Friday, October 22, 2010

I lived in a village for three days and two nights!!

A couple of months ago, I had come for an interesting orientation by our HOD ma’am on M.A Public Relations. I hung on to every word ma’am had to say about my next two academic years, I knew I had to bag this course right there and then. I vaguely heard her mentioning the words “village”, “saree”, “interior Tamilnadu” and so on. I figured, that must be a project I would have to do in my last semester of college. I was mistaken. In less than 4 months, here I am, humbled by the generosity of sixty small huts in a village near Pondicherry, called Nadukuppam.

A week before our visit began a shopping frenzy for medicines, dance-props and mosquito repellants. Monday, the 13th of September found all of us in pitch darkness, waiting in college, for our teachers and transport. We were all sleepy and excited. We jumped onto the bus along with our teachers and promptly fell asleep. We woke up, in time for breakfast and went back to sleep again. We reached Nadukuppam by 11 AM. We were greeted by Ms Joe and Ms Parvathy who were going to be our mentors at Nadukuppam.

The first sight that we saw, as soon as we stepped off the bus, was a roadside bus stand with a whole family inside – babies crawling around, women cooking food and water seeping through on all sides, the family was huddled in a small corner of the sheltered bus stand. We gulped in disbelief, wondering what we were getting into.

We were taken to Nadukuppam Government High School by Ms Joe and Ms Parvathy. Our three day stay was going to be in this school. Our bed was the floor; we were sharing it with all its existing residents, namely grasshoppers, scorpions, spiders and other creepy-crawlies. Our next big concern was the toilet. We ran towards them and heaved in relief when we saw four of them one next to the other. Our relief was short-lived, as we soon discovered a huge snake pit with a family of resident snakes, right next to our toilets. We sent up prayers and tackled our toilet business and ran as fast as we could.

We just about settled in to our common hall, when Ms Joe and Ms Parvathy called us for a small brief about the village. They told us, that they were trying to help the children of the village who had failed their classes 10 and 12, by conducting stitching classes for them. They were also instrumental in building the common room, of the school where we were going to sleep during our stay.

Soon after, we set out to our assigned streets, along with our teachers and our survey partners. The mini-van dropped us all off, one by one to our respective streets. My survey partner Evelyn and I, hopped off the bus; bottle of water, umbrella, pens and questionnaires in hand.

Our first household was of a newly married couple. The bride was all of 20 and was busy watching Sun Music, she greeted us with a shy smile as we explained the purpose of our visit. We began our rapid fire session and she answered patiently to all our queries. Before long her husband, who was a petrol pump attendant, joined us and he began participating in our conversation as well. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other, as is expected of all newly married couples. It was a little distracting, as the heat was getting to us and we had a tight target to meet. We thanked them for their time at the end of our thirty odd questions and set out to interview another family. We noticed right in the beginning of our tour of the village, that all the households had television sets and the satellite dishes placed outside their homes. Some looked even bigger than the huts they lived in. We found this quite amusing; we realized that their priorities were a little skewed. We discovered that none of them had a toilet; they all went to the nearby ponds for an early morning job, but entertainment just a click of a button away.

Almost too soon, it was time to go back our base camp for lunch, Evelyn and I had just completed six families in total, while the other teams in our class had done ten families and above. We panicked a little, on discovering these statistics, but kept motivating each other, that we would meet our target as well. After a quick lunch, we got back on field again and continued our survey. We met family after family, who asked us who we were, what we were doing in the village and why we were asking them such probing questions about their caste, incomes and educational qualifications. They swept their porches clean for us and invited us into their homes, without hesitation. They posed eagerly for our photographs along with their cute children. Day 1 of our survey had come to an end. Our target of 20 questionnaires seemed like an impossible dream. I slept fitfully that night, between my friends.

I woke up the next morning thanks to the desperate rumbles of my tummy. I looked around for somebody to wake up. One of my classmates’ finally woke up, in the same dire plight and we took off in the wee hours of the morning, torches in hand. I felt a wave of relief wash over me, as I walked back to our common hall and found more people sitting up straight with messy hair and swollen eyes. Priya, Shruti and I decided to rush to the washrooms before it got too crowded. We discovered that the washroom closest to us was clogged and over-flowing with water.

