Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stock Taking : 2009

2009 hasn’t been Annus Horribilis for me, neither has it been Annus Mirabilis. It’s been an OK year. A year where you took some good with some bad. Lost some battles and won some. Improved in some areas you wanted desperately to improve on, and maintained status quo in some others.

So how am I better at the end of 2009 vs the beginning?

To begin with, I am fitter and more physically active than I was a year ago. It has involved many MANY loathed painful hours on the treadmill (I love gymming but I hate the treadmill), major cutting down on chocolates, brownies, cheesecakes and such like, a round of the GM diet, and carbohydrate-free dinners. But it has been every bit worth it. At the same time, I have come to terms with the fact that I’m a foodie, and resistance to food is futile and leads to depravation, cravings and over-indulgence. Therefore, I now eat whatever I feel like but in measured proportions. I avoid having desserts after dinner, preferring them to have sometime during the day instead if I must have them. I keep chocolates, pizzas and pasta for days when I’m really them. When eating out, I try to order healthy. For instance, I choose pasta in red sauce instead of cheese sauce. When I’m out eating Indian, I focus on the kebabs rather than the main dish. I choose brown bread over Parmesan Oregano at Subway (all bread tastes the same really!) And I’d like to believe, all this is making a difference.

I shop less and have cut down on impulse purchases significantly. I think I bought only 2 bags all of this year, no shoes that I can think of, and I’ve gone for months without buying clothes! Which, if you ask me is nothing short of miraculous. I now don’t go shopping just because I’m bored on a weekend. I’ve restricted my shopping to when I NEED to buy something or am feeling terribly low & depressed and need the kind of pick-me-up that brownies & cheesecakes can’t provide. (It helps, of course, if you become so fat that you’ve stopped fitting into clothes of any size, heels of stilettos crack under your weight, and no bags, no matter how over-sized, can help you achieve the I’m-not-fat-just-pleasantly-plump look).

And the biggest achievement of all, I have stopped using my credit card. Completely. I now spend only as much as I can fund at that moment (Serendipity, please clap for me!)

As a result of which, my savings are in better shape than they were a year ago. Yup, I’m finally learning the art of saving for a rainy day, and know what? Saving is not impossible or dreadfully difficult. It’s just a little bit challenging and can be mastered with a bit of self-control, which as we all know is a very rare and precious trait in women. So if you have a wife/girlfriend who isn’t a spendthrift, please fall at her feet RIGHT NOW.

My dressing sense has improved thanks to The Boy. Earlier, I wore clothes I liked irrespective of whether they flattered my body type. As regular readers of this blog may know, thanks to my constant cribbing about weight issues and my obsession with losing weight, I’m not reed thin. No scratch that. I’m fat as a cow….at least a piglet in any case….a potato in the least. And now I really understand my body type. I know which clothes suit me and which don’t. I know which parts of my body I should highlight and which I need to camouflage. My color palette too has moved from pink, bright yellow, bright blue and the likes to more warm and earthy colors like olive green, brown, deep purple, burnt orange, dull red, dark grey etc., with a couple of pinks & yellows thrown in occasionally.

Through 2009, I became completely indifferent towards a person I once felt tremendously wronged by. I don’t know if I’ve forgiven him entirely for what he did, or whether I will ever be able to do so, but as of now, he hardly exists for me.

I learnt a new language - Bengali!!

I have stopped comparing my life to those of others and wondering why the bad stuff happens only to me. I’ve realized that everyone has to deal with their own share of problems and I have no clue what another person’s problems are! What I AM sure about is that there’s a whole lot of misery and suffering in the world. There are millions of people whose are much worse off than I am. And I’m going to be thankful for the family, friends, opportunities, health and resources (financial & non-financial) that I’ve had and continue to have.

Still, there are number of improvements I need to bring about in my life. Since psychologists have already declared that New Year’s resolutions are doomed for failure, I abstain from calling them my resolutions for 2010.

I will visit my parents at least twice in 2010. Once a year is not what they deserve.

I’ll refrain from commenting on people and their actions until I’m sure I know them well enough. When did I lose my older non-judgmental self?

I’ll lose the remaining 5kgs, preferably 7. And then we’ll have a big fat cheesecake party…hallelujah!!

I will I will I will cut down on eating out.

I will become more regular at the gym. Regular as in 4-5 times a week, not 4-5 times a year.

I will make a budget every month and stick to it.

I’ll invest more.

I’m going to build on my patience. Right now it’s at zero.

I’ll get angry less often. I’ll try not to get angry at stupid people. I’ll try not to get angry when things don’t go my way. I’ll try not to get angry when things aren’t done the way I want them to be done.

I will walk more. A 10 minute walking distance is not reason enough to hop into a cab.

I’ll give more.

I’ll extend the understanding that I demonstrate towards my friends and acquaintances to The Boy and my parents.

I will write that goddamn book!!

I will get a better grip on my hypochondria.

I’ll take better care of my possessions rather than letting them take care of themselves - because I’m incredibly lucky to be able to afford all those things. I’ll pay better attention to my home rather than leaving everything to my maid and expecting my mom to be this angel who can foresee all my domestic problems and pre-provide a solution for them.

I’ll crib less about things that aren’t to my liking…because for everything that’s wrong in my life, there are at least ten things that are right.

I’ll love my parents, my sister & The Boy more - and show it through my actions – because they love me far more than I think they do.

So here’s looking at you 2010. Give me the courage to make that move which will start the process of me realizing two of my dreams – traveling through Europe and becoming an entrepreneur in 5 years’ time. And please help me be a better, happier and thinner person.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bringing in 2010

I grew up in the 90s. (Actually I was born in the 80s but I feel “growing up” in the non physical sense of the word really happens once you’ve crossed the 10-year mark. Besides, I recently heard someone in his mid-thirties describe himself as a child of the 80s, so that must surely make me a child of the 90s? :)

So anyway, to compound the fact that I grew up in the 90s was that I grew up in a small town. There were no New Year’s Eve parties that you could buy passes to. Besides, mum & dad didn’t believe in staying awake for the clock to strike 12, so New Year’s Eves generally meant sitting at home and watching the crappy New Year countdown shows on television with my sister. You know the ones where they’d get Bollywood starlets to perform and you’d really look forward to them as you'd have nothing better to look forward to?

Then came the US where there was no concept of exorbitantly priced New Year’s parties. (Thankfully, some countries in the world still believe in the right of every human to enjoy life irrespective of how much $$$ he makes!)

So New Years would be ushered in with friends, alcohol and loads of laughter & hugging each other.

And then came Bombay and it's New Year party culture that could set you back by a few grand easily, for a couple of hours of what was supposed to be fun but inevitably ended up being a disaster - the organizers would run out of food way early, there’d be drunken people all around you, falling over you, stepping on your toes, even throwing up all over you if they really loved your outfit or shoes!

Within a couple of such parties I realized that private parties at friends' places, or having a house party of your own if you were up for the organizing would be a much better way to bring in the New Year. And if hosting a party was way too much, you could always call a few close friends over, order in, curl up on your couch in your pajamas and bringing in the New Year with good food, good wine (or whatever the alcoholic beverage of choice), a great DVD, and loads of laughter & hugging each other.

And guess what, as long as there are friends, food, love, laughter & hugs who cares for exclusive New Year parties!!

How are you bringing in 2010?

Dirty Secrets

Last night when I was waiting on a sidewalk for a friend, I overheard a man talking, rather yelling, on the phone (to his friend I’m assuming) and his girlfriend standing next to him looking all pissed off.

Man : She’s talking nonsense! She’s saying “Why’s your brother’s replacement a girl? If your brother couldn’t go with you, why did you have to go with another girl? Now even I will hang out with boys.”

(The person at the other end must have asked what the big deal was if she hung out with boys, or something to the effect I suppose)

Man : You don’t understand! Knowing her, she’ll probably sleep with all the boys! She only wants to have sex all the time! Even when I’m tired, she keeps saying “let’s have sex”. She will have sex with all of them!

At this point the girl looks mortified, looks around at the people who’ve begun staring at her & walks off.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Avatar and on to Christmas with Family

The reason I’m not doing a full-fledged post on Avatar is because I didn’t like it. It was painfully long, boring, and the last 45 minutes or so were very Bollywoodish – one man taking on & defeating an entire army of villains, a miniscule clan armed with bows & arrows taking on the might of a humungous army with the most sophisticated weapons at its disposal & winning, and all that. I feel the movie is way over-hyped, and if rumors that James Cameron spent ten years making this movie are true, then well, I think those ten years were a waste for a good part. Because the special effects were all that the movie had to offer, to me at least.

Christmas was spent with family. It was a last minute decision to travel home, and I’m so glad I did. It had been more than a year since I last visited my parents (though they kept visiting me every 2-3 months, individually if not always together) and this trip made me feel terrible about being such an inattentive daughter to my parents. The three days that I was home, their entire lives revolved around me. Feeding me to the gills with all my favorite food (so what’s new with Indian moms?), making sure my every need was taken care of without me having to move an inch, making sure I was warm and my throat protected at all times, given that the temperature dipped to 6-7 degrees at night & hovered around 15-16 degrees at mid-day and my throat being exceptionally vulnerable to the cold.

