Saturday, October 30, 2010

Election Mayhem

The Mumbai suburb that I live in has its local election today. I'm so glad it's going to be finally over. Because, ever since I've come, I've been hearing nothing except for blaring loudspeakers asking us to vote for various worthless candidates. Besides, people have been ringing our door-bells thousand times a day to ask us for our votes (One of the candidates used to be our local cable person and he had once argued a lot with my mum and said inappropriate things to her in the past. Needless to say, he's never going to receive any of our votes.) and they have been calling people's landlines and putting on recorded messages for publicity. May I point out that whoever designed these people's election campaign is a BIG jerk?!! Because, when I would hear the loud-speakers everyday from 8am to 8 pm and when people would disturb us in the middle of our work, I didn't know who I'd vote but I DID know who I wouldn't! The local elections have never been such a big deal before! This year, they just crossed the line!

The day I came back, there was no electricity in our house from 11am to 7 pm! But, that doesn't stop the ruling party at the moment from coming and asking for votes. You can't fix the electricity problems when you have been voted into power. How can we expect you to keep your promises this time? Of course you are going to disappear once this is all over! Being a conscientious citizen, I do want to vote. But, honestly, WHO is actually worth it? Not a single person or party!

So, anyway, I studied all the local candidates and their "promises" and the party ideologies and finally decided that I will vote XYZ person. All in vain. My name was not on the list at all! (May I also point out here that I was in England for too long for my own good? I actually stood in the "queue" to find things out and wasted so much time! It was only after my dad and my uncle came in and butted in that they looked at what we had to say!) I told them that I have already voted last year for the General elections and the address on the list was incorrect but it was still at the same centre. Uh huh, zero, zilch, nada results! But, maybe, my name might be in that other centre. Some of the names have come up in that list this time. Ok, lets check then. Umm, sorry, it's not here either. Maybe it's in that other centre there. Some of the names have come up in that list there. About 3 kilometres away from where it should actually be. How many efforts do you expect me to take for voting the lesser of the four evils? That's it. This is your loss. Very less people actually conscientiously go to vote. And this is what they get for it. Is it any wonder that we are not really developing the way we should be?!!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Mencynicism is the kind of cynicism that is born in a woman because of men. All the men she ever encounters - in her life, on the streets - everywhere. I've found that Indian women are a lot, A LOT more mencynicists than any other women I've come across.

And, now, I know why we are all so jaded and mencynicists here. *Rant Alert* I feel concious of stepping out of the house. I wear loose kurtis, tie up my hair in a tight plait, wear minimal jewellery and zero make-up. I try to be as inconspicuous as possible. And I hate it because it's not me. I like flaunting myself. But I don't do it here. I still get stared at, I still hear the catcalls, I still sense creepy men making inappropriate gestures behind me. And I'm not even someone I'd call exceptionally beautiful. I can't even imagine what the really pretty girls must be going through! My creep-radar had gone so down for the last year that it's working over-time here. And it bothers me no end. I notice the rude graffiti in the ladies compartment of the local trains and my blood boils over. Why the fuck do we have to go through all this abuse? And I can't do anything about it. ANY FUCKING THING! Coz I'm just the one. They are so many. It's me who'll have to face the consequences. I have never hated being physically weak so much as I do it now. I wish I could just go and slap these people without having to worry about the what-ifs. I wish I could make eye-contact and let them know exactly what I think of them without having to bother about what might happen later.

Some of the experiences I've had in the past: I'm walking on a crowded street and suddenly something wet brushes against my arm and I find white stuff on it. I look back and there is a sea of men whose backs are facing me. I'm walking on a very crowded railway overhead bridge and I can feel someone trying to push himself on me from behind. In the same situation, on a different day, I can feel someone trying to grope me from behind and all I can do it press my bag against me and keep crawling along with the others because there is no space to turn around and confront anyone. Besides, it's the same situation of turning around and facing a hundred different men. Who can I point fingers at? Countless times, I've got into a ladies compartment in a local train and there are drawings of penises on the seats and numbers on the walls. Countless times, I've been stared at, head to toe in that creepy manner which makes it clear that the man has obviously undressed me publicly in his mind. I've heard innumerable catcalls from the passing train when the ladies compartment of our trains passes them by. And I'm from Mumbai - one of the safest cities in India. I shudder to think what the girls and the women in Delhi must be going through! Even though I'm sure nothing will happen to me here, I am still fed up of all the indirect abuse we put up with all our lives. Do these men really think of NOTHING else at all? Is there absolutely NOTHING in their lives apart from harassing women and thinking about sex? This kind of behaviour is what makes sex a dirty thing, while it should be a beautiful, sensual thing. It may have something to do with the sexually-repressed society we live in. I'm not saying that England was a haven. Not at all! I did face some random catcalls there as well. But, I've never been harassed or creeped-out like I've been here. And I know every single woman has faced something or the other like this in her life. Probably more than once.