I almost burst into tears at this point, when Shruti announced, “Priya and Gayatri, stand behind this wall and hand me mugs of water, I’m bathing”. We bathed that morning with six mugs of water each, it was an exciting and a once in a lifetime experience!

Evelyn and I had lots more luck on Day 2, while filling out questionnaires. We met our Day 2 and Day 1 target and we were overjoyed. We had picked up speed from Day 1, learnt from our mistakes and kept motivating each other. My pink umbrella didn’t help us much, as we both got burnt through and through and Evelyn kept muttering “Ouch” under her breath every five minutes, as I kept poking her on the head with my umbrella spokes. We interviewed a few “rich” families on Day 2, we went inside households that looked like mini palaces in the middle of nowhere with crude looking sofas, four walls fully cemented and children speaking to us in English.

The night of Day 2 was special for me, as I heaved a sigh of relief on a job well done. I was so happy to be paired with Evelyn; she was a gem of a person and a wonderful team-player. My friends and I whispered under the sheets, late into the night, until one of us fell asleep.

Day 3 greeted us all with a renewed sense of hope and joy. Our stay here was almost complete, our targets were much smaller for the day and we would finally go back home to our urban lives. I shared my washroom with six ugly looking frogs that morning. I kept eyeing them, worrying about when they would decide to jump on my head.

We set out onto the field without breakfast that morning. Evelyn and I walked through huge fields to get to a street called “Ameri” which was quite a distance from our base camp. Our teachers dropped us off, at the beginning of the field. I felt like a Bollywood actress, walking through green fields, but my bubble was quickly burst as I slipped and fell into some slushy brown water.

I ignored my damp uncomfortable clothes and focused on my small target in hand. We interviewed seven families in Ameri and walked back to our bus. We had a quick breakfast and continued our survey again. Evelyn and I interviewed very interesting people that morning. We met a Candy-seller, who spoke Tamil, Hindi, English and Punjabi. He had left his native town to earn a living in Nadukuppam. We met a college professor who disapproved of my handwriting and informed me proudly that all his children were working and were post graduates.

Our lunch on Day 3 was the happiest. We had all met our targets and kept hugging each other. I kept counting my questionnaires over and over to make sure, that this was all not a dream. Nadukuppam village, has changed me, I will never take for granted the luxuries my parents have showered me with.

(Photograph taken by Evelyn Charles)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Anjaana Anjaani

It's the morning after and I still can't stop smiling over the movie. Ranbir Kapoor, looked H-O-T and I wished for him to be mine. There were a few minutes of him shirtless, which made my blood boil and my eyes pop. Move over Hollywood actors and all the other so called "yummy" Bollywood hunks - RK kicks all your asses! That chiseled body, those pink lips, that height, those soul searching eyes.. what more could a woman want in a man?

From the start to the finish, he was a real pleasure to watch, the plot was cute, funny, moving and fairly realistic. I could empathize with Priyanka's heartbroken character, over a cheating boyfriend. We've all been through that at some point. So when she and RK kiss for just one scene in the movie and she wakes up the next morning and tells him, that she feels she has cheated over her ex, I could understand. Men can really be jerks at times and the healing process takes forever.

RK played the adorable "sacrificing his love, for her happiness" bit, perfectly. I loved the last few minutes of the movie, when he proposes to her, in that unorthodox and really endearing fashion, it made me sigh internally and I made a silent prayer to God, wishing for something similar to happen to me as well.

RK + PC = eye candy for both sexes, do you really need any other reason to watch this movie? Go, go and GO!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hey, Soul Sister - Train

It's been a loooong long time, since a song has struck a chord within my heart's blood oozing chord. I'm left smiling and giddy headed for hours after I hear this song, I wake up every morning, rush to my laptop, tune into You-tube and hit this song, which is always queued up, waiting to be played, and then it loops for about an hour and half, roughly.

