Monday, February 28, 2005

Classical Music, Here I Come!

Last Saturday I went to a concert put up by the Bombay Philharmonic Orchestra. They had a guest music conductor, Christopher O’Reilly and pianist Danny Driver. I love Western classical music, though I honestly cannot make out the difference between Beethoven, Mozart or Chopin! I hope to change that someday.
Anyway, I had to convince my brother, D, to go along, and surprisingly he agreed at once! So off we went to the Tata theatre to enjoy an evening of Western classical music. We were actually late, courtesy me. And D was so mad! He was going on and on lecturing me on how I should have started getting dressed earlier when I knew that I always take so long to get ready. Grans of course had to chime in with her two cents and urge me on to get dressed quicker! It was about 6 o’clock, and we were still at home, when the concert started at 6:30 pm. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the auditorium from our home. Anyway I was really flying when D announced that it was 6:15 already. When I was ready, I turned around and saw that it was actually 6:00 pm, so I went back to the mirror to check my eyeliner, when D walked in and saw me glued to the mirror once more, announced, “that is it! I’m not going! I don’t want to grope my way in the dark to our seats!” Hearing this I quickly turned around and both of us raced off to get a cab.
We arrived exactly at 6:30 pm. And D was still grumbling about being late. When we entered the foyer, the attendant there actually commanded us to run up the stairs! We ran up and were shown to our seats. The auditorium was full, and I was a bit embarrassed to step over people trying to get to our seats.
The orchestra had already arranged itself on the stage and was warming up for the performance. A kindly old Parsi lady offered me the program, which we didn’t get as we were late. The piece selected was from Mendelssohn’s works.
Then O’Reilly walked onto the stage amidst thunderous applause, he introduced the piece and gave a short history of how Mendelssohn created it.
And then the orchestra began its enthralling performance. I was surprised to recognize the first two pieces, which I’d actually heard playing in the background of a Warner Bros. cartoon that I had seen long, long back! I’ve come to realize that most of the cartoons have Western classical music as their background score, especially the “Swan Lake” or something, by Chekovsky (am not sure of the spelling or even if it is by Chekovsky!).
The fourth set also sounded very familiar, and then I realized that it was used in the Tata Indigo advertisement!
I sat spell bound throughout the entire evening, just letting the wonderful sounds of the violins, cellos, trumpets and an assortment of other instruments, wash over all my senses. In fact after a while, I suddenly realized that I had a smile plastered to my face all the while! I was in heaven for sure!
O’Reilly was a true showman! He was highly dramatic and very charismatic too. It didn’t hurt that he was good-looking too! Hehe! J He had dark brown hair and eyes and a ready smile.
After the intermission Danny Driver joined the orchestra. He was dressed in a white tuxedo, as compared to the rest of the orchestra members who were dressed in black. He was balding, and wasn’t as affable as O’Reilly, he looked a bit reserved. He played marvelously! His fingers just flew over the piano keys. He turned out to be quite dramatic himself.
A funny incident occurred during the first half. In a Western classical music performance, there is a certain protocol to be followed while applauding. One should never applaud when there are pauses between pieces. But not many people in the audience knew about it, and so many of them applauded each time there was a pause. After this happened a few times, an irate lady from behind, who sounded very Parsiish, snapped, “Don’t you people know when to clap?!” I just felt like chuckling when she said it! She sounded so annoyed!
But you really can’t blame some of the people for not knowing this rule; they just wanted to show their appreciation for a good performance. I myself hadn’t known about this rule. My aunt, who had given me the tickets to this show, had told me about this; or else even I would have been clapping along with all the ignoramuses, including D! But, even though I knew about this rule, it was not easy making out when exactly to applaud and when not to. So I clapped only when the Parsi lady beside would clap, and I told D to take my lead.
Apart from this little hiccup, the rest of the concert went on smoothly.
And I was just over the moon to be attending a Western classical music concert at last! I’ve always dreamed of living this way, working hard on weekdays, and going to watch plays and concerts on weekends. Ah! This is the life!

Wah Zakir Hussain!

