Friday, July 29, 2005

When the Going Gets Tough...

Gosh! When I was cursing my luck at being surrounded by knee high water on 26th July, little did I know that this was no ordinary Bombay shower and also how lucky I really was! I felt the full impact the next day when Grans was sick with worry because she couldn’t reach my brother. All the cellular networks were down.
When I switched on the radio (which I do as soon as I wake up) the RJs were relaying messages from mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, uncles, nephews, friends, colleagues, all desperately searching for their near and dear ones. Most of the messages had the same timbre, “Where are you? Please call as soon as possible.”
When I switched on the TV to watch the news, the same messages were running on the ticker tapes.
All these messages sent a chill down my spine.
My mother also called from Hyderabad, asking if my brother, D, had got in touch.
At last he did call at about 4:30-5:00, and all of us heaved a sigh of relief.
But I was still worried about a friend of mine, N, who is also from Hyderabad. She had to go to Andheri that day for her internship, and the news that the Andheri-Bandra areas were flooded kept on being repeated on the radio. I couldn’t even get through to her because of the cellular networks being down.
Today she called me and told me that she had almost drowned, as the water where she was had come up to her neck! Some good Samaritans had fished her out and even escorted her all the way to her local guardians’ place in Juhu.
The ground floor of another friend’s bungalow was covered in shoulder high water. She sounded sad, but at the same time optimistic that they would try and salvage whatever they could.
D came back home in the evening today. He works in Malad, another area that was completely flooded. He and some friends of his half-waded half-swam to his friend’s place in Malad, itself. It usually takes them about 20 minutes to get there, but this time it took them nearly 2 hours because the water was chest high. He had some horrendous experiences too. He saw buffaloes helplessly being carried away by the strong currents.
He narrated another story in which, he and another friend had gone to drop a third friend to his house, and had asked the fourth friend, C, to stay below his building. On their way back they got a bit disoriented and entered the wrong building compound, and began shouting for C. In reply someone kept on yelling, “Yes!” They were like, “C, is that you?” And the voice just kept on yelling back, “Yes!” They figured that it was some prankster, and realizing that they were in the wrong compound, set out for the right one, where they found C standing where they had left him. Later they found out that the voice yelling out “Yes” was a genuine call for help. It belonged to an elderly man who was trapped in the rushing water. D was quite upset that the voice was so nearby and they could have helped the man. But he and his friend were disoriented as it is; it was a terrible tragedy, but they cannot blame themselves.
A cousin of mine, N, walked for almost 18 hours all the way home. He started out at 6:00 pm in the evening on 26th July, and reached home at 12:00 noon on 27th.
An aunt of mine got stranded in her car on a flyover close to her house for 2-3 hours. In the end she was forced to abandon her car and walk the rest of the way home.
I also heard on the radio that civil volunteers were trying to help those stranded on the roads by offering them biscuits, water, and tea. This disaster sure did bring out the helping side of all Bombayites.
Even till today quite a lot of people have not reached home. So many out of towners are also stranded, with no trains or airplanes being able to take off. The domestic airport at Santa Cruz apparently resembled a lake!
Even the movie stars weren’t spared, as was reported in the newspaper today. Bipasha Basu has no idea where John Abraham is, and Amrita Arora has no idea where her sister, Malaika Arora is. Both are worried sick. A news channel also caught Aamir Khan stuck in traffic.
Most of the schools and colleges have handled the situation marvelously. Don Bosco, a school close to my home, offered not only the students but also their parents shelter and hot food too. St. Xaviers also extended their help to students and parents alike.
On the radio people called in with stories of their experiences on 26th and 27th July. Some had gone through great ordeals, while others had had not such a bad time, a little fun even!
One caller said that this ordeal has shown what Bombayites are made of: We will never give up in the face of adversity. And that is the gist of what this post is all about.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More Rainy Pics

Here are two more pictures that I snapped right now. The water level has fallen a bit, but there is still a steady drizzle. According to the news channels, it is going to rain harder in the next 48 hours, so I'm going to have at least two unofficial holidays! Yay!! :D
But on a more serious note, I really hope that this rain does not produce any casualties. Apparently the army has
already been called to rescue some people .