From the start to the finish it's an absolute masterpiece. The first verse goes :

"Your lipstick stains on the front lobe of my left side brains
I knew I wouldn't forget you, and so I went and let you blow my mind
Your sweet moon beam, the smell of you in every single dream I dream
I knew when we collided, you're the one I have decided who's one of my kind"

Cheeky, naughty and cute all rolled into one. I wonder what was running through the band's mind, when they composed and penned this song. Was it for one of their girlfriends/wives/fiancées? If yes, they have just upped the games for all boyfriends universally!

The perfect song to wipe out all your blues and sorrows, in under four minutes, guaranteed. Kick out all those comfy eating fatty foods, and turn up your stereos children. This song is here to stay.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Madras Gymkhana Club

The MGC has been my playground for the past 13 years. To outsiders, it may appear to be an extremely snooty club and truth be told, it is snooty. When Thermal and a Quarter played here, the crowd sniffed and ordered another stiff drink from the waiters. When I played with my little cousins on the gym-lawns after 9pm one night, I was shooed away by one of the waiters and my parents were told 'no children allowed on the lawns post 9pm, please'. I still remember going for a New Year's Eve bash with mum-dad to the club and dad had announced to the reception staff that I was over 16 years old. Not knowing the significance of this white lie, I announced quite loudly, "But daddy, I am only 14".

How a club started by the Brits, maintained it's Brit culture for 126 years, is a wonder. Men are allowed inside only with a collared shirt and shoes, no one is allowed on the club premises with their workout clothes on, the last dinner order is taken at 10.30pm and so on.

The waiters haven't changed in all these years and before I can even sit down to place my dinner order, they have a steaming spicy hot plate of chilli chicken dry, ready for me. The food here is fantastic but a little dull, when you've been a regular for 13 years. Of late they have been making a few changes to the menu with regard to continental food and the drinks, which is a relief!

The pool uncle rings his bell at 7.30pm sharp for the kids to scramble out and even today I am asked to leave. I suppose I never grew up for him, in his eyes I will always be a kid and that is a nice feeling. The pool is brilliant, super huge and really well-maintained, you can see right upto the last tile on the watery floor. Many times, I have this eerie feeling that I am being followed by an invisible being in the deep waters and who knows, maybe I am. A restless Brit, may have decided never to leave the pool and I can't blame him/her, I would probably do the same, if I were in his/her shoes.

I grew up gorging on the warm Naans and Nut and Date tart puddings, playing in the old park next to the pool and reading plenty of Mills and Boons from the library. I will never get tired of this club, it is my second home.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Iron Man 2

To start off with, all those who think that Iron Man 2 could not live up to its predecessor, step away from this blog post. Number One: An Iron Man movie can never and I mean NEVER be awful. Number Two: Have you seen the bum and face on Robert Downey Junior?

Iron Man 2 had plenty more badass action scenes, than the first. Downey Junior makes his audience flinch one minute and then “ooh and aaah” the next. For all the feminists who can’t stand male superhero movies and believe that only men can kick some mean butt, fret not; for this movie has Scarlett Johansson playing an ubercool agent, who goes undercover as Iron Man’s personal secretary in training. She has her share of fight scenes – very few sadly, but VERY appealing – she has my thumbs up to act in Elektra 2.

This movie dives a little deeper into the life of the man behind the iron clad shield. He is a wild irresponsible wild parties throwing narcissistic sloth, but is there more to him than just that? And in comes the villain of this piece to answer this question. A physician named Ivan Vanko who believes, that his father was wronged by the Iron Man’s father – Howard Stark. He constructs an arc reactor and a crude suit of his own, along with whip-like energy weapons. Can the Iron Man beat this revenge seeking scientist who is out to destroy the Stark legacy?

To add fuel to the fire, the Iron Man is slowly dying. He is being poisoned by the palladium core in his arc reactor (or in simple terms the shiny blue thingy stuck on his chest), and all attempts to find a substitute element have failed.

Can our sexy knight in shining red armor (with a nice butt) overcome these odds and emerge victorious? You don’t have to rack your brains too much to answer this one; I think I hear the three year old baby next door, screaming the answer out to you. Go watch it. And if you have watched it already, watch it again!

