Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year...

An update is due, I know.... theres been a lot of work and planning of a short vacation going on... Hence the delay. A lot of ideas and posts are buzzing in my head and I'll put them up as soon as I've written them out. In the meantime, here is a small year ending thought, elongated in a nother poem (yeah, I'm on a spree!!!! )


I opened the closet
The skeletons tumbled out
Long hidden but,
I'd to face them no doubt.

Looked up at each one
Full of dread
All my fears and sorrows
The terrible words I'd said

I'd made mistakes
Like each one of us
But I did also perhaps
That no one else does

I pushed them all
At the back of my mind
As far as I could
Absolutely behind

So I could go on doing
All that I had
Without pausing to think
What was good, what was bad

I'd felt powerful
I'd been strong
And never thought whether or not
I was wrong

And today I was here
Looking back at my deeds
Loving, hating, spiteful,
Inspiring or full of greed

I saw them all again,
In my mind's eye
Every word I'd said
Passed me by

Silently I wept
Asking for forgiveness
For each bitter word I'd said
For the superiority, the rudeness

And then it was over,
Finished at last.
For once I was through with
Exorcising my past

The closet was empty
For now at least
Dawn was breaking out
Far in the east

The night was long and terrible
Full of fear
But now had begun
The morning of a new year

Haven't a clue
What this year would bring
More skeletons in the closet
Or a bright happy spring

Perhaps a bit of both
Darkness and light
But I resolve to do
Only what I feel is right

So that there'd be no more terrible nights
No more thoughts at the back to send
No more closets to be opened
When another year ends


Its a little pensive I know, but don't let it dampen the mood..... go ahead, pop the champagne, laugh with joy and have a ball.....
Have a great 2006!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Sun in her palm...

I saw this picture on Akshaya's blog and absolutely fell in love with it. This little verse is inspired from the picture...


Its the crimson evening calm
And she holds the sun in her palm...

Up in the hills its evening too soon
The glowing red ball will change to a silky moon
But there's still a while for the moonlight white
For another moment I behold the sight
Its the crimson evening calm
And she holds the sun in her palm

"How it goes from pink to yellow
Blazing down and then once more mellow
Those are the changes occurring in the sun
Its dawn to noon to evening run
And then it vanishes out of sight
Plunging us into a deep dark night
Of course it'll come out again tomorrow
And then a moment of time I'll borrow
The moment of crimson evening calm
When I hold the sun again in my palm"

She tells me its her daily ritual
I say its not real, its only virtual
"The sun doesn't change, its we who do
Going around it and spinning too
As we move through our day
We look at the sun in a different way
We call it pink and red and yellow
It blazes forever, never does mellow
And as the earth continues its ride
The sun is visible on the other side
It hasn't vanished. Its there like before
Just that we don't see it anymore
It makes a pretty picture, your palm beneath the sun
While you may have your moment of fun
Its nothing more than a mere illusion
A sweet sight, an interesting vision"

"Oh my, you are such a bore
You don't appreciate any more
The beauty of nature, the wonder of things
I have imagination, and I gave it wings
Then it flew off far and wide
And I learnt to put all logic aside
In a different light, the mundane I see
Do the same I tell to thee
When its time of the evening calm
Stretch it out and hold the sun in your palm"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The foodie says...

I have this thing for silly little rhymes, specially the ones I compose! :) If you can't understand what i'm talking about, read this....

or better still, sing it to the tune of 'My favourite things' the famous song from Sounds of music.

Flambe that dances on brown roasted chicken,
Curries that that bubble when they boil and thicken,
Icy blue mocktails with spriglets of mints,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Dollops of icecreams stacked in a bowl,
Juicy Kebaabs laid on a bed of hot coals,
Jumbo grill sandwich with no onion rings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Rich creamy Kulfi that slides out of moulds,
Crispy red parathas with layers and folds,
Caramel custard and all sorts of puddings,
These are a few of my favourite things.


When the clock ticks,
When the time stops,
When I'm famished and meetings are dreary and bore,
I simply remember my favorite things and then I'm not hungry anymore!


he he.... get the idea? lets read some from you ppl..... pick any famous (or infamous) song and write new lyrics for it... let those creative juices flow...... ah, there i go again!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Gone Silver... Going Golden...

She was 20, a beautiful, bright girl...

He was 26, an athletic, intelligent boy...

She was a teacher...

He was an engineer...

This day 25 years ago, they started their new journey together...

Its been 25 long years of wedded bliss...

Today, as you celebrate your silver wedding anniversary mom and dad, I pray that you have another 25 years (at least!) of health, happiness and togetherness....

Monday, December 05, 2005

The second 55-er

This is the second 55-er. I wrote this one after the previous unnamed 55-er. Inspired by the tabloids, this one is titled...


Desperate Measures

She was fed-up with all the nagging, tired of having her life controlled. She desperately wanted it to end...

She was fed-up with the irresponsible nature, tired of making all decisions. She desperately wanted it to change...

Next day's headlines - "Girl commits suicide. Suicide-note names nagging mother"

Four months later - "Nagging mother depressed. Drinks poison"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I forgot again!!!

I never wish my friends on their birthdays. Not that I don't want to, I just can't remember birthdays. One of them even said, "If you wish me on my birthday now, I'll faint out of surprise!". And true to my nature, I forgot another birthday yesterday.... the birthday of my blog.

I was introduced to blogging by Anu, my bro. I read his blog and thought blogging was cool. He has stopped blogging now, but you can still read his accounts of his first days of college here. I was intrigued by blogging, but the idea of starting my own blog popped in my mind when Gaurav mailed a post of his to R-Gang (No doubt you guys are wondering what R-gang is... a couple of youngsters crazy, fun-loving, caring, educated gang of youngsters, engineers mostly.....) So, I read his post and asked him for the url. I read his blog and thought of getting one for myself. So I did! A big thank you to Anu and Gaurav for getting me started... and hooked!

When it came to writing on my blog, writing a story was the most natural choice. I have always been making stories in my head... I remember when we were kids, I used to tell bedtime stories to Anu. Soon, he got bored of listening to all the famous ones, and I got bored of repeating them. So, I began making up stories of princes and princesses, fascinating far away lands, and cities of dwarfs up in the clouds! Sometime later we outgrew the bedtime stories, but I didn't stop thinking up stories in my head... problem was, the stories remained there, in my head!

And so I started writing Kaya's story on 30th November 2004. Along the way, I made a lot of blog buddies. But a special mention for DJ and Ashish, for all the inspiration I get from them... of Silky and Kaush for just being so sweet... of Anki, my namesake... of Akshaya for his honest reviews... of Red for her thought provoking posts... of Ricky for his cool comments (and for all the smilies he uses!)... of Colors and Dr. Vicky and Bhagya and Seema and Tony... and of all the silent readers who read my ramblings.... Thank you guys... Its only because of you that I managed to write and complete the stories.... Not just Kaya's story, but Progati too...
Ok, so here I go....
"Happy b'day to you... Happy b'day to you... Happy b'day my bloggie.... Happy b'day to you..."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The first 55-er

This unnamed 55-er is inspired by a real life conversation. Insipred, it is not the transcript. The real conversation didn't end the way this does. I don't personally know the two who were involved in it, so I haven't taken their permission before publishing this story. My apologies for that...


"...I hope you understand now" sad
"Yeah"
upset
"I had to..." sad
"Hmm"
quiet
"I'm sorry..."
apologetic
"Its ok"
forgiving
"If I ever come back?" uncertain
"I'll welcome you with my arms open"
excited

"But I won't. You have my number on your cell, but don't call me. I am Mrs. William Berry now."
cruel



What should be the title???

Friday, November 18, 2005

That Monsoon - part II

If you missed part I, it can be read here

part II begins-

This is what I did...




Ok, don't hit me..... *ducking for cover*

The story is still 55 words! No one said anything about images now..... right???

By the way, the story is true, and the image is a pic of my first ever oil painting...... It was August 2000 and my semester was just over. Fortunately, I got a month off!!!!! Thats rare, and I was jubilant. But watching the rain fall on dull monsoon afternoons wasn't my idea of spending a vacation. So, I made this....

Also, coming soon are two real 55-ers.... so watch this space!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

That Monsoon - part I

Here is my attempt at a 55-er!


