Sunday, 29 March 2009

Socials, a friend and a book

Its been a hectic week...and vibrant, social and professionally gratifying one.

The transient spring in all its glory is here but for so short a while. As I key in this post, sitting on my favourite couch by the window...its almost midnight and the sensuous smell of the parched earth just moistened by falling raindrops makes me feel complete...at least for the moment.


Last week I found time to hang out with my favourite friend after a long hiatus. She is my soul sister and we have been through similar turmoils at the same time in our lives. We share each others' pain and understand each other perfectly even though we don't talk to each other for months. We also share the same stoical interior, masked with layers of exuberance and infectious humour which is sometimes the only make up we wear.

I am looking forward to seeing her again next weekend for a city fashion show which promises to be typical of my favourite cheese and wine evenings.

Another task accomplished this week...I finished 'The lost flamingoes of Bombay' written by a youngish lad by the name of Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. The critic of the book who wrote the review read has selectively singled out the lascivious, sleazy phrases and discussed them in depth, leaving out more meaningful parts of the book. I know these are the days of dumbed down journalism and I am so very happy I am no longer part of this tribe..

The book has no plot. It is a narration of four or five lonely people among Mumbai's creme de la creme. Shanghvi has borrowed from events in the country which are pretty recent, like the Jessica Lall case, the attack on North Indians in Mumbai and one can event identify the characters in real life. The main characters are no doubt fictitious, but the peripherals are borrowed heavily from real life, which makes the book quite predictable.

But now, the good part...For a young man, Shanghvi shows powerful flashes of brilliance in his writing which reflect wisdom beyong his years. I savoured each of these ideas and word play languidly, turned them upside down and inside out and yet, they never failed to fascinate me... Here are some gems:

The strength of a marriage was measured not only by how it was upheld, but also by how people responded to its betrayal...

You were an ally to my solitude.

Claire made him feel indispensable, irrestible even. But he noticed she was like that with most people; her charm was an equal opportunities employer.

Rhea slipped beneath the creaking floorboards of Karan's memory.
There is a lot more...which you will find out once you read the book.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Quite a crowd

Here is something I picked up from CNN. Quite a crazy story, but yes, they are one, big happy family. But imagine the amount of tightrope walking each of the adults must be going through, all because of the money factor......read on

-- Struggling to make ends meet, trying to dig themselves out of debt, Nicole Thompson-Arce and her husband have moved in with her ex-husband.
Together, the unlikely threesome of Omaha, Nebraska, is raising two young daughters from the first marriage.
It's the kind of situation that has left cable guys howling.
"They'd never heard anything like this," Thompson-Arce, 28, remembered with a laugh. "And they're in people's homes everyday."
When she and Craig Thompson, 42, were going through a divorce in 2005, this was not a deal either of them could have imagined striking. It was a messy divorce, the kind involving a custody dispute. But once they ironed out that battle, agreeing to joint custody, Thompson-Arce said they were able to move on and forward.
iReport: Read Thompson-Arce's post
By the time she married Mathew Arce last July, she said she and her ex were friends. In fact, they were so close that his mother -- meaning Thompson-Arce's ex-mother-in-law -- was in (not just at) the second wedding ceremony.
Soon after the Florida wedding, the new lovebirds flew into a financial mess. She had left a job, and as soon as she found another (a temp position), her 22-year-old husband was fired from his higher-paying gig.
iReport.com: Job hunt stories
They fell behind in rent. The bills stacked up. The credit card debt grew. iReport.com: What are you cutting from budget?
A couple months later, Arce, landed a temporary Wal-Mart cashier position, which has since turned into a full-time job. But finances remained shaky and digging themselves out of debt seemed insurmountable. Tell us how you're surviving in this economy
In walked the ex with an offer, just in time for Christmas. Thompson, an 18-year bakery employee at Wal-Mart, lives in a three-bedroom, one-bath home.
"I knew they were having money problems, so I just asked them to move in," he said. "I figured I'd get to see my girls, my daughters, more often. And Nicole said yes right away."
Besides the economic savings, the benefits are many.