PS: I almost forgot to add, the icing on the cake, the chocolate sauce on the Belgian waffle, the stir fried chicken in the Manchurian – Tony Stark and his former personal assistant Pepper Potts kiss. Finally!! I had to wait two WHOLE movies for that to happen. I smiled and smiled till I could smile no more.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Crown - Residency Towers

Mom and dad's 33rd wedding anniversary was a much thought about affair for the past three weeks, we had decided to go to the rooftop restaurant of the Accord Metropolitan, but thanks to the never ending cyclone Laila, our plan was washed out.

We tried reserving a table at the GRT on D-day to discover that they had been fully booked as well. Disappointed, we continued to rack our tummies for inspiration. Before dad could say, "Lets go to Besant Nagar for a burger", the thought struck us. Why not Residency Towers? We had tried their rooftop restaurant for my 23rd birthday and their lip smacking buffet serving restaurant Main Street on a random greedy afternoon. The tummies had spoken, the verdict was out. We would try The Crown, their Multi-Cuisine restaurant which is located right next to their rooftop restaurant.

I began a countdown starting with T minus 12 hours, I was super excited. The three of us decked up like Christmas trees and made our way towards the lap of luxury. On reaching our destination I was a wee bit conscious of my Mary-Jane Chinese Silk outfit, mum and I received a lot of curious stares. Point to note : Chennaites stare.. a LOT, go figure! It doesn't matter if you are in your Calvin Klein chaddis or an exquisite Saree, people here love to ogle.

We clambered into the lift, which took us to their highest floor and into their Multi-Cuisine restaurant, The Crown. I opened the very last page of the Menu card and eyed the Dessert menu. I always plan my meals backward, I believe that Starters and Main Course must always compliment the Dessert, else you are bound to have a dis-satisfactory gastronomic experience.

We ordered a Panner starter, called the Tiranga. The dish had the colours of the Indian flag - three soft juicy pieces of Panner were served to us, in Saffron, White and Green.

For main course mom settled for a Vegetable Lasagne, which was dipped in a creamy rich tomato, white and cheesy sauce stuffed generously with vegetables. I am a Vegan-hater, but this dish would make all you non-grass eaters, have a re-think.

I ordered Golden Crumb Fried Prawns, which was accompanied by a spicy red dip, lettuce leaves and mashed potatoes, each bite took me straight up to heaven and back. The Prawn pieces were massive and crisp, each bite had a power packed CRUNCH to it.

Dad, the non experimental one amongst us ordered Rotis and a Chicken Kheema curry, I almost decided to give this a pass, but the Kheema repeatedly whispered my name in a soft sultry voice, until i gave in. It was rich, wonderfully flavored and had just the right amount of spice.

We moved on to my favorite course of the meal - Dessert!! *joyous tummy flip-flops*. The Tiramisu and Carrot Halwa had our names written all over it. The Carrot Halwa had a very acute Milkmaid and Ghee tinge to it, very melt in your mouth and tasty as hell. My only complaint would be that the quantity was too little. As for the Tiramisu, the folks seemed to relish it, I'm not a huge fan of the sweet, so I will make no comments.

The service was pleasant and friendly, the waiters didn't hang around our tables and they served each course slowly. We had enough time to soak in the lovely ambiance of the Crown, we watched in wonder at the huge Dome ceiling, which gave the restaurant it's name and the hundreds of soft chandelier lights that hung from the ceilings and walls.

All in all, a night fit for the Kings and Bhadrans, of the world. *big burpy grin*

Friday, May 07, 2010

Nonsensical teenagers

It's that time of the year again, the time when college admissions begin, the time to dust off the cobwebs inside our brains and get cracking. Last week my mom and I headed over to a city college, to buy application forms for the course of my liking.

There was a never-ending queue, as long as a Paper Roast dosai at the counter and the sun was beating down our backs mercilessly turning our brains to scrambled eggs and our bodies to salted sugar syrup.

We noticed women of all shapes and sizes, dressed up and dressed down. Girls huddled around excitedly, talking loudly into cellphones, adjusting their bags over their shoulders and some flirting with their respective boyfriends. We waited for about forty minutes in the snaking sea of bodies. All was well, until two annoying nonsensical teenagers (NT) decided to park themselves behind mom and me. Our agony began seconds later.