It was typical monsoon afternoon -dreary. Everything was a shade of grey, from light to dark and everything in between. A dark gloom had enveloped everything...

I was confined indoors and the blank colourless walls stared back at me...

The starkness became unbearable...


I decided to do something about it...


To be continued...
Keeping in with the tradition, this is also in parts! :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Puzzled!

When anyone asks me, that what are my hobbies, I always say reading, movies and music - the usual stuff. For some strange reason, I never say puzzles. On an average I do one puzzle everyday! (And that should make it a serious hobby, shouldn't it? More serious than reading, music or movies, for I neither read a book everyday, nor do I see a movie everyday!) But for some odd reason, I never enlist solving puzzles as my hobby. I have always enjoyed doing puzzles, right from childhood. It started from Fun pads filled with jumbled words, silly crosswords and find-the-words. I graduated to more serious cross words and word searches. Then to on-line games like Text Twist and Eight. Ok, so now a puzzle for you people - What is common in all the games up above? Socho socho... Need a clue? Ok, read the list once again, and the answer would leap right out of the words! Got it? I already gave you the answer! No, one more clue? Hmm, the answer is a word... Which word? Any word! Yeah, that's the answer. Words! I have always done word puzzles. Number puzzles somehow failed to capture my interest. That was until I was introduced to SuDoKu! Now SuDoKu strictly speaking is not a Number Puzzle (for that mater, even if you don't speak strictly, it is not a number puzzle!!!) For the numbers in SuDoKu can be easily replaced by alphabets, or any other symbol for that matter... SuDoKu is a test of logical thinking (And that is something that I can manage!) SuDoKu is a recent rage. I saw it in the papers everyday, but seeing all the numbers, I stayed away from it. One fine day, my dad said, "Have you started solving SuDoKu?" and I said, "No, number puzzles are not my cup of tea." That's when he shook his head and said, "Try it." Try it I did, and how! Now, I do them like crazy - the harder the better! So how is it played? The rules are simple. There are nine boxes, each of 9 squares, arranged as a 9x9 grid. All you have to do is fill the numbers 1-9 in each row, each column and each small square. And why am I giving out the rules? Because I have two puzzles for you here... Go ahead, play on...


This is the first...



And this is the second!

Happy solving....

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Seven Things...

I had decided to do this after Progati.... so here goes!


Seven Things you want to do before you die:
  1. Learn to drive - I'm soooooo scared of driving!!!

  2. Sample all the cuisines of the world!!!! - I'm a foodie all the way!

  3. Write a book (and probably have it published)

  4. Direct a film or perhaps a play - Wishful thinking *sigh*

  5. Loose weight!!!! - Forever on my to-do list!

  6. Read every book written! - This is a tough one!

  7. Understand myself - This is tougher!!!

Seven Things you can do:
  1. Play Antakshari non-stop for four hours! (If it was allowed, I'd turn pro at this!)

  2. Sweet-talk my way out of most situations - Most, not all!

  3. Paint - not very good, but still manage to paint.

  4. Crack silly jokes the whole day! (All my friends will vouch for this)

  5. Hum songs the whole day, even while taking a test! (Some friends will vouch for this too!)

  6. Watch Chupke Chupke any time of the day! (I've seen it about 21 times...)

  7. Take six months to write an 18-page story - And this is something only I can do!!!

Seven Things you say most:
  1. What rubbish!

  2. What? (In a screechy voice!)

  3. Helloooooo

  4. Now what?

  5. Was that a joke? Am I supposed to laugh?

  6. Oh grub!

  7. Welcome to the club!

Seven Things you can't do:
  1. Stay awake the whole night - I just have to have to sleep

  2. Drink Tea / Coffee with sugar in it!

  3. Eat food that is not cooked well - Most of my office canteen food comes under this category

  4. Sing well - sur mujhse door door tak koi rishta nahi rakhte!

  5. See boring art films - I just don't have the patience!

  6. Listen to rock music for more than ten minutes - sorry bro!

  7. Flatter people just to wriggle benefit out of them!

Seven Things that attract you to the opposite sex:
  1. Wit - A good one!

  2. Intelligence - Decent amount of it...

  3. Smile - A genuine, nice smile...

  4. Patience -To listen to all my bad jokes...

  5. Height - Tall guys can be so dashing... No?

  6. Sense of style - A classy one!

  7. Self Confidence - But not too much of it!

Seven Celebrity crushes:
  1. SRK

  2. Matt Damon

  3. Abhishek Bachchan
Ummmmmm????????? Can't think of any more!!!! :)

Seven People you want to tag:
  1. Silky

  2. Bhagya

  3. Seema

  4. RS

  5. Akshaya

  6. Anki

  7. Punu

In case, you are all amazed at the frequency of posts on my blog, well all I can say is, Welcome to the club!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Don't Cry Joni

A long time ago, when I was discovering classics on radio I heard this song on a late night radio show. I don't know why, but I recorded it. The first time I heard it, I hadn't paid attention to lyrics. I heard them later on, and loved them. I laughed and cried at the same time......

Jamie please say you'll wait for me, I'll grow up some day you'll see.
Saving all my kisses just for you, signed with love, forever true.


Joni was the girl, who lived next door; I've known her I guess, ten years or more.
Joni wrote me a note one day, and this is what she had to say.

Jamie please say you'll wait for me, I'll grow up some day you'll see.
Saving all my kisses just for you, signed with love, forever true.

Slowly I read, her note once more, then I went over to the house next door.
Her teardrops fell like rain that day, when I told Joni what I had to say.

Joni Joni, please don't cry, you'll forget me by and by.
You're just 16, I am 22, and Joni I just can't wait for you.

Soon I left our little hometown, got me a job and tried to settle down.
But her words kept pounding in my memory, the words that Joni said to me.


Jamie please say you'll wait for me, I'll grow up some day you'll see.
Saving all my kisses just for you, signed with love, forever true.

I packed my clothes and caught a plane, I had to see Joni, I had to explain.
How my heart was filled with her memories, and ask my Joni if she'd marry me

I ran all the way to the house next door, but things weren’t like they were before,
My teardrops fell like rain that day, when Joni told me what she had to say.

Jamie Jamie, please don't cry, you'll forget me by and by.
Its been 5 years since you've been gone,
And Jamie I married your best friend John!


Isn't this the irony of life? When we have something, we don't recognise its worth. And when we do, its either out of our reachor slipping through our fingers.

The song is DON'T CRY JONI by Conway Twitti and Joni Lee

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part XII)

So finally it is here...... the last episode of Progati - The tale of Progress. Its been 6 months since I began and I was once asked what inspired me to write the story. I have answered that, at the end of the post. So read on...

"Progati?"
this wasn't making any sense.
"Yes, for Progati. For progress"
"Progress?"
Yes, for my progress. For Rachna's progress. Progress from that drudgery life to a better, easier and comfortable life. Progress from a world where we yearned for little little things to a world where we got everything we wanted. Progress from a world where we crushed our dreams with our own hands to a world where our dreams became reality. Progress from inside a cage to an open sky outside the cage. Marrying Nabin would have gotten me all that. My marrying Nabin was the route to our Progress, to our Progati."
Her words were interrupted by the buzzing of her cell-phone.

"Hi Nabin....... No no, I'm not at home. I'm with a friend of mine. You remember Saira..... yeah, Dr. Saira Bashir....... nothing, we are just reminiscing old times...... yeah, I'll be home soon..... Shukto, again?....... but we had it the day before......... No I..... Fine, I'll tell Paro to make it for dinner...... ok.... bye"

She put it down with an exasperated look on her face, then turned to me and said, "That was Nabin. He wants to eat Shukto again tonight."
"Shukto?"
"Yeah, it's a supposed speciality. I hate it, and he wants to eat it everyday. He hates maharashtrian food. That's why I never cook for him. We've got Paro, a girl from Kolkata to do all the Bengali style cooking for him."
"Why don't you learn Bengali style cooking?"
"Why should I?"
"Because Nabin likes it."
"But I don't"


The cell phone buzzed again. But this time, it was mine.
"Hello"
"Are there any windows?"
"What?"
"Are there any windows where you are?"
"Yes, there are. Why??
"Can't you see the weather outside? The storm is raging."