Rain Drops keep Falling on my Head!

What a day I had today!! The monsoon has finally arrived in Bombay, and how! It started raining today at 12:30 or so, and hasn’t stopped till now! It’s not pouring cats and dogs, but elephants, rhinos, hippos (you get my point? :D)!
Yesterday on the radio I had heard that Birdy’s, a pastry shop close to home, was having a chocolate festival, and the announcer reeled out a list of yummy sounding desserts such as chocolate cheesecake, chocolate chiffon pie and chocolate mud pie! I made up my mind that the next day (i.e. today) I would go and buy some delicious pastries for Grans, my brother, and of course moi!
But as I was sitting in class, studying Rorsharch’s Inkblot Test, I kept on glancing uneasily at the rapidly darkening sky. It was raining quite heavily when I started off for home. I ran to the station and prayed that the tracks wouldn’t be flooded and that I would get home without getting thoroughly drenched. Then began the battle between my will and Birdy’s pastry shop! Will said, “Go home before you get stranded somewhere!” Birdy’s exclaimed elatedly, “Chocolate festival! Chocolate festival!” No prizes for guessing who won out in the end!
So from the station I made my way to Birdy’s. Ankle high water covered the roads leading to the shop. I thought, “Not bad! All I’ll have to do is change out of my pants once I get home.” But as I neared the shop, the water level seemed to have risen by a couple of inches. At last I got to Birdy’s and as soon as I landed there, my cell began to blast “Summer of ‘69”! It was Grans, and she was hysterical! “Where are you? There is water everywhere! The footpaths are completely flooded! Come home soon!” I was like, “Ok, ok! Just tell me if you want a pineapple or chocolate pastry.” Grans was speechless for a few seconds (and that’s a feat in itself!) then she blasted off, “Pastry? PASTRY?!! Get home at once! And get me a pineapple!” The guy who was waiting to take my order smiled cheekily and said, “So it’ll be a pineapple pastry miss?” The world is full of comedians!
Anyway, I bought the pineapple pastry for Grans and some chocolate delectables for my brother and myself. When I stepped out of Birdy’s the landscape out side had changed considerably! In fact, there was no ‘land’ to be seen anywhere at all! There was water everywhere as far as the eye can see! I was about 10 minutes away from home and knew that no taxi would be willing to come for such a short distance; so feeling very adventurous I waded on to the footpath! As I treaded carefully (didn’t want to fall into some open gutter!) the water level rose and rose and then rose some more, till it reached my knees!
The walk that usually takes only 10 minutes seemed to take forever! What made it worse was that I was walking in the direction opposite to the current of the fast flowing water. Bits of plastic, leaves and twigs would get entangled with my feet every so often, making me yelp in fright!
As I looked into the rain hazed distance I couldn’t see a single person on the footpath. That was when I noticed that most people were walking on the road, which was not covered with as much water. Feeling like a total idiot, I made like a penguin towards the road!
But the worse (or best, if you like such things) was yet to come. The intersection near my building was flooded with water, which came almost up to my waist. The vehicles were moving slowly, and I had to stand in this nearly waist high water for a few minutes, waiting to cross, in which time I was almost knocked over by a mini tsunami created by a bus! Now I was covered from head to toe in muddy brown water, clutching on to my umbrella and pastry package!
I was just thankful that mine is a corner building and after a few more minutes of thrashing around I was on, not so dry, but stable ground at last! I could have kissed it!
Now I’m nice and dry, and can see the hilarity of it all!
It’s still continuing to pour, with no hopes of stopping, ever! There are quite a few people outside splashing around in the water, having a really good time! I can hear their shrieks of delight through the closed doors!
I’ve even taken some pictures from my balcony, which I’ve displayed here. They look a bit blurred due to the rain. It may look like I live right on the banks of a lake, but that happens only once or twice a year!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cigarettes, and the Art of Persuasion

