Dec 23, 2011

SECRET SANTA

This entire week, we had Secret Santa in office. The office was filled with the Christmas spirit, as people continued to give and receive presents. Knick-knacks, food, accessories, jewellery, utilities, books, what nots. It was not the price tag that mattered, it was the spirit of giving, the feeling. It was the note that came with the gift that was often more treasured.

As you watch this happen, you cannot help but feel the happiness and joy. That is why I love Christmas. I love walking around all day in office, on the streets, even at home, with a Santa hat - even if I am the only one. I love smiling randomly and spreading the smile around. It's nice.

Another great thing that Radio Mirchi did this year was the Santa Cause initiative. The team worked really hard to spread some joy to those who really need it. People were asked to donate new toys, which are then going to be given to the suffering children at the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital. Many gave generously, and the RJs tell me how they are simply waiting to see the faces of those kids light up. See what was collected: https://twitter.com/#!/MeeMeera/status/150160695160348673/photo/1
https://twitter.com/#!/MeeMeera/status/150163098022576128/photo/1

Have you have felt this joy of giving? I remember the time when I did Project Care with underprivileged kids, or when I would give food to some kids on the street, or when I would simply sit and chat with some kid selling stuff on the road. Try it this Christmas. And if you don't feel the spirit, this will surely bring it back and take right to your heart!

Merry Christmas in advance to everyone!

ON STAGE - 'WORLD WITHOUT WOMEN'

So, I am a small part of a play called WWW- World Without Women, by Loudmouth Productions. The play is about female infanticide and foeticide, and takes different looks at what would become of this world if this practice continues.

It is a short play, and we had performed for the first time as part of the Be Artsy street theatre festival at NCPA. As the creators of the play describe it and I quote:
"The play staged in a street play form, explores the possibility of a day not far in the future of a world without women. Through the metaphor of a womb, the issue of the death of a girl child is explored.
A woman-less world enfolds where abuses have died away, songs lose meaning, iconic movie scenes lose their sting, men who remember women are never the same again, while sonography operators lose their jobs. The endangered women become mere objects of curiosity, 'protected' in zoos before their eventual extinction. In the end, the womb metaphor recurs, to give the message of hope, if the world wakes up today."

After NCPA, the play became a part of one of the most prestigious youth theatre festivals in the country - Thespo, as we performed at the curtain raiser at Crossword Bookstore, Kemps Corner. And the rush was unbelievable.

Let me begin by saying this - I am someone who loves the spotlight, the stage and the limelight. I love an audience. And performing at the bookstore gave us all such an amazing high. The reactions were perfect and we were glad that the play was liked and understood.

Here are some pics: WWW at Thespo 13 curtain raiser

After that was THE performance, at Thespo 13, Prithvi Theatre. On the 14th of December, ours was a platform performance.

As we reached the venue, we saw sitting right there, in the front row - Shashi Kapoor with Dolly Thakore. The surprising part wasn't finding him there, but the coincidence. You see, we had the 'Mere paas gaadi hai...' dialogue from Deewar in the play (watch the video below to know more). If Crossword was a high, this was cloud 9 altogether. We felt so elated after the performance, and it reached new heights when the play was commended and liked by Dolly Thakore.
Watch some part of the performance: THE PLAY VIDEO

As we headed to Juhu beach to celebrate with some street food, we realised this cast may not perform together again. But we were glad that we did this, that we removed time from this from work/college/etc, that we took a social cause, and that we made new friends.

Here is hoping that many more such things happen as the next year arrives!

And for those who liked the play, you can join the group on Facebook - Loudmouth Productions 

Dec 21, 2011

Dance away...

Merry Christmas to my three best friends! Mwah! Happiness arrives...


Nov 28, 2011

What they should teach in school

I commute to work by local train everyday. As a result, I usually have loads of train tales, grievances and more to tell or rant. This post is also a result of some such incidents.