"Of Aftaab, I don't worry about a bit of rain."
"Well, my fearless Nadia, you don't, but I do. And that is not a bit of rain. So tell me where you are, and I'll come and pick you up"
"There is no need for that. I can find my way home. I won't get lost or wander away. Ok daddy?"
"Stop kidding Saira, and tell me where you are"
"I'm in the cafe near college."
"What are you doing there? Isn't afternoon too early to be dating?"
"If I were dating, you'd be with me hubby dear. I am with Rew..... er Progati"
"Did she agree?"
"What?"
"“To do the piece on tribal women"
"Oh that"
"Yes, that."
"No"
"No. Why?"
"Well........"
"Ok, tell me later, I'm coming to pick you up" and he disconnected.

"That was Aftaab", I said to her. She nodded, and said "I'm repeating myself, but you are very lucky. Nabin called too, merely to order the dinner menu. He didn't ask me where I was, or what I was doing, forget offering to pick me up", at that moment, I saw a fleeting look of jealousy pass her face. That was most unbelievable. All those years when I was cooped up at home, helping ammi with housework, reading my schoolbooks, I often thought of the free life Rewa had. I often wished that I sprout wings and fly away into the sky, freed from the bondage of my life. I often wished I could change places with her. And today she, Rewa was jealous of me, of my life. But then, did I really want to do it? All those years I fantasized about living her life. But today I know that would mean giving up on ammi'
s love, abbu's affection, and the warmth and security of my childhood. No, I definitely did not want that. My chain of thoughts was broken when she continued, "You have such a caring loving family."

"Yes"
"And a husband who cares. He is coming to pick you up. Right?"
"Yes"
"Mine would never bother. He just doesn't care."
"Do you?"
"Do I what?"
"Do you care about him? Don't answer me. Answer yourself. Perhaps he would care, if you care too. Perhaps he cares, but is too intimidated to show it."
"Intimidated?"
"Yes, of the steel willed independent woman. If she needs to be taken care of, she has to let her husband know. If she needs to be shown love, she has to show her love."
"What will that accomplish?"
"Progati"
"What?"
"You have progressed so much in life. From the days you lived in your aun't fear to the days when you were the most popular and confident girl in school. From those days to being the idol of so many girls your age. Yes, Rewa was the one a lot of girls idolised. What if she wasn't a miss universe, she was intellegent and confident and talented and wittty. Not only that, she was courageous You have progressed, but you can progress a lot more, with a little bit of love. If you have that, you'll have a perfect life. Well, as perfect as human life can be. But if you want love, you have to first give it."
She was silent, her face impassive. I had expected a battery of arguments or a stiff 'mind your own business look' or some reaction. Not this. She looked as if she hadn't even heard what I said. And then she said, "Look, the rain has suddenly stopped." We settled our bill and walked out of the cafe. The moment we stepped out, the clouds broke and a feeble sun started shining.
"It's a sign", she said.
"Do you believe in signs?" I asked, a little surprised.
"Yes. I do." She turned to look at me and said, "What you told me just now.... "
"I didn't....."

"Stop. I guess I needed to be told what you told me. All through my journey of progress, I have done things only for myself. I have never given back. And looking at you now, so happy and content, I realize what I have been missing out on. I don't know if I can have all that you do, but I sure can give it a try and hope to be successful.", there was a change visible in her manner. A feeble one, but a change nevertheless. The way she spoke, the way she looked, the way she carried herself. The cold stiffness seemed to be receding, and a warmth was seeping into her demeanor. Just like the clouds breaking up outside and the sun shining through.

"I am sure that you would."
That was when Aftaab's car turned around the counter, and we said our goodbyes. I walked to my husband's side, whose face relaxed when he saw that I was fine. Before getting into the car, I turned back and looked at her. She was walking towards her car, on the other side of the road, on her way to progress.

The inspiration to write Progati was a line that someone once said to me. It went something like "People are not always what they seem. You can't judge a person based on a few interactions. Its only when you know everything, including circumstances, do you really require why and how people are how they are." I don't remember when and how I heard this. But one fine day, I just remembered it and Rewa and Saira were born. My current mood has severly affected my writing. I guess thats evident. But the end is generally what I hand in mind. Finally, do give me your comments. How did you find this tale? Good or bad. Nice or Rotten. Whatever you felt, honestly...

Monday, October 24, 2005

What the HELL is wrong?

They say when you talk about it, it reduces.... they say when you write about it, it lessens..... They say it about pain, what they don't say is how difficult it is to pin-point the exact cause of your pain.......
They say when you really fight it out it loses. They say when you engage your mind in something it goes away. They say it about boredom. What they don't say is exactly how tough it is to put up a fight, when you just don't have the strength. When this overpowering boredom hits you, you just don't have the will to engage in anything....

Thats how I am feeling now.... irritated at no particular reason, majorly bored, and just not upto anything. I am passing my life away. Not living it..... Mechanically going through the chores..... I feel like a zombie.... and I feel like a bird in an invisible cage..... who doesn't know what stops it from flying away. It beats its wings against the cage and again, till its wings are injured and it doesn't even know what injured them.

I'm gonna spare you guys the torture of having to read the list of my woes. Why? Cause the list is empty!!! Yeah, even I don't know what's bothering me. But something sure is. And I can't seem to find it. The worst part is that it is visible. My defenses have weakened. The brilliant show of pretense I could keep up is losing its brilliance. The troubled insecure soul behind the facade of cool and composed has started to emerge. Probably that's the root of my problem. The pretense that everything is ok. I guess I've started believing in my pretenses. And therein lies a conflict. Probably its time I take charge once more.

I had promised myself i will not take another break in Progati. But I have. And this is not the first promise I have broken. I am too soft with myself. Probably I should get as harsh with myself as I am with others. I don't seem to be able to write anymore, or read a book without taking a break, or listen to good music, or play SuDoKu, or even cook round chapattis. Probably I have lost the ability to enjoy. I don't find anything interesting these days. Not books, not painting, not movies, not music, not TV, not blogging, not even eating!


I am growing distant not just from everything, but also from everyone. Everyone I care about, everyone I love. I seem to well, just be in a different world. Probably I don't belong here. Probably I belong in an asylum.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part XI)

A fortnight and a lotta bloggeratti excitement has passed since the last episode of Progati. This one is longer than the last, and probably the penultimate episode of the story. But then again, knowing me, its probably not! For those who need a refresher course:
"Mrs. Krishnan was helping me research for a debate once, and she handed me an article to read from. It was good, and had some useful points. And when I saw the author's name, it was Sumangala Krishnan. Mrs. Krishnan was the author! She said she loved to write and seeing her work being printed had been a childhood dream. That's when she went on to suggest that I take up writing too. She said I had a flair for writing. I was about to dismiss the idea as a waste of time and energy. After all, what could I gain from writing for a few magazines? But then, she showed me the magic hole. She said that the fee she got for her work was being put in her son's education fund. I was surprised that this work paid. At a time when you have no money, any money is good money. So I went home, pulled out an old essay, refined it and gave it to her. She sent it to some magazine, and it was published. I got 50 rupees for it. And those 50 rupees were like a treasure for me. I paid Rachna's library fee with that money. Ever since, I've written scores of articles and short stories in magazines. I guess even you have read some of them"
"Yes, I have. I have read more than a few", the fact was that I had read all of them. In school and college, I could read only a few of them, and since I idolized her so much, I wanted to read each and every one of them. So after I started teaching, I scanned the library archives to read all her articles. And that took a long while. A lot of her work had been published.
"Yes, a lot of articles were published."
How so, I was wondering.
"They had to be. I wrote what the readers wanted to read. I wrote what the magazines wanted to publish."
"What?"
"Yes, I had a strategy"
"Oh", that was all I could say.
"Every week, I would pick a magazine and read the last five six issues from Rachna's library archives. That gave me a fair amount of idea what the magazines published. And the most useful page, was the reader's feedback page. Most people don't read that page when they read a magazine, but for me it was the biggest source of information. When I had my finger down on the pulse of the readers, I'd dish out exactly what they wanted to read. So you see Saira, I've always been a writer for the readers. And that is the reason I can't do the feature on tribal women."
"What??? Oh!!!", I had almost forgotten about that. I was so engrossed in her story. But I already knew she wouldn't do that. I was sitting there to hear her story.