And if this wasn't enough, we always have the cheating and the commitment phobic boyfriends to remind us that men really only think with their penises. Is it any wonder that we think there are no decent, date-able guys left in this world?!!

*Disclaimer: I do acknowledge that not all men are like the ones mentioned above. I just wanted to point out that the percentage of men who are is too high for us to rest at peace.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


FINALLY!!!!!!!!! I visited Xavier's and South Mumbai in the last two days. And I felt really happy for the first time after I finished meeting up with my parents and others at the airport. The whole of the last week was a very disorienting and depressing week. I want to go back to England. But, I can't figure out if it's because I miss my life in England or because I miss Atom. I suppose they are not exactly mutually exclusive now. But, I still used to feel annoyed by the smallest of the things here. Like, the heat and the humidity, even though I know that I'd prefer this to the extreme cold any day! The constant stream of visitors and relatives whom I really don't care about annoyed me. They have always annoyed me. But this time, the realisation was tinged with the fact that had I stayed on, I wouldn't have had to face this. Everything seemed to crowd in on me. I felt restricted, suffocated. I felt it even more acutely since for the whole year, I was not answerable to anyone but myself and my work deadlines. And I actually regretted coming back! I know I used to miss home a lot and I was very excited to come back but as days went by here, I felt the longing for Atom, my independence and my comfortable life all the more strongly.

And I hated the fact that I felt all of those things. I felt as if I'm turning into one of those people, who come back from abroad and start feeling disgusted about the place that was their home for 20 years or more. Thankfully, I never felt disgusted about anything in Mumbai. Only sad for its population, vehicles, congestion and pollution. But still, never disgusted. A strong longing for England and everything that England means for me but no disgust. Which was a relief. But, then came a stage where I felt nothing. I wanted to feel a sense of belongingness return to me, go to the places I know and feel a sense of "Ah! I'd missed this!" or "Ah! How this has changed!" But, I came up blank. No emotions. If there was no disgust, there was no pleasure either. And sometimes, I think I might have been better off with feeling disgusted but at least there'd have been something. At least I wouldn't feel emotionally dead! 

But, in the last two days, I went to Xavier's and to the places I, where used to love hanging out: Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Sun's house (even though she isn't here, we went to meet her father, whom we are all very close to.) And I felt that warmth, that feeling of belongingness, the sense of familiarity, all coming back to me. I travelled by crowded Mumbai locals and didn't feel annoyed. I saw people shitting alongside the railway tracks and didn't feel disgusted. I walked under blazing sun and didn't feel horrible. And I smiled and smiled until my jaws hurt. I met one of my old professors, Jeannie on the first day and then, my most favourite professor of all times, Chhaya mam, on the second day with whom I chatted for over an hour. I had the pav bhaji at Cannon, Kapoor's Punjabi Kulfi at Chowpatty, Pasta at Cream Centre, which was chosen by Moon and just sat at Marine Drive with Moon staring at the sea and singing Hindi songs, the city zooming past behind us. I also met one of my other close, close friends, Mungi (hehe, Mungi is actually what he calls me coz I'm so tiny. Mungi means an ant in Marathi. ;)) And I didn't realise how much I had missed him in the last year until I met him. We talked for a long time and pulled each other's legs as usual. :) Moon and I also met Father T, our college counsellor and he still remembered how we had given presentations on Hinduism and Jainism respectively in his human values something class in 11th grade, which was more than 6 years ago! T's office is one of the favourite hang-outs for most students in Xavier's. We are all friends with him. :) And he gave us both a cd full of Xavier's stuff and I was oh-so-happy but also very emotional! I wanted to put up one of my favourite videos from the cd but my internet here is S-O-O-O S-L-O-O-O-W! :/ So, I'm sorry, but I don't have the patience to wait while it uploads pictures and videos. :P

But, basically, like I like to call it, I've finally got my mojo back! :P And I still miss England, Atom and S. But, I'm less depressed and more happy. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kuch Khatte, Kuch Meethe! :)

Mums are a strange, strange species. Especially mine. She's unique. She deserves the weirdest person on the Earth award really! Sometimes (about 5% of the time she spends with me) she is so loving and at other times (the rest of the 95% time she spends with me,) she is so bitter and snappy and she keeps screaming at me! 

