matches on TV and we are sorry if we have caused you any disturbance" "O, that's ok, just wanted to say… " "Hey, you guys are Indians?, you have a beautiful living room, mind if I bring in my wife?" By now, 'wide eyed me' muster to utter, "Yes". In walks a Philippina looking young pregnant wife, with a deep cut halterneck frock   which can easily pass of as a lingerie,  shakes hands with both of us saying, "Sara". Being typical me, I ask which country is she from, for which she says "Japan". "Why do these Philippinos, Chinese and Japanese have similar features"? My mind pops up yet another question. Sara says, "We watch movies every afternoon and your talk is rather disturbing, you don't seem to be speaking English and we don't understand anything." Thank god for that. "O, were we that loud? Excuse us if we have disturbed you". Being a structural engineer, husband starts a technical lecture saying nowadays how the builders don't build thick walls between flats to cut costs, to the attentive listeners. "Why don't you sit and have some juice", Indian hospitality offers, "No", smiles Sara, I would like to see your house since it looks big". By the way, theirs is a two bedroom flat. Guided house tour begins from the kitchen and ends up back in the living. VEW, VEW, VEW!, following us everywhere. Showing the kitchen, husband proudly declares, "We are pure vegetarians" for which the England captain, sorry, forgot his name, says, "You don't even eat fish"? "From when did fish become a vegetable?" I ask myself. Husband says, "No". "VEW"! "How many times does this chap says WOW in a day?" I wonder! Entering pooja room, both of them hold their hands together and say aloud. "TEMPLE"? "Ya", I nod. "So many Gods"! One more "Ya'" from me. "I'm a Buddhist", says, Sara. I at once sense the instincts of husband, who is in the brink of breaking into the Siddartha / Gouthama Buddha Epic, and at once look at him and say, "Shall we move on?" As we finish our tour, the English captain looks so lovingly at Sara that within me I'm praying that they both will not show their intimacy to us!

Captain looks at me and says, "You should teach Sara some Indian curries, they taste real good", for which Sara adds, "You eat with your hands and the whole palm smells of the curry even after washing your hands". I chip in at once, "But when you cook, the whole building smells, isn't it?" Husband gives me a look, meaning, "You are being rude here"! Ignoring my comments, Sara says,"You teach me how to eat with hands and I'll teach you how to eat with chop sticks". We both nod smilingly. "Chop sticks, me? She doesn't know me still, eh?", I question within. Leading them to the door, husband says, "From now on we'll have to talk a bit softer", looking at a "smiling me" and adds," But in a few days from now, when your baby cries, we wouldn't mind at all", says looking at the couple. I mentally give a 'high five' for giving them a parting shot, a "googly" here.   "We are very friendly neighbors, you see". I at once remember Lagaan, the hindi movie! Shutting the door behind the "original British family" and having a confused look, I ask, "Did we do the right thing by moving into this building?" Husband says, "Only time will tell"!

Next morning, while flipping through the pages of the GDN, I got to see Classifieds on page no.40. Taking a sudden interest in hunting yet another house, I start scrutinizing for a better place, but alas, cannot find anything suitable in and around Juffair. "Ah, why not I call the agent who showed us this flat? A good idea". Dialing his number, and after exchanging pleasantries, ask him a direct question, "Mr. Sridhar, can you show us another apartment or a villa in and around Adliya or Mahooz. "Why Mrs. Srinivas, it's not even a fortnight you people have moved into such an enviable building and you are already thinking of moving out?" He seems to be totally bewildered! Telling him a short story about our experience with our neighbors, I continue and ask him, "I have seen one compound villa in Adliya (here, I'm withholding the name of the compound for reasons not best known to me), which seems to be quite good and in our budget, why not see there, Mr. Sridhar"? "O, Mrs. Srinivas that is a racist compound", comes his reply. "WHAT, A racist compound?" I almost bark, "Yes, there are a lot of Britishers in there and they don't want any Indian neighbor because they don't want to see an Indian man strolling in the garden with lungy and ladies in their nighties in the mornings!" "Wow", a very Indian sounding one comes out of my mouth, "Go on Mr.Sridhar, haven't heard any such thing, very interesting". "Yes, Mrs. Srinivas, they expect neighbors, I mean men to wear shorts and ladies to wear skirts or pants as casual wear and anyway, who do they think they are to decide the dress code for their neighbors", gives a roaring laugh!!!!!   Once again, I don't know what to say, but a "Yes", whatever that meant. "Well, Mrs. Srinivas, I know your taste and living standards (what does he mean? Low or high, never mind, whatever…) and I also know Mr. Srinivas doesn't wear a lungy at home, keeping all these in mind, will call you as soon as I find a suitable accommodation".   "Ok, thank you Mr. Sridhar".