"You need a strategy Saira. You always need a strategy. And once you have it in place, you can get absolutely anything."
"Strategy. I've had no strategy in life. I owe everything I have to serendipity."
"Well, I don't I got everything I have after a great deal of planning and careful execution. Even Nabin."
"Nabin?"
"Yes, him too."
"How did you...."
"How did I? It wasn't easy. But it wasn't impossible. When I started college, like all the girls I too was besotted with Nabin. He was the perceived God. Wasn't he?"
She took a break at this point, signaling the waiter was a refill of the coffee mug. "
You have been sitting here for so long, and haven't had anything. What would you take?"
"Anything"
"Please refill my mocha, and a latte for my friend", she told the waiter and calmly turned to me "You don't agree?"
"I said anything was fine. I'm not too particular about my coffee"
"Not that. You don't agree about Nabin being perceived as a God?"
"No.... I don't."
"No?",
her single raised eyebrow could put a tele-vamp to shame.
"No"
"Why not?"

"Because God, is too big a title, and anyways, this is my opinion. I'm allowed to have one. Right?" I didn't want to get into a debate with her. The temporary lull had passed away and the rain was picking up momentum again. I wanted to go home, but I also wanted to hear her story. Getting into a debate would mean I get to do neither.

"Well, yes... but I saw him as a God then. He was far too above and I knew that to reach him, I needed a strategy. I observed him for a while, him and his friends, specifically his girl friends. He was always surrounded with those who were awed by him. All the girls he hung out with were pretty lasses. Spoilt little daddy's girls. Not one of them could converse intelligently for more than ten seconds. I guessed that that perhaps that was the reason he was so easily bored of them. That's when I decided my strategy. I was going to be this intelligent, independent woman, who is not awed by his looks, brains or social status. But before that, I had to get him to notice me. That's where the big debate helped."
"So you see, it was serendipity"
"No Saira, it wasn't. Not one thing in my life do I owe to serendipity."
Her voice was cold, devoid of all emotion.

"But how is that possible?"
"I arranged the debate. I befriended Sumita, the cultural secretary of our college and planted the idea of the debate in her mind. That is how I knew all the topics before hand. I prepared both sides of all the topics for fifteen days. I had to reach the finals. I had to face him in the last round. You see, I knew that the winner of last year gets a direct entry into the last round. So once I made it through the semi finals, I would be in front of him. And he would notice me."
"Oh...." I was speechless, that someone could go to such an extent.

"After that things were easier. He had not only noticed me, he was impressed by me. All along the next three years, I made sure that I was in every debate, in every sports event if Nabin was there. I always treated him with a cool regard. Not like a friend, just like a known acquaintance. I guess he had never been subjected to such treatment. He was intrigued. I knew he respected me, he was impressed with me, but that was not enough for me. I wanted to marry him, but I didn't know how to bring that about."

Our coffee had arrived. The fresh brewed coffee aroma reached my nostrils and I suddenly realized I was hungry. I glanced at the counter and scanned the menu display. Club sandwiches seemed tempting, and I asked her if she wanted them too. No, she said. She was trying to reduce. I asked the waiter to get one for me and turned to her.

"But you did bring that about."

"Yes, after graduation I was looking for a job and there was none coming by. So, I went and asked Nabin if he had a job suitable for me. He had just started working for his father and I told him that the only jobs available without any references were of secretaries and clerks. I knew I had the caliber for more challenging work, and if a reference was what it took to get it, I'd prefer getting a reference on my own rather than anyone else. Little did he know then that no one else would give me a reference. He gave me a job, and a good one at that. I worked very hard there and that's when we became friends. That's when I delved a bit deeper into his psyche and understood him a bit more. That's when I realized he thought that I was this intelligent, independent and steel-willed lady who could take care of herself. When Rachna's admission into a medical college did not come through for money, I was shattered, I was heartbroken. I broke down in front of Nabin, saying that being independent and intelligent doesn't pay. That I should have looked for a rich husband to support us rather than trying to support us on my own. That this world did not respect intellectuals, all it cared was for outer gloss. The words had their effect. Nabin went on to negate everything I said, trying to control me. Saying there were people who respected me and he was one of them and that whatever I had done was the right thing. And then I said you are saying all this just to console me. And he said no, I really do like you for what you are. That's when I said, if that is the case, will you marry me, and he said yes. So we went ahead and got married."

"But why did you ask him? Did you love him?"
"No. I did not. I married him for Progati"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Oh wow!!!

Thats what I say when I get anything unexpectedly....

A big "Oh WOW" and an even bigger grin :D

So what did I get now? Nominations!!!

When Saba posted about Bloggeratti, I thought this is cool...... I was looking forward to voting......
When Saba asked for entries, I thoght I should enter..... at least for the best template category...... when I was writing, I ended up sending entries for most categories......

And then, the wait for the nominations began.......

When Saba said nominations will be out, I had a teeny-weeny wish that my template be nominated.....

But when the nominations were out, I had not one, not two, but three nominations!!!!!
Thats when I went "Oh WOW!!!!"

I have been nominated for-

Best template!!! (Blogfrocks zindabaad)
Best fiction!!! (
Kaya's story - the first I ever wrote)
Best humor!!! (
Red roses)

And so, fellow bloggers, my heart goes Mmmmmmmmmmmm!

ps - Not a bad time to ask for votes!!! so if you like what I've done, please do vote for me.... the bloggeratti rules are up at Saba's blog and Anubha's blog.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part X)

After approximately a fortnight, here is the next episode of Progati - The tale of progress. As promised, its longer and sooner than the last couple of episodes. The links to the last episodes are in the previous post. ( Just feeling lazy to post them again, he he! :D )
I worried about getting home in this weather; I worried about the kids getting home from their activities. My kids did all sort of activities at school - drama, debates, singing, dancing, sports -just like Rewa. Unlike me, they were free to do whatever they wanted, and unlike Rewa, they were not forced to do them. The right to choose was a wonderful gift my children had. And only now, when I heard Rewa' story did I fully appreciate it. The right to choose meant you could do whatever you wanted, and it also meant that you didn't have to do what you didn't want to.

"What are you thinking?" her words brought me back to the cafe.
"About something both of us didn't have", I was still glancing out of the window.
"Whats that?"
"The right to choose", I turned to face her and for the first time since I had known her, my gaze met hers. All those years of looking upto Rewa were behind me. I had realized she was as human as I was. She had her flaws like all humans. She wasn't the Goddess that I had once thought she was. The expression in her eyes was intense. I knew that she agreed with me, but would probably never admit it.

She surprised me, again.

"Yes, we never did have that."

My cell phone buzzed at the exact moment and that allowed me a chance to hide my surprise and avoid gaping at her. I answered my phone. It was Abbu.
"Where are you?"
"Close to college Abbu. What about you? And the kids?"
"When I saw the signs of the approaching storm, I went over to their school and picked them up. Don't worry, they are fine. Aftaab also called. He has started for home. When are you coming?"
"In a while. I'll call you while leaving"
"Ok. Should I ask Aftaab t pick you?"
"No Abbu, I'll get a taxi. Don't worry. If there is a problem, I'll call you"
"Ok. Be sure to call me"
"I will. Don't worry"
"Ok. Bye"
"Bye"

"That was Abbu" I told her. "I have kids of my own and he still worries as if I am a little girl"
"You are lucky", her voice quivered when she said this.
"Yes, I know"
"I don't have anyone to take care of me - except Rachna"
"Why? Nabin doesn't take care of you?" the words were out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
"No. He doesn't think there is any need to."
"Why?"
"Because he married an intelligent, independent, steel-willed lady, who doesn't need to be taken of."
"But you are an intelligent, independent, steel-willed lady. Aren't you?"
"Yes, but even an intelligent, independent, steel-willed lady needs to be taken care of. And Nabin doesn't think thats necessary. I guessed I impressed my independence too much on him. I always wanted him to think that I can do everything. I don't need anyone, much less a man."
"Then why did he..."
"Marry me?"
"Yes?"
"Because I wanted him to."
"You...."
"Yes"
She paused a while before going on. Took a breath and said "If there was anything mami hated more than Rachna and me, it was taking spending money on Rachna and me. Other than basic necessities and school fees, she didn't spend a penny on us. Rachna Liked to read. She wanted books. They were expensive. I liked to play. I wanted sport shoes. They were expensive. Rachna wanted to join the library. That was expensive. Everything we wanted was expensive. Each and every thing that we wanted. Each and everything that we needed." Her voice was bitter. Her face was like a filmstrip, with expressions passing over with every word spoken.