As I have mentioned before, I hate it when people litter. Especially the educated ones, who throw garbage without a second thought. A few days ago I was travelling back home. Sitting opposite me was a family, with a small kid, about 3 or 4 years old. One of the ladies opened a toffee and immediately, before I had the chance to utter a word, threw it out the window. My blood started boiling right then. I wanted to watch what they would do next before bursting out. They gave a pack of Polo to the little girl who started unwrapping it. And, to no one's surprise, following the lady's footsteps, reached to throw the wrapper out of the window.

That is when I stopped her. Took the wrapper and put it in my bag. And told the family, is littering what you want to teach the little kid? That incident made me think.

We build character and learn very important life lessons when we are little. From our teachers, our parents and people around us. It builds our point of view, our opinions and more. And if at that age, children are taught that it is ok to litter, it is ok to spit on roads, it is ok to be rude, then the next generation too will grow up with the same values as today.

I strongly believe that one subject that should be included in the school syllabus is CIVIC SENSE. You will say, oh but you needn't teach that officially. I disagree. I feel that kids should be taught from the very beginning how important civic sense is and what one should and should not do. I do believe, if this is ingrained well, they will move on to teach the elders around them.

Think. One kid has the power to make the parents, the relatives, all stop and think about what they are doing. One kid will change the mentality of an entire family.

Make civic sense a subject, teach kids what will happen if you litter. Teach kids about how diseases spread due to spitting, teach them that you should be polite in public and respect others' opinions, teach them about dry and wet waste. Have clean up-drives, have kids walk up to strangers and tell them that 'you are doing the wrong thing', give them the courage to stand up and speak out and make their world better.

Otherwise the next generation too will grow up to be educated, ignorant people who behave like apes and pretend to be the most civil of the lot. Isn't it time we show them the mirror right from the beginning so that they can be civil and change the world around them too?

Oct 31, 2011

The adrenaline of travelling

Travel... sigh!

Travel is a dream that one in two people have, at the least. Everyone wants to travel, see the world, in their own way. Some prefer a backpack, whilst some prefer the luxury of a cruise. Me, I just love the thrill of a new place, new people, new culture, and something different.

Recently for Diwali, I went to Pune - just for a day. I haven't visited that city in years, and so for me, it was a new experience all over again. In the evening, I would just take a walk by myself, roam the pretty streets of Koregaon Park, look around, talk to a few people, and it would be an adrenaline rush. I loved the thrill of being somewhere new, of discovering something.

I was pressed for time. But had I had the time, the one thing I wanted to do was just walk around, and ask the people to suggest the next place in Pune I should go to, get there and then figure out where to go next. Basically, build a day of travelling through a chain of suggestions from people there. Not just see the place, but feel it.

I want to travel the world, I want to talk to people, maybe live with them and see how their life is. How similar, how different. I want to step into a different country, and feel the land, the place, the vibes. Dress like them, smile at them, talk to them, maybe act a little like a tourist once a in a while, and maybe couch surf sometimes.

A new place is a new rush. So, anyone taking me somewhere new?

For the 'litter' in me

I miss my Literature classes. I miss the obnoxious sounding 'arty' discussions, the dissecting books and movies, the critiques, the words and their magic, the losing oneself in imaginary worlds, sitting in the library for hours, watching movies no one would ever watch except in lectures or at film festivals, and so much more.

I have lost that since I started working. My books are my solace.

Here is something that, if I get the chance to attend, will take me back to that world for a while - The Mumbai Litfest.

Anyone interested in giving me company?

Here is the website: http://litlive.in/

And the schedule: http://litlive.in/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Tata-Lit-Live-Schedule-29-Oct-2011-A4.pdf

Oct 21, 2011

Something fun, something old

Just remembered and found something we did for fun at my ex-office. Filmed, edited etc by Joshua Upputuru. Drama by yours truly :D


What say?

Sep 29, 2011

Wajah

Zindagi mein bas saans lene ki wajah dhoondhti rehti hoon main,
Har ghadi bas jeene ki nayi wajah dhoondhti rehti hoon main.

Phoolon ki mehek mujhe agle mod tak le chale,
Hawa ka jhonka mujhe do saans aur de.
Pyaar ka pehla ehsaas mujhe mein ek nayi jaan bhare,
Khumaari si jo aaye, kahe thoda aur jeeya jaaye.