Sometimes, it’s only when you spend time with your parents that you realize how much you mean to them, that they’re possibly the only people in the whole world who love you unconditionally and without expectations of being loved the same amount in return, how it’s always OK that you couldn’t do something that they’d requested you to do for them, and how even a short periodic visit by you can light up their lives. Parents really are mind-blowing people and mine never get their due from me, I know, because of the sheer fact that I must live in a different city than them. They want me to be back for Holi and I’m already scouting for tickets.

In the meantime, thanks Mum for the amazing gajar ka halwa (made with full cream milk, condensed milk, ghee, cashews & raisins :) and the plum cake. And thanks Dad for taking the trouble to dress up, complete with a blazer, to come pick me up from the airport.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So I've Been Gorging on Plum Cakes

Between Friday & yesterday (Monday), I finished half a kg of plum cake all by myself. “Rich” plum cake to be precise. And promptly went and bought another half kg to tide me over till Christmas!!

Did I mention I’m trying to lose weight?

Oh well, I’m having myself a merry little Christmas right now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who's the Boss?

Remember the show about Tony Micelli, the housekeeper, Angela Bower, the career woman, their kids Samantha Micelli & Jonathan Bower, and Mona, Angela’s boy crazy mother?

Angela was an up-tight and work-obsessed career woman, her son Jonathan was quiet & shy, and her crazy free-spirited mother, Mona, was obsessed with men!! Enter Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) and his daughter Samantha. Tony, an ex-major league baseball player joins Angela’s family as a live-in housekeeper, and wins the family over with his easy-going attitude, his penchant for fun and his disarming smile. Soon there’s a romance blossoming between Angela & Tony among household banter and loads of laughter.

I'm a big fan of 'Who's the Boss?' It used to be aired at 6.30pm (or was it 6?) on weekdays and I’d watch it religiously. I was in school then (I’m an 80s baby :)

It was such a funny show! The best part was the chemistry between Tony Danza & Judith Light. It was brilliant! The sexual tension between them was palpable. And Mona was simply hilarious!

There were a couple of conventions that the show went against. For one, the role reversal - male live-in housekeeper working for a career oriented woman - was new for the 80s. Secondly, Angela’s mother, Mona was shown to be a sexually progressive woman. She was boy crazy and had an active sex life – she dated men across age groups, from college kids to men in their 50s! Such a female character was quite unusual for 80s television.

The show was laden with laughter and peppered with feel-good moments. Yet I feel it never got its due :(

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rich & Sexy

I want to be RICH and SEXY. I don’t want to be famous because I love my freedom to do the simple things in life, such as walking down the street, hanging out at coffee shops, walking into any store/restaurant without getting mobbed etc. way too much to give it up.

But I would LOVE to be rich so I can travel across the world without worrying about whether I have enough $$$ in my bank account, shop as much as I want to without having to worry about going broke, and live in the house of my dreams. In that order.

And I would love to be sexy so I can slip into any dress without having to worry about whether it would fit me, look smoldering in sexy lingerie, wear the sexiest cleavage revealing tops and the tiniest of skirts, and make heads swoon.

But as of now neither of these looks like it’s happening, so I’ll just sit quietly & plan that mind-blowing trip to Europe that may or may not happen someday, and dig into my hot gooey chocolate walnut brownie.

Shit, I won’t be able to gorge on brownies when I become sexy, right? And I'll have to live on water & sprouts inspite of having all the money in the world. Kinda like movie stars?

Life is such a bitch.

Photo courtesy

Thursday, December 17, 2009


If ever there was a lame attempt to save face, this (below) is it. This article was published in the Economic Times today.


HAAGEN-DAZS probably did not realise that a sign, meant to tempt the Capitals creme-de-la-creme to its premium international quality ice-creams , would instead put it in hot water.

A day before the US brand opened its first outlet at a south Delhi mall, it put up signboards around the area for an exclusive preview for international travellers with the telling rider, Access restricted only to holders of international passports . An Indian, who saw the sign and was turned away from the store, only because of lack of space due to a weekend rush, according to Haagen-Dazs , took a photograph. He emailed it to a TOI blogger; within minutes it had gone around the globe, inciting a hail of protest that left the company red-faced .

An error was made in the creative execution, Anindo Mukherji, MD of General Mills India, which markets the brand here, told ET, adding more precisely, It was a wrong choice of words, and we regret the error.

As there are no such things as national passports they are after all used only for international travel it was apparent that international was used as another word for foreign . And since the booklets only use once the holder clears an airport immigration counter is a proof of nationality , the clear implication was that only foreigners would be allowed for the preview . It was not, however, intended to be a case of reworking the old British sign, Dogs and Indians not allowed .

No one was turned away because of nationality, insisted Arindam Haldar, director, Haagen-Dazs . I was present on all days. If people were refused entry momentarily, it was only due to overcrowding as there was a rush.

Obviously, Haagen Dazs is here to tap the Indian market, not keep it out, but the words of the teaser campaign left the company vulnerable to the charge of apartheid. And it was compounded by the very poor choice of words by TBWA, the agency that did the teaser campaign.

Upon sustained queries to company officials about the intention of the campaign, it emerged that what Haagen-Dazs really wanted to convey was, Now get a taste of abroad right here in India . But by preferring several long words that are liable to be misinterpreted instead of short, clear ones, they ended up generating a lot of heat: something ice-cream brands, in particular, should steer clear of, if they dont want their market to melt away, thanks to offended sensibilities. Especially, since it plans to open 30 to 40 outlets in the next few years.


Let met tell you my issues with this argument:

  1. There are no such things as "national" or "international" passports. However, when one says "international passport holders", one generally means people who hold passports of countries other than the base country. Therefore, if you're in India and you're referring to "international passport holders", you are indeed referring to foreigners/non-Indian passport holders. This isn't rocket science, really.
  2. Phrases such as "Exclusive preview for international travelers" & "Access restricted only to holders of international passports" does by NO means imply "Get a taste of abroad right here in India". Not by a long shot. The only thing it implies is that Indian passport holders are not allowed in! Who are those guys over at Haagen Dazs kidding? Do they really think Indians are so dumb?
  3. Haagen Dazs has conveniently shifted the blame on to their advertizing agency, TBWA, saying that they chose a wrong set of words, but didn't anyone at the ice-cream company care to check what the agency had come up with & what was finally going out in the market?
Well, guess what...I'm not buying their explanation. Not one bit of it. It's lame and retarded and a desperate attempt to get the egg off their face. And I doubt any self-respecting Indian will buy it either.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Say It Isn't So, Haagen Dazs!

Haagen Dasz is one of the creamiest ice-creams in the world (thanks to its high butterfat content!!) With flavors such as almond hazelnut swirl, baileys irish cream, butter pecan, chocolate peanut butter, cookies & cream, macadamia nut brittle etc. they have you salivating across their stores.

It’s a super-premium brand, a couple of scoops of which can set you back by a few hundred rupees but every single bite you take will be worth your money. I love Haagen Dasz ice-cream. Therefore, I was shocked to read that Indians were not allowed at their first retail store in Delhi!!!!!

The store in Saket, New Delhi put up a sign saying : “Exclusive Preview only for International Travelers. Access restricted only to holders of international passports.”

This is for real, people. And it’s shocking not to mention outrageous. I wonder which idiot advised the company to adopt such a ridiculous policy, or whether General Mills, the conglomerate that owns Haagen Dasz, knows of this in the first place!

This is a direct hark back to the British Raj when “Indians & dogs” weren’t allowed inside restaurants and other “white” places. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the franchise owner is an Indian from Delhi. Since the news leaked out, he’s taken the sign off and even insists there was no such sign in the first place, but the picture above proves otherwise. The man who took it, an Indian & a friend of The Times of India’s Rajesh Kalra, wasn’t allowed to enter the store inspite of being an international passport holder because he’s an Indian. So essentially this store was denying entry to everyone of Indian origin!

I can’t fathom what exactly Haagen Dazs was trying to convey through such a policy – that Indians are not worthy enough to be the first patrons of their store in India? That we can’t afford their ice-creams? Well, in that case the company should take their business elsewhere, should they not? Or that Indians will blindly lap up any product that has been endorsed by foreigners?

What would be the correct response on our part as a nation? Would a public apology from Haagen Dasz be enough, or should the company not be allowed to do business in India at all? The second option would mean a loss for Indian consumers – because Haagen Dasz ice-creams ARE heavenly - but then the company HAS adopted a racist approach by looking down at Indians as people who can’t afford their products or people who are still reeling under slave mentality and think a product that is endorsed by foreigners will surely be good. Should we as Indians encourage such a company to flourish on our land?

It would be very comforting to know that it's not the company Haagen Dazs that came up with such a policy but a stray Indian who tried to play on the racial insecurities of an entire nation that was once a victim of racism.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Need a New Winter Wardrobe

Let me explain why.