But there was no self-pity. She wasn't feeling sorry for herself. She wasn't crying. Perhaps the clouds saw that too. They were shedding lesser tears.

"And so, I decided that if they weren't going to give us any money, we had to earn it for ourselves", she said "I wasn't sure how, but I was lucky. Like Alice, I found my magic hole."
"Magic hole?" Was this too emotional for her to handle? Why is she speaking gibberish?
"Yes", she giggled at my confusion.
Rewa never giggled. She had this dignified chuckle. Not a schoolgirl giggle. But hen again, this wasn't Rewa. This was Progati. And I didn't know Progati. But then, did I know Rewa? No, I didn't.
"Yes, I found a talking rabbit. Mrs. Krishnan. Do you remember her?"
"Mrs. Krishnan...... sounds familiar", I was trying to place the name.
"She was the English teacher at our school."
"Oh yes. I remember now. The lady who spoke with a lisp."
"Yes, she was my talking rabbit, and she showed the magic hole through which I found my wonderland"

Her delight shone through her eyes. I guess Mrs. Krishnan was another person she cared for. She was as animated talking about her as she had been while talking about Rachna.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part IX)

For those of you who are still following it, here is the next part of Progati: A tale of Progress. If you guys have forgotten what has happened so far, well i'm giving the links to the earlier parts:
Part-1
Part-2
Part-3
Part-4
Part-5
Part-6
Part-7
Part-8

This episode is again a short one, hope the next one will be longer..... and sooner! :)



"Your troubles?"

"Yes, my troubles. All you people thought I had a fantastic time. Didn't you? You thought I was the independent Rewa, the free spirited Rewa, the Rewa who had no responsibilities. But you couldn't have been more wrong. Rewa was neither free-spirited, nor was she free of responsibilities. Rewa was an innocent girl, whose innocence, family and happiness were robbed from her at one stroke. The first twelve months at my mami's house were the worst days of my life. She treated Rachna and me like dirt. She didn't care whether we went to school, whether we ate our meals, whether we were living or not..."
Her voice trailed off, and I felt she was the eight-year old Rewa once more, reliving her hell.

"And one day, I got the solution to my problem at school. I was picked up by my teacher to perform in a school play. It was more like stand in the school play actually! But it was the route of my escape. I spent that whole afternoon at school, and when I returned home in the evening, my aunt didn't even bother to enquire where I was. I realized that as long as I was away from home, my aunt didn't bother about me. So, in spite of my stage fear, I began participating in as many plays and dances as I could. Soon, I moved to debates, sports and what not. This is where I met a lot of people and I realized I could be a real charmer if I wanted to. That's when the stubborn Rewa transformed into the popular Rewa. I kept Rachna with me as much as I could, and my aunt was happy to have us out of her sight as long as possible. That suited me just fine, for when we were out, both of us could forget the venom she spurted out at us. Rachna was the intelligent one, and she began spending as much time in the library as I was spending in all my various activities. Did I tell you that she is now doing Ph. D in bio-informatics at Georgia University?"

She was proud of Rachna, almost as a mother would be of her child. The pride showed in her voice, her eyes and her expression. She was the mother goose and Rachna, her goose ling.

"Yes, you did", "only about ten times" I wanted to add, but decided that this wasn't the time for humor.

"I always wanted her to be a doctor. She is so intelligent and so hard working. She used to study all the time. I was heart-broken when she had to give up her medical seat because uncle wouldn't fund her education and I couldn't get loan. That happened two years after we moved from your locality. Uncle bought a better house in a better locality, but mami's behavior towards us didn't become better. I was working in a small accounting firm at that time, and was paying for Rachna's education and all of her needs. I didn't have the money for Rachna's medical education, and she had to give up her seat. That's when I decided that I had waited enough. There was no point in waiting anymore. That's when I asked Nabin to marry me!"

That was surprising. She asked Nabin to marry her! Even though no one had given me an indication, I had assumed that it was Nabin who had asked her to marry him. This was so unconventional. But then nothing about her was conventional, wasn't it?

It was only then that I noticed, heavy raindrops had arrived to give company to the howling wind outside.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A change of direction.....

Last 15 days were chaotic...... They were confusing........ and in those days, I made the biggest decision of my career...... I left my safe and sound technical job and have moved to a totally new field. At this point, I take a 180 degree turn and move to advertising and marketing........ same company, same office, new profile....
I am exited, nervous, scared and looking forward to whats in store......!!!
Am I going to be busier than before???? I don't know..... but if I am, it will be an even slower Progati!!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Happy!!!!

I'm happy today...... why? I don't know...... I just can't explain the reason. Its one of those times that you feel on the top of the world just like that....... At work, the day's been fine. Last couple of days have been busy, very busy. But that never troubled me. In fact, I like being busy.... Its the tension that I could have done without. But today, I feel light...... still have loads of work to do..... and the coming weeks could be tough, but I feel geared up to face the challenges, I feel hopeful.
Am just crossing my fingers, hoping everything works out well. And the tiny fear that a million things can go wrong is slowly fading out....
The break in Progati is regretted. I was having fun writing that stroy, but my hectic schedule has not allowed me to write. But I will finish that story..... thats for sure! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part VIII)

I was so taken aback at the blunt tone that she had used, that all I did for a few moments was gape at her. She coolly picked her coffee mug and sipped the steaming brew.

"Hmmm, less sugar", she said and emptied the two sugar pouches lying nearby into the mug. And then, as if nothing had happened, went on to enquire about my kids.
"They are fine, but why wouldn't you do the article on tribal women?"
"The answer is simple my dear, nobody wants to read it!"
"What? Nobody wants to read it? What sort of an answer is that?"
"Honest and simple"
"Honest and simple?"
"Yes, I'm not pretending I can't do it, I'm not giving you excuses like I don't have the time. I'm telling you that I can do it, I have the time, but I don't have the inclination. And that, is the plain and simple truth Saira.",
her voice was steady, no emotion betrayed.
"Ok, I appreciate the honesty, but I don't understand it. Why do you not have the inclination?", as opposed to her cool demeanor, I struggled to maintain control.
"Who do you think wants to read about these illiterate grannies at twenty-nine? Is there an audience for such a work?"
"People don't know about these people, we are trying to spread awareness about their plight. We have to create the audience." My own words surprised me here. I had considered an easy option. I will talk to Rewa and she would agree to work with Mrs. Ahuja. There, my work was done. And now here I was, across the table from Rewa, talking passionately about this project.
"It doesn't work that way Saira. Creating audiences is easier said than done.", again a crisp business like tone.
"Do you always write for established audiences?"
"Yes"
"Yes?, but all that stuff you wrote about in school and college. About independence of women, about liberation from an age-old culture, what was that?"
"That was exactly what the people wanted to read at that time."
I was gaping at her with my mouth hanging open. This was not the Rewa I'd admired. This was not the Rewa who was my inspiration. This was not the Rewa whom I had mentioned in my speech. But then, this was not Rewa. Rewa was dead. This was Progati.
"I was surprised when you mentioned my name in the acceptance speech. Becoming an inspiration to people was never on the agenda. I was merely writing what they wanted to read. My writings have always been driven by need. The audiences' need and my need- the audiences' need of reading seemingly progressive writing and my need of Progati, of progress."
"Rewa …"
"Progati. Not Rewa. Progati. Rewa died the day I married Nabin. The day I progressed. It's a long story. The tale of my progress",
the crisp business-like tone was gone, replaced by an emotional weary voice. And as if to reflect her sudden change of mood, the plreasant breeze started howling at the windows.
"Tell me", I was intrigued, not just by the prospect of hearing her story, but also by the sudden change in her voice.
"It all began with my parent's accident. The day my sister Rachna and were orphaned. Rachna was very young then. Just a toddler, but I was old enough to understand things. None of our relatives wanted to take us in. At least not the both of us together. They were debating and trying to decide who would be a better fare - the stubborn Rewa or the toddler Rachna. Obviously, they were trying to decide which one of us would be less troublesome. It looked like we were bound to be separated, till I ran to my Ajji, my mother's mother and told her I did not want to leave Rachna. She was moved by my tearful pleas, and asked her son, my uncle to take us both in. His wife, my mami was strictly against that. She had two daughters of her own already, and to her, rearing us was akin to rearing unwanted pets. But they had to bow down to Ajji's wishes, and take us in. They did, and that's when all my troubles began"

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part VII)

"Rewa is dead"
"What?", I asked.
"Yes, Rewa is dead. I'm Progati", her tone was icy as she uttered these words and her hand which still held mine seemed to have lost all its warmth in an instance.