Last Thursday I got the opportunity to got to a Zakir Hussain concert, and I turned it down. Later that evening, I was talking to a friend of mine and she was flabbergasted that I didn’t want to see Zakir Hussain perform live! She convinced me that I should go, so I called up my aunt, H, who’d asked me, and asked her if I could still come. Luckily she still had some extra passes, and I got dressed in record time, fifteen minutes or so! I really surprised myself!
So H, her son A and I went to the concert, which was actually held in the memory of Ustad Amir Khan by his son Shahbaz Khan, who had personally signed the thousand or so passes himself! The show started half an hour late, which didn’t surprise me all that much, used to Idian Standard Time, as I’m. First Shahbaz Khan said a few words about his father, and then he introduced Zakir Hussain, and the other guests of honour, including, Pandit Jasraj and Kishori somebody (I totally forgot her surname, but it starts with “A”). Then a short film compiled on the late Ustad Amir Khan was shown. I was surprised that I’d actually heard a couple of the songs that he had sang for in old Hindi movies.
At this point I was quite bored, and was thoroughly regretting my decision for going, and cursing my friend for encouraging me to go, because it sure didn’t look like Zakir Hussain was ever going to play, as Ustad Sultan Khan, who was to accompany him on the sarangi couldn’t make it as his wife had just passed away.
After an hour or so, the intermission was announced and we trooped out to get some cold coffee and sandwiches.
Anyway, after the intermission we trooped back in to find out that Zakir Hussain was indeed going to play, and that Ustad Sultan Khan’s disciple, Dilshad Khan was going to join him.
Dilshad Khan started off on his sarangi. The sounds made by the sarangi were pristine, but very mournful. In fact, they sounded like the background music in a saas-bahu soap opera! Or maybe I’m just ignorant!
After 15-20 minutes of Dilshad Khan’s solo performance, Hussain joined in at last. And I must say, it was all worth it in the end! He was fabulous! Even though I’m no great Hindustani music aficionado, let alone being able to understand the nuances, I really enjoyed his performance. At some points, he played so fast that his fingers were a blur! As he would end in a crescendo, he would look at the audience with a big grin on his face, as if to say, “wasn’t that brilliant? Now clap for me!” Well, the audience needed no persuasion, all of us burst into spontaneous applause after each crescendo (for lack of a more appropriate word). He is a real showman! He knows exactly how to read his audience. I actually found myself tapping my fingers and feet in rhythm! My cousin, A was actually shaking with enjoyment in his seat, and that’s definitely an odd site, as he is all of 6 feet tall!This was the first Indian classical music concert I’d been to, and little did I know that day later I would be attending my first Western classical music concert!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Romantic Comedies

I’d wanted to watch ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ since, I don’t know, forever! But never got the chance to. I’d asked Ma a countless number of times to borrow the video from the video library she frequents, but her reply always was that she’d already seen it, so she didn’t want to rent it out again. I could have rented it out myself, but somehow, it never occurred to me to do so! I guess that is what happens when you depend on your mother for every little thing, you don’t realize that you can do those things yourself.
After years of wanting to see that movie, I recently saw it 2 ¼ times this month itself. The first time, I saw only the climax, and when I realized that the ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ hadn’t actually met throughout the movie, I was greatly disappointed. I was like, “What’s this shit? This was supposed to be one of the best romantic comedies ever, and the lead players never actually meet??”
Then later I got a chance to watch the movie again, from the beginning this time, and I loved it! I understood then, why some people swear by this movie. It really was a nice, feel-good kind of movie.
The scene in which little Jonah tells his father that he was beginning to forget his mother broke my heart! And then when Tom Hanks’ character (I forgot his name) tells him that his mother could “peel an apple in one long, curly strip”, that brought a smile to my lips.
Each and every scene was mounted extremely well. There were so many funny scenes, like those between Jonah and the woman his dad starts dating, Victoria. He is so painfully polite to her, it’s hilarious!
Also the scene, in which Rita Wilson’s character talks about the movie, “An Affair to Remember” and gets more and more involved and emotional with her narration, is priceless! I was howling with laughter when I saw it for the first time! And then Hanks and his friend talk about some other movie and mock-cry. That was very funny too.
Then there were the poignant scenes, such as the one in which Jonah calls up the radio station and Hanks ends up talking to the radiotherapist. She asks him what were the things that he loved about his wife, and he says. “How long is your show?” :)
Meg Ryan’s expressions were so bang on in each and every scene; you don’t think of her as Meg Ryan, you only see Annie Reed.