Now, my thinking process has stopped here. I don't know what future holds for us. At present let me think positive and be happily whispering in Aman Plaza, no, not owned by Zeenat Aman but by a Bahraini. Whisper, Whisper!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lost in the Concrete Desert

Part -1

Stepping on the black granite steps, pushing open the huge gleaming glass door, we enter a lobby; I tell myself, "looks like a 5 star hotel"…eh?
"Good evening, Madam, good evening Sir"!
Husband stops at the reception to talk to the Manager while giving the apartment keys into my hand as I was eager to have a second look at the place we were moving in.
Coming out of the lift on the third floor, I flung open another door which leads to two flats, one to the right and the other to the left. Without batting an eyelid, I proceed straight to the left door and trust the keys in the key hole, don't open! "Have I put in the wrong keys"? Oh, how can I? Let me try once again, refuses to open, as I go on nudging with the keys, the door opens from inside and there stands a westerner with a confused smile! I'm horrified! Taken aback, "Sorry… So sorry, it's a mistake"… I hurriedly take a right turn to the other flat and at once the keys obeyed and in I went and the door automatically shut.. Sigh.. Sigh.. "What a stupid thing to do", I thought, "What will that person have thought.. Inquisitive or a foolish Indian lady"… before I thought any further, I could hear someone speaking from the master bedroom!!! Omygosh! "Is it a wrong flat again? No, how could that be", at once the adventurous me took over and I tip toed to take a peek into the bedroom, what I see? The TV is on! "Who was watching the TV by the way",  a thought raced my mind, "maybe the person who came in to connect the TV forgot to switch it off", I concluded.  I hurried out of the bedroom, in came my husband, followed by the manager, "Everything is set in the house Madam, when you move in, I bet the house will be very comfortable, the manager quipped.
The main door flung open and there was a man with the aqua cool water bottle, who headed straight to the kitchen and said that I just had to call the reception to replace the bottle once it's over, I gave an impressive look at husband, meaning, "wow! We get aqua cool bottles free here", (everything included in the rent). Before I could calculate further, the man pronounced, "You will have to pay BD 1 per bottle". My facial expression soon turned into a thousand fills nay frills! Do you understand what that means?
Ok, we are moving in next Friday, husband announces as we are leaving the building.
Son and husband are highly impressed with the brand new building, son has already plans of making his body look like one of those body builders, teaching dad how to play pool, whereas husband has lots of plans up his sleeves of playing TT with son, enjoying a sauna, jacuzzi and swimming leaving behind poor me who is more concerned about the number of cabinets the kitchen has, where to store the innumerable cookeries, the small stereo, the cassette rack, the little decorations to give a homely touch et al!
Friday morning dawns and we begin our battle with the boxes, as I call it..Shucks! Why do we hoard so many things?, cant we make our lives simple by simply not buying things or not succumbing to the numerous sales? Still remember we coming to this island with three suitcases, how I wish we had remained that way! All flash backs… no time to rewind my life back to 1995… almost tripped and fell, thanks to the masking tapes which lay all over.
As we move in our things into the new apartment, the man at the reception comes and introduces himself as Alim from Pakistan. "Glad to meet you", I say. He quips, "Madam, are you people moving from a villa to an apartment"? "Why", I ask? He replies, "People who come into this building walk in with their suitcases"! Well, I tell him, "We too did the same thing some 12 years ago" and walk past him. "Madam, let me help you", he follows.
Next morning dawns…. I open my eyes, new walls, lacy curtains, everything is unfamiliar, can hear husband praying in the other room, I rush out of bed. Coming to the living room to take a look at the view, what do I see, tall buildings everywhere, where is the sea view which I was so used to in the previous flat? I try to look in all directions but alas, its only concrete, concrete everywhere!
Ding dong! "Who is this"? … I look through the peep hole to see two women, I click open the door, they greet me with all kinds of sticks, bucket full of cleaning lotions, etc.," Good morning madam, housekeeping"! Err, well, housekeeping? "No one told me" … I thought! "Good morning, I have just got up, can u come after an hour please"? Phew! "Why can't they leave me alone", I think aloud. I remember Deva my house boy who was ever accommodating.
The same evening I bump into Aalim in the lobby. "Good evening, madam, hope you are having a pleasant stay"? I give him a smiling nod and out of curiosity ask him, "Are there any Indians living in this building".   Pat comes his reply, "You are the only Indian family, and we have one Pakistani, a few Europeans, and a few Britishers living with their girl friends, one British lady with her dog and one original British family. One original British family? Haven't heard of any such thing! I repeat," an original British family"? "Yes, madam, husband & wife, the wife is pregnant". Now I know what an original British family means.. haha! Does anything like this ever exist in the dictionary?
The other day, a friend of mine drops me home, as we are reaching home she happily says, "Asha, you are very lucky to stay in this area", before I could even ask "Why", she says, "there are so many eat outs here, you can walk into any of them and munch your favorite food"! "My dear, don't forget the Brahmin from Bangalore who doesn't even go near garlic", for which she teases, "You shouldn't be living here". We both have a hearty laugh.
The same evening, went to the 9th floor to see what my son and his friend were up to. Both of them were having a splash in the cold pool, "How is the feeling, aren't you guys feeling cold"? "No", both of them giggled. As I walked down the staircase and passed the gym I could hear the huffs and puffs from inside, I dare not go in to see who is getting fitter…
Coming into the apartment, I hear a Trrrrrringggg….  At once I lose the sense of direction, "from where is it coming", I look everywhere, ah, there.. I run and pick up the intercom and say "Hello", the screen lights up and I can see a man standing and looking elsewhere as he requests me to open the door, as I open the door, I tell myself, "A video com, ok, hadn't seen, rather experienced before"!
The man comes in and says he has come to fix the pc line. He checks all the walls of the house and says, "Madam, the pc can be connected in the living and the master bedroom". I say," I don't want it in both, can you please connect it to the other room", showing him the 3 rd bedroom where I'm planning to make a study.  "No, I cannot," "Can take an extension wire, can't we?" Then without allowing him to reply, I say, "Will anyone keep their pc in the living and master bedroom"? "Well, madam, Britishers have laptops and they usually do everything in the living and master bedrooms". "What does he mean everything"?, I quiver. Anyway, "Whiteheads have raised their heads again" I murmur. "Ok, madam, I'll bring the patch chord tomorrow and fix the line". "We already have one", I hurriedly bring and show it to him. He takes a look at it and says, "This is made in China, madam. I will bring the one which is made in England, and in this building, only that chord works and not the Chinese". I am dumb founded!
Well, people, this is the first week of my stay in Aman Plaza. Can I call it primitive or modern? Can anyone decide for me, please?