Once upon a time I lived in a land far away where winters meant sub-zero temperatures, wind that was so chilly it would turn the tip of your nose red, snow, turtle neck tops, sweaters, jackets, woolen socks, caps & gloves!

Then I moved to a land much nearer home (a.k.a. Mumbai) where 20 degrees Celsius (approx. 70 F) was considered the thick of winter! The turtle necks, sweaters, jackets and the likes I had so lovingly bought in the land far away were permanently relegated to the dark recesses of the cupboard, only to be brought out for an airing once every November in the hope that temperatures would dip to a level that would justify putting them on without getting certified a freak of nature, and would promptly be sent back to the recesses they were pulled out of after the airing. To be brought out again next November.

Now I’m in a place where I can wear at least one of them at a time – turtle necks OR sweaters OR jackets. When I took them out for airing this past November, it struck me that they have suffered the ravages of time. They have faded & started looking really old. Not to mention most of them cannot accommodate a permanently expanding body anymore!

So, I went shopping for winter clothes with The Boy.

Mistake 1. Never go shopping with a boy when you’re having “weight management issues”. The clothes he will pick out for you will be incredibly sexy but you will not fit into any of them. They will make the tyres on your stomach look like the safety tube you wear around your waist when you’re leaning how to swim!! Not only will you end up miserable because you didn’t fit into any of the nice clothes around, the boy will never let you hear the end of it. He will poke and grab and pull every tyre around your waist till you are feeling positively shitty about yourself.

Mistake 2 – Don’t pretend you will fit into any sexy outfit the boy picks out for you and attempt to try it on in his presence. You will only end up embarrassed and imploring Mother Earth to open up and swallow you whole right then, given that The Boy’s girth is half that of yours and he fits into, AND looks amazing, in anything HE tries on!

The most intelligent course of action in such a scenario would be to pretend you don’t like the sexy clothes he's picked out for you, and that your taste in clothes is much more evolved and sophisticated than THAT. And then suggest you go eat something instead since all that hunting around for clothes has left you famished. Boys are sensible creatures you know…they will never stop you from eating (within limits, of course) as long as you promise them you’ll take yourself to the nearest gym and pledge a lifetime of emptying out your wallet and Swiss bank accounts to get yourself tortured.

Whether you end up dragging yourself to the gym later won't matter. Sensible boys can also be distracted easily ;-)

Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater - Gap, $98

Cashmere Shawl Popover - J. Crew, $129.99

Cowl Neck Sweater Dress - Banana Republic, $98

Puffed Vest - Gap, $49.99

Cropped Trenchcoat - Gap, $79.50

Mid-length Trench Coat - Gap, $88

Wool Trenchcoat - Banana Republic, $230

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Happens Only in Kolkata

Setting: A Bengali wedding

Music being played: Bong songs. Followed by Bhojpuri songs (!!) Followed by Daler Mehndi. This cycle is repeated umpteen times & is interspersed with ‘Braaa-zeeel la la la la la la la la…la la la la la la la la…Brazil”

Football anthem? At a wedding??

Once again, I bow to the unbelievable species called Bengalis. There is no one else like them.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Is what I am right now.

I'm tired & sore from all that working out over the weekend (went back to gym after 5 months!!). Woke up at 6.30 this morning & couldn’t go back to sleep. Now, my eyelids feel like they’re made of lead. Aaaarghhhhh!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Birthday Wishes

To my rock. My own personal Superman! My big bottle of happiness. The brightest star in my sky. The most caring person ever.

And my rockstar girlfriend. My sister. My partner in crime (think brownies, cheesecakes & all things sinful). My home away from home. The most loving woman ever.

Happy Birthday to you both.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wedding Bells


Not mine.

But people around me are getting married like it's soon going to go out of fashion! There is a line-up of weddings in December & January. All fairly close people which means I need to show up at more than one function (the wedding), and I have a grave problem at hand…I don’t have enough Indian party wear! Heck, I don’t have enough Indian wear in the first place except sarees, which in my perpetual state of “healthiness” and my terrible draping skills, make me look like a freshly-fed cow!!

The thing is I don’t buy salwar kameezes for myself except for a kurti here or there, for work purpose, that I dunk over a white churidaar. Usually. Most of my salwar kameez shopping is done by my mom. She just buys a bunch of suit pieces, and my sister & I choose the ones we like when we’re home or when she comes over. Like most Indian moms, she has an amazing rapport with shop keepers who gladly take the rejects back.

The problem is most tailors don’t do a good job with party wear. In any case, you’d like to have some embroidery on your party wear, which is outside their realm. So one is left with no choice but to go to designers (boutique owner types) who milk you for all that you’re worth. But then, when you’re resembling a freshly fed cow, you’re not left with too many options.

Gah, I hate the wedding season!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

2 States : Pedestrian Writing at it's Best from the Best-Selling Indian Author of All Times (Apparently)

I’m a big fan of language that’s simple and flows but the stories that Chetan Bhagat tells aren’t out of this world, and even a high-school kid can write the way he does.

He started out well with Five Point Someone (I genuinely enjoyed the book), then he lost the plot completely with One Night @ the Call Center. His latest offering - 2 States - is his attempt at redemption but the end product is a confluence of his two earlier books – ‘A’ Class b-school (IIMA) setting, followed by the unnecessary (and irrelevant) introduction of a spiritual Guru into the story.

2 States is the story of Chetan Bhagat’s courtship & marriage – how he, a Punjabi, and his girlfriend, a Tamilian Brahmin convinced their parents to let them marry each other. He plays on all the stereotypes of the Punjabi & Tamilian communities that exist, exaggerating them to the nth power. Punjabis love food, love all material things, are lured by money, huge houses & glitzy cars, are loud & over-the-top in everything they do, and are extremely racist, hung up on fair skin & hate South Indians. Tamilians on the other hand are quiet, not very gregarious people, have an understated lifestyle, eat on banana leaves & hate North Indians! The book is mainly about these stereotypes – which he has used to bring in the humor element – and not so much about the love story between the protagonists Krish & Ananya. The romance between them hardly exists!

The book reads like a script for a Bollywood potboiler that’s just waiting to be made into a movie! And I’m not surprised given that I recently read an interview with Chetan Bhagat where he says he’s gradually moving towards script-writing since that’s where the demand (read $$$$) is. So Mr Bhagat, why waste time writing books and waste Rs 95 of our hard-earned money? You might as well write scripts directly, and that way we will save our money because no one will waste money watching your movie! Remember ‘Hello’? Did anyone watch it apart from you, your wife & your twin boys?

Anyway, moving on….the first part of 2 States where Krish tries to win over Ananya’s parents is long drawn out, and the latter part (where Ananya tries to convince Krish’s parents) gets over in a jiffy!

In spite of all cultural differences there are no fights between the couple, only minor arguments. Common sense says that when you’re trying to straddle wide cultural chasms – along with the added pressure of having to convince two sets of non-cooperative parents – fights are bound to happen between the couple. Or when the wedding preparations are being done where the boy and girl belong to two different cultures - there are fights between the families (and consequentially between the couple) on issues such as the style of wedding, the rituals to be followed etc. But Mr Bhagat is in a hurry to finish his book and has no time to dwell on these.

The book is also very sexist. Just to convince his mother – who is way too hung up on the “hum ladke wale hain (we are the boy’s side)” bit – Krish asks Ananya & her family to be almost servile towards his family – buy expensive gifts for every member of the boy’s side, ask your parents to always talk to them with folded hands, pander to every demand of theirs etc. Ananya’s family obliges without a word. He also tells his mother that once the wedding is over he’ll show Ananya her place in the family - that of a daughter-in-law who dare not argue with her mother-in-law - and make her toe the line!! As a female reader, I take offense to such sexist attitude.

Chetan Bhagat has shown Punjabis as extremely avaricious, petty and racist – definitely immensely exaggerated. Ananya is shown to be an independent career woman and quite sexually liberated but she still panders to the demands of the boy’s side without a word of protest.

Overall, the book is good for a light read. It has plenty of humor though at the expense of certain communities. But otherwise it’s quite pedestrian.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Question

I want opinions.

It’s your birthday & you’re inviting your friends over for a party. One of them is seeing someone who you know’ve hung out with them in the past though not in the last 5-6 months for whatever reason. Still, you know these two people are quite close. Would you invite your friend but not the person he/she is with?

I for one would invite both. Especially since the girlfriend/boyfriend/partner is someone I know too. It’s basic courtesy. It’s respect towards the person my friend is with. Whether they would attend is their prerogative but I would invite them both.

What would you do?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Of Nice Guys & Imperfections

Nice guys are such a rarity, right? You know the kind of guys who don’t swear, talk respectfully all the time, who make sure they drop you back home after a night out even if you’re not their girlfriend, who always hail a cab for you & hold the door for you, who always give up their seat for a woman etc.

But you know what….after a point even nice guys get annoying! Just like perfect women are annoying.

You know the thing they say about perfection….how we all look for someone who’s just a little bit imperfect b/c that tiny bit of imperfection makes them even more appealing & attractive?

Well, guess what….that’s all bull. We look for someone with imperfections b/c they make us feel better about our own short-comings. They reassure us about ourselves. And we all look for external reassurance, alright. Anyone who says we don’t is probably the most insecure person around.