I just love to watch romantic comedies. They are so much fun! My favourite ones are ‘Notting Hill’, ‘Love Actually’, ‘You’ve Got Mail’ and ‘Chupke Chupke’, ‘Rules – Pyar ka Super hit Formula’… the list goes on! According to me, each of these movies is a gem!
I’ve even bought the ‘Love Actually’ VCD. And I’ve watched it quite a few times already, the last time being two days ago. That movie makes me laugh and cry every time I watch it. Some people think that it’s boring, too confusing and very, very saccharine sweet. But I think it is in a class of its own. How well are the individual stories connected to each other. I love ensemble pieces like this one. It is set around Christmas and so each time it gets a little chilly, I feel like watching it!
My favourite individual love story is the one involving Colin Firth’s character (Jamie) and his Portuguese housekeeper, Aurellia. It was funny, and dare I say, cute! Both cannot understand each other’s language, but they are on the same level. After she dives into a cold lake to save his manuscript, they are drying off inside Jamie’s home, and she’s talking in Portuguese, and he in English, and they are both saying absolutely the same thing! He first says that maybe he can name a character after her in his book, and she repeats the same thing in Portuguese. And then she jokingly says that or maybe he can give her 50% of the profits, and he says, “or maybe I could give you 5% of the profits!” Cheapskate! : D
The scene, in which he proposes to her, is both hilarious and so very romantic! It is set in the restaurant in which Aurellia works, and the entire town of Marseilles descends on it to see what this Englishman is up to. He actually learns Portuguese, and proposes to her in his grammatically poor version. He actually says stuff like, “things seems very transparency” and “I’ve come to you with the view for asking your hands in marriage with me” or some such stuff.
And even Aurellia had learnt a bit of English, “just in case”, as she puts it.
Then there is the love story of Liam Neeson’s character’s 10-year-old stepson, Sam. That was just adorable, and not portrayed in the very unbelievable way in which childhood romances are usually portrayed in Hindi movies. Sam’s mom has just passed away after a long illness, and he’s behaving in a moody manner. So Neeson asks him what is wrong, and Sam replies, “I know I should be thinking of mom and all, and I do, but the truth is, I am in love!” When Neeson asks him, “aren’t you too young to be in love?” The kid turns to him in all seriousness, and states matter of factly, “not at all!” And Neeson says that he is so relieved that it’s not something worse, and Sam replies, “What could be worse than the anguish of love?!” This is said in such a serious tone that is not overly dramatic, that you don’t want to laugh at the little boy, but it is amusing all the same.
Sam actually learns to play the drums to impress Joanna, the girl he is in love with. Joanna and some of the other kids are setting up a band for their school Christmas concert, and she is the lead singer. You don’t know what to expect when they actually show the concert taking place. I just thought that it’d just be some little girl singing in an ‘okay’ voice. She starts off the song without any musical backing, in total darkness, and her voice just rises out of the darkness, crystal clear, and it completely stuns you! You wouldn’t expect a 10-year-old to possess such an incredible singing voice. I’ve goose bumps all over my arms and neck, each time I hear her belt out that song, ‘All I want for Christmas is you’. When this girl is old enough she should compete in American Idol, she would win for sure!
All the other stories are also funny, sad, touching, except I didn’t like the one between Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman much. The one between Laura Linney and her co-worker was sad.
I could just go on and on about ‘Love Actually’. But am just going to end here because all this talk has made me want to see ‘Love Actually’, so I’m going to do just that right now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bombay Blues

It has been quite cold in Bombay these past few days, which was very, very surprising to me. I’d always come to Bombay in the summer holidays, when it was disgustingly hot, and I’d be sweating buckets throughout my stay. This cold weather’s actually somewhat freakish, according to the Mumbaikars. It was never this cold here before!
Anyway, it is so cold here that I don’t even switch on the fans, which is a rarity for me, because even during the coldest Hyderabadi winter, I’d have at least one fan switched on in my room. And here, am not switching on the fan and still shivering all through the night!
But I love this cold weather. I’d rather be cold than hot and sweaty anytime! But the disadvantage of not being able to switch on the fan is horrific! There are swarms of mosquitoes everywhere! I’ve more mosquito bites on my arms than I care to count! But I’ve managed to kill quite a few of the little pests. Actually I’m becoming quite skilled in the art of mosquito homicide, so much so that I could be called “Urvi the Mosquito Slayer”!! He, he!
But now the humidity is on the rise. I can feel it, each time I walk to and fro from the railway station everyday. My arms are sweaty as hell and my hair is plastered on to my forehead. I know, not a pretty picture!

God knows when I’ll be able to post this entry, my goddamn Internet connection’s not working. The injustice of it all!

My college has at last started in all earnest, and how! Past two days I’ve been waking up at 5:30 am! Very, very unpleasant for someone who likes to wake up after the noon! But, what to do? I’ve to make my own breakfast (at such moments I can’t help but miss my mom. Sob!), and the walk to the station takes about 15 minutes, the ride to Churchgate, where my college is situated, takes another 15 minutes, and it takes another 3-4 minutes to walk to my college from Churchgate station. So I’ve to start out at least 45 minutes in advance everyday. Groan, groan and some more groan!
I can just imagine a certain Ms. VCA chuckling right now, thinking, “Here Urvi goes again! Cribbing, cribbing and more cribbing!” Well, I can’t help it, am in a crabby mood right now. Don’t know what’s happening with me nowadays, am having really wild mood swings. One moment I’m quite pleased with myself, and the way my life’s going, and the next I’m down in the dumps. I’ve never ever had mood swings like these before. I’m not even a moody person, either I’m happy, mad, sad, or plain indifferent, one at a time. Never have my moods oscillated so uncontrollably! And I don’t even know why this is happening. Maybe Bombay really is getting to me. Now I just sound pathetic!
Switch of topics is in order! I’ve just entered this Knock, Knock joke contest on Go 92.5 FM. I’d made up this knock, knock joke long back, ok that was only two years ago! Here’s how it goes:
Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Annie who?
Annie one home??!
Hehe! I sure do crack myself up at times! :)) Got to go and watch American Idol now. Simon Cowell’s sooooooooo sarcy!! Would never want his acerbic wit to turn on me!