Sometimes, if I’m very tired (or just plain lazy) I take a bus home from the station instead of walking. There’s only one stop before my stop. Mostly school kids get on at this stop. One time as I’d just settled into my seat, the bus stopped at the school stop. Suddenly children of all shapes and sizes came rushing into the bus, from both the entry and exit doors! It was like a swarm of flies! It may sound silly, but I was actually frightened! All these children swarming into the bus, shouting and screaming! I probably was just too tired that day, and my senses must have been shaken (not stirred! I couldn’t resist it!!) by the brats, but I’ll never forget this!
Another incident happened only a few days ago. I was once more going home by bus, and as it stopped at the various stops, the bus driver was waving out to the people standing at the bus stops! They were obviously regulars. This scene amused me thoroughly!
While walking home (for a change!) one day, this is what I saw painted on the side of a bus: Asthma, Cancer, and TB… FREE! With every cigarette.
No one could have said it better! I think the most stupid people in the world are those who smoke. They know that smoking is bad for their health; it leads to cancer, and other diseases, yet they persist in smoking. It is hard to give up, as most addictions are, but come on! It’s your life! It’s like you are committing suicide second by second, killing yourself slowly! And to those people who say that they don’t smoke “that often” and can give it up anytime they want; I’ve one thing to say, “Whom are you trying to kid??”
A cousin of mine said this very same thing to me; I was flabbergasted! How dumb do you have to be to actually believe that?! He leads a very healthy lifestyle otherwise; he eats right, he’s crazy about adventure sports, has been to two mountaineering schools; yet he has made the very unhealthy choice of smoking! I just don’t get this! I mean you can’t just blame peer pressure for taking up smoking. Who needs friends who want to destroy not only theirs but also your life? Wizen up people, before it’s too late!
And now let us move on to a much lighter topic. A few days back as I was traveling in the local train to college, there was this great saleswoman in the compartment I was in! She was selling saris and dress materials. A Parsi lady bought quite a few things from her. Later she fished out a dress material, which was bright purple with orangish-yellow stitched on flowers, on which were sprinkled a liberal amount of glitter beads! I made a grimace and thought, “Yuck! Who would ever buy that?!”
The woman then made her sales pitch to the entire compartment, “This is Bunty aur Babli salwar kameez, made famous by Rani Mukherjee!” Then she pounced on an unsuspecting woman standing by the door and said very dramatically, “Aap yeh pehenegi to aap ko bhi aapka Bunty mil jayega!” much to the amusement of the rest of us! And after a bit of haggling, the woman actually bought this Bunty aur Babli creation that I wouldn’t be caught dead in! Just goes to show that if your sales pitch is right, as the saying goes, you can sell a fridge to the Eskimos!


The best thing about the rains in Bombay are the beautiful sunsets! Every object is bathed in an ethreal orangish-pink glow. For a few minutes everything looks so calm and serene! You can forget about the hustle and bustle of the city at large. So, as I have nothing else to talk about, here's a picture of Bombay bathed in the lights of dusk, taken from my balcony.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Most Amazing Thing!!