Defense mechanism, they call it.

I am with Bombay

It’s 1 year since the carnage today, and the entire country is getting into a state about it though not in the way that we should be. We’re organizing & attending candle vigils, walks, memorial services, tributes etc. The media has been doing documentary dramas, special features & panel discussions. But strangely, no one seems to be asking the questions that matter the most and demanding answers to them, given that an entire year has passed since 26/11/2008.

What has our government done to bolster our security in the past 1 year? Can we rest assured that such attacks will not take place in India again in the future?

For all the America-bashing that we, and the world, loves to do, LOOK AT THEM. There hasn’t been a single attack on America since 9/11/2001. They too were caught unaware when planes rammed into the twin towers, but they immediately got their act together. I am by no means justifying Afghanistan or Iraq. Or the racial & ethnic profiling that may have happened as a by-product of enhanced security at airports & other strategic points. But the bottom line is that America sent out a clear message to the world that it can’t be messed with, and no one has dared to do so since then.

So what WE need is not to carpet bomb Pakistan. But we need not be “talking” to them either. The Pakistani government, as of now, is clearly incapable of preventing terrorist attacks on its own soil. How can it be expected to help prevent attacks on us? You can’t expect help from a government that washes off its hand from its citizens killing people in another country by saying they were “non-state actors”, in the first place!!

In such a situation, we need to secure our own borders. We need to seek out the terrorists who are already within our borders, operating from our soil, planning attacks on us. We need to find them and bring them to book, rather than waiting for America to chance upon a David Headley.

Why is Kasab still in jail? He’s obviously thriving there, demanding biryanis!! And I read this morning in the papers that it’s taken the government Rs 31 crores to keep him alive till now!! 31 fucking crores of the tax payer’s money. The same tax payers who lost their family & friends at the hands of Kasab & his gang members are paying for Kasab’s security. Well, about time we stoped funding his security, don’t you think? And his biryanis too!!

My thoughts & prayers are with Bombay, the people who call it home (and those who have made it home), the people who demonstrated bravery in the face of terror, and those who lost their lives to a handful of deranged, misguided men. Today, and always, I am with Bombay.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some Love Stories....

Our stories are getting more intelligent by the day, production values are getting slicker. Budgets are humongous, so our movies are a visual treat, being short in US, Europe, Australia etc. However, there is a reason why we’re still miles away from attaining the same standards in movie-making as Hollywood – lack of attention to details. Our scripts abound with loopholes, unanswered questions and illogical sequences. In a bid to get star power for their movies, even big banners ignore the soundness of the script. And trust me, details matter!

Kurbaan reminds one of New York because both movies revolve around the genesis of Islamic terrorism and are shot in NYC. However, I personally preferred Kurbaan over New York because I felt it was more engrossing than the latter, and it seemed like more research had gone behind its making. Maybe also because I no more have the patience for campus romances!

Still, I found a number of glitches in the movie.

The first 30 mins of the movie are used to show the build-up of the romance between Kareena & Saif. The pace is slow, the sequences weak, the actors unconvincing, and if you’re going to show a couple who decides to get married within a few months of knowing each other (or was it a few weeks??), the romance needs to be heady & passionate! A couple of insipid coffee dates won't get the message across. And oh, I’m yet to come across a college in India where professors openly kiss & make out in the staff rooms. Have you?

Secondly, any man with a sane mind – leave alone a journalist who is accustomed to covering war zones & knows the risks associated with not following security protocol – would never agree to track down dangerous terrorists who’re capable of blowing up planes & subway stations, on his own, rather than letting the FBI/police know about them!

Then there are other small lapses...Kareena Kapoor goes snooping around the house of her neighbor, who she suspects to be a dangerous man capable of murdering his wife, and sneaks into his basement at night (a normal person would call the cops)....she asks Vivel Oberoi, who she knows from before, to rescue her from her terrorist husband but instead of doing so (or taking her to the police who can keep her safe), he asks her to go back to her husband because he has some smartass plan in mind! She is never shown going to work after marriage though she moves back to New York from India because she has to start teaching at NYU again (and she's not supposed to have quit either). And she is pregnant without a bump!! Ever heard of that? Apparently, it’s possible if you’re living among terrorists in New York!

Overall, Kurbaan is engaging if you get past the first 30 mins that are unconvincing at best. The story is predictable but manages to make an impact. The music is fantastic. Vivek Oberoi has acted well & pulled off an almost genuine American accent without sounding stupid doing so (as is generally the case). While Kiron Kher fails to portray an Afghan. The performances by Saif & Kareena are good, though their pairing lacks chemistry. However, the movie's undoing lies in the many ignored details. OK for a one-time watch.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One For The Knife

I apologize for the quality of the picture. Taken with a camera phone.

Shock Laga?

Sex sells. Why else would Om Puri’s wife make only those parts of his biography public before the launch of the book, that deal with his sexual encounters with his maids?

Om Puri went running to the media as if bit by a rabid dog, yelling that his wife has made the most sacred parts of his life (really? sex with the maid?) sound like cheap and lurid gossip. He further went on to say that one of the maid servants, Laxmi, with whom he got sexually involved had raised him, and the physical (and apparently also emotional) relationship he had with her was his homage to her loyalty and the fact that she looked after him unconditionally.

Excuse me? Am I missing a point here? She took care of him, he gave her sex...what exactly is unconditional about that transaction?

There’s something extremely funny about this entire thing. You see, if Laxmi raised Om Puri as he claims, that makes her second to his mother. And who pays a mother-like figure back by having sex with her?? Warped, no?

Om Puri also claims that his wife didn’t let him read the biography after she wrote it. I find that hard to believe. Preposterous.

Here’s my take on the entire episode…Sure, this is a publicity stunt for the book. Nandita knew, and rightly so, that there would be no takers for the biography of someone like Om Puri who has neither had a meteoric rise to fame a la Shah Rukh Khan, nor is seen to be a mysterious personality such as Rekha, nor is his life ridden with controversies as, say, that of Parveen Babi. So she leaked only those parts of the book to the media that contained sordid details of his sexual liaisons with his maid servants. Om Puri further oiled the publicity machine by calling his wife names in public, and then apologized to her publicly as well, probably after the publishers showed him a carrot. I also think that this was Nandita’s way of getting back at her husband for having had physical relationships with maid servants!! She sugar-coated it in the form of a biography, a “tribute” to her husband, and stabbed him nice & deep. Clever woman, Nandita.

BTW…I think having sex with the maid servant is the depth of desperation. I thought those tales of men salivating at maids with their pallu tucked between their breasts and their bended over bottoms was all just a myth. But the Shiney Ahuja episode & now this proves otherwise.


I feel bad for Shamita Shetty. While she was locked inside the Big Boss house, going on & on about how close she is to Shilpa Shetty and how much she misses Shilpa and her fiancée now that they spend a considerable amount of time in London, Shilpa Shetty got engaged and even fixed a date for the wedding to take place without Shamita around.

I don’t want to judge anyone here simply because there might have been certain compelling reasons for Shilpa Shetty to do what she did (but none that have been mentioned till now), but this is just a very sad thing to happen. How can you get married without your only sister present? Hell, Shamita wouldn’t even have known of the wedding had it not been for Pravesh Rana! Isn’t that terrible? I mean surely Shilpa could’ve waited for another month? Or did Raj Kundra, after gifting her a 2.5 crore engagement ring, promise her another few crores to marry him?

Desi TomKat, anyone?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food Wars

Remember the time when you saw guys at work order in the most delicious-looking keema (or whatever) for lunch? And you with your dabba of sad roti, sabzi & dal found yourself salivating all over? And the next day you ordered the same keema, only it didn’t taste so delicious anymore. It tasted just about OK and was floating in oil (or dalda if you please), so you felt stuffed & bloated until hours later.

Yup, today is that day! So while we’re discussing delicious keema, I want to discuss a food-related attitude that stems essentially from the cultural difference between the East & the West. Well, it stretches to other aspects of life as well but let’s limit our discussion to food here.

You know what cultural difference I’m talking about?

Individualism vs Collectivism. West vs East. Have your keema mostly by yourself vs share it with everyone around & get only a bite to eat yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not selfish. The only food items I’m possessive about are brownies & cheesecakes. I’ll even share my chocolate with you! But if I order something for myself, I like to get to eat the most of it unless I went in with the understanding that I’ll be splitting it with someone.

I get bugged when you’re expected to share everything you're eating with people at work. If you don’t, then you’re snooty, you have an attitude problem ya di ya da. Which, according to me, is just plain stupid. I’m like, “Hello, if I’ve ordered this it means I’m hungry. If you want to eat it too, go get your own!”

There’s this very collective, social mentality in India - we’re all one big happy family etc. As opposed to the West where everyone gets what they want and minds their own business (and their food). They believe in making their lives simple.