Friday, August 27, 2010

So much to learn

Curvaceously Delicious 

It had just then stopped raining. I looked out of the balcony and saw the muddy water streaming down the foot path and took a deep breath, taking in all the fresh air after a heavy down pour and marveled at the site I saw.

 The green leaves of the trees were dancing in gay abundance as the wind blew, showering water like sprinklers on the people who walked below.

There she stood under the cover of the tree a bit drenched but nonetheless looked very much like a potentate, at least in front of her colorful spread that lay in her cart! The rain drops that had settled like pearly due drops on the farm fresh nature’s wonder which she was selling were a sight to the beholder!

I sat inside the bay-window sill and watched people gather around her and within half an hour her cart was empty and there she vanished from the scene as the sun went down.

Seasons passed, we came to live here in Bahrain. Come summer holidays and we were back home for our annual vacation and the best time pass especially for me was to take a stroll to the market whenever I was free in the evenings. One evening as it had just then stopped raining, I walked on the footpath criss-crossing all the puddles that came as hurdles.

As I entered the market nudging my way through the crowd, I saw a voluptuously “DESI” woman with a crisp bright cotton saree, a huge red circle of a ‘bindi’ in the middle of her forehead, a tight bun for a hairdo and fresh jasmine flowers surrounding it and topping it all was her paan stained lips.
Aaaa… there she is, the vendor woman who stood under the tree ages ago, ‘Oh, she has put up a shop here?’ I thought.

‘Curvaceously delicious, Curvaceously delicious, come and see for your selves’, she smilingly screamed beckoning people to come and take a look at the motley spread she had in different sections in front of her!
The two catchy words which she was calling out with a naughty smile attracted many to her shop. The stuff she was so deliriously delighted about was nothing but fresh farm vegetables, purple arched brinjals, red round tomatoes, big fat pumpkins, green long chilies and a variety of other vegetables, curvacious YES and delicious ofcourse YES… when cooked!!!!!!!!!!