For instance, when I was in England during the summer and didn't get to eat any mangoes this year, she froze a lot of mango pulp for me so that when I come back, I could have that and don't miss out on it. She cooked all my favourite dishes for me as soon as I came back as she hasn't cooked for me since over a year. She offered to buy me a ticket to go back to Leeds for my graduation ceremony as a gift for getting First class in MA. But, on the other hand, she keeps screaming at me for not waking up on time and about how she slaves and slaves for us, cooking things we like and taking care of the house and how nobody cares etc etc etc! 

Life is full of sweet and sour moments. I wonder if we'd appreciate the sweet moments without having experienced and knowing about the sour ones. But, now that I've just come back from England, after a whole year of blissful independence, it is very difficult to control myself when I feel my mum is screaming at me unfairly! I do appreciate all her efforts a lot more now. But I also don't like being screamed at all the time. :/ Wattodo?!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Have you ever got one of those text forwards which says "Memories are strange. They make you laugh at times when you cried and they make you cry at times when you laughed."

This is so true! Now, when I think back of the day I was so upset because our crazy old landlady, Ms. Memo (Thank you, Atom for the name! :P) had screamed at me for no reason at all, I don't feel any of the hurt I had felt that day. Or when I think of the times I and S were upset with each other over some issues or when Moon had burst out crying coz her then boyfriend had threatened her with some ridiculous thing or when I was so upset over my B.A. results or when I was upset that CPV hadn't called yet or that my mum keeps screaming at me all the time, it all seems so silly and frivolous. I want to laugh out really loudly when I think about how I (or others) cried at some of those moments. However, the moment I start thinking of the good times together, my heart aches for those times again and my eyes fill up!

I remember how Sun, Moon and I used to chat about inconsequential things and laugh and laugh until our sides ached. I remember how Moon and I used to go to chowpatty and Marine Drive and just sit and stare at the sea. I remember how Sun and I used to bitch about a certain professor of ours in our final year at Xavier's. I remember how S and I used to bake together while exchanging our relationship notes and plan our trips together, always spending much more than we intended to but also having lots of fun together. I remember how I wouldn't even crib to wake up at 4:45 am to go to Xavier's for English lectures. I remember how Atom used to call me the sunshine of the house and other soppy but extremely fuzzy, warm things. I remember how he would notice small things about me and tell me he would miss them, like the way my accent takes on an American twang when I say certain words. I remember how JD, Kyra, Sara and I would talk about Bollywood (amongst other scandalous things :P) and dance on songs like Emotional Atyachar and Munni Badnam. I remember how both my cousins used to be such adorable babies at one time and how they have grown up to be brats who love to both, annoy as well as love me! I remember how Ruhi and Curly, my ex-flatmates, used to laugh at my silliness when I would take pictures of everything that I cooked!

And I wish I had all these people right around me, all the time. Because these people made my life bearable and liveable a lot of times. And these people made my life a happy and contented place many more times. I would have been quite lost without all these people. I feel blessed to have people like these in my life. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The R Word! :D

So, like I mentioned, Romance has re-entered my life! :D And with the capital R too! :D :P Remember I once mentioned that the boy who had sublet his room to me had come back and I had to move out of my room into the tiny guest bedroom? Well, it turns out there is something about two people who live in the same room at different points of time and then meet wanting to share it at the same time as well! :P Needless to say, I've been very giggly and on the moon over the last few days!

However, the thing that pains both of us is that we got together only 2 weeks before I had to leave! This is so unfair! There was no hint of anything even remotely romantic except for a couple very very unsuccessful crushes in the whole of my year in England. But just when I have to leave, bam! I meet this really wonderful person whom I would definitely like to know better! I could have screamed! I probably did too....several times.