Take for example the restaurants…they’ll always ask you if you’d like to split the bill (unless they’re a very high-end, expensive restaurant where etiquette demands you not act fussy about money. And the assumption is that if you're loaded enough to dine there, you can very well foot the entire bill). So each person orders a dish, the restaurant splits the bill & everyone pays for what they ate. Unlike India where people order collectively and when it’s time to pay the bill, there’s unnecessary confusion on how much each one would need to pay, and someone or the other always feels short-changed at the end of it all because they either didn’t get their change back or they paid for more than they ate because you the bill is generally split equally, regardless of what people order. This is not an efficient system. I’m all for individualism. I’m all for eating my own food.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will India ever grow up?

The idea of making over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills a prescription drug was preposterous, I feel. It would’ve defeated the purpose of emergency contraception.

I do appreciate the issue at the root of the debate. Young women, especially teenagers, are using EC as normal contraception and not something to be relied on in case of an emergency only. As a consequence of this pill abuse, teenagers are ending up at gynecologist’s offices with serious menstrual & reproductive problems in larger numbers than before.

On their part, the companies that manufacture these pills place adequate warnings in the booklet that comes along with each pill, saying that the pill should be consumed only if there’s an emergency and not as a normal mode of contraception. But their easy availability combined with the fact that many youngsters dislike using protection and would like to just "get it on" without worrying about the consequences of unprotected sex, are resulting in pill abuse. Naturally, "responsible adults" are worried. (Though I wonder whether these responsible adults are genuinely worried about the health of these young women or the degenarating "morals" of young India).

However, the answer to this problem does not lie in taking away the pill's OTC status. That would cause more harm than good, not to mention that it would impact even genuine users. I feel there are other ways of combating this problem of pill abuse:

  1. The Govt. has already asked all companies manufacturing the pill to clearly & openly state the harmful effects resulting from pill abuse in their advertisements. The companies should also mention those on the outside of the box. This will go a long way in deterring irresponsible use of the pill.
  2. I’m not even going to get started on the attitude of Indian parents when it comes to educating their kids on sex. I can go on & on about that. But what horrifies me is that most gynecologists in the country also adopt a very censuring attitude towards sex when dealing with unmarried women. They make it sound like the woman has committed the ultimate sin by becoming sexually active before marriage! I think this kind of attitude is completely unnecessary – doctors are professionals and their job is to treat the patient, not to lecture her on "morals" or judge her character. They are supposed to be a source of support for women. Counseling on healthy sexual practices is OK, lecturing them on morals is not. And I think, apart from the general lack of awareness regarding safe sexual practices & sexual health, this reproachful attitude from parents as well as doctors is one of the main reasons why there are so many abortions & cases of cervical cancer in our country, even among the educated lot

I’m glad the authorities decided that emergency contraception should retain its OTC. It is upon us as parents, teachers, doctors etc. to make teenagers aware of the harmful effects of abusing the pill, and for teenagers to understand that they might ruin their long-term prospects of bearing children by doing so. Especially since Indian society is so hung up on procreating. But the question for both sides of the line is - will we ever grow up?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There are some days....

....when you wonder what it is that life really wants out of you.

Does it want you to be happy or sad?

Feel loved or loathed?

Lucky or doomed?

Count your blessings or things that are horribly wrong about your life?

Make plans to secure your future, personally & professionally, or let destiny sweep you along the pre-destined path it has carved out for you?

Believe that we, on accord of being intelligent human beings with the capacity to think and discern what will be good for us & what won’t, have the power to mould our lives the way we want, or that we’re powerless at the end of it all?

Conquer fear or be a slave to it all your life?

Tell people who mean the world to you what it is that you really want, or keep it to yourself so as not to burden them more than they already are?

Stay or leave?

Laugh or get stressed?

Trust or suspect?

Keep the faith or doubt?

Hang on or give up...and in?

Say ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

Accept or decline?

Fight or make up?

Go on to the next level or stay where you are a while longer?

Cry at the smallest things, tired after years of fighting it out on your own, or continue to be strong because Daddy taught you that "sher ka bachcha kabhi nahi rota"?

Say “It’s all good” or “I can’t take it anymore!!"

Get hit or hit back?

Take or give as good as you get?

Screw or get screwed?

The one thing I would like to do is know for sure and not wonder, and to, for once, have things go the way I want them to. And a chance to fuck life over.

Yeah, I would really like that. And you thought this was a philosophical post!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Story of an Apple Cake

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Blueberry Muffin & the Apple Cake at Barista. They’re soft, moist, have just the right amount of sweetness & best of all, they’re free of the calories of chocolate pastries you get at coffee shops. I’m sure they’re laden with butter but let’s just let them be, shall we?

I’ve been craving a Blueberry Muffin or an Apple Cake almost every day for the past couple of weeks, so I decided to make an apple cake at home yesterday evening. Headed straight to Lake Market after work to pick up apples & ground cinnamon. The rest of the ingredients were at home.

I spent more than an hour mixing the ingredients & beating the batter before popping it in the microwave, yet the apple cake came out dry & harder than a cookie!! I know what mistakes I made but I was heartbroken nonetheless, not to mention that my craving got intensified.

For those who care, here’s the recipe for an apple cake:

Apples – Peeled, cored & chopped
All purpose flour (maida) – 3 cups
Butter or vegetable oil (You can use either but butter will obviously enhance the taste) – 2 cups
Eggs - 3
White sugar – 1 ½ cups
Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Vanilla Essence – 2 tsp
Walnuts – chopped (optional)

Sift all purpose flour, baking soda & ground cinnamon together. Beat the eggs, add sugar till it dissolves. Gradually stir in the flour while beating continuously. Pour in the butter, keep beating. Add baking vanilla essence, apples & walnuts. Pour into a pan (that you can pop into the micro) smeared with butter. Bake!

You will get this...

(Photo courtesy: The Home Executive)

I promise yours will turn out better than mine, just don’t skimp on the butter, or OD on the flour or baking soda!!

P.S.: I used to think Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin were really crazy for having named their daughter 'Apple'. While I still wonder what they were thinking when they named her that, I think 'Apple' is a pretty cute name for a kid. Though I'm not sure I would've felt the same way if I were named that, or she will when she grows up!!

Monday, November 9, 2009


There’s a popular restaurant on Park Street in Calcutta called Mocambo. I use the word “popular” because if you get there for dinner after 8pm on a weekend, you can be rest assured of at least a half an hour waiting time. WHICH given their food is shocking! To me at least. The restaurant serves Indian & Continental cuisine, though it’s more popular for its Continental fare. People say Mocambo's the way to go if you like Continental.

Continental food, my ass!!

I ordered lasagna. Now, we all know that lasagna consists of layers of meat, flat pasta sheets, tomato pasta sauce & cheese. At Mocambo, they believe in flavoring the meat in their lasagna with Indian spices & garnishing the dish with chopped raw tomatoes!! Absolutely horrifying!!! That’s a Calcuttan’s idea of a lasagna??

My cousin ordered a spaghetti carbonara that had no flavor whatsoever. My uncle, who was treating us, turned out to be the most sensible of us all & went with Indian food. Not much chance for a restaurant to go wrong with that. Thank God they didn’t, or I would’ve really doubted their right to even exist in the food business at all.

Mocambo is not cheap. Each continental dish costs around 200 bucs & the portions are rather small. It’s also one of the restaurants that makes me question the taste of the people of Calcutta when it comes to non-Indian, non-Chinese food. They really don’t know other cuisines at all – something that’s validated by the fact that a restaurant that serves such monstrosity is so popular. Even other Continental restaurants such as Taaja’s on Ballygunge Circular Road & One Step Up on Park Street don’t fare much better. Marco Polo on Lansdowne Road is a better bet for Continental food any day.

More Validation for Women Who Luuuuurrrve Dark Chocolate

According to a research carried out at the European Dermatology Clinic at Harley Street (whichever Alpine corner of Europe that is in), eating dark chocolates every day can reduce the risk of skin cancer & help the skin tolerate wrinkle-causing UV rays better, as it is high in flavanols, the antioxidants that occur naturally in cocoa beans.

Which means that dark chocolate is anti-ageing! Hurray!!

Now you know why women are so obsessed with dark chocolate!!

Butter on Toast

With sugar sprinkled on top. Had while soaking in the winter sun. Pure bliss.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just when you thought…

…that you beat the change of season by jacking up your immunity through healthy eating & regular Vitamin intake, you’re pinned to the ground with a nasty cold, temperature & obstinate blobs of snot that are happily making little swirls inside your head!

You gulp down buckets of orange juice praying that the greedy capitalistic firms manufacturing them didn’t skimp on the Vit C, and your mom was right about the healing powers of OJ when it comes to the cold virus.

Your respiratory allergies start acting up, compelling you to pump yourself with Allegra & inhalers – stuff that makes you nauseous & dizzy so you most dutifully avoid them otherwise.

Did I say I hate falling sick when it's so close to the weekend?

UPDATE: Orange juice does little to alleviate a cold apparently. The Vitamin C in it can boost one's immunity but one's the cold has set in, it's of no use. I'm doomed!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Care Package In the Making

‘The Boy’ is ill. He rarely falls ill. This is the first time I’m seeing him so sick in the past one & a half years of knowing him (it really has been that long!!). I reckon he’ll be out of action for a while, so I’ve decided to make him a care package.