 This particular shop was the talk of the town, I mean our area. Everybody would flock to her shop to buy those fresh veggies as well as to exchange a few snippets with this ‘full of life’ woman.

One evening as I sat to watch television at home here in Bahrain, the phone rang. The phone ringing at an unusual hour brought anxiety even before I took the call. It was my father-in-law who had called to break a bad news! He said, ‘The whole vegetable market was on fire this afternoon and most of the shops were gutted and all the shop keepers were helpless on-lookers as they witnessed their businesses go in flames!”

‘Alas, what a tragedy’, I voiced my concern and at once my thought raced through the lanes of the vegetable market and stopped in front of the CD shop. What happened to that Curvaceously Delicious shop?, I asked. ‘Everything is in ashes now’, he replied.

I imagined the agony, the anguish and the helplessness ‘she’ would have gone through along with the others!

After a few months, when I was in Banglaore, the first day itself I decided to go the vegetable market.
As I walked in, what did I see? The whole place was bustling with life, full of shoppers and the same old shop keepers. Though the fire had blackened the walls of the shops, their spirits weren’t, I could see.
I moved with the crowd to reach my favorite vegetable shop and lo! She was there with a sparkling grin which was a complete contrast to the black brunt wall behind her. ‘I had to sympathize with her before I could select the veggies’, I thought but there was no room for that because she greeted me by saying,
‘Look at these curvaceously delicious vegetables, they are fresh from the farm madam, I bet you will not get such farm fresh ones back in your foreign place too’.
So saying she put a small basket in front of me to choose the veggies. I was dumb founded for a second and looked up and her radiant smile and reciprocated with a nod. There was no room for remorse. It was life and business as usual for her whereas here my mindset was that of pity!

What did this mean, my friends?
Life has its own curves; some are smooth whereas some curves are crooked.
And here this vegetable vendor had not given up when life threw her off track but had faced it and now she is back doing her business as before!

The blackened wall behind her did have a white ceiling like the black clouds that have a silver lining.
Finally as I picked up my bag full of vegetables, the parting grin she gave meant, ’Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they are supposed to help you re-discover your potential and start your life all over again.’ Or so I thought!
I smiled back and jostled my way out of the market!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Poetic peep!

My Bundle of Joy

I pray silently, thanking the Almighty
The bond with my off spring that is so mighty
My bundle of joy that is worth a lottery win
To inhale the freshness of his smooth soft skin!

To hold and to caress the face of my sweetie pie
The very act which takes me to an ethereal high
Holding my cuddly bundle and looking into his eyes
Taking it to my chest and hugging it tight!

Oh! God, so heavenly is the feeling
As the cloud of talcum reach the ceiling
Clutching him, I sway with delirious delight
Was this my well being or my plight?

As I hold and kiss my cuddly bundle
Highly delightful with his squeal and mumble
Melting me away with his toothless smile
I can go on and on like a highway mile.

His tiny little hands with such a tight grip
The pout he showed with his rosy red lip
Every second with my boy is worth this long wait
For I am hook, line and sinker in my baby’s bait!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Movie Mania

{This was written when the movie was released}

Slumdog Millionaire, 8 Oscars! Wow!

I had heard of a pet dog, a stray dog and even a mad dog but slum dog? Not till now! No, it is not another variety of a four legged animal but a child from the slums, what a reference to a poor Indian child!

I knew only Danny Denzongpa our very own 70s Bollywood’s handsome villain until Danny Boyle entered the Indian scene now!

AR Rahman, a genius musician par excellence won an Oscar for Jai Ho, when he said he has his mother with him, I heard a small laughter coming from the audience and Rahman too did that bit instantly. Imagine the same scenario in any Indian award function, all the mothers who would have been watching would have shed an emotional tear or two and all the men would have vouched that they are what they are because of their mothers!! Yes Rahman, you said it! Mere paas ma hai, is Amithab Bachhan listening? Every one uses this sentence at one time or the other, “Behind every successful man there is a woman?” Is it a mother or a wife, a debate can start.

Dev Patel, who ‘still’ lives with his parents in south England or is it north, east or west says some news print.
Still? In India even to this day many sons live with their parents however old they might get and in some families the son cannot even think of moving out unless he has a job transfer or some domestic dispute. The whole family lives under one roof happily or otherwise ever after. That is common in India. But it fascinates the west and this is news for them.

