Sunday, January 25, 2009

It happened to me

There'll always be old faithful, whichever way you look at it. Book, movie, place, car, friend and your old shorts. It's your comfort zone. But, sometimes you just have to give them up.

I'd had a good swim and we were deliberating an idli-sambar breakfast. It was the end of the month and liquidity was nil. Even a packet of peanuts was a 'Do-I-really-need-it' situation. We got stuck at a traffic signal. A bus stopped alongside and I reached into the pockets of old faithful (not-so-deep, cottony, familiar) to see how much money I had. A coin fell out.

It was only a buck, but in this hour of financial crisis, it could mean the difference between breakfast and tummy-grumbling hungry. Should I have left it there for a beggar? Let it go since I'm an earning member of my family? But wait, that's the point. The sweat and blood that went into that Re 1 was my story. Ok, so I sub stories for a living. Yet, it's still my money and I wasn't going to leave it at a traffic light.

I hopped off the bike. There were only a couple of seconds before the light changed and I didn't want to be the reason a trail of children arrived late to school. Quick as lightning I scooped up the coin and hopped back on. There came a heart-rending scream, stomach-churning sound, a heart-stopping moment. Old faithful had given way. She couldn't take my selfish jumping about anymore.

So she left me sitting on the bike with a rip through her vital organs (the largest rip you've ever seen), the peeking of bright blue and shame-faced embarrassment from the beggars' curse. I couldn't get idli-sambar for breakfast that day. Horror!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chandni Chowk to China

Really, what the hell was I thinking?

We thought we'd go for Slumdog Millionaire, but when we realised the movie hadn't released at the theatre near us, we should have just had dinner and come home. But, no. We decided we had to do something on a Friday night and ended up whacking our heads in frustration over one of the most awful movies known to mankind - Chandni Chowk to China.

True I'm a new addition to the movie-watching club. True I don't know art from fart. True I have no idea how to critically assess the essence of technical virtuosity of bla di da in visual effects. But I sure as hell know this is not a movie to watch.

It's a movie that goes from nowhere to everywhere. A reincarnation of the great Chinese warrior Liu Sheng is born as a vegetable cutter with a Mangal Pandey handlebar mustache - a man who only knows how to cut potatoes, but loves Luck so much she decides to give him a miss everytime. Until he's cheated by a fake soothsayer called Chopstick (what???) and shipped to China. Among all the mish mash appears a perpetually weepy heroine who cries even when she's happy. For that matter, there's a lot more crying in this movie and it's not just from the audience who have by now wished they'd strangled the director. EVERYONE cries. And it's supposed to be a funny movie. Whatever happened to comedy?

The songs are terribly unbearable. Lyrics unworthy of nursery rhymes and seasoned actors 'acting' like they are drama school rejects. Some poor soul decides to get himself killed to take the script forward and incite the potato-cutter to learn Shaolin kung-fu in revenge. So eventually, the vicious skilled Chinese kung-fu villain is defeated by a vegetable chopper from Chandni Chowk. And so the story goes on to the happy ending of reuniting part-Chinese identical twins with their Chinese father who knows kung-fu and the subsequent opening of a Dehli-ishtyle food cart right near the Great Wall. Chop chop.

Any saving grace? Hell, no. Even the crowd in the cinema hall consisted of college-going adolescent boys complete with dry comments and gelled hair. Now, where's my lawyer?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shanti in paradise


I was sat down and told there was something urgent to be talked about, that it couldn't be left for later, that it all began because of me, and the final decision was mine. The next day I was whisked off to paradise by a group of friends.
We drove the 5 hours to Gokarna, stopping only for breakfast at a little roadside restaurant to have idlis and sambar with septuagenarians after their morning walk. I missed the country music, but it was well made up for by metal and trance to keep the spirits going.
You really must stop when you're on the hill before Gokarna. The 'om' of the beach is quite clearly visible and you certainly feel you're a million miles from nowhere on the empty road. You know that feeling when you're about get some place with the anticipation of a good time, don't you? Well, that was exactly it.
We stayed in one of the many mud houses and shanties that dot the beach. The owners rent out more willingly to firangs than to locals, but speaking politely in sufficiently unaccented Indian English should do the trick. There's not much to offer on the menu other than humus, eggs and pasta, but you don't need much apart from a cold beer and a sandwich.
The sand was lovely to touch and the water a perfect 'swimming' temperature. The gentle waves grew in strength with the rise of the tide and I could hear them thunder all night long. Remember the time at Palolem when we were in class 5? The thatched hut, the cold night breeze, the smell of salt and perfect peace? It was a trip to the past and I wished you were with me, so I could share the wonderful solitude with you.
The great part about Gokarna is the three beaches connected and paradoxically separated by hills. We trekked around them to get to Half-moon beach and then to Paradise beach. I spotted dolphins and then the cheer went up as the others realised they weren't just a figment of my imagination. From way up, I watched mum reprimand a playful youngster as he swam dangerously close to the rocks. I know you'd have wanted to just jump into that clear blue water and romp around with them. I did too. It was sparkling with the sun at the farthest horizon you can imagine. I was stopped short by the sheer beauty of earth meets water meets sky. Mesmerising.
It's a hippie paradise, just the sort you like. Freedom to wear what you like, do what you like, eat what you like. Those Rajasthani lamps you thought would look great in your dream house twinkle all over the place. In the night, the sky is clear and you can find Orion and the dippers (at least what I thought were the dippers!) without much difficulty. It touched full moon when we were there. Lucky us!
I spent a lot of time alone, thinking of you, missing you and feeling close to God. You've read my post on Him painting the sky, haven't you? It's quite the same emotion. I walked on the beach, felt the sand sift through my toes, sat on a warm comforting rock and looked for shells the way you used to.
My friends gave me a wonderful birthday gift and I'm really thankful for that. I had a great time and want to go back there soon.
I know you're just the same as when I left you - confident, responsible and free. Me and my self rolled up in one.

Keep in touch

PS: The next time I go there, you're definitely coming along. :)