Am back after about 3-4 days. Was very, very sick during those days. Ok, kinda sick. I was down with a viral fever. But I did have a high temperature on Thursday and was feeling very low and tired on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all thanks to those antibiotics I was on. But now I’m fully recovered and so is my computer! Yay! Poor PC was also down with a virus, with 48 files infected, courtesy moi, and my desire to download everything I set my eyes on, on the World Wide Web.
But am glad to inform anyone interested that both my PC and I have recovered wonderfully!
I guess my moodiness of the preceding days was a kind of forewarning or something for my sickness.
And just when I’d started having regular classes, I had to fall sick! Sometimes I really feel like the Fates are conspiring against me. But then I shake off the thought, as I’d rather not believe in destiny. I think people who believe in destiny tend to get complacent. They begin to think, “what is supposed to happen will happen, so no need to do anything about things.” That is such a defeatist attitude, which most Indians are plagued by. If people would only get off their butts and work hard instead of moaning and groaning about their fate, then there would be more Tatas, Ambanis, and also Shahrukh Khans!
Make destiny work for you and not the other way around! And on this very inspirational note, I do end my ramblings. :D

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Pride and Prejudice (part IV)

This is the fourth and last installment of my “inspired” short story. Enjoy!

She was crying now. Then suddenly she sat up, “All is not lost. I remember something else Dad had taught me: ‘it’s never too late!’ I will go to Gaj’s palace!” saying so, she opened the door and lo’ and behold, who did she find standing there, shivering in the rain?
They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then TA began to squirm and said, “Can we finish looking at each other inside? I’m sure it’s much better inside than out here (I’m guessing!).”
‘Madhu’ pulled him inside and gave him a big hug. TA almost screamed, “I swear! I swear I’ll leave as soon as the rain stops. Just don’t hurt me! Please!”
‘Madhu’ laughed and said, “Oh TA! You are so funny!”
“Sure I am I am! Whatever you say!”
Mads looked at him with concern and thought, “Why, he’s scared stiff of me!” Loudly she said, “TA, what’s come over you? I’m so happy to see you! In fact, I love you, I always have. I realized it when you left. I shouldn’t have let you go!”
“Oh Madhu! Really?” TA began to dance around the little hut and suddenly dropped to the floor. He had fainted! Mads looked at him with dismay, “Oh no! I was hoping that he’d look after me now, but looks like I’ll have to do the looking after for a while! What a pain!”
She took the pot of rainwater and threw it on his face. He got up with a start and started crying, “Oh Madhu! My kingdom (sob!)! It’s been snatched by that terrible, terrible king Gaja Raj etc. I managed to escape with the skin of my teeth. What do I do now? Waaaaaaa! Boo hoo hoo! I feel so lost, I just…” before he could finish his sentence, he felt the same sting on his cheek as he had felt five years ago, but with less force this time (Mads was pretty weak, as she wasn’t getting enough to eat).
“Get a hold of yourself! I’ll get back your rotten kingdom for you if it’s the last thing I do! I’ll go to Gaj in the morning, and no, you’re not coming. You’ll stay in this hut. But first you must promise me that you’ll marry me soon after you get your kingdom back.”
“I promise,” poor TA mumbled. He hugged Mads and collapsed once again due to exertion.
“Humph! Princes have no stamina at all, except for one thing for sure!” Mads snorted. She fell (ouch once again!) asleep too.
Madhulika woke up in the morning at about 10 o’clock (figures why she is not doing too well for herself!). TA was still sleeping. She tied him up, lest he forget her warning and wandered off somewhere. Then after scrubbing herself clean and donning the most decent clothes she had, she set off for her destination.
She reached the palace gates after half an hour or so. She found them locked and nobody around. She started grumbling and didn’t stop until two guards came and opened the gates after another half an hour.
“I’ve an old appointment with Mr. Gaj. I have to see him,” she said with much authority in her voice. All her pride had suddenly come rushing back, along with the other half of her ego!
The guards just stood and gawped at her. They knew her well and admired her beauty from afar. They kept on staring at her with goofy smiles plastered all over their faces (Mads sure does inspire a lot of goofiness, doesn’t she?).
“Hello? Can you take me to see king Gaj? Hello? HELLO?”
Making no headway with the guards, Mads walked in with her head held high, determined to find the king’s chambers herself.
After entering a dozen and more wrong rooms, she finally found Gaj’s room. He was pulling up his dhoti when she walked in.
“Hey! What took you so long?” Gaj bellowed.
Mads blinked, confused, “You were expecting me?”
“Of course I was! What’s happened to your voice? It’s become thin and sweet. And what the hell are you wearing a skirt for?!” Gaj stopped short, “Uh-oh! You are not Gainender.”
“You bet I’m not!” Mads snapped.
Gaj walked up close to have a better look and realized that it was a woman standing before him, a beautiful one at that.
He batted his sparse eyelashes at her and said, “Haven’t we met somewhere before?”
“That’s the lamest pick-up line I’ve ever heard, but yes, we have met before (unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be!).”
“We have?” Gaj asked, astonished. He regained his composure and said, “Of course we have. How are you doing Menaka?”
“I’m Madhulika,” Mads said snappily, “And you don’t remember me. You said that your palace gates and bedroom door would be open for me. But they were not! Anyway, do you remember me now?”
“I’ve recited those lines to a countless number of women. How can I remember who you are? And I am getting old too,” he tried to pacify her.
But Mads flew into one of her by now famous (more like infamous) rages, “Dammit! I was the girl who did not accept the gold coins in exchange of my field some five years ago.”
“Ohhh! So that’s who you are. So you have come to say that you have accepted my offer?”
“For God’s sake! You must be at least 70 odd years old, and I’m only 23!”
“You are wrong my dear, I’m 82 years old and raring to go!”
Mads looked at Gaj and said exasperatedly, “you are indeed a difficult and obtuse man, and all you ever think of is sex, even at your age!”
Gaj retorted, “What else is there in life? Life’s routine can get quite boring and predictable. I like to add some spice to it now and then. Don’t you?”
Mads looked at Gaj for a long time, her sharp mind ticking away.
“If I save your kingdom from being attacked, will you marry me and make me your queen?” she asked sweetly, batting her eyelashes and smiling seductively.
Gaj looked at her and hopped up and down, “Oh boy, oh boy! But first marry me. We’ll have a grand wedding with….”
“No way! I mean, let’s just have a quick, quiet marriage now and give a grand reception later,” Mads snorted.
“Whatever you say, darling!” Gaj said excitedly, not wanting to displease, his bride-to-be, “Oh! I’m so happy. I could just die and float to heaven!”
“Yeah right!” Mads thought, “you wish!” Outwardly she smiled sweetly at him.
So Mads and Gaj were married. After the simple ceremony, Mads told Gaj, “There is a man in my hut who I’ve tied up. He wanted to attack your kingdom and enslave you.”
Gaj at once sent his soldiers to get poor You-know-who (if not, it’s TA dumbass!).
Poor TA was captured and brought before Gaj and Mads (dressed in rich jewels and silks), seated on thrones of gold (plated, not solid!). TA looked disbelievingly at his ‘Madhu’, who was looking more beautiful than ever. He almost wailed aloud, but managed to control himself, except for a lone tear that slipped down his pink cheek.
“So what do you propose we do with him, sweetheart of my heart, apple of my eye, my honeybunch, delicious pudding, icing on my cake, cherry on my pastry, orange of my soul (hmmm, am quite hungry, I think!)…”
“Enough dear, or you’ll run out of breath,” Mads admonished gently. “This man wanted to enslave you, so it’s only right that he becomes my slave,” she cooed to Gaj and winked slyly at TA, who gave her a broad smile.
Mads beamed happily at everyone and giggled, “Who says you cant have your cake and eat it too?!!”