Yesterday morning I sat glued to the TV set for a while to watch the Hollywood’s beautiful swans strutting their stuff on the red carpet.  Every time their gowns swept the red carpet my thought was, ‘Did their designer stuff rub the bit of star dust which might have settled on the red carpet?!’ How could dust, even if it is from a star settle on the RED CARPET! I must be joking.

Our NDTV’s Sara Jacob too was rubbed off by the opening question asked by the various other news channel’s correspondents who were interviewing the stars. When she caught up with Anil kapoor she greeted him with, “You are looking fantabulous if I may say so and her next question was, “Who are you wearing, Armani?” Anil beamed, Armani, yes it is… it is!
Well, imagine this happening to our gorgeous looking Rekha who always walks into an award function with the heaviest of Kanjeevarams one can think of and the TV reporter goes, “Who are you wearing”? And Rekha replying, “My wearer from the small town of Kanchi”… Please note here, not revealing her wearer’s name because of obvious reasons, any copy cats around? This doesn’t work in India, or does it? Now, I am doubtful. This question from the reporter is typical ‘Hollywood style’ you see.

Last but not the least; it is Anil Kapoor who walks away with the cake. Why, you thought, I felt he was like a wonder stuck kid walking the streets of America, be it New York or LA, he had this funny ear to ear grin, walking briskly promoting his movie or talking to people about it and the best scène was his elated joy at the award ceremonies, why is he so excited or was he over doing it or maybe that is what he is? I laughed at him every time he came on screen. He was funny. Jai Mumbai! Jai Maharastra! His words not mine.

With Slumdog Millionaire sweeping the Oscars, now there will be an influx of all sorts of film makers on the poor shanty slums of Mumbai or will it be added as yet another tourist attraction while one is in India. Just wait and watch, we will get to hear and see them all! Good luck India. They are coming. A rag to riches story is a huge crowd puller and India has variety.

I’m yet to see the film.

Poetic peep!

Back Home

Back home starting life all over again
Must be daunting to think again and again!
For this re-settling doesn’t spare anyone
Now or later we join everyone.

Village, town or city, it’s after all a beauty
Where everyone has a new opportunity,
For the young and the old alike
It can be in an auto, a car, a bus or a bike?

Looking for a few friends in a new locality
Bet one hits an instant popularity
Amongst the relatives and neighbors in the area
Who will accommodate you with great euphoria!

Do not say ‘difficult’ for let this word remain in the dictionary
A better word you can find, for life is extra - ordinary
Take a deep breath, the smell of the earth back home
Is more than the expensive perfume you fathom?
Catch up with the life you have missed out over the years
The festivals, the seasons and all the grandeur with all the cheers!

Think of the aroma of one’s awesome cooking
This will surely bring friends like bees swarming
Into the new abode of a cocoon where you would love to croon
And life begins afresh as one sees the passing milky white moon!
Enjoy the simple joys that come by,
For their lies the true joy of living, any way!

For the best of one’s life is spent here
One’s youth, middle age and old age for sure
The memories you carry is more than the consignment
That the airlines allows in their luggage compartment
For life is all about living in the present
And in the future, the present becomes a past pleasant!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Movie Mania

Fantastic or Khantastic!

Amidst much controversy, My Name is Khan (MNIK) made it to the theatres in India (a few months ago) but here in Bahrain it was an opening with the prices of the tickets being slashed and a boy named Khan selling T-shirts only to Khans, in the name of Khan!

As we friends settled down in Awal Cinema with a belly full of Sangeetha delights minus the popcorn tumbler for once, huh, for another three hours or so it was a journey of mixed up emotions and lessons learnt of another kind!

As the movie opened up, I saw Shah Rukh Khan(SRK) with a different sight; I mean through out the movie I tried in vain to develop an eye contact with my hero but couldn’t!

All these days I knew only the asparagus cooked and eaten as a vegetable but wait a minute there is a slight twist in the tongue, its Asperger, an autistic spectrum disorder named after an Austrian pediatrician!  Hadn’t heard of it before, thanks Karan Johar(KJ) for kicking the curiosity in me to get to know more about it!

Now comes yet another educating factor, a simple word, Khan which I am so used to pronouncing as Kaan as on ‘ears’ in Hindi but not any more!  
Learning to properly pronounce the word KHAN, a little bit of a vocal circus is required, you see.  To pronounce properly my jaw has to go down opening my mouth so that the air activates the flap of the elastic cartilage tissue projecting obliquely upwards behind the tongue and the hyoid bone as well and pass over the mucus membrane which is attached to the root of the tongue…gasp,gasp!!! Understood... No?... Even I didn’t! Ok, to make it simple we will use the word epiglottis!! What is an epiglottis? Let’s look at the dictionary. Maybe we learnt it in school!