Have you ever made a care package for anyone? I picked this concept up from my friends in college whose moms would send them care packages every now & then (Americans are big on care packages!!)

Of course, it’s more fun making care packages for girls since you can put in things like nail polish, lip balm, lip gloss, shower gel, bath oils, body butter, cosmetics….you know, the girly stuff. So, after racking my brains to come up with things a boy wouldn’t crinkle his nose at (given that he isn’t in the Hot Wheels, G.I.Joe, He-Man phase anymore) here’s what’s going into my care package for a boy…

  1. A car magazine – He loves them
  2. Cookie Man cookies!!
  3. Chocolates
  4. Gems – The candy, not the stones
  5. Hot cocoa
  6. A coffee mug
  7. Canned chicken soup
  8. Maggi
  9. Act popcorn
  10. A bottle of Starbucks Frappucino
  11. A bottle of Snapple
  12. Flavored cough drops
  13. Gummy Bears & Sour Green Apple Strings
  14. Stationery
  15. Crayons – So what if he's 28 years old? They'll make him smile!! :)

I can imagine how much fun I’m going to have putting this basket together! Even though I’m sniffling myself thanks to an annoying cold.

Got any suggestions, y’all? You’re free to drop them in but remember….it's a boy!! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Marriage Contract

There was an article in the newspapers today about Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes re-negotiating their marriage contract, as their present contract expires this month on their 3rd wedding anniversary.

Katie Holmes is apparently demanding an extra $500,000 for supporting Scientology, Tom Cruise's adopted religion, an increase in her annual clothing allowance from $750,000 to $2 million, and a role in the next ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie.

She's believed to have received $3 million bonus from Tom Cruise when she gave birth to Suri, and he’s ready to pay her up to $5.5 million to get pregnant again, with a $2 million bonus if she conceives by 2011. However, Katie wants at least $11 million if she gives birth & $5.5 million if she tries and fails.

Is your reaction to this piece of Hollywood news the same as mine was? For all my liberal thinking & Western bent of mind, I found this extremely bizarre. Hilarious, yes, but also bizarre. For that matter, I find even pre-nuptials to be quite bizarre. How can one treat marriage as a contract?

Agreed, my attitude towards marriages is a little different from that of most Indians. For me, marriages aren’t “sacred”, a “holy” union or anything like that. Rather, I think marriage is something very intimate….something you should go in for only when you feel you’ve reached a level in your love for the other person where you can put them before yourself – though by this, I don’t mean you should be a martyr.

You should have kids when you want to & not because you’re getting paid to do it. Similarly, you should support a religion you believe in, not something you’re being paid to support. Imagine getting paid or asking for money to have a child! How ridiculous is that??

Are these people really so out of touch with reality? Or are they just being practical, making sure they have enough resources for when they find themselves single again, given the divorce rates in their country?

What's your view on this?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rendezvous at Flurys

What do you do when you get an unexpected half day off work and that day happens to be a Friday?

You make the most of the early weekend!! You do girly stuff like shop (if you’re a girl that is), and then set off to meet a friend for coffee & desserts. Now, that sounds like a plan!!

Honestly, I had no clue what to expect when I set off to meet The Knife on Friday evening. He’s fairly senior to me professionally (though he's part of the same organization as I), and I know him mainly through his blogs & a couple of face-to-face meetings that lasted all of five minutes. I didn’t know if we would find enough things to talk about for an entire evening.

Well, as it turned out, we did!!

In a quest to find a coffee shop that is different from the staid ambience, lukewarm coffee, and clueless & often rude waiters of Barista & CCD, we settled on Flury’s.

Flury’s, a cakes & pastry shop that the generation before ours that grew up in Calcutta swore by, has seen a dramatic fall from grace and glory since the 70s-80s. As a result of which most Calcuttans today are quite anti-Flury’s. Their stuff isn’t so good anymore but is fairly expensive. Other chains such as Kookie Jar & Cakes have taken over the desserts domain since then but the few things that are still good at Flury’s are it’s Chocolate Cubes (a simple, unassuming chocolate pastry), rum ball (rich but delicious) and as I discovered during this visit, the almost-neon-pink Strawberry Cube!

(The one thing that absolutely ticks me off with Flury’s is that if you visit during lunch/dinner hours & want only a cup of coffee and/or desserts rather than their food items, they refuse to let you sit on one of the tables. Instead you have to drink your coffee/have your pastry standing at the bar. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bar stool.)

The Knife was pretty nostalgic about Flury’s and ordered a chocolate cube, a rum ball & a strawberry cube that I crinkled my nose at first, and even resisted eating due to it’s bright plastic pink color! Well, one bite of it & I couldn’t stop myself from taking many more. It wasn’t until when there was about one-fourths of it left that it struck me that it was actually The Knife (and not me!) who had called for the Strawberry Cube & I was being rude by gobbling it up. That didn’t stop me from polishing off the rest of it too, but at least I kept asking him to eat it as well.

We spoke about a lot of things – his market research papers (Kalyan, I think you should be a culinary expert rather than a Market Researcher, I really do!) that take him to exotic locales such as Switzerland frequently, Candies, our shared love for Bandra & loathing for coffee shops serving lukewarm coffee, books, blogging, Calcutta food & restaurants, the Calcutta Metro & many other things. It was mildly amusing to see him get excited over the word ‘Sprugli’ used in conjunction with coffee (he has just returned from a trip to Switzerland)....he was being very hopeful.

Two brewed coffees (for him), two Mochas (for me) & 3 pastries later, we headed to a roll shop where we had….guess what?....a roll each that was stuffed with chicken/mutton and deep friend in oil. A Calcutta original. I kept staring in horror at the amount of oil leaking out of the roll while he happily ignored me & chomped on his mutton roll. (I’ve got to give it to you, you really know your food. The fried onions in the roll, instead of the raw ones, did make a world of difference to the roll).

We didn’t run out of things to talk about even after 3 hours of hanging out. But I must admit one thing – if you read each other’s blogs (and blogs being an integral part of the lives of bloggers, we do put a lot of us & our lives out there), it’s strange when the other person says, “Yeah I read about this on your blog”, or you’re saying something & they finish your sentence for you because they’ve read it on your blog already. It’s a strange feeling but is it nice?

You tell me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do Not Try This At Home

I’m talking about making Tandoori Chicken on a gas stove. Which moron tries to do that, you ask?

Well, you get three guesses & the first two don’t count!

Why did I do that? Because a) I don’t have a tandoor oven or a gas tandoor at home but I really wanted to make tandoori chicken, and b) A friend of mine made it on the gas stove once & it came out looking just like it looks at restaurants.

You want to know how mine looked? It looked like a chicken dish without the curry!

To be fair to myself though - and to my dearest gas burner - it didn’t taste bad at all. It tasted quite good actually, thanks to my superior marination skills. I beat some yogurt, added generous amounts of ginger-garlic paste, lots of tandoori chicken masala (in the hope that the damn chicken would come out looking red as it does in restaurants, but it came out as pinkish-orange at best) & kept it in the fridge for 24 hrs. It tasted awesome…just that it didn’t look like tandoori chicken at all!

I must get hold of my friend & torture her until she spills the secret as to how she made hers look just like professionally made tandoori chicken.

On an aside, I’ve been going for a jog/walk since Monday. Have made it 3 days in a row! Let’s hope it continues.

There is a huge lake about 100 meters from my house that I’d never seen the face of in the one & a half years I’ve been living here. On Monday I decided to go. It was a momentour occasion in the history of mankind, I tell you, because I’ve been planning to go for a jog around the lake for about a year now. There is a nice jogging track and tons of people walking, jogging & doing yoga & all kinds of weird exercises. There are companies peddling health food/drinks at the entrance, and food stalls. The grossly obese uncles & aunties who come for their “morning walk” – because their arteries are choked with cholesterol & the weighing scale threatens to shatter under their weight – put a nice end to their walk by gulping down kachories deep fried in oil & jalebis that are saturated with sugar syrup. I wonder why they bother to get up in the morning & come for a walk at all, because trust me, it’s a BIG pain to do so!

It takes all the motivation that I can gather to wake up at 7am (I set my alarm for 6.30 & hit snooze at least 3 times before I get up) with the prospect of having to torture myself physically. No one likes to exercise, accept it. The motivation for me is that I need to lose 6 more kgs (yes people, I have lost 6 kgs already!!) , and the bonus is that I get to watch rowers glide through the lake in their boats & lech at their toned, muscular, dark glistening bodies jog by my side after their rowing sessions. You see, the lake is home to the Calcutta Rowing Club.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Time!

To pack away the skirts, start lounging about in track pants & a sweat shirt rather than 'short' shorts & tank tops, and get the winter wear out! Because winter has set in, people!! And I'm happy as a mouse with his cheese :)

I really love winters. I love the chilly wind. I love it when the tip of my nose gets red but my hands are warm inside my gloves. I love wearing sweaters...and socks and shoes instead of open sandals. I love the feeling of comfort you get in a mug of steaming hot chocolate. I love the feeling of sun on my skin. But more than anything, winter also means that it's time for Christmas!!