Monday, February 07, 2005

Pride and Prejudice (part III)

“By the way, what is your name?” he asked.
“Madhulika”, she snapped.
She was not too happy with his description of her nose (which, by the way, she thought was the most perfect one that anybody could possess).
TA saw that she looked somewhat annoyed and tried to make amends, “Ma-dhu-li-ka… what a beeeaaauuuutiful name to match a beeeeeaaaauuuuuutiful face! I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“You think?! First you say unpleasant things about my nose and now you say that you think you are falling in love with me?! Well here’s what I think: you are a damn idiot! You don’t know how to praise a lady (?!) or how to propose to her. Get out of my sight quickly, before I lose my temper!”
“But you have already lost it!” TA was greatly appalled at the turn of events.
“WHAT??!!”, Mads shrieked, “Now you are going to tell me when I’ve lost my temper??!! Get out! Get out of my sight before I throw something at you!”
“Wait, wait! Don’t be so hasty. If you marry me you’ll be rich! You’ll be the princess of Magadh – the town my pop rules over.”
“How dare you try to bribe me? Don’t you know that I’m supposed to be this proud, egoistic, conceited girl? Just get lost!”
“Okay, okay… Madhu, I came with high hopes and was so sure that you would agree to be my princess and now… now you have embarrassed me! Bye! I may return… Ouch! Ok, ok I’m leaving!”
Mads had thrown a pot at his head!
And poor TA walked away, head bent at an angle of 90°.
Smoke bellowed from Mads’ nostrils. She went back to sleep, exhausted after her ‘extreme’ outburst.