KJ, I have earnestly started to master the word Khan many a time coughing it out with a bit of my saliva coming out and settling on the tongue but cant give a guarantee when I will master it.

Our hero is selling Mehnaz herbal products, did it ring a bell?, yes, of course. My friend sitting on my left quipped with disbelief; Shehnaz has been changed to Mehnaz! KJ, do think of something new next time which we ladies fail to co-relate?

As the song ‘Tere Naina’ filled the hall, I was trying to look into SRK’s eyes if I could catch a glimpse but landed up looking into kajol’s Khol filled mesmerizing eyes! The eyes under the un-tweezed eyebrows! Wah…re…wah… and no lip sync of the song this time.

My favourite scene is this. SRK asks a direct question of the intimate order to his beloved wife Mandira and we see her or assume that she gives in instantly but imagine husbands asking for ‘it’ while we are in the kitchen busy fixing breakfast/dinner and the reaction would be…. Well, well, I will discreetly leave it to your imagination!! If they are newly wed it’s understandable, though! Hey, stop, these two are indeed newly married and the Asperger Syndrome is raising its desirable head, you should understand at this point in the movie! Alright.

As the movie continues, my friend sitting to my right and me wah… wah… genuinely at the dialogues and happily give convincing looks at each other. Suddenly my friend points out to another friend sitting next to her who is blissfully asleep, we both are instantly amused! Thanks KJ, this part of your movie was a lullaby for this friend of mine or do I blame the idli, vada, sambar,  dry fruits dosa and topping it all with a tall glass of rose milk plus a late night show!

What about the emotional quotient? Yes, all of a sudden I see tears rolling down my ‘right’ friend’s cheeks. “O, is this scene touching”, I ask myself but not really for me and my friend sitting on my left because both of us smiled at what was happening. ‘Hard hearted twosome’, did you say?

Thanks to my friend who was sitting to my right, two times during the course of trying to understand hindi, I got lost and she came to my rescue by quickly clearing my doubt and making way for my understanding to link further.

9/11 happens with a whole lot of other things and now we are seriously sad at what’s going on. Suddenly there is news all over the TV Channels and our very own Darkha Dutt, sorry Barkha Dutt is thereeee! This is one way of seeping through a SRK film, lucky Barkha! I think.

The story gets predictable and quite honestly if anyone of you is a ‘pankha’ (fan) of SRK or Kajol, it’s a good one-time watch.

SRK meeting the President of the United States and sharing the podium with him is too much of a hindi movie masala for me to digest. Thank God, Obama didn’t look like Obama or is he some Kobama whom our KJ picked up to do the role of Obama!

Here’s MINK for you, oh, not again, you forgot about the slight twist here; it’s not MINK as on mink coats adorning the Hollywood beauties but its MNIK, My Name Is Khan!

Sajdaaaaa tere sadna… am drooling over this song right now.

My Name is Asha

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poetic peep!

Mind’s Eye

Fingers run on the rough and rocky sculpture
Mind rushes to the familiarity of the sculptor
Triggering an instant high of familiar happiness
That could have come true only in the wilderness!

Feelings float high like the flowers fragrance
Filling the room with the beloved’s absence
A stroke here and yet a curve there
The rough fingers would create magic where
The figures galloped and floated in the air
So she believed in the world of artistic flair?

Feeling the dents on the rocky surface
Her senses then go back to the poky face
Tear drop trickles down like a droplet
Alas, love had made her to dance like a puppet!

She wants to rub the mind’s canvas clean
Tainted and hurt from deep within
The eyes close as the senses cling to the feel
Tries hard to get rid of it like a fruit’s peel

Yet the heart clings to the feel of the touch
But the mind pushes its way in
To say, thank you very much.
Open your eyes; it’s a sculptor’s stone after all
With no feelings what so ever, now you know all!

My 1st Painting Exhibition in 2007

Monday, August 16, 2010

Salaam Bahrain, August 2010

My 1st GDN Column!