For a full minute, all four of us looked at one another, not speaking a word. Finally, it was Nabin who recovered and said, "Rewa was christened Progati by my late mother on our wedding day. Ever since, she likes to be called Progati and not Rewa."
"Nice try Nabin!",
I thought, " but your explanation does not cover up for the intensity in Rewa's voice, nor for her sudden rigidity."

We chatted on for a while then, the way people who've met after ages would - where do you live now, where do you work, do you have kids, how old, what are they doing etc. After about five minutes of re-familiarization, we ran out of topics and stood looking around, somewhat awkwardly. Rewa's behavior had killed the host of questions in my mind about the last twelve years. Where had she been? What had she done? And most importantly, why had she married Nabin? Why did she go from being Rewa to Progati? Why did being addressed as Rewa upset her so much?

My cell phone buzzed. Aftaab had arrived with Abbu and the kids, and I excused myself from the group.
"Don't forget the Gosht-a-la-Saira Bashir!", said Neel.
"I won't" , I smiled at him and turned to leave.
"Saira", Rewa had called out to me.
I turned and looked up at her questioningly. She asked for my cell number. We exchanged the numbers and set out to meet my family, leaving behind the thoughts and memories of the past one-hour at the entrance of the hall.

The drudgery and pace of routine life pushed Rewa to the back of my mind, and I really didn't think much of her till last week. When my colleague Mrs. Aarti Ahuja approached me for an endorsement, the first person I thought of was Rewa. Mrs. Ahuja was all of 55 kgs, had graying hair and looked like a complete push-over. That had been my first impression about her. But true to the saying, her looks proved deceptive. She was the HoD of the humanities department of our college and involved with a host of charity organizations and NGOs. She had recently undertaken a fifteen day tour of the tribal areas in MP and had returned with a steely will to do something for the women back there. Her plan was to spread awareness about the appalling conditions of those women and then campaign for their improvement. And to spread awareness, she wanted people to pitch in. Getting acclaimed writers to do articles in newspapers and magazines seemed like a good idea to start, but I didn't consider she was going to ask me to write an article. When she did, immediately thought of Rewa.
"I know someone who would be more suited for this job, Mrs. Ahuja"
"Who?"
"Heard of Progati?"
"Progati, the same one who wrote Sudha?"
"Yes, the same one"
"Oh, that will be great. If she endorses this cause, we will surely get some positive results"

I smiled at Mrs. Ahuja's child like enthusiasm. It was almost as if the old lady was transformed into a little girl. Later that evening, I rang Rewa. She sounded dull, I wondered why. But, I didn't ask and she didn't tell. We decided to meet the next afternoon, in a swanky cafe close to my college. I wondered what my students would say when they see me walk into their regular joint!

I chuckled at the thought next afternoon, walking down to the cafe. It was a cloudy day, and the pleasant breeze ruffled my hair. A few youngsters did turn their heads when they saw me enter the place, but they went back to their chattering almost immediately. I spotted Rewa sitting in a corner and took the chair facing her.

"Hi", she made the beginning.
"Hello"

"So what was the important thing you wanted to discuss with me?", she came straight to the point. A thing that suited me for I was hoping to reach home sooner that day. The kids loved it when I unexpectedly arrived home early.
"A colleague of mine has surveyed tribal areas in MP and I've seen some of the reports. The women there live in a pathetic state. Can you believe it, some of them are grandmothers at the age of twenty-nine!", I was surprised the amount of passion in my own voice.
"So?", her tone was cool. No emotion betrayed.
"I wanted you to endorse the cause of those tribal women in MP"
"Sorry Saira, I can't do that!"

Friday, July 08, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part VI)

Three shocks in succession - finding Rewa, learning that she was Progati and that she was married to Nabin. The third more so. Neel had been looking at me and expecting some sort of a remark, an exclamations of awe maybe. After all, Kaymes Industries was among the top ten business groups in the country and though it had been affected by family feuds over the past decade, it had held together. And now, under Nabin Mukherjee's flagship, it was on a fast flight to the number one spot. Nabin had had a glorious career, and I had followed it not just out of professional interest, but also because Nabin had once been a college mate. Neel certainly expected me to be impressed, and the shocked expression on my face confused him. Dazed, I allowed myself to be led by Neel and introduced to the couple.

"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Mukherjee"
"Hello Mr. Survekar. How do you do?"
"Very well. Very well indeed. Meet Dr. Bashir. She is one of the two women to have received an award this afternoon"
"Of course. That was expected. Wasn't it? The common man's economy is a splendid book Dr. Bashir", said Nabin, addressing me, "your ideas have made people sit up and notice of India economy."
"Thanks", I said, "I didn't know that even the uncommon man read my book"
"Oh, then you under estimate yourself Dr. Bashir. I must say you need to develop more confidence in yourself and your achievements"
I didn't know what to say to that, and before I could mutter something incomprehensive, Rewa took over.
"Still the same timid girl. Don't let him intimidate you Saira, he is a big bully", she laughed, took my hand and continued, "You haven't changed one bit. Still look absolutely the same"
"But you have changed a lot. And by a lot, I really mean a lot. I just couldn't recognize you when I first saw you sitting in the front row."
"Yes I've put on a little weight", she laughed. But it was not the same merry carefree laughter I'd heard as a child. It was wistful. There was something to it that I couldn't put a finger on. I didn't dwell on it much, because the look on Neel and Nabin's faces distracted me. Both looked utterly puzzled and Neel even had his mouth hanging slightly open. Rewa was visibly enjoying herself. She hadn't let go of my hand yet - a fact that I found strange.
"You two know each other?", Nabin finally asked.
"Yes, we are childhood chums", said Rewa "we lived in the same locality."
"I didn't know that!", said Neel.
"Yes, we even went to the same school and then the same college.", I ventured. "So you can say that me and Rewa know each other."
"Rewa is dead."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Paheli, Not Progati

Since I have already taken a break from writing Progati, and done two taggies, I'll continue it for now. (For those few of you who are following Progati - the remainder of the story still exists only in my mind- it has yet to be put on paper, or microsoft word for that matter!)

So,what is this post about, if it is not about Progati? It is about Paheli. Shah Rukh Khan's Paheli? Rani Mukherjee's Paheli? Amol Palekar's Paheli? No, its about a woman's Paheli - Does she have the right to choose, to take a decision? And if she does take a decision, do the men support it?


Paheli is the story of Lachi, a newly wed whose husband leaves for business the day after their wedding. And then she has to choose between loneliness for the next five years or the love of a spirit who has taken her husband's form. Well, it is no suspense that she chooses the latter, and the rest of the film potrays their relationship and the effect it has on their lives. A tad unconventional, and very very progressive - its tough to believe that this story was written decades ago! (For the sake of those who are planning to see the film for themselves, I am not divulging any more than the media already has)


Coming to the film itself, the most remarkable thing was the authentic period setting! Right from the sets to clothes to props, the bygone era is well captured. There is a splash of colours across the screen - as if a painter decided to empty his entire pallette on a single canvas. The movie opens at a brisk pace,and becomes sluggish later on. The music is strictly OK, and none of the songs leave a lasting impression. The dance sequences are repetetive. A mention of the costume designer here - its a great job done. The special effects are neat and simple, just enough to keep the flow going not more, not less.


The film packs in as much star power as possible, and the list does seem impressive - Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Juhi Chawla, Suniel Shetty, Anupam kher, and Amitabh Bachchan. But guess who walked away with the maximum hoots and catcalls? Rajpal Yaadav! The hall erupted into laughter the moment he appeared on the screen and in the five odd minutes that he occupies the screen space, his comedy charms!