Today the most amazing thing happened on the way to college!
I now have to take the 9:31 or the 9:34 local, as my classes start at 10:00 am. These two locals are always, but always jam-packed! By the time it makes its way from the suburbs to Dadar, there is only standing room left in the ladies compartment. So I have to stand all the way till the end of the train’s route, which lasts for all of 15 minutes, so it’s not that bad. The bad part is being crushed from all sides by women of all shapes and sizes!
I always listen to my tiny portable radio, tuned into my favourite radio station, GO 92.5 FM. But today as soon as I got into the crowded compartment, a blast of static assaulted my ears, and I had to switch off the radio. The static never really went away, so I kept the volume low, hoping that the radio would somehow catch a signal.
I was standing near a bunch of seated middle-aged ladies. Suddenly I heard singing; and thinking that the radio had miraculously picked up a signal, I turned up the volume, only to feel like my ears had been sucker-punched! I quickly turned down the volume again. That’s when I realised that someone was singing inside the compartment! I turned to my right to see a middle-aged Maharashtrian woman with her eyes shut tight, singing! My first reaction (regrettably) was, “What a kook!” And I turned my head away.
But then her voice pulled me towards her again. I switched off the radio completely and I tried to listen to the words of the song she was singing, but as much as I strained my ears, I could just about make out a melody I had never heard. Then the train stopped at a station, and I could hear the words. Unfortunately I could not make out the meaning, as she was singing in Marathi. Now I noticed that her eyes were closed as if she was concentrating all her energy on the song, a soft smile playing on her lips.
After she finished her song she opened her eyes and smiled at a woman sitting beside her. I caught her eye and smiled at her. She seemed to be pleased to have a little audience of her own. And she broke out into a second (or third, or fourth) song.
I then looked around at the women standing and sitting around this Train Songstress. Each and every one of them had a smile on their faces. This scene is not what one usually gets to see in local trains, especially during the peak hours. Most people are in a foul mood, including me (or more accurately, particularly me!). Once I even witnessed a 23-24 year old abusing a much elderly lady for allegedly pushing her on to the platform!
But today, we had a reason to just smile and enjoy the train ride due to this very unexpected blessing of sorts. She didn’t have the most perfect voice I’d ever heard, it was sweet but a bit high pitched, but she didn’t seem to care about such things as the quality of her voice, she just sang! It truly takes guts to sing in a compartment full of strangers! I’m pretty sure (make that very sure!) that I would never be able to do any such thing! But looking at the woman, I wished that I could be as free and as brave as she was in that moment!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cupid strikes in Prem Nivas, and how!

Here’s a silly story I had made up to annoy my pal Annie! And boy did it work! This story includes many of my friends; I've of course given them new names! One of my “inspired” short stories, and this time, the inspiration is good ole BOLLYWOOD! I now present to you, in TECHNICOLOR, my latest offering:

Once upon a time, there was a guy called Mannu. He was a resident of the Prem Nivas Housing Society. He was a happy-go-lucky bachelor, without a care in the world. One day as he was going around his usual business of doing lukhagiri and singing, “It’s my life!” (Bon Jovi) he suddenly came across Annie. She was a vision in pink, her graceful body framed in sunlight. Our happy-go-lucky bachelor fell for her like a ton of bricks. He was in love! He had to have her at any cost. So he tried serenading her by singing, “Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you.” (UB40 version). Annie was impervious to this declaration of love, pronounced him a “fool” and swept past him.
At his wits end, he went to her on bended knees and haath jodke begged, “Kaho na pyar hai.” Annie saw red and kicked him where it hurts most (Now, now, are we thinking of naughty things? I meant his heart!).
Poor, poor Mannu! It was in this haalat that Preeta, the ‘lovely assistant’ of the world-renowned heart psychoanalyst, Dr. Raji George, found him sitting in a corner, holding his dil and staring numbly into space. She lifted him up gently and brought him to Dr. George. At first he was too dazed to say anything and he just sat there looking into space for an hour (Good for the doctor. She charges Rs. 100 per half an hour!).
He slowly started opening up to her. He said, “Apun bola, tu meri laila, woh boli phekta hai saala, apun jab bhi sachchi bolta, usko jhut kaiko lagta hai?” (Josh).
After listening to this tirade, the good doctor tried to soothe and pacify him. She said, “Yeh uska style hoyga, hothon pe na, dil mein haan hoyga. Aaj nahin to kal bolegi, tu tension kaiko leta re?”
After buoying up his spirits she gave him the following advice:
i. Usko bula, hotel mein khaana khila.
ii. Samundar kinare le jaake, bolde khullam khulla.
iii. Ghar se bhagake le jaa, smajhegi teri baat ko (Josh).
Armed with Dr. George’s advice and Preeta’s ‘never say die’ spirit, our hero set out once again to woo his ‘fair and lovely’ maiden. He tried all of the good doctor’s tactics and slowly, but surely, Annie’s hard as stone heart began to melt as if it was made of wax.
One day, all the residents of Prem Nivas had gone out for a picnic, except for Annie, who had by now realised that she had fallen hook, line and sinker for Mannu. So she danced and twirled through Prem Nivas’ silent corridors singing, “I’m in love! Na, na karte pyar hay main kar gayi, kar gayi, kar gayi” (Dhadkan). At that very moment, Mannu came back into Prem Nivas and saw Annie singing. He was over-over-over-joyed to see his Annie singing in her mellifluous voice. He started singing, “From this moment, life has begun, from this moment you are the one…” (Shania Twain). Annie blushed and both of them made saath jeene marne ki kasme and sang, “I want to spend my life time loving you” (Marc Anthony).
Things looked very rosy for the cozy two-some, when suddenly, a twist occurred in our lovers’ story in the form of Shari, a dancer. She came to Prem Nivas, took one look at Mannu and was determined to make him hers.
One day all the residents of Prem Nivas had gone to the local temple for a pooja, but Mannu decided to stay back as he had a sore throat, even after Annie tried coaxing him to come with her. Shari was no dimwit (ok, she was slightly dimwitted!), and seized this opportunity. She sashayed up to Mannu and began to perform a sexy cabaret for him and sang, “I’m a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub me the right way” (Christina Aguilera). Mannu stared at the lovely Shari, mesmerized.
Just at that very moment, Annie after having asked God for a long life to be bestowed upon her sweetheart, walked into his room. When she saw what was happening, she saw red (she does a lot of that, doesn’t she?!) and screamed at him, “how dare you look at another girl, however better her vital statistics are than mine? You will have to choose between her and me.” Mannu did not hear a single word his Annie had said. So she threw the ring, which he had given to her so pyar se as their pyar ki nishani and stalked off.
Mannu, momentarily swayed by Shari’s charms, forgot about his darling Annie. The only thing he could do was sing, “I can’t get enough” (Raghav). But soon, he started recalling all the stimulating conversations that he had had with his Annie and began to miss her sorely. The only thing Shari and he spoke about (when they did speak) was how Shari was the most beautiful girl in the world (“I’m more beautiful than Aishwarya Rai, no?”) and how cool her latest shade of nail polish was (“Papaya Sunlight” is the colour to spot this season!”).
All this was really, really boring to Mannu and he thought that he could not pretend to be interested in such ‘frivolous’ conversations any longer. So head bent, he made his way to Annie to beg her for her forgiveness. But all he got for his trouble was the door slammed in his face, and as a result of that, a broken nose (“Ouch!”).
All our lead players were extremely depressed now. Annie sang, “Nahin hona tha” (Pardes). Mannu sang, “Mera yaar mila de saiyan” (Saathiya). And Shari, in an attempt to seduce him again sang, “Dekhle, Aankhon mein aankhen dal seekhle” (Munnabhai MBBS), but to no avail. She was very pained to see Mannu look like a ‘Devdas’ (“What would people say if they saw such a roti surat with a beautiful girl?”). And so, she went to Annie and convinced her that Mannu loved only her and no one else. And due to this great sacrifice of the vamp-with-a-golden-heart, the two lovebirds were reunited.
After tears of joy were wept, Mannu and his beloved Annie walked into the crimson sunset singing, “Tum mile, dil khila, or jeene se kya chahiye” (Criminal).
On the other hand, poor Shari walked into the darkness, wiping a stray tear or two. Even though Mannu didn’t know much about nail polishes and designer-wear, he had been a good and patient listener to Shari’s prattle.
She walked on silently and suddenly collided head-on with a wall. The ‘wall’ said, “Oops!” The ‘wall’ was a guy – a strapping, muscular guy! Shari knew it all of a sudden that this was it! This was the guy made especially for her, her dream guy! The ‘dream boat’ said, “Hi! I’m Karan.” “Charmed I’m sure! I’m Shari.” And she started singing, “Hello! Is it me you’re looking for..?” (Lionel Richie).
Karan was surprised and pleased at once, something clicked in his muscle-bound head and his cardiac muscles went ‘lub dub’ and he replied, “I’ll be your hero baby, I’ll kiss away your pain” (Enrique Iglesias).
Last heard, they were having a stimulating conversation on the lines of, “Oh! What a lovely shade of lipstick!” “Oh wow! I can feel another muscle bulge forming already!”
And so, everyone lived happily ever after, as one big happy family singing, no, not, “Hum saath saath hai”, but “It’s the time to disco!” (KHNH).