Twinkle in the soul 
      By ASHA SRINIVAS,  Posted on » Thursday, July 29, 2010

There is a huge banyan tree under which the old village grandfather sits. As the wind blows over the desert, it raises the fine dust from the sands and settles them all over the sun-kissed leaves of the banyan tree.
"Come on children," beckoned the grandfather gesturing at them playing nearby.
"Children, sit down quickly. I have something to give you all today, as well as tell you something very important."
The children looked on in anticipation, as the grandfather dug his hand inside his long bag.
He pulled out a string of pearls and, holding it aloft, said: "Now each one of you will get a pearl and along with it a message."
I was the first one to get a beautiful, big, round pearl.
"Take it my child and remember always, the day you stop learning, you stop growing. Venture out and learn new things, no matter what your age."
I looked gleefully at the pearl as his words echoed in my ears.
The alarm clock shook me out of my deep slumber. I tossed on the bed to reach it and woke up, my right hand still clasped.
Slowly I opened my eyes to look at my hand, but as I opened my fingers I found it was empty. Where was my pearl? At that instant I realised that it was a dream.
Later, I drove to Indian Institute of Performing Arts to enrol for kathak dance classes.
Walking out, I met the principal. "Oh, nice to see you after a long time, how come here?" he questioned.
"I came to enrol for kathak..." but before I could continue, he interrupted, saying, "For your daughter?"
"No, for myself," I replied.
I could see the stunned look as he continued: "It's good to see a lady like you come to learn a classical art form at our institute."
My first day at the class was very interesting. The teacher was younger than me by 20 years or so and every word of hers had to have a gesture, a dancer after all, I thought. I was inspired.
After mastering the initial few steps, we moved on to other hand movements and foot work. I was enjoying every minute of it and looked wonder-eyed when she gave me my ghungroos (dancing bells) - 200 of them, 100 bells to tie on each leg.
As I took a step, it went 'jingle' and then next 'jingle-jingle' and I was on cloud nine.
The rhythm of my footsteps and simultaneous sound of the bells was an amazingly exhilarating experience, which made me feel like an extraordinary human being.
Once home, I called my family in India to tell them all about it, but all I got was: "You? Why, at this age?"
I was flabbergasted! What did they mean by saying 'at this age?'
"At your age, you must take up some sombre activities like learning yoga, going to song classes, etc," my mother said.
"My son-in-law has encouraged her to do this, I know" was my father's reaction.
But this is not going to deter me, for I strongly believed in my 'pearl of wisdom'.
I wanted to scream... years may wrinkle the skin but giving up enthusiasm, wrinkles the soul.
The next day I went even more determined to the class and it is continuing in full swing. For me it's having a twinkle in my eyes, even though I can see my first wrinkle.
This twinkle has come to me I think only because I am constantly trying to learn and by doing so keeping my brain busy.
No matter what your age may be, don't give it a second thought when it comes to learning something you want to.
If you have a hidden desire to learn something, go.... there is nobody to stop you.
For there is an age old saying that goes like this: Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.


A perfect getaway for nature lovers, did I hear you say that?

Our vacation destination this time (2 years back)was in the midst of the lush green forest of Nagarhole National Park, the Kabini river lodge. Accompanied with three teenagers we headed for Mysore (near Bangalore,South India) stopping on the way at the famous Maddur Tifannys for their mouth watering 'maddur vadas' & idlis.

From there, we proceeded towards Kabini. The long bumpy ride took us through tiny villages dotted with green meadows of various hues, tiny thatched tree houses perched on tree tops, mountain ranges at the horizon, breath taking locales, to say the least. Bare footed farmers walking to their fields, I have to mention here that this was the most disturbing sight for our teenage son because he couldn't come to terms with people walking barefoot and wanted to buy them a pair of foot ware right away!!

As we drove past, we switched off the car AC, rolled down the windows and the youngsters decided to wave at every villager who passed by, be it children, women or men. Believe me; it was so heartening to see them smilingly reciprocate! The smiles varied from small shy ones, broad smiles to gleeful grins, waving and calling out. As we passed a particular school nearby, we came across small children standing with stretched hands screaming for pens! It was not that they didn't have one, but the driver told us that they are used to getting gifts from passing cars!  At once I thought how privileged our gulf children are? The amount of stationary each child owns here can satiate an entire school back there. And we moved on.

As we entered the Kabini Jungle lodges, our faces turned to delight seeing the well manicured lawns, gardens with clean pathways which led to the colonial style architectural building housing the reception and a souvenir shop. As we had made prior bookings, we were greeted warmly and given keys to our cottages. The driver would stay free in the dormitories provided especially for them!
We all had had enough of the bumpy ride, so decided to walk to our respective cottages anticipating the view of the Kabini River!! When we came face to face with the river, I joined the younger lot in running down to the river to touch the water slapping the banks. It was pure sylvan surroundings with benches peeping out of the bushes. Headed straight for it, sat there and took a deep breath while all kinds of insects and worms did their daily routines on the branches and grass nearby! The fresh air, the sound of the waves, the cool breeze kept me from entering our cottage for a full half hour!