Anupam Kher's potrayal of the greedy, money-minded Baniyaa is impressive, whether chiding his son and brother for spending money or trying to solve the baffling puzzle of recognizing his real son and the fraud, he is just too good.

Juhi as the young mother whose husband walked out on her seven years ago doesn't have many scenes and dialogues, and walks through her part gracefully. She is looking lovely in the film. The make-up is kept to a minimum in this film, and all the actresses look nearly natural.

Suniel Shetty as Juhi's husband does a two minute cameo, and speaks about three lines. Except the hideous red streaked hair, nothing about him is worth writing.

There are a host of television and theatre artists, including a veteran marathi theatre artist and Sharvari Jemenis who made a big impression in her marathi film Bindhaast, but most of them are wasted in the film.

The hyped appearance of Amitabh Bachchan as the shepheard who solves the villagers' dillema falls below expectations. As the brash illiterate with a common sense, the Big B does not impress at all. Though when compared with the rest of the cast, his Rajasthani accent sounds the most authentic, his eccenticity definitely doesn't.

Rani Mukherjee gives another powerful performance, you can see her transition from a young innocent bride to a mature woman to a mother. Whether its pain or happiness or jealousy or indecision, she doesn't need words to do it for her. Her eyes are enough to do the job! Beautiful rajashani ghagras and antique jewellery that forms her costume eliminates the need for make up. She makes full use of the screen space allocated to her, sounding quite rajasthani, and charming the audiences.

And finally, Shah Rukh Khan rocks! With the same get-up, the same look, the same Rajasthani accent, he creates two different characters on screen - the loving spirit Kishanlal and the money minded flesh and blood Kishanlal! He has shed his usual antics - a mile a minute talking, his lopsided grin, they are all mising in Paheli. He manages to play both the characters fairly, and refrains from being partial to any one of them. The audiences forge a connection with both the Kishanlals, feeling the joy of the one who finds love with Lachi and the pain of the one who is living a lonely life. In one frame you celebrate the spirit's love and in the second you cry out for the human pining for his wife and family. Surely one of his best performances.

Lastly, Amol Palekar has done a good job. Fusing art cinema and commercial cinema, he is definitely expanding his reach. This is his biggets directorial venture so far. The story has been handled with sensitivity, and never for a moment can you see a bias, he doesn't profess that Lachi's decision is wrong or right. He has simply raised a question in the film, and is sure to leave the viewev thinking - What would you do in a situation like this?


I liked the film - did you?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tagged - again!

I thought I'd escaped this one...but DJ tagged me!

Total Number of Books I Own -
Many! Never really sat and counted. Most of my books are my inheritence - inherited from my Dad (Along with the love of reading)

The Last Book I Bought -
I don't buy many books. Most of the books that I own are either gifted tome, or like I mentioned above, inherited from Dad! But I did buy one recently. It was a Dan Brown - Digital Fortress.
The Last Book I Read - That would be digital Fortress again. Although I have started another one- The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me -
Well, I read Fiction, Fiction and only fiction :)
The Potter series - These have to be at the top of the list. J K Rowling's potrayal of the magical world is so convincing that you almost begin to believe it exists. Everything about the potter series is unique - right from her long winded sentences to the extremely believable characters. Her attention to detailing is immense and her innovation can be seen in everything - right from spells and chants (no abra-ka-dabra here. We have alohomora to open locks, Winguardium leviosa to leviate objects and lumos to radiate light from wands!) to curses and charms (cheering charms, silencing charms, bat-bogey hexes!) to magical sport (Qudditch!) its all there in her books. And the best part is, each one of her books is deeply interwined with the others, and yet are complete in themselves.

The Fountainhead - I read this book long ago..... long long ago..... but I still remember what Howard Roark taught me - you don't need to fit in. Your uniqueness is your biggest asset. Believe in yourself and you can quonqer the world. Ayn Rand weaves in and out of philosophy and story in this fantastic book of hers. A must read. (I haven't read the other acclaimed Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged, but I did manage to read a play by her - It goes by the name of The Night of January 16th, and is simply awesome. I vaguely recall a Zeenat Amaan - Shekhar Kapur starrer based on this play)

The Rainmaker - This is my favorite John Grisham work. Though I have read many of his novels, the tale of Rudy - the young rookie lawyer remains my all time favourite. Its laced with believable characters - his over enthusiastic business partner, his 80 yr old landlady and the victim of domestic abuse who he falls in love with. If you read this book and like it, please don't watch the movie. They've butchered the story. I only tolerated it because of Matt Damon!

Love Story - The Classic Segal. The tale of Jenny and Oliver that I read again and again and again......

Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons - They are teamed as one because they are a series. The web of fact and fiction that Dan Brown weaves leaves the reader spellbound. These two books are page-turners all the way. Robert Langdon as the celebrity symbologist professor hops all over France, England and Italy, either saving the world, or his own hind!
Here, I would like to mention Deception Point and Digital Fortress too - Though being the stuff that best sellers are made of, they pale out in comparison to the Langdon series.
Incidentally, Dan Brown has a fixation for D - All his novels begin with that alphabet. And going by his books, the fixation extends to murders, mysterious codes and gorgeous women with IQs over 170!

Lord of the Rings - The mammoth tale of magic, mystique and triumph. Though boring at times, the completion of this saga definately gave me a satisfaction of having completed the book!

The works of Sheldon - I am a huge fan of Sheldon. i love not just his books, but also his series I Dream of Jeanie. My fav Sheldons - The Other Side of Midnight, Memories of Midnight and Tell Me Your Dreams. I just love the powerful women characters he creates. I just love the mystery he maintains throughout. I just loves the way he continually leads the readers to believe one thing throughout the book - only to stump them in the end!

Five Point Someone - Chetan Bhagat's foray into writing. A world of young adults. Its funny, realistic, and pretty much captures the life in an engineering college - Right from overload of assignments and quizzes to rotten canteen food!

To Cut A Long Story Short - Though I'm not a huge fan of Archer, I've enjoyed reading his short stories

And finally, all the kiddie books I've read - Right from Tinkle to Archies, from Nancy Drew to Hardy Boys, from Famous Five to Animorphs - I've relished them all.

Five Books I Want to read (This is a section that I have introduced!)-
The diary of Anne Frank
The world according to Gwarp
Kane and Abel
The Prodigal Daughter
Lajja

Tag Five people -
This part is always a toughie..........
Gaurav
Priyangini
Colors
Saba
I Take No logic
I'm being a good girl and tagging only five.............!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tagged................

I thought I'd escaped... But apparently I haven't! I've been tagged too!

THREE NAMES YOU GO BY:
After my Namkaran , it was Ankita
Anksy or Anks is how I'm known in blogsville
Anku or Anky is what my old school friends call me

Uh oh, that was five not three.... Hmm, so lets make up for it later! ;)

THREE SCREEN NAMES YOU HAVE HAD:
Screen names? That as I understand it is the name of a character portrayed on the screen...
I've never had screen names - but I've had stage names, in the school plays when I was a kid... chalega?

THREE PHYSICAL THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF:
Three physical things? Ok....

My brain - for its sheer logical capability ( now whoever says that this is not physical, ahem brain is physical part of me)
My hair - yeah, it sounds repetitive but I really do like my painfully straight, dark brown long hair ( and I'm not the only one who does, lotsa ppl do!)
My voice - I've been told I have a rather sweet one!


THREE PHYSICAL THINGS YOU DON'T LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF:
I'm going to keep this simple.... don't like rambling on and on abt my shortcomings!

The stubborn fat....
My oily scalp.....( just runs up the shampoo bills!)
My teeth....
THREE PARTS OF YOUR HERITAGE :
The Indian mythology - a fascinating mix of tales and lessons.......
The geet-sangeet and naach-gaana......every punju loves that!
The values we hold - in spite of being exposed to modern western morals, we cling to our Indian values.....

THREE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU:
Snakes
More Snakes and
Yet more Snakes
LOL......That was just to emphasize the extent…. Heres the real list -

This is what everyone is scared of - losing my family and friends, not just physically, emotionally as well....
Never finding life lasting true love ( I was once told "Ankita, you are a hopeless romantic!")
Snakes ( what did you think, it wouldn't feature in the real list?)