Anyhoooo, Atom (Don't ask. Since he knew about the blog and since I asked him if it'd be ok to write about him, I also happened to ask him if he'd like to choose his own name. We had a L-O-O-O-N-G discussion about his name and I didn't like any that he suggested! At one point, he asked me if he could be called Om, coz the first Bollywood film we watched together was Om Shanti Om. I liked the idea a little bit but I could not reconcile his British self to a name like Om! But, ahan, his chat-up line was something like, it'd be interesting to watch Bollywood and I instantly knew! A man after my own heart! :D ::looks up proudly:: Anyway, so, then, I decided to name him after some cool Manga character since he loves Manga and is even studying Japanese language and culture. Then yours truly got confused and tried to name him after a writer instead of a character and he visibly blanched! :P But, finally, we have a winner here: Tetsuwan Atom (The Astro Boy!) So, Atom he is! :D :P) Ok, so, Atom and I have decided that we'll just keep in touch through Skype and email and get to know each other better. We haven't yet established any patterns but have already talked a couple times. :) Sometimes, it does physically pain me that I had to do this but here's to hoping that things turn out well. :) I would feel sorry for myself if I wasn't so enveloped in the fuzzy warmth of the early stages of a romance! :P Would you do that for me please? ;)

PS: Did I tell you that he often kisses my forehead?!!!! No no, not a figment of my imagination! He really, truly, does exist! See why I didn't want to go away? ::sniff::

The Classic Dilemma of an Immigrant

I miss India. I miss England. I wish it wasn't so cold in England. I wish it wasn't so hot and humid and filthy in Mumbai. I miss the sea. I miss the country. I miss the family and the close knit-ness of a Big Fat Gujju Family. I miss my independence. I could never settle down in any place other than Mumbai. I wish I could have stayed for "a few more" years in England. I miss my parents and Sun and Moon. I miss my boyfriend and other friends. (Yea, you read it right. My boyfriend. The reason I was so busy in the last few weeks that I could not put up regular updates. :P More about him in the next post! ;))

Sigh! Now that I'm back in India, even though I love it to bits, I miss England like anything! All I can do is think of going back now! Wattodo?!!

Well anyhow, since I am lamenting about how I have nothing to occupy me here, I might as well take this opportunity of announcing to the world that there is a fresh English Literature Postgraduate and an aspiring writer, just returned from the phoren, who needs employment in the publishing/ editing sector! I can read and write in 5 languages - English, French, Hindi, Marathi and Gujrati and I've done editing jobs for college magazines and journals before. Hmmm? You think pimping myself here won't help? Ah well, never hurts to try now, does it? So, there. ::pointed look::

Feeling the loue!!!

Hello peoples!!! Guess where I'm writing from? MUMBAI!!!! Home, baby! ;)

It's great to be back home! It does feel a bit surreal, like nothing has changed here but at the same time, nothing's same either. But, it still does feel very nice to be back! :) Do you know how many people came to receive me at the airport? About 12 million! :P Well, ok, this time, my hyperbole is being hyperbolic. But, about 12 people came on the airport! It was like I'm coming back from the Moon or something! Speaking of which, Moon was there and she said some of the sweetest things possible! Like, "My life is 66% perfect now! And the rest 33% is in the New Zealand!" (I'm sure you all know this, but I'd still elaborate. Sun is in New Zealand and very jealous at the moment that Moon and I are together once again and she is still there with no clue as to what's next!) So, anyway, Moon and I hugged for a long long time and we were very happily the happies! :D Of course, my parents were there and 3 of my uncles, 2 aunts and 4 cousins! And then, my grandfather (my mum's father) and my uncle and aunt called me to say that I am to come and meet them on the way back home, even if it's only for 15 minutes. And then, my other grandfather talked to me on the phone and made me promise that I'll come to meet him the first thing in the morning! One of my aunts had made moong daal khichdi (a sort-of lentil and rice porridge) with dahi kadhi: my favourite dish! Yes, she brought that at the airport and fed it to me (ahan, ahan, by fed, I mean, FED) and my mum had made a special mint and peru juice that I really like and everyone was hugging me and giving me cards and everything! I, on the other hand, was so dazed, that I was first just bawling like a baby (omg, all I had to do was hug my mother for one second and off I go, like a shotgun! Uff, these emotional girls! hmph. :/ :P) and then, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. In my room. My green and yellow room, with the beautifully painted wall done by Udu, my cousin. I know it sounds very ungrateful, but I just wanted everyone except my parents and Moon to go away. But, I did honestly appreciate how much everyone loves me! :)