* * *

Five years passed after this certain incident. Both our lead players had fallen onto bad times.
It was the monsoon. Darkness had fallen (ouch!). Mads was sitting in her hut with a pot over her head. And in the pot, water was drip, drip, dripping from the roof above her head. Poor “Madhu”, all her pride and more than half her ego had vaporized. She was thinking, “Oh! Why didn’t I accept TA along with all his faults? At least I wouldn’t have had to sit under a leaky roof then. Or else I could have accepted Gaj’s indecent proposal, however disgusting he was and still is I guess. But no! I had to listen to Dad, who was already dead and gone; I had to live up to his rep of being a proud pain-in-the-butt! Waaaaaaa! It’s entirely your fault Dad! If you hadn’t instilled all that nonsense in me, your darling daughter would have been a queen by now!”

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Pride and Prejudice (part II)

This is the second installment of Pride and Prejudice. The saga continues!!

“Lecherous old man!” Mads spit out, along with a few colourful, unprintable expletives.
Everyone dispersed quickly, tired after the proceedings of the day, but more so to gossip about the surprising and shocking turn of events.
Mads retired to her own little, half broken down hut.
Soon night fell (hope it didn’t get too hurt). Mads was sleeping under the jasmine tree outside her hut. At the other end of town, Tarun Arun could not sleep, because mosquitoes would not let him. So he thought, why not go see the beautiful girl he had seen before?
So he got onto his horse, Ashwas, who was quite displeased at having been woken up and determined to give his master a hard ride.
After a very bumpy ride, which had nothing to do with the condition of the roads, he reached Mads’ hut. He found her sleeping and a mad thought struck him, “What if she is Sleeping Beauty and I the Prince who would wake her up with a kiss?!”
He then proceeded to bend his head to kiss her, when at that very moment her eyes flew open. And along with her eyes, her right hand flew towards Tarun Arun’s face where it landed on his cheek with such velocity, as it had never experienced before. Tarun Arun also had not experienced anything like this ever before. Both were shocked and the echo of the slap reverberated all around them.
Tarun Arun drew back, holding his stinging cheek. Mads stared at him and blabbered, “I’m so sorry! I…. I thought that…. That…” She stared at him again and gasped, “Why!”, she thought, “He looks really good!” She was slowly falling for him, but tried to restrain herself, as she wasn’t one to give into ‘extreme emotions’, especially those of the ‘attracted’ kind.
She finished her sentence after what seemed like eons, “I thought you were king Gaja What’s-his-name.”
“High hopes!’ Tarun Arun Mumbled.
“What?” Mads asked eagerly.
“Nothing”, Tarun Arun mumbled again.
“What?” asked Mads, almost snapping.
Tarun Arun did not waste anymore time and said, “hi! I’m Tarun Arun; my pals call me TA for short. You could call me that too. I saw you today afternoon. I think you are the most courageous and beautiful woman in all the three worlds. You have luxuriant hair, doe-like eyes, lovely lips, great arms, great legs (huff, huff!). Terrific figure…” TA (I hope I’m not getting too familiar!) stopped here as he was out of breath.
“Tell me more. What do you think of my nose?” Mads purred.
“Huh? Your…. ummm… Oh yeah! Your nose! Er… ummm…. It’s fine. Your nose is just fine!” he finished lamely.“By the way, what is your name?” he asked.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Pride and Prejudice - A Short Story

Having nothing better to write tonight, I thought that I would post a short story that I'd written when I was sixteen years old, in tenth class. It is actually a spoof I wrote on one of the most painful short stories we had to study in Hindi. I think my version is much better! Hehe! The original, in short, deals with a peasant girl, Madhulika and a prince Arun, who falls in love with her. He wants to attack Madhulika's kingdom, and she agrees to help him, but at the last minute, her conscience pricks her and she surrenders herself and gives up Arun's hiding place to her king, who then asks her what she would like as a reward, and she says, "Death!" Very pointless story, if you ask me.
It's more or less the same as I'd written ages ago, with only minor adjustments I've made over the years.
Am going to post it in installations, one page everyday. So here goes!
With due apologies to the late Mr. Jayashankar Prasad, I present to you my version of his ‘inspiring’ short story, “Puraskar”.
I’d also like to apologize to the late Ms. Jane Austen, for ‘borrowing’ her title.

Wet constellation… that does not sound quite right! Maybe I should not attempt such an in-depth translation. Lets start again:
There was moisture in the atmosphere. In the sky, black clouds could be seen. Thunder could be heard, which sounded like the Gods were playing the drums. From a clear corner in the sky, the ‘Golden Man’ (the sun, you dud!) was peeping out, watching the retinue of the king. From the valley, beneath the chain of mountains, the aroma of the wet mud of the plains could be smelt.
From the gates of the town, people started to hail the king. In the crowd, the fanner on the elephant could be seen seated high above its trunk. The group, which permeated, of happiness and joy drifted forward like waves in an ocean.

(Whew! That’s it! I’m not going to translate anymore, from here onwards; it’s all my creation!)