No longer do they have to shuttle Victoria, 7, and Caitlyn, 6, between two households. As a team, they can parent and be on the same page. Finding a baby sitter is never a problem. They take turns making meals, which they all share.
Thompson and Arce, who are 20 years apart -- "I had to get the whole spectrum going there," Thompson-Arce joked -- have become the best of friends, and share a similar sense of humor. They have tackled home improvement projects, run around together on days they both have off and often hang out at the kitchen table building plastic models.
"We just clicked," Thompson said. "When I tell people, 'I'm living with my ex-wife and her husband,' I get some really strange looks. ...It's different. It's unusual, but it works."
The transition has been smooth and great for the kids, Thompson-Arce said. And for their benefit, irrespective of finances, she thinks it's a living situation they'll stick with for at least five to 10 years. It has, however, taken a little time for the little ones to get the story straight.
Seven-year-old Victoria went back to school after winter break -- and after the whole team had blended under one roof -- and started telling people this: " 'My mommy has two husbands,'" Thompson-Arce remembered. "I was like, 'No, honey, don't tell them that!'"
What she and both men hope the girls are learning is that divorced parents can work together and be friends.
"There are so many families that go through divorce and can never let it go," she said. "I'm thankful, and hopefully our situation can help people rethink things because if they have kids, it's in their best interest to get along."
One might wonder whether the couple, who've been married for less than a year, get enough time alone together, given where they're living. Thompson-Arce points out that her ex works a shift that sends him to bed at 7 p.m., so the evenings -- after the kids are asleep -- are for her and her husband to share.


"When they do have a romantic evening, I don't hear them, so we're not going there," Thompson quipped. "There's a bathroom between our two bedrooms."

The ex-husband hasn't dated since the divorce. He said it's because he's been focused on work and taking care of the kids. Thompson-Arce, however, said that she and her husband are forever trying to get Thompson on the dating scene and want him to meet someone special.
Special, and understanding, she would most definitely need to be.

"He'd have to find a very open-minded woman because we don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon," Thompson-Arce said

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Soul shredder

I am back , folks after a slightly longish silence. This morning I feel happy, energised as if I have got back some life-sustaining personal oxygen that had been denied to me in the last coupla weeks...

I had been deliberately avoiding seeing movies of that genre. After 'Bombay' I had vowed not to see any movie which dealt with communal violence/tension. The ostrich syndrome continued and movies like 'Parzania' and'Wednesday' came and went. Why did I get talked into going and watching 'Firaaq' which dealt with the Gujarat riots of 2002?

Seeing the movie left me with the feeling as if vital parts of my soul have been gouged out. I am numbed by the madness......

Anyway, please read this lovely article written by Sadia Delhvi and the vast gap between Sufism and radical Islam.

Read on and write back your comments...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4272667.cms

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Reader

No, this post has nothing to do with the Oscar award winning movie featuring two of my favourite Western actors ...Ralf (promounced Rafe) Fiennes and Kate Winslet. Although I am dying to see the flick....

Recently I have been reading book reviews as it has been quite some time since I read a book. I have been denying myself the pleasure of what I like doing most and have been moping around a like a sad sack.

Some of the new books on the shelf include Daughters of Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera which deals with the horrors and atrocities suffered in the UK by South Asian women. Reminds me of the movie 'Provoked' based on Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Am I ready to go through another tale of horror and exploitation?

The other one which is much talked about is 'The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay', by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. Based loosely on the Jessica Lall murder case, it is supposed to be an interesting read, but with language which has too much sleaze wrapped around it. Don't know whether I shall be able to digest that!

But one book I am definitely going to read is 'Stranger to History' by Aatish Taseer. Some of you may have heard about the author in passing if you have been reading gossip mags. He was in a relationship with a minor British royal Gabriella Windsor and even made it to the pages of Hello.
This is his story....not about his affair, but about his very existence. I did not know Tavleen Singh, a senior journalist in the country had a love child (Aatish) with former Punjab governor in Pakistan Salmaan Taseer.

I have grown up admiring Tavleen since the days she would report for the now erstwhile Sunday magazine and as a growing girl in my early teens was jealous because she had interviewed my idol of those days Imran Khan! In fact, she was the only woman journalist of note for a very long time in the country and I was inspired partly by her to start my career as a journo. Anyway, enough of that later.

The book promises to be something of a masterpiece. A love child who belongs half to Pakistan and half to India. Reminds me of a little of Abhishek Bachchan's character in Delhi-6. But this, I am sure will be much more powerful. A reality, a circumstance in life, written by the boy who has been through it all.

The book hits the stands next month. So, many reasons to read it... And did I mention? Aatish is a gorgeous looker!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Is it her?

I know I have been dicussing a lot of pain in most of my recent posts. Makes me sound like a sad sack. But this morning, I am pensive, with a real reason.