: D

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Ever wondered how you would look if you were Caucasian, African, East Asian, or just what you would look like when you are old? There is this fantastic website that allows you to upload your picture and morph it to look like all of the above, plus some others like how you would look like an ape! Some of the options are: suppose Botticelli or Mucha painted you, and even in the Japanese Manga cartoon format!
I had a lot of fun trying out each and everyone of the transformations! Try it out people! Here's the link:

Friday, July 01, 2005

Of Colleges and Train Journeys

Got back from Hyderabad just a day before college started. I thought that on the first day, the professor would just give a brief orientation class and then tell us to come back next week. That’s what had happened last year. If only wishes were horses! *Sighs*
On the first day itself our professor started off with a two and a half hour class! The only saving grace was that it was very, very interesting! Am doing clinical psychology and am going to start my internship this August. So hopefully, this year will not be as horrible and boring as it was last year!

This time my journey to Bombay from Hyderabad was kind of interesting. I was on a side berth as usual, and there were six friends in the cubicle opposite of mine – three guys and three girls. They looked to be about my age. They were having so much fun, playing dumb charades and antakshri! They got me going down memory lane and reflecting on all those class excursions I had gone on with my schoolmates. They were always soooo much fun! We would stay up the entire night in the train playing antakshri, or just talking and having a good time!
We had gone to Aurangabad in the eighth grade. I had bought a purple stone pendent for myself from one of the roadside stores there. It was about an inch or so big and was cut in the shape of a teardrop. I just fell in love with it as soon as I saw it!
Anyway, on the way back to Hyderabad in the train, a few of us were still up and talking at 12:30-1:00 AM. We were in a second-class bogie. I was on the upper-most berth, my best friend, Parikrama (not her real name. Am not going to use their real names. Don’t think they’d like that too much!) was on the upper side berth opposite to me, another friend, Amelia, was on the upper-most berth opposite of mine. Below Parikrama, was Arjun. In the cubicle on Amelia’s side Sohan was sound asleep on the upper-most berth. And another guy, Samar was standing below on the ground and we were all talking, and giggling for no reason at all.
I was leaning over the edge of my berth and talking, when suddenly the pendent that I’d bought came undone from around my neck, and fell to the floor, from where Samar picked it up at once. I asked (more like demanded!) him to give it back, but he refused to do so. I tried to grab his hair and pull it, but was unable to do so, and I was too lazy to go all the way down. I thought he’d return it sometime, and wasn’t all that bothered.
Samar chuckled wickedly and disappeared into Sohan’s cubicle. He then came back laughing uproariously. I asked him where my pendent was and he said that he had jammed it up Sohan’s nostril! I didn’t believe him at all and asked him to give it back. Parikrama who had a good view of Sohan’s cubicle said that she had indeed seen him put it into Sohan’s nostril! I was completely horrified! My beautiful purple pendent! Apparently the poor guy had woken up with a start to find a foreign object lodged in his nostril, removed it, and went right back to sleep!
Samar was now dangling the pendent from the black thread attached to it. I snatched it from him, and stalked off to the basin outside, where I held it under the water for a good 20-25 minutes. Then I just put it away in my bag.
Try as I may, I couldn’t get myself to be truly angry, as I was a bit tickled too by this gross act! Teenage sure is a weird age! :D
When I got back home in Hyderabad, I even steeped my pendent in boiling water for about 30 minutes or so!
My poor pendent from that day onwards was dubbed the “booger pendent” thanks to the ingeniousness of Samar!
Each time I wore it to school everyone would have a gala time pointing and laughing and screaming, “booger pendent”! That still did not deter me from wearing it. I just loved it too much! I wore it so often that the black thread got so frayed that it just snapped one day! I just went out and bought another black thread and I still wear my lovely purple pendent!