And we LOVE Christmas over here :)

On a different note, I had a fab weekend. Started my Saturday with cleaning parts of my house. Cleaning can be very therapeutic, especially when you're frustrated or angry with someone. This was the fifth consecutive weekend that The Boy wasn't around. Now, he's not my entire life but he IS a considerable part of my weekends, and if you're used to seeing a person almost every day of the week, not being able to see them for five weeks in a row can get a bit too much to handle. Then on a complete impulse, I got a haircut - short, barely reaches my shoulders, with sideway bangs.

In the evening, I hung out with a 'girl' friend after what seemed like ages, and guess what? I suggested she get a haircut too! She played along & came out looking like a million bucs. How I wish I had hair like her - straight & voluminous.

We had Shawarmas for dinner & wrapped up the evening with chocolate chip ice cream! The two of us generously flirted with the cute owner of the ice-cream shop. He flirted back. We asked him how fattening the waffle cone was as we were both dieting, and he was like, "'re eating ice-cream!!" Anyway, we flirted some more, giggled, got our favorite ice-creams, got free toppings, wished him a good weekend, waved at him & left.

Today I had a lovely brunch - toast, American-style scrambled eggs (without cheese), fat free bacon (!!!) & OJ. How healthy are we!! Then I got a mind-blowing head & body massage, followed by a hot shower, more food & a nap. The massage was planned. The cute guy we flirted with was a bonus. Can a weekend get any better?

How was yours?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Of Legers & Birkins & Louboutins

Sorry for another Bollywood post y'all, but what can I say? I'm a Bollywood & fashion junky :) You're better off skipping this post if you aren't.

The Daily Mail, UK recently did an article on Shilpa Shetty where she spoke about her designer collection. I'm putting up a few excerpts here & my reactions to some of her statements when I was reading them. For the entire post, go here. It's highly entertaining.

Shilpa Shetty owes all the money that she has today, and that she's splurging on designer clothes, shoes & bags, and mansions in London, to Big Brother. Life can be so unfair at times.

Anyway, read on. It's her quotes followed by my reaction to it...

"I believe style is inherent. You can learn a bit about it, but essentially you either have it within you or you don’t."

I think style is totally learnt. You're not born stylish, you pick it up along the way. Your style is influenced by the place you grow up in, the people & media you're exposed to etc. People's sense of style changes all the time as well. Take Shilpa Shetty for example. This is what she was then...

And this is what she is now!!

So don't tell us you were born this stylish honey, because we have photographic evidence you weren't!!

"With an outfit like blue jeans with a crisp white shirt and a tan belt, you can never go wrong."

Have to agree with her on this one. And no black shoes with tan belts please. Or brown shoes with black belts. Though since color blocking is so hot right now, you can wear shoes of any color! Neon pink, canary yellow, parrot green,'s in! And you can carry a bag of a completely different color all together! What fun it is to play with colors!!

"As someone in the public eye, it’s hard to wear an outfit more than once. I love buying clothes but I don’t know what I do with them all. I actually have two wardrobes, as I live six months of the year in India and six months in the UK."

Oh, poor you. How many outfits do you own exactly?

Can you imagine not being able to wear an outfit more than once? Can you? That too, outfits that will leave your bank account looking like it got sucked by a vaccuum cleaner. Such a colossal waste of money. And I'm assuming by "two wardrobes" she doesn't mean two humble Godrej cupboards. More like two walking closets that are a kilometer long each.

"Although, when I really like an item, I buy two so I can keep one in London and one in Bombay."


"I swear by the Hervé Léger bandage dress for nights out. It just makes your body look a million dollars."

Sure it does darling. IF one's got a body like your's. That 'IF' has turned many women anorexic & taken many lives. For those not clued in, this is the Herve Leger Bandage dress:

This dress is cruel even if it's worth lusting will most definitely highlight every spoonful of cellulite that you have on your body. It is also one of the dresses that I'm willing to shear off layers of fat from my body like they shear the sheep in New Zealand.

"DRESSES: Between 40 and 50 dresses. I have a whole mix, from Donna Karan and Jasmine di Milo, to Chloe and Hervé Léger.

SHOES: Around 60 pairs of heels and flats, including Louboutin, Chanel, Gina, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs.

HANDBAGS: Approximately 50. I have handbags from Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Prada, and Hermes."

Oh how I hate you. I really do.

"JEANS: 45 pairs, with a mix of all styles, including skinny, boyfriend fit and straight fit. I love J Brand and Elliott - I have four pairs of Elliott boyfriend jeans at the moment."

45 pairs??????? Does she also have them in pink & yellow? And green & red & fuschia? But seriously man, 45 pairs? How the hell do you decide which one you feel like wearing? And what the hell are "boyfriend" jeans? Does anyone know?

"TROUSERS: Around 60 pairs of smart trousers, mostly in greys and blues."

The shock continues...

This is the Hermes Birkin she has, which I think costs only a few thousand dollars (around Rs 10 lacs if I'm not mistaken. If not this, then there's another model that costs 10 lacs, I'm not kidding!!)

It was gifted to her by her boyfriend, of course.

And these are her Christian Louboutin Nude shoes...again, only a couple of hundred dollars

Shilpa Shetty is also supposed to be launching her own range of curry in the UK. Which means more Legers, Birkins & Louboutins for the her.

Oh well...I think I'll just go take comfort in my Butter Chicken. At least I'm happy I get to eat what I want. So what if I can't fit into a Bandage dress?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Because It's Sometimes Fun To Be Mindless

It's been one of those "What the hell am I doing with my life? When will I get to do what I really want to do in life?" kind of day. So to de-stress, I feel like writing about something totally stupid.

Do you watch 'Big Boss'? Don't snigger now...everyone needs a little bit of mindless entertainment in life, particularly after a long, tiring day at work. And especially on days when you've been questioning the very purpose of your existence!!

So basically 'Big Boss' is a show where a bunch of losers, basically TV & film industry have-beens who have no work on hand & who are therefore desperately in need of money, are locked inside a house for 3 months without any access to the outside world. No cell phones, no TV, no newspapers, no nothing. So what do they do to pass time? They bitch about each other (people don't even spare their spose inside that wretched house!) & hit each other. Sounds fun, doesn't it? But more than anything you get amazed at the kind of people in the movie industry. Such losers, man!

This year has a bunch of very funny & varied "characters" (can't use the word 'eclectic' for them, definitely not). There's Vindoo Dara Singh whose claim to fame is that he is Dara Singh's son (therefore no one should misbehave with him!) & who is positively psychotic because he talks to himself all the time. There's Sherlyn Chopra who has undergone at least 20 "body sculpting" surgeries in life, by her own admission, including multiple breast implants. Her boobs are so fake, it's funny! And then there is Kamal Rashid Khan, a.k.a. KRK.

Did I hear "Kamal who?"

Well, he is the actor of the movie 'Deshdrohi' which spewed some bullshit on the North Indian-South Indian divide while Raj Thackerey was ordering the beating up of North Indians in Mumbai. I know the movie was banned in Maharashtra at least but according to Mr KRK, the movie made him so much money that today he lives in a "20,000 sq ft palace, his milk is imported from Holland, water from France & tea from London"!!!

I wonder why then does he wear clothes that look like they've been picked up from Lokhandvala market? You know what I'm talking about, right? Jeans with silver snakes printed on them...fake leather jackets. And I won't be surprised if he really believes he is Johnny Depp because he's always walking around with a pirate-like bandana on his head. He's always going around telling people that he has a lot of money & is a multi-millionnaire. The man is unbelievable. For those who still don't know who I'm talking about, this is the man in question :

Isn't he just the irresistable hot strapping male stud of your dreams? ;-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sometimes, All It Takes to Make Your Day... a text from a long lost best friend saying that he's thinking about you & missing you. And just wanted to check you're doing well.

I love you too A. And I do miss you a lot...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

House Guesting 101

I recently had a house guest who frankly, I don't like having over. She's rude and lacks basic courtesy. So I thought of compiling a list of some do's & don'ts that one should be mindful of while staying at someone's house. Because, you know, it's very important to be a good house guest so that your host likes having you over. These are the "rules", so to say, according to me. Let me know if you don't agree with some or have a few to add.