A celebration was being held in Kaushal – the kingdom of King Gaja Raja Rajeshwar Randheer Raghuveer Raj. Every year a field of one of the peasants was chosen as the best. The king would then plough it (about a centimeter at the most!) and thereafter it would become his. The peasant would receive four times of what the field was worth in gold coins. The kings and princes of the neighbouring kingdom were also invited for this celebration.
This ritual may seem quite fair, but it was not. In this way the kings would snatch all the lands (which anyway belonged to them in principle, so I really see no point in this ritual) from the poor peasants, who had no choice whatsoever in this little transaction. They were led to believe instead that this was a matter of great honour for them.
Well anyway, that year the field of our heroine, Madhulika, was chosen.
Madhulika looked beautiful even in the garb of a peasant; and she had caught the eye of a prince, Tarun (young) Arun. He was absolutely mesmerized by Madhulika.
After ploughing the field, Gaj (doesn’t this sound much better than Gaja Raja whatever?) gave a tray of gold coins to Madhulika. He was as captivated by Mads as was Tarun Arun. He grinned at her goofily. Mads bowed her head and refused to accept the coins.
Gaj still smiled goofily at her and asked, “Why aren’t you taking this money, sweetheart?” Mads was annoyed, she replied, “My father, Sinhamitra, who kept your honour in the battle against Magadh, had taught me quite a few things in his life time. I cannot accept these coins (as much as I would like to) as I am too proud to do so. And by refusing them (however crazy it may sound), I would do my dead Dad proud… And oh yes! Dad taught me one more thing: ‘stay away from lecherous kings!’” Saying so, she looked disgustedly at the salivating Gaj.
Not having heard a word of what Mads had said, he nodded his head and said, “whatever you want sweetie!” and then he took her aside and whispered, “If you feel bored or lonely anytime, you know that the gates of my palace, to be more precise, the doors to my bedroom, are always open for you!” He then walked away with the help of a stick.
[Hooked yet? Want to know more? Well, you'll just have to wait for tomorrow's installment!]

Friday, February 04, 2005


I’ve a confession to make. I started blogging with the sole purpose of getting compliments from my friends, all you guys. You people would read my funny anecdotes, have a quiet chuckle (maybe) and if you are not very lazy, post a comment saying how funny I am and how well I write!! That’s why I emailed all you guys each time I posted an entry, which are a grand total of two right now (ok this one makes it three)! This time I’ve made up my mind not to do so. Even to me, my efforts at getting people to read what I’d written reeked of desperation. Looking for approval, or just an ego boost? Maybe both. So, I feel sure that if people have liked what they read of my two entries, they will definitely visit my blog again and read this third.
I thought that I’d fill my blog with funny incidents that had occurred to me in my day-today life, and that’s it; no serious stuff, nothing about how sad I’m feeling, or any heavy stuff. But suddenly, right now at 2:49 am, I feel like changing my own rules. I don’t know why, maybe because of the beautiful poetry and prose I’ve just read, the work of a certain Lady M. :) Maybe I was inspired by her very earthy and sensuous words… I don’t know.
I’ve always prided myself for being able to express myself wonderfully through the written word; verbally I’m not able to be very expressive. I’ve always blamed this impediment on the junior college lecturers who taught me. All my schoolteachers spoke excellent English, especially all my English teachers, who taught me to appreciate the magic of the written word. I’ll be eternally grateful to them for encouraging my writing by praising my little essays and compositions.
The lecturers in my junior college were, well, just bad at English! And there was no freedom to form your own answers, even in the English subject! We were spoon fed, with all notes being dictated by bored lecturers (except our Economics sir, he was very dedicated to his subject, and was a sweetheart!). The teacher who taught us English in the first year thought that ‘baubles’ meant ‘soap bubbles’!! I’d looked around to see if anyone would contradict her, but nobody did. And all I did was whisper furiously to my friend A, that baubles certainly didn’t mean soap bubbles. She asked me to stand up and say so, but I was too shy to.
But I guess I can’t blame my estrangement with the English language on those poor misguided souls. I should have worked on the language myself. But ennui set in, and I became very lazy and came not to resent the spoon-feeding. Until one day I found that I was having great difficulty in forming a simple sentence, I kept on floundering, looking for the right words. I was deeply mortified, even though nobody noticed this new inability of mine. I was very proud of my command over the English language, and wasn’t afraid to show off when I was in school (much to my embarrassment now!). I’d be constantly correcting the pronunciations and grammar of my classmates, who soon came to the conclusion that I had an attitude problem, and that I thought no end of myself. That wasn’t very far from the truth! (Cringe! Cringe!) It is really a wonder that I didn’t manage to alienate all my friends!
So anyway, when I noticed my inability to string words together to form a simple sentence, I was horrified. And the worst part was, even my pronunciations were failing me. I then decided to take matters into my own hands and tried consciously to improve on the language; always a voracious reader (I could never pass a billboard without reading it), I began to read more and more. I also paid close attention to all the English serials I watched, especially sitcoms like “Friends”, from which I could pick up witticisms. My verbal communication has definitely improved, though I still have trouble finding the right words now and then (ok, far many more times than ‘now and then’!). But, I think that am still pretty good at the written word! Ha!
And I've also realized that it doesn't really make all that much of a difference when I cannot form a sentence properly when i'm with my friends. They are always there to fill in the blanks! :)
I’d started out by talking about something, and landed up talking about something else altogether. The meanderings of a beautiful mind, what say?! :D