The NT conversation:
Tall NT : Dude, this is like so cool!
Short NT : Yeah, like sick cool.

Tall NT : If i get into day college, I'll chill at Mocha, if i get into evening college I'll get smashed at Zaras
Short NT : Super sick! *hi fives*

Tall NT : So where else have you applied to?
Short NT : Oh, just some colleges in Bombay and Bangalore.
Tall NT : Bombay? Then you can meet Shahid Kapoor and forget college.
Short NT : That was the plan!

Tall NT : Oh look, my freakin' dad is standing there.
Short NT : Su-weet, he is ahead of us in this godforsaken line, he will probably get the application form before us.

Tall NT : Hey! Guess what? This dumb college has a dress rule, only kurtis and long tops allowed
Short NT : Eeyew! For real? I don't think I want to study here then.

Trust me blindly, when I say, you don't want to hear the rest. Girl talk is absolutely 100% fun, as long as it is not announced to the rest of the world in eardrum shattering decibels. There were two old men, standing ahead of us in the line and they farted a few times, probably in response to the heinous comments the pair of NT were passing.

Mom was scandalized as well at the end of these forty minutes. Her exact words were "Kids these days" and an angry pout. Point to note : Mom NEVER gets scandalized! She has heard and seen the worst of things, thanks to a rough army lifestyle she had, being married to my dad.

As for me, I remembered vaguely being a nonsensical teenager myself, but our generation was far more intellectual *sheepish grin*

Monday, April 26, 2010

Six Weeks

February 9th, 2010 changed my life forever. From a bike-lover i turned into a bike phobic. The day started out just like any other, an early morning calorie burning session in the gym was on the cards. I revved up my baby confidently for one last time, for the next two months and hit the road. I drove fast as usual, with the chilly 6AM morning air, hitting against my body. As i neared my destination, disaster struck, I lost control of my bike and went skidding against the hard tarred road for a good five minutes.

I lay there in shock for a few seconds, until someone lifted me up. I could see blood all over me, a huge gash on my right leg, cuts and bruises on my hands and legs and a limp lifeless dull thudding on my right hand. I knew right away something was wrong.

A flurry of activity followed, and I finally reached Malar hospital where the doctors confirmed that I had dislocated and fractured my right shoulder and had a ligament tear on my right foot. The medicines and the sharp water they used to clean my wounds stung and I clung onto my mommy's hand and screamed with all my might, until she whispered in my ear that everything would be alright soon.

I was taken into surgery shortly after, my FIRST surgery ever! And it had a fancy name - Key Hole. I was petrified to say the least, I repeatedly asked the doctors if I would feel any more pain and whether I would be awake on the operation table. I wished I was in Seattle Grace Hospital, where at least I could have drooled at Mc Dreamy and asked Meredith why she was so wannabe Goth all the time. No such luck, though. Doctors are boring and artificially cheery people who try to make you believe that life is peachy.

Three hours of surgery later, I felt my immobile right hand, which hurt even more as I tried to free myself of all the tubes running through my body. I had two metal rods stuck all the way through my right shoulder up to my elbow.

I was officially handicapped for the next two months. If it weren't for my Mom and ayyah, I'm sure I would have been dead by now. I could barely walk thanks to my bloated ligament torn right leg and I could do nothing all day except for lolling around on bed.

I hated the tight belt which restricted my body movements and kept my hand tightly in place. Each visit to the doctor was demoralizing and humiliating - I looked like crap, I felt like crap and I just wanted to be someone else. Someone without a broken shoulder, who didn't have a tight band around her all the time.

The only silver lining to this dark cloud was my poopie coming home to see me. My dad, spoke about him for days on end and my mother approved as well. It felt nice watching him being at home and my parents lapping up every word of what he had to say. The icing on the cake was when he touched both their feet - i knew by the look on their faces, that they were in love with him too :)

Five years of riding, umpteen accidents and a still healing broken arm later, I bid goodbye to you, my dear old Scooty Pep. I will miss you dearly, but our time has come to an end. I wish things were different for you and me.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I've been a Twilight series fan for the past 10 months. I own all four, have read them all and loved every word typed down in those huge black books.