Even before I left, I was staying with Misty in London for a couple days and on my last evening there, she threw me a surprise farewell party that she had planned along with another mutual friend! I was so touched!  Needless to say, everyone in Leeds came to meet me at my farewell party there and I was all teary-eyed several times during the course of the evening! It's difficult, having two lives, both of which you love equally! But, at the same time, it's good knowing that there are people who love you, no matter where you go! :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Irish Tales

About time I post about my Irish adventures, no?

Well, considering we didn't have any real adventures, I guess this would be another gushing-about-beautiful-places and photo-diaries kind of entry. I'll just let the pictures speak about the beauty of Northern Ireland.

S and I mostly drove along the East-coast of the Northern Ireland: along the "Coastal Route" and trust me, it is the most beautiful and picturesque place I've been to in all my trips to various places in the UK. No doubt I loved the English, Scottish and Welsh countryside, the ancient and haunted-looking English abbeys and the randomness of English cities. But Northern Ireland was different.  The Irish country had a different look to it, more rugged and edgy. Like in the picture above, all along, you can see such tiny rock Isles dotting the Irish sea. The fields looked almost the same as the fields on this island. But still if anyone ever put two pictures in front of me, I think I'd recognise Irish fields apart from the others. They have a different, more untouched, wild, unkempt look to them than English and Welsh fields.

We saw a few castles as well. Only, the Irish are funny that way. :P Some of the "castles" were nothing more than 3 pillars on a cliff. One Dunsverick Castle was like that. But it was a beautiful shot, with the grey, gloomy day, the sea and the sky just blending into one mass of grey, the rock isle and the cliff: very atmospheric! :P
I thought two places were the most beautiful though: The Giant's Causeway in the north and Newcastle (yes, there is a Newcastle in Ireland as well! :P) about 45 minutes south-east of Belfast. The Giant's Causeway has got some of the most beautiful rocks I've ever seen. And they were all hexagon shaped and formed patterns. It is a short walk from the parking lot to the Giant's Causeway and there, we came across a bare hillock, which, curiously, had both red and black soil and you could make out a distinct border where the two different tectonic wonders met. Amazing how rocks that are not Tifanny square cut can be so fascinating. (Sorry for the cheesy, cheesy attempt at really sad humour. I've been reading way too much chick-lit for my proposal. :P) Anyhoo, several pictures for the Giant's Causeway:

This last one is of a pile of rocks, barely as high as a one-storey building. But I saw it in a brochure before actually seeing it and these people had posed like that. So, I expected it to be never-ending coz that's probably the illusion they wanted to give. S and I gave our best shots and even though it's no brochure material, I think we did pretty well, no? :P

And the second beautiful place I talked about is Newcastle, near the Mountains of Mourne. There are several hiking routes for the hikers up there when the weather's nice. But we were comfortable and cosy in our car. And I think I've had enough "hiking" to last me for quite a while. :P Anyhow, Newcastle is a quaint, little  beach town but you can also see beautiful, beautiful views of the Mountains of Mourne from the beach. We found a "Mourne Coastal Path" and came across a secluded place on the rocks next to the sea with a tiny stream flowing into the sea. It was so quiet, calming and soothing, we both spent about half an hour, just sitting there, lost with both our individual thoughts. I sat facing the sea, which reminds me of my home and S sat facing the other side, which was essentially, a stream and woods and reminds her of her home. (She grew up on a farm in upstate New York.) And we picked and ate countless blackberries. Sigh. What bliss that hour was. Lots of pictures from Newcastle and Mountains of Mourne. :P

Pretty, no? The second one is the Mourne Coastal Path and this last one is of the Mountains of Mourne as seen from the Newcastle beach. So, basically, I saw everything short of a nice little Irish holiday romance. (Damn.) And I think everyone should visit Northern Ireland at least once if they are in the UK! I can go on and on with pretty pictures if you are not yet convinced. But I swear, I'll just give you my last one: the street lights at Newcastle Beach, which I found very interesting and which is actually a good piece of photography.

I rest my case.