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons. I’d woken up at about 1:30 in the afternoon, having spent most of the night and early morning wide-awake, as I’ve some trouble sleeping early.
So anyway, after finishing my bath I was combing my hair quickly, waiting to eat lunch, when I heard my aunt’s dog yelp and growl. I didn’t react much as he growls and barks at nothing in particular all the time. Then the maid came into the room shivering and twitching in a funny manner. At first I thought she was having some kind of fits. Then I saw the horrified look on her face. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “the dog bit madam!” For a heart-stopping moment, I thought that that vicious little dog had bitten my Grans. But my maid said that he had bitten his own mistress, my aunt! I rushed out to see and stopped in my tracks as soon as I saw my aunt. She was bent over the basin in the dining room and her face was covered with blood, the basin was covered with blood, and there were a number of rags soaked in blood lying on the table. My appetite vanished at once, as I would have thrown up at once if I’d even attempted to eat anything.
I just stood there gawking. I didn’t know how to help (or maybe I just didn’t want to!). The maid and my aunt’s house help were helping her clean up her face. But the blood just did not let up. It was pouring down her face in thick rivulets. I had a crazy flashback of the movie ‘Kill Bill, vol. 1’, where in every second scene blood spurted in a fountain from decapitated heads (I’d actually enjoyed the movie, apart from all the blood-shed, it was quite fascinating). The scene before me was the most horrific thing I’d ever seen, and I’m a regular viewer of shows like ‘Fear Factor’, ‘Ripley’s Believe it or not’, ‘CSI’ (not the crappy Miami one), which contain scenes that could make your stomach absolutely queasy, but I was never all that affected with whatever they dished out. But this was happening right in front of my eyes!
And then Grans came into the dining room to check out what all the commotion was about. When she learnt that her niece was bitten by her own dog (who is called ‘Rambo’, by the way), she asked how it had actually happened. In between trying to stem the flow if blood, my aunt explained that she’d just come back from the gym and had walked into the room to find Rambo asleep, and he looked so adorable (I’m rolling my eyes at this point!!) that she couldn’t help but bend down and kiss him on his nose! Hearing this, as is her wont, Grans started yelling, “How could you do something so stupid? You know how ferocious your dog can be, what was the need to kiss it? It is your Anand (the house help) who has made it this way! He goes on teasing the dog and now you have to pay for it! I’ve always told you that it is not safe to keep this mongrel, but does anyone ever listen to me?! Just the day before it had growled at some guests of mine and looked all set to pounce on the little girl who had come, but your Anand came and jerked it away!”
Here Grans had to pause for a breather. She then ordered my aunt to visit a doctor at once. Rambo had left two deep gashes each, on both of her cheeks.
While Grans’ tirade was going on, I was secretly hoping that the vicious Rambo would now be sent away. That dog has a split personality, I tell you! Sometimes he’s so happy to see me, and sometimes he growls and barks at me as if he’s never seen me before! For instance, one day I’d come home and Rambo was there to receive me at the door, wagging his tail and looking quite pleased to see me. I was also happy at this reception, as I miss my cousin’s Labrador a lot, back in Hyderabad, who’s the friendliest dog in the world.
But, back to Rambo now. I bent down to pet him and he seemed to like it for sometime, then suddenly he started growling deep in his throat and furrowed his forehead and started barking loudly at me! I was utterly shocked at this change. He seemed ready to lunge at me, when the afore said house help came and took him away. From that day onwards I’ve never gone anywhere near the dog, but that doesn’t stop the vicious thing from barking at me, my brother, the other maids when he’s in one of his terrible moods, which is quite often. I never thought that I would ever hate an animal, let alone a dog! But this one I do! Each time I look at him, I want to pick him up and throw him off the balcony!! He induces such nasty images in my mind! Now I think he looks absolutely evil with his furrowed brow and yellow eyes!
Because of all the above reasons, I was hoping that my aunt or at least her husband, seeing how badly his wife was hurt, would get rid of the mangy mutt. But no such luck! My aunt blamed herself or the entire mess! I guess it was silly of her to bend down and kiss her unstable dog while he was sleeping, but he did assault her so very brutally. But then, I guess all dog owners cannot see beyond how adorable their pet is, no matter if they have unstable personalities. My mother had also suggested taking him to a pet psychologist. But my aunt sees nothing wrong with her dog.
So as of now, I don’t think that damn dog is going anywhere in the near future. I’ll just have to be careful and be aware of where the annoying thing is all the time! I so did not think life in Bombay would be like this!!