  • I’ll lend you a towel but for heaven’s sake, carry your own clothes!! I do not like lending my clothes to you unless you’re my sister or a very close friend. And I do not like lending them to you especially if you stink or I have any doubts, vague even, about your personal hygiene.
  • PUT THE TOILET SEAT DOWN. Anyone who has doubts, go here. It’s not a sexist issue, really. It’s simply being considerate of those around you – the same as helping clear the table after meals or putting your dirty clothes in the hamper.
  • Put your dirty clothes in the hamper where they belong (and not on the floor!!)
    Similarly, wet towels are not meant to be left on the bed to dry. Hang them to dry.
  • Don’t leave the bathroom wet after you shower or every time you use it. There is a floor swipe in all my bathrooms for a reason. Also, I don’t see why you need to wet the entire bathroom if you’re simply washing your hands or relieving yourself. There is a sink & a commode for exactly those purposes!
  • Help clear the table after meals, if there’s no maid in the house. Splaying out on the sofa with your feet up on the coffee table & watching TV after lunch/dinner is reserved for the handicapped.
  • Again, if there is no maid around and the host has to do the entire post-meal clean up, offer to help. I doubt washing a few dishes will compromise your dignity.
  • Clean up after yourself. I’m not your mom.
  • Fold your blanket and make your own bed, even if there is a maid in the house and this is part of her job description. And especially if there’s no maid. Unless your father is the Maharaja of Chhatisgarh, of course.
  • Ask before you borrow/ use anything of mine. This is plain good manners. I will not refuse but I would like to know what’s being used so I know how much of it I have left and when I need to refill it. Because you know, it’s NOT funny when I get into the shower and realize I’m out of my L’Oreal Professionnel Absolute Repair shampoo! My cousin who was staying with me during the summer had a friend over one day. There was half a bottle of fairly expensive wine in the fridge that he polished off without even asking me, and my cousin did nothing to stop him. I was equally livid at my cousin as I was at him. It’s plain rude. Oh, and if you’re using one of my sanitary pads, PLEASE let me know. I might have only one in the house for emergency.
  • Don’t get in the way. Especially if the maid has failed to show up that day, and I’m busy doing the dishes or cleaning the previous day’s mess. I’m already pissed off due to the maid’s absence, chances are I’ll claw your pretty face.
  • Also, if the maid/ cook hasn’t been coming to work for a few days in a row and your host is cooking every meal, do not make a face if he/ she suggests ordering in or having a ‘Ready’ meal. Be thankful you aren’t being asked to cook! If ordering in, refrain from making exotic suggestions (such as asking for pizza if the host has suggested Indian/ Chinese food which are lighter on the pocket) UNLESS you’re willing to foot the bill.
  • Do not wipe your make-up/ eye-liner with the hand/ face/ body towels. Ask for cotton pads & cleanser. I have those things. I’m not a woman of the wild.
  • If you borrow my car for the day, return it with the same amount of fuel you got it with. I’m not asking you to fill up the tank.
  • Remember to switch the lights/ fan off when you leave the room. We have to pay for electricity in the civilized world.
  • If you’re using my cell phone, keep the conversation short especially if you’re calling long distance. I don’t enjoy paying a couple of hundred bucs more because of your call. And if you’ve called international and spoken for an hour, offer to reimburse. Long distance calling has become much cheaper but some countries are still a bitch!!
  • Don’t give my maid/ security guard of the building a tip without checking with me whether it’s OK to do so, first.
  • Don’t dispose off your cigarette butt in the toilet. It does not flush. And do not spill cigarette ash all over my house. Ask for an ash tray.
  • People don’t use toilet paper to tie a turban around your head. If I see wads of unused toilet paper lying in the dustbin, be ready to explain.
  • Discard your waste – whatever it might be – in the dustbin and not around it. Things don’t have a way to miraculously find their way to the dustbin, so aim better. Or make the effort to walk to the dustbin.
  • Do not clog the bathroom drains with your hair. It’s utterly gross. Pick them up & throw them in the dustbin.
  • Don’t walk all over my house and my rug with your dirty shoes that you wear outside. A lot of homes have a designated area whether you can take your shoes off before entering the main area of the house. This is not some superstition. It has a scientific basis – the shoes that you wear outside carry a lot of dirt & germs, which you would be smearing all over the house if you wore them in. Remember to take your shoes off, especially if there is a crawling child in the house.
  • Do not try to eavesdrop on the conversations of family members.
  • The same goes for interfering in their personal matters.
  • Don’t lecture, preach or tell them what to do & what not to do with their lives.

Overall, be mindful of the house rules. Of course, no house has a white board with the "rules" written down but there are unwritten codes of conduct in each house that all the members follow. Be observant. And be courteous, well-mannered & respectful of their space. Remember they are being nice to you by opening up their home to you (unless you’ve traveled to another city exclusively to see them, in which case it’s only fair that they offer you a place to stay), so be thankful.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday Lunch

Spaghetti Carbonara – cheesy, subtly flavored & with crispy bits of ham - followed by coffee and blueberry muffin, and rounded off with Belgian chocolate ice-cream. Now, that's a Sunday lunch worth having!!

How was your Diwali?

Should I?

The question is whether I should start reading P G Wodehouse?

The thing is I don't enjoy British humor. I don't find it the least bit funny. I'm more the 'Friends' rather than the 'Yes Minister' types, so I'm really not sure I'll appreciate P G Wodehouse.

Do you think I will? Votes in please!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali

Be safe, be happy, light some diyas...and have a wonderful Diwali.

And now they want to kill us

The retarded politicians of India are at it again. Only this time, the issue is much more serious and endangers the health of an entire nation of 1 billion plus people.

Monsanto, a US based agricultural bio-technology corporation that promotes Genetically Modified (GM) crops in India through one of its companies, Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company), has developed Bt brinjal, a genetically modified variety of brinjal.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the clearing authority for all GM crops in India has cleared Bt brinjal on the basis of test results submitted by Mahyco. The crop now awaits a nod from the government before it is made available for commercial cultivation.

Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment & Forests has said that since there are “strong” views both for and against GM crops, he would conduct a series of consultations with scientists, agricultural experts, farmers, consumer groups & NGOs next year in order to decide the future of Bt brinjal.

What do you reckon will happen after these consultations? The politicians, bought off handsomely by Mahyco, will ignore the protests of the consumer groups & NGOs and give the green light to Bt brinjal for commercial cultivation.

Consumer activists who managed to get hold of Mahyco’s test results through the RTI sent the results to independent scientists in Europe for review. The scientists wrote back, showing that the tests conducted by Mahyco were inadequate - the longest toxicity tests were only for 90 days, which does not assess long-term effects of the toxins such as development of cancers or tumors, and the tests were conducted using only one Bt toxin rather than the hybrid toxin present in Bt brinjals. They also cited inconsistencies in Mahyco’s interpretation of the results & mentioned that Bt brinjal is unfit for human consumption.

Here's why:
  1. Bt brinjal produces a protein in vegetable cells that induces antibiotic resistance. This is not only a problem (for obvious reasons), it also indicates that Mahyco is using old GM technology as the current technology used by developed countries has overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance.
  2. Bt brinjal is toxic. When fed to animals, it affected their blood chemistry, blood clotting time & total bilirubin (indicator of liver health).
  3. It led to weight gain & intake of more roughage in lactating cows even as it increased milk production by 10-14 percent, an effect similar to that brought about by hormonal treatment.
  4. Rats fed Bt brinjal got diarrhoea, had increased water consumption & decrease in liver weight.
  5. It is unsafe to consume animals (chicken, goat, cow etc.) that have been fed Bt brinjal.
  6. The Bt toxins have never been authorized for human consumption & are known to be harmful to health

So this highly toxic Bt brinjal might be unleashed upon us (Indians) with complete disregard for our health & safety, and guess what? We wouldn’t even know we are consuming this dangerous product thanks to the absence of a labeling regime for GM crops in India!!

Just to put things into perspective – GM foods are banned in Europe, and they face widespread protests in the United States. While currently the US does allow GM foods to be sold in the market, they are required to be labeled so clearly & accurately, so the consumers can decide whether they wish to purchase them or not. Indians however, remain lab rats available for exploitation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Religious Extortion

What does one do after an impromptu meal of chicken nuggets, fries, a Zinger burger, fried chicken, coke, strawberry shake, brownie with ice-cream and a chocolate cake filled with molten chocolate? Sleep blissfully, you say?

Well, how about getting rudely awakened by a bunch of hooligans who demand chanda?

Kali Puja is around the corner. For the uninitiated, Kali Puja takes place around the same time as Diwali (in fact, this year the two coincide), and is bigger than Diwali for Bengalis. People from “clubs” that organize pujas go around collecting money from residents of the neighborhood to fund the puja. ‘Extorting’ money would be a more appropriate term because that’s what they do! They demand money from you rather than requesting, and threaten you if you don’t acquiesce. They can make your life hell if you refuse to give them money and sometimes even beat people up!

I hate giving chanda. I am not a religious person and I hate people imposing their religious beliefs on me. By all means, organize pujas if it makes you happy but don’t force me to take part in it, either in person or by contributing towards it financially or in any other form. If I respect your sentiments and am willing to put up with the nuisance you create by blocking roads leading to horrible traffic snarls & playing music at the loudest volume till 2 in the night, you too need to respect my sentiments & leave me the hell alone!

The worst thing about these people is that they won’t graciously accept what you give them. The people who came to my place demanded 1200 rupees. After haggling with them for approx. 20 minutes, they settled for 500. This is utter nonsense. Even complaining to the police is of no help. So, one has no option but to give in to their unrealistic demands. I feel victimized. Honestly, I don’t like Calcutta one bit and my dislike of the city gets stronger with every passing day. Don't ask me why I decided to move to Calcutta in the first place. That's an entirely different story.