Vampires have fascinated me, ever since i was 10 years old - thanks to the back then popular TV Series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I've waited my whole life for literature and movies like the Twilight Series, it just makes all my dreams come true. I am sooo happy, merely looking at Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.

I finished the first book in four days, the second in two days, the third seemed to stretch on forever because the whole Jacob Black v/s Edward Cullen thing got a tad bit boring and Breaking Dawn in three days, it was the perfect finale to this wonderful story.

Naturally, I've been dying to see the movies as well and I couldn't until 5 minutes ago. I picked up the Twilight DVD from Landmark yesterday and finally saw the movie right now.

The movie was everything I imagined it to be, in fact, it was even better! Watching Edward run faster than the wind, carrying Bella on his back, watching them kiss for the first time, watching them fall in love with each other, soaking in the faces of all the characters whose names I can say like the back of my hand - Carlisle and Esme, Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett, Bella and Edward, was a visual and sensory treat!

What a movie, what a hunk! I love vampires - I love Edward Cullen, I wish I could take Bella's place for just one day.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I was a little skeptical about watching this movie, because everyone I know who saw the movie, gave me bad reviews, telling me that it was not their money's worth. I saw it 1 hour back in the Madras Race Club and I disagree with all these people.

Mr Bachchan as the 12 year old Progeria affected boy, Auro was a real treat. I completely forgot for the whole 2 hours and 15 minutes that he was Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, because he pulled off the role so well. Running away each time he saw the little girl approach him, laughing and giggling cutely at the drop of a hat, passing witty innocent remarks every 5 minutes - how could one not fall in love with Auro?

I wished I could meet Auro just once, to just give him a huge hug and tell him that he is special.

I felt his mother's pain at the last scene in the movie, where she sits in the rain hugging her newly married spouse, crying her heart out.

This movie not just tugs at the strings of our heart, it also teaches us a lesson. It's not the quantity of time that you spend on earth that makes you leave a mark on people's lives, it's the quality of the life that you lead which makes people remember you long after you're gone.

There is an Auro buried inside all of us, let's free him and experience plain, simple, undiluted joy.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sherlock Holmes..

I have to be honest, before I start this review, I am not really a Holmes fan. Infact I even hate the televised episodes with Jeremy Brett, which my boyfriend watches religiously via his LAN.

The only reason I went for this movie was for Robert Downey Junior. I've loved him right from his Ally Mcbeal days to his Iron Man stardom - the man is interesting. He is not a drop dead gorgeous beefy hunk of meat, but he is cute-ish and his facial expressions are amazing. You could call him the Shahrukh Khan of Hollywood, minus the lover boy, sob sob roles.

I can say without a doubt in my mind that no one could have suited the role of Holmes better than Downey Junior. He captures the essence of the character perfectly - logical, analytical, eccentric, mad, brutally honest and hilariously funny.

Jude Law as Holmes' faithful sidekick, Watson was the perfect icing on the cake, he complimented Holmes in every possible way, by being the saner, less eccentric other half.

The plot was engrossing and excellent - the way Holmes tackles each mystery is simply awesome.

I wait eagerly for the second part of the movie now and I shall pay more attention to the Jeremy Brett series henceforth.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I had no idea what was until June 28th 2009, I prepped myself well for the interview, by brushing up on a few known facts about the company. The added bonus was the location - same complex as my gym and 15 minutes from home. It was reason enough for me to take up the job.

For the first one month, i soaked up all the food coupons worth a little more than a grand and the pick up and drop cab rides.

By the second month, i made some friends - friends, who I never really thought I'd get close to.

Today was my last day at Amazon and some of those friends who I thought I would never get close to, became my close confidants and best friends.

I'm sad today - sad about leaving a lovely organization full of beautiful people. I was thrown a fantastic farewell with the works - cake (which ended up more on my face and less inside my tummy), noise, gifts and a fairly huge gathering of boys and girls.

I was overwhelmed with bittersweet feelings, I cried at 4:58 dot, in front of one of my colleagues and walked away slowly, out the doors of a company I can't call mine anymore.

I'll miss you, you will always stay close to my heart.