Khojti rahoon har pal kuch naya, kuch alag,
Maksat mile toh kuch pal ki ho raahat,
Warna bechaini sada, jhapke na meri palak,
Bas taak mein rahoon, shaayad mile junoon ki aahat.

Sthir na rahe yeh mann hai ek bhatakta raahi,
Talaash ho har pal ek naye gaanv ki,
Kal ek alag mod se hogi mulaaqat,
Yehi subah uthne ki wajah bann jaati.

Har raat sitaare mujhe banaa de chitrakaar,
Baadal ka peecha kar, sukhe paate si udta rahoon,
Jigyaasa hai amrit, jo mujhe zinda rakhe,
Indradhanush ki khoj mein hi jeevan rangeen banaaun.
  
Zindagi mein bas saans lene ki wajah dhoondhti rehti hoon main,
Har ghadi bas jeene ki nayi wajah dhoondhti rehti hoon main.

- © HAEM ROY

Sep 8, 2011

Ojhal Mann

Ek choti si jhapki jab aankhon mein basi,
Mann chala phir khwabon ki oar,
Manzil kahaan kisse hai fikar,
humein toh bas hai safar ka nasha...
dharti se humein baandhe hai bas ek patli si dor.

Door kahin ek chamak si dikhi,
Ban gayi wohi manzil agli.
Aankhen tez, aur lakshya par nazar,
Chal pade hum ban gaya woh ek safar.

Pahunche jab wahaan, toh chamak na thi kahin,
Bas halki si dhoop aur hawa mein nami,
Do pal lekar saans phir mann ne bhari udaan,
Ab kahaan chale, dhoondhe kaunsa dwaar.

Kabhi na bharta, kabhi na khush,
Mann yeh behte paani sa ojhal,
Raah badalta, na aage ka pata,
Bas chalta hai na jaane kiski khoj mein,
Bas behta hai sapnon ko sach samjhe.

- © HAEM ROY

Jul 29, 2011

The jig

A few days ago, I was commuting to office in a train in the Ladies compartment. A eunuch (honestly, I don't like using this term but is there an alternative that is better and more respectful? If yes, please feel free to correct me.) entered the train. Nothing unusual there. (He or she? I am just going to use it for now even though I don't prefer that) started begging. Nothing unusual again.

For the initial moments I ignored as is the habit. But then I noticed. This was probably not a eunuch. It was probably just a guy in woman's clothing. Someone who looked about 18 to 20 years of age, chubby and more like a big baby.

Then I noticed something else. Something was not right. The guy (I shall not refer to the person as male, for it seemed like a male), seemed mentally challenged. The expressions, the way he behaved, all reminded me of someone who could be much much younger. Maybe a child who had just learnt to beg. And I decided to just give him some money. The moment I called him and did that, to my surprise, he did a little spontaneous jig. It was no mad jig, neither intentional. It just reminded me of how a little child would just do a jig if you hand it a toffee. There was this innocence in his happiness at getting the buck. It was just one rupee, but he seemed overjoyed.

Many may say it is probably just an act. But my mind does not believe it. Maybe because I was there and they weren't, and there are definitely things I cannot describe in words. I even remember, some ladies asked him to get off by violently pointing at the door. And as he looked at the ladies, he made a mock sad face (again, like how kids do) and imitated their actions. It was surely not something out of lewdness or anger or evil mockery. It was childish. Really childish.

And that was one of the moments when I felt, I wish there was something that could be done for him. But we humans (me included) are primarily selfish creatures. We want to survive, and we spend our lives trying to live well. We struggle to get a good life. Very few can manage to touch other lives in that duration. And that is just the sad way it is. I can help, to a certain extent. But I can't give people a home, I can't feed them for life, or teach them till they graduate. I can volunteer in a small way. And just hope that helps.