As I walked into the cottage, what did I see? A spic and span room with whatever you were looking for! There were even toilet rolls in the toilets! No television and no Ac in the rooms, who wanted them anyway!
After a sumptuous lunch at the Gol Ghar (circular open to sides gazebo), we were asked to relax for a while before our first safari on an open-top jeep into the famed Nagarhole forest which would begin at 4.30pm.
We, the five curious cats went to the reception where there was a board which had the names of the latest animal sightings written on it. Our eyes opened wider and our jaws dropped as we read the names of the animals like sloth bear, wild dog, the Black Panther and the tiger! We all clenched our fists and prayed that we too could get lucky to see such exotic animals in the wild.
 At once we started shooting, no not with guns but with questions, as we got into the open jeep with the naturalists. The forest personnel were too happy to answer. Once we entered the forest, we were asked to keep silence and it was only the sounds of the birds, the baboons and other forest creatures which could be heard along with the rolling of the jeep's tires! What did we see first? Black faced grey coated langoors, followed by spotted deer's, Malabar giant squirrel, wild boar, hawk eagle, jungle fowl, an owl and numerous herds of elephants which Nagarhole is famous for.
The sighting of wildlife in their eco-system instantly created an awareness and respect amongst us towards them.
Suddenly we heard a group call of the langoor for danger lurking below, we were told that a tiger would be near by and as we heard this we coaxed the driver to take us further deep in search of the majestic tiger. We followed the cries of the langoor, the jeep stopped suddenly and the guide showed us the pug marks!!  A tiger did walk by that path a few minutes ago! Alas, tough luck. There was silence all over, the jeep rolled deeper into the forest in anticipation of sighting a tiger but the elusive beast was no where to be seen! After a two hour hunt, still wide eyed, we returned to our cottages.

As nature dimmed the surroundings, we the couple went off to the Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala hut for a rejuvenation therapy while the kids went to watch a wild life film at the audio-visual hall adjoining the Viceroy's building.

Next we headed to pamper our taste buds with delicious and piping hot buffet of Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine with a campfire and a barbeque, a perfect place to end the day by exchanging our day's experience with the other guests!

The chirping, calling and whistling of the birds were the alarm which woke us up on day two! What a difference to the mundane alarm clock which gets hit on the head every morning when we lazily push ourselves out of the bed! Huh!
Once again the jeep was waiting for us at 6.15AM. Off we went to the Nagarhole forest to try our luck in spotting the yellow and black striped beauty!
As I was soaking the early morning fresh air, the wind running through my hair amidst the verdant jungle, the sun playing hide and seek between the tall tree branches, hey, wait a minute. What do I see?, a beautiful Indian peacock! Oh dear! I would pay anything to stay here permanently. This instant thought, crossed my mind. As we criss-crossed the thick  forest pathway, there was no sign of our favourtie beast but still having high hopes of seeing one behind thick bushes we coaxed the driver to take us further deep and there we spotted a wild dog. We were told that it had lost its group and it was indeed a vulnerable prey to the other beasts! After a while, as we returned, we saw innumerable deer's jumping, running, stopping to take a quick look at us and vanishing into the bushes. Further down we came across two sambar deers too which we were told was indeed a rare sighting!
As we neared the lake kabini, we were a disappointed lot for not having seen a tiger for which our son said. "This gives us an opportunity to come next year too". Well said, son.

Boat ride in river kabini, sounded exciting! As we ladies took the regular motorboat for the river cruise, the men preferred the coracle ride, a circular boat made of bamboo and buffalo hide. As our motor boat jetted on the 70 feet deep kabini river, we saw a part of  Bandipur and Nilgiris forest. How can I forget to mention the exotic birds we saw like the snake bird, white throated king fisher, serpent eagle, the teal ducks and a lone crocodile with its two eyes popping out of the water!
As we walked into the gol ghar a sumptuous lunch awaited us. With the treat on our plates we settled in the dining area facing the kabini river as the howling wind played the back ground music, we had a fulfilling lunch.
Who would like to leave this paradise?  All of us reluctantly and slowly walked to the cottage and packed.
After giving a visit to the souvenir shop, we bid fare well to the friendliest staff telling them that they would see us next year and every other year till we spotted the majestic tiger in its natural habitat!