Since the last ten years I have been regularly visiting a particular beauty parlour for hair, facial, pedicure etc. And like most customers, my favourite was Gauri. With her easygoing manner, sympathetic demeanour and expert work she quickly made a place in my heart and stayed there. Till one day last year, she fell out with her employer and left. I missed her but like most clients anywhere, I slowly adjusted to a new girl who I felt was lacking in most skills and needed a lot of prodding from me to do things the way Gauri did. I had Gauri's cell number, but never had the time to give her a call and ask where she was.
Till today.....I saw headlines saying a beautician named Gauri was poisoned by her married lover and her body dumped somewhere. I was hoping it was not her because her age has been quoted as 22, and she was clearly on the other side of 30, till I saw the picture which bears startling resemblance to the Gauri I knew.
I paste below a weblink to the story:

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090313/jsp/calcutta/story_10663516.jsp

I am still hoping against hope its not her. The picture looks like a younger version of her. Please God, let me be wrong this time.....

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Alpha woman story

Here is a story I want my readers to complete as I myself don't know the end.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Alpha . She came from an all-girl family and her parents were strong individuals who brought up their daughters to be bold, independent, capable individuals. Feminine frailty, delicateness and incapability were words that did not exist in the family dictionary. Solid, grounded, no-nonsense were virtues that were worshipped.

Cut to marriage into a family where females were scarce. Women were seen not heard. Inability to cope, lack of intelligence and awareness were some of the qualities that were encouraged and appreciated in females.

The alpha girl naturally was confused. Coping in this planet was difficult terrain. She continued being her true self. Of taking pride in being able to juggle job, family, babies, responsibilities single-handedly. Always trying to show she was capable of handling all issues and problems (which were many and multifarious))...too proud to admit she needed help....But always believing it was her own incapabilities that led to the problems themselves (not true).

This led to chinks in her relationships. A case of drifting away. She was content with doing things her way. Life was separate compartments under the same roof.

Till one day, something changed. She met someone. Confident, older, strong and mature. Someone with a twinkle in his eye, a gentle voice, a caring nature and an arresting and comforting presence. It made her want to be a woman.....

Readers are welcome to continue with the way they want the story to end....Honestly, I don't know how to end it.

I look forward to hearing from you all... so stir your imagination, think and write back! This could be a good theme for a Mills & Boon story. Need to flesh it out more.
Will be back with more crazy ramblings. Till then, ramble on....

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Mixed musings

As I slowly settle back to life's mundanities after a hectic week of milad, mehendi, marriage, masti and magic, I feel blank but not stressed. Not exactly happy, but not unhappy too. Yes, I feel relieved to be back to my blog, my world, where my mind lives and resuscitates, rejuvenates and even, luxuriates at the thought of the way life could be, if I chose it. But do I have a choice? Or any choices left??

It was a week of hectic fun, of family reunions, meeting of old and new relationships, of galawat and tundey ke kebabs, of biryani and sheermal, jewellery and fine clothes, ghararas and sherwanis. A bout of resettling and illnesses later, I am back to my favourite place in the world's web space.

I met a lot of people who swear by certain cities and say so and so are their favourites cities... I wonder why? Lucknow is one of the most loved cities of people I know. Visiting the place was tinged with feelings fraught with stoicism. It is the city which has given me moments of intense despair and crumbling relationships, in a bygone era....so, despite the familial love and festivities, there were times when visting certain places was like opening old wounds..... yes, I am clinging to another pain body, which I had thought had disappeared from my psyche.....And yes, I refreshed the main pain body today, by going through the written evidences.....On a happier vein, some of the cities I like to visit are Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. London, New York and Toronto are clear international favourites.

So much happened in the last one week. Daily festivities for three days, meeting so many people and yes, A R Rahman and others bagging the 8 Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire were some of the highlights to me. The best outcome of the Oscars being awarded to SDM is the fact the the two street children who acted in the movie were allotted government flats. Now that is what I call rags to riches. Why else do you think I still believe in miracles?

I also saw 'Billu'. All I can say is both the Khans in the movie just rock! I know this post seems quite disjointed...much like my thoughts at the moment. Too many people, too many things have led to a crowding of the mind. The brain needs to sift through the necessary and the unnecessary. Though the very necessary thoughts were always at the back of my mind, no matter how many people, how many thoughts. And these made me smile, sustain. More in the next post, which might be a poem, you never know....