But I am digressing. I don't mean this post to be social. I just meant to narrate something that touched me. And it also reminded me of a previous encounter, again in a train. Here is an account of that in the form of a poem I had written -

http://haemlet.blogspot.com/2007/07/try-it.html

Apr 20, 2011

Mumbai-Delhi fight fight

Well, the Mumbai-Delhi debate will never end. Every city has its faults and every city has its positives. But to harp on only one of these makes a city incomplete. After all, just like with any human, it is the flaws and the favours together that make it complete.

Here is one of those debates:

Against Delhi:
http://www.manujoseph.com/City%20of%20Sperms.html

The response:
http://www.facebook.com/notes/sonal-narain/an-open-letter-to-mr-manu-joseph/10150170162595827


Apr 5, 2011

The 'Principal' factor - Part 2

A while ago, I had written a post commenting on our education system and talking about some incidents that happened at a college in Mumbai, about a principal who had no principles.

(The Post - http://haemlet.blogspot.com/2010/12/principal-factor.html)

Time has passed, but nothing has improved at that college. In fact things have gotten worse. The principal is now even more of a dictator, and his only aim seems to be to establish his power. The way I see it, his masochistic attitude is gaining momentum due to the fear that parents and students are harboring. They are willing to bow down and accept his weird terms and demands, feed his ego and give him the satisfaction of getting everything he wants the way he wants it.

What has he done now you ask?

Well, even in this tough competitive age, tell me, how many students in a class can possibly fail, all together? 10? 15? Can you imagine 65 students in a class of 80, all failing? That is exactly what has happened.

The reason? It is given to be 'incomplete projects'. They have achieved less than the required marks in a practical subject and as a result they will not be allowed to appear for the theory exams and have in all technicality 'failed'.

This may be a stunt to show students that they need to be serious about their studies and give them a jolt. But my point is, what is the use of a stunt that doesn't just mess with a student's future, but can lead to a lot of mental stress also? Imagine what a student may do on hearing the news of his/her failure? Is it not putting the life of the student in jeopardy too? Is it not harassment? At a time when everyone is talking about reducing pressure and stress on students, here is one 'Marshall' who is championing the opposite cause and in fact piling the stress on the parents too.

When asked to complain to the Mumbai University, or approach some council, or the media, firstly, the students or parents did not know who to approach. The university website is the most unfriendly site I have ever visited. It just leads you nowhere. How does one get in touch with the right authorities? For that matter, who ARE the right authorities to approach in such a scenario?

Secondly, the parents are afraid to take any step. The kids have two more years left in that college and they are not sure if doing something, if protesting will actually give a solution, or will just make things worse. They are not willing to risk the future of their kids. Because from what has been seen in the past, the principal believes he is the ultimate authority, and can go to all lengths, from blackmail to pressure and more to get the students and parents to do what he says. This time, he has made them sign a letter, that has the parents admit that it is their kid's fault and that the kid has not completed the project. In other words, parents are forced to admit that their own child is incompetent? And for what? To massage the principal's ego? What use does this exercise have?

And I found out that, despite signing the letter, despite giving in to the princi, more than 70% of the students in that class were not allowed to appear for the exams this April. They will have to appear in October and that in itself has a lot of complications. Some even have reason to believe that the marking system is faulty and they are sure they have passed but are not given fair and just grades. I cannot believe that this is happening in a democracy and no one, no one is doing anything to curb it.

And even if I give the princi all benefit of doubt, if I agree that the students were not up to the mark, did not have enough attendance or whatever the reason given. Still, if more than 85% of your class is failing, isn't it a reflection on your teaching methods then? Wouldn't this in fact be a shameful thing for your college, your teaching system and your education? And instead of scaring the students into getting suppressed, and bow down to your rules and will, shouldn't you offer guidance and help and give them a way to improve and score better?

I mean, if you really want the students to work harder, make the marking system more difficult, but make it fair. Teach them the right way to do things. Be strict, but also be someone they respect and can learn from. That will get your college a better passing average than all this. That will also save a lot of lives and futures and give your college a strong alumni.

But if people understood this, the world would be a better place right?

Disclaimer: The views in this post are entirely mine. No student or parent is related to this. I have refrained from naming the college or any person to respect the privacy of those involved. But I do hope, someone comes forward.