THREE OF YOUR EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS:
My cell phone - am addicted to it!
My cuppa coffee - am addicted to this too..... look at my blinkie!
Something to read - be it an Archie comic or a Harry Potter or a Da Vinci Code or a Sheldon or a blog.... I must read everyday!

THREE THINGS YOU ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW:
Green kurti - its ally shiny, with sequins on it :)
Beige trousers - with six pockets, no less!
My hair loose - Its falling all over my face....



THREE THINGS YOU WANT IN A RELATIONSHIP:
Compatibility.......
Love.......... long lasting love......
Acceptance of who I am and how I am......
TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (in no particular order):
I just went through a break-up..............
I have another blog, which I write under a different name..............
I have no self confidence...............

Now try figuring the lie out..... but hey, I'm not telling you!
THREE PHYSICAL THINGS ABOUT THE OPPOSITE SEX THAT APPEAL TO YOU:
Physicality never really appeals to me.......no seriously, its the wit and humor and the charm...... so I'm foregoing this one..... like I said in the first question, I'll make up for it later! :)

THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO REALLY BADLY RIGHT NOW:
Go to sleep................ Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Take a vacation...............
Read a really really good book............. Or write one! ( Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking - at least write your story first.. then think about writing a book!)

THREE CAREERS YOU'RE CONSIDERING:
Am not considering any of those.................fantasizing is more like it!
A voice over artist..........like I mentioned, I'm said to have a good voice!
A rocket scientist............No, I was just kidding........ A painter maybe!
Style advisor to Aishwarya Rai - No, this time I'm not kidding...........Just saw her number 'Kajre Re' from B&B............... not to mention the debacle of Cannes last year................. she seriously needs some style tips................!!!!!!!!!


THREE PLACES YOU WANT TO GO ON VACATION:
A beach............. any quiet white-sanded beach............where I can lay on a hammock and read in peace...........
To a city as vibrant as mine............
To the moon?????

THREE KIDS NAMES YOU LIKE:

Only kids? No. I like the names of certain grown up ppl too........
Ankita - means the one who is loved bty her parents
Anshul - means the first ray of the sun thjat falls on the earth
Aariya - means peace

(Yes, I have a fascination for the letter a...... and the meanings of names...)

THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE:
Live a full, happy life..............
Laugh everyday............... And make others laugh......... ( no, I'm not planning to be a stand up comedian)
Do something that leaves my mark upon this world.............. something to remember me by!

THREE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO TAKE THIS QUIZ NOW:
Hmmm.......... Lets see, who do I know who hasn't taken this quiz or hasn't been tagged? Noone............. all of you have! :(
Three ppl.........

Anu
Red
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Can't think of anyone else ppl...................

Whew! finally done it!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part V)

"Ah, there she is. Someone I thought you'd be interested in meeting."
"Who?"
"The winner of best fiction - Progati"
"Progati?"
"Yeah"


I looked in the direction Neel was pointing towards and found the green sari clad lady deep in conversation with the chief guest. Looking at their animated faces, I could figure out that they were probably having a debate. As we neared them, snatches of their debate fell on our ears.

"What do you mean by not enough women writers? Who are Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mahashweta Devi and Manjula Padmanabhan? "

I halted as I heard the voice, and stared at the mouth that had spoken, the eyes that sparkled, the hands that had gestured. I couldn't make a connection between this obese garish lady standing in front of me and the enigmatic Rewa. But the connection was undoubtedly there. It had been nagging at the back of my mind ever since I laid eyes on her, and it was laid bare by her words. And yet, I couldn't quite believe it, that this was Rewa. That Rewa was Progati hit me a moment later, and that didn't surprise me at all. After all, hadn't I thought of Rewa when I first read Progati?

"And have you heard of Anita Desai, Shobha De, Kamala Das, Amrita Pritam and Shashi Deshpande?"

The man had been struck by Rewaitis, I thought smiling to myself. Rewaitis was the term people used in college, to describe the condition of the poor soul who entered into a discussion with Rewa, and could think of no counter-arguments.

"These are the famous ones - only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many women writers around. You shouldn't make off-hand remarks about there not being enough women writers, specially in a setting like this, where you are going to be heard and quoted", Rewa went on. Once she started of, there was no stopping her, just like the old days.

"Oh come on dear, all he wanted to convey that women writers should be encouraged and supported. Surely you don't disagree to that!" said the tall, authoritative looking man who had just joined to debating duo, or rather the debater and her victim. This man was easy to recognize. I was surprised to see him there and more so seeing that after all these years, he still looked the same. Almost as if time had forgotten to brush over him. The image of Rewa standing on the stage facing Nabin flashed through my mind, for that is who she stood facing even now!

"That's her husband. Nabin Mukherjee", Neel whispered into my ear
"He is the chairman of Kaymes Industries"

Nabin and Rewa married? How was this possible? They couldn't satnd each other in college.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part IV)

I glanced at the heavy line of sindoor on her forehead and the Shaaka-Pola, the sign of a married Bengali woman on her wrist and thought, "Maybe I've seen her in some newspaper or magazine. These society ladies are everywhere these days"

I sat through the remainder of the awards and the vote of thanks in a mild trance. Seeing and hearing all that was happening around me, but not really taking anything in. I was euphoric on receiving the award, sad because none of my family members were present, proud of my achievements and mildly surprised by the Bengali lady in the front row. I was missing Aftaab and I was missing Abbu. I really wanted them to be there with me. After al, it was not everyday that you got awarded for your books! And while I fidgeted about my chair, cradling the trophy in my arms, the ceremony rolled on, the chief guest rose to speak and his booming voice cut through my reverie and brought me right back to the proceedings. I caught something about encouraging the women writers, the fact that there aren't enough women writers of Indian origin was emphasized by today's winners list. Only two women writers. That was when my cell phone screen lit up, and reading Aftaab's name on the display, I moved out of the hall to take his call.

"I'm so sorry Saira, I tried to get free earlier, but things just kept moving on and on..."
I cut him off. This wasn't the time for explanations.
"Its ok. Listen, I've got to tell you..."
"I'm on my way home. I just talked to Abbu. I'll pick him and the kids up and meet you at the hall. Then we'll go out to lunch and celebrate."
"Celebrate what?" I was smiling. He already knew.
"Oh come on Saira. You think I wouldn't know? I can hear it in your voice. You've won"
My smile turned into a wide grin and I felt such a rush of love for my husband that I wanted to fly out to him and hug him right then. And at that moment, for the first time in twelve years, I wished I had wings, though for a different reason.
"Yes, I won. And I missed you and Abbu. But never mind that now. Come soon. I'm dying to meet all of you."
"Yeah, will be there in about an hour"

I moved back to the hall to find people drifting away to the left side wing. I crossed over and joined the throng when I heard the sonorous voice of Neel Survekar. Neel was Aftaab's friend, my editor and the one who planted the germ of writing a book in me. The only reason I'd refrained from mentioning him in my acceptance speech was that he'd absolutely forbidden me to do so.
"Think of my reputation Saira", he'd said with mock seriousness "Do you want people to think that I urge people to write, and then go on to edit their books, and thats how I get work?"
We'd laughed it off then, but this morning, when he called to say best of luck, he didn't forget to add a line about not mentioning him in my speech.

"Oh Dr Bashir, congratulations. Many many congratulations", he said, reaching my side. "So, when should I come home for a celebratory dinner? Mind you, I want Murg-dam-Birayni, fried fish and Gosht-a-la-Saira Bashir in the menu. So you decide the date or I'll drop in on my own accord one of these days"
I was laughing.

"Sure Neel, you are welcome anytime"
"You know, I'm glad you reached in time for collecting your award. I thought I'd have to collect it for you."
"But I thought you liked collecting awards."
"I do, but not for someone else"
"Why not?"
"Because I've to give them off to them afterwards"
"Ha ha. Neel, you are impossible"
"I know"

We had reached the second hall by this time. It was a small rectangular room where the refreshments were laid out. Contrary to the dull atmosphere of the hall where the award ceremony was held, this room was electric. The place was buzzing with the voices of about a hundred people talking at the same time, the waiters serving refreshments, friends and colleagues catching up with each other and debates and discussions from politics to films to world peace that took place when the collective IQ of the attendees was more than that of the Lok Sabha!

"Ah, there she is. Someone I thought you'd be interested in meeting."
"Who?"
"The winner of best fiction - Progati"