Apr 1, 2011

My style

I was randomly surfing, when I discovered www.etsy.com. And I loved it! It has handmade and vintage stuff from all over the world, uploaded by users to sell. You can buy anything from clothes and accessories to diaries and a lot more. And there are a few sellers whose stuff I totally fell in love with.

The bad part is shipping costs for these items. So even if you find something quite cheap, you will end up spending a lot due to that. Sigh!

Mar 28, 2011

Pierced through and through

A little gory, but again I have been watching crime shows a lot. Here goes:


It starts with a little poke,
A tease, a scratch,
Finding it's way in,
The needle slowly inching in.
A drop of blood, oh, it's just one,
I'll wipe it away.
But one drop gets replaced by two,
and then they turn eight.
The draining starts,
the pouring begins,
it's all on the floor.
The needle is now way in,
pierced through and through.
Can't stop.
Can't dab,
just let it flow,
just let it all go.
It will eventually stop,
it has to,
till then just lie still,
till then just think of sheep and clouds,
Don't look at the needle,
don't look at the pool beneath.

- © HAEM ROY

Mar 17, 2011

Date a girl who reads by Rosemary Urquico

Written by Rosemary Urquico. Has been circulated and passed around a lot. I stumbled upon this a few days ago and just loved it, and HAD to repost it. Thanks Rosemary for writing this.
__________
"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

Mar 16, 2011

A goodbye?

I pack up my thoughts,
I pick up my memories,
Without any footwear,
I seem to walk out with apparent ease.

I step out of the threshold,
I pull myself away,
I swear not to look back,
It's time to go away.

"I shall visit soon",
"I'll drop in for tea",
Or so we say,
Before we go our way.

Why so serious they tell me,
But goodbyes are never cheerful,
They bring an impending doom,
They always leave you tearful.

And thus we part,
But it's not forever they say,
Though while I start walking I wonder,
how can a goodbye be half way?

- © HAEM ROY

A nice gesture

Yesterday, ricks and cabs went on a strike. And transport was difficult. The good thing is I travel by train, and then I could have my brother pick me up from the station to home.

But not everyone was that lucky.

It was not like this was a tough time or anything. But yet, something nice happened and I wanted to share it with everyone.

Close to 11.15 pm last night, I was standing outside Kandivli station, waiting for my brother to arrive. People were standing outside the station, hopeful to grab the 2-3 ricks that were plying. That is when, a lady approached me. She asked me very nicely if I needed to be dropped anywhere and if she could help me. I thanked her and told her someone was coming to pick me.

But the gesture overwhelmed me. She smiled, patted me on the arm and walked away, keeping an eye out for anyone who would need help. It was a breath of fresh air, a pleasant surprise and something that gave me a wide smile. We all always talk of helping people. But it is rare that we actually gather the courage or the sense to approach someone and ASK them if they need help. We wait for people to come to us.

And someone coming and offering help, being observant enough to notice a girl standing alone at the station late at night, and having the courage to offer help to a stranger - that is what I salute. I would call it the spirit of the city, but honestly, I haven't seen that very often these days. So I will not give credit to the city, but to that unknown lady, who I am sure helped someone else that day.

I say thank you to her.

Mar 14, 2011

A small village in a big city - Khotachiwadi

Bombay is a large city. Tourists coming here do explore many famous parts of the city, right from the Gateway to the Elephanta Caves to Esselworld and what not. But those of us who have settled here very rarely visit such touristy places. We also very rarely think that Bombay (yes, I shall call it that, for the nth time), has much to offer in terms of exploring, seeing, or visiting. Yes, you can go to Crawford and buy things. Or you can walk down Colaba. But none of these are something that the ordinary person living here would feel out of place, or different.

This Sunday, amidst the chaos, hustle-bustle and crowd of this ever-growing city, I found an oasis. A little hidden place that threw me off.

My three girlfriends and I visited Khotachiwadi. It is a little area, just off Charni Road, quite close to the station. You turn into a thin lane that is not wide enough for a car, with a conspicuous board at the entry. Walk a few steps, and you will wonder what happened. You are greeted by colourful single story wood houses, with balconies, plants, tiny bylanes interconnecting the houses, a grotto, graffitii painted walls, and more. It is entirely reminiscent of old Goa. And it is in Bombay.

video
The moment you turn into the Khotachiwadi lane, it is like all outside sound has been shut off. Nothing filters in, and you can actually hear sparrows. In fact, I actually saw a peahen, an arm's distance away, happily sitting on one of the houses.

Khotachiwadi is inhabited by East Indians, Maharashtrians and Goan Catholics. The plot of land was originally owned by Mr. Khot, who allowed migrants to settle and build houses here. The migrants slowly bought their pieces of land from him, turning this place into a small community.

No matter who you talk to, everyone here will tell you that this wadi is like a large family. Most people have migrated abroad, leaving maybe just a few members of the family back here. A lot of times, it is old parents who live here alone. And in times of need, of sickness and of trouble, anytime of the day or night, it is the neighbours who handle everything like family would.

The people come together during Christmas, and here, it FEELS like Christmas. They meet every evening, they pray together, they hold festivals and fun and fairs. And the best part, anyone and everyone is invited. These events are peaceful and quiet, with no blaring music, or alcohol.

The houses here too are Portuguese style. Some over 100 years old. A lot of them have been rebuilt. But they are colourful, open, filled with plants and each one has a character of its own. They are not boxes. They may be small, but they are not suffocating or claustrophobic. They have an old world charm and a new world spirit of liveliness, bundled together.

The place started with around 70 or more houses. But today, only 27 remain. And being located in such prime property area, it is no surprise that builders are doing their best to get the residents to sell their plots and houses. Some have done that, giving way to 18 floor skyscrapers, that look odd and out of place in this quaint neighbourhood, and attracting the wrath of the other residents of the area.

The place was declared a heritage site, but now with laws changing at the drop of a hat, the status is also under doubt. This leaves the area and the residents fighting to keep the place alive, to not let it be swallowed up by the concrete jungle that seems to be spreading like plague. Holding festivals, pot lucks, trying to get publicity and raise awareness, get more people involved in the cause, and just do anything, they are building their own wall to shield their Khotachiwadi.

Will they be successful? I don't know. Should they be successful? I want that yes. Because like Mrs. Bridget Misquita said, "Money is not everything." The joy of discovering that this place exists in a city like Bombay is even greater.
  

Mar 11, 2011

The mask with many faces

The mask...
the mask...
it is the cover,
it is my shell,
it is what I use,
to hide my hell.

The mask is green,
The mask is red,
It is pink with joy,
It is always a smile ahead.
The colours are many,
Drawing attention,
They are the illusion,
They are the surface above the reality.

What lies beneath,
what lies within,
Sometimes even I know not,
The mask with many faces,
Hides my true face from me,
The mask with many colours,
Makes me forget the true colour of me.

Keep it fixed, keep it on,
Let the act keep going on.
The moment it comes off,
There you lie,
Stripped of the colours,
Bare and dry.
There you lie with your true emotions,
With nowhere to hide,
The fake colours of joy stripped,
The mask pushed aside.

The mask...
the mask...
it is my protection,
it is my shield,
it saves me from my thoughts,
It keeps them controlled and sealed.

- © HAEM ROY

Feb 25, 2011

50 things to do before you die in India

Found this post at this website. Interesting.

50 things to do before you die in India

1. See the Taj Mahal
2. Eat at the highway Punjabi dhaba
3.Watch an Indian movie in the theatre
4.Play cricket on the street
5.Put mehndi aka henna on your palms
6.Take a dip in the Ganges at Varanasi
7. Walk through the bazaar of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
8.Go to Pushkar Mela(Fair)
9. Sip tea at a streetside stall
10. Watch the cricket match at Eden Gardens Stadium, Calcutta
11.Visit the city of Palitana, City of Jain temples
12.See the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
13.Spend a week at Osho Ashram, Pune
14.Sunset with the camels on the sand dunes of Rajasthan
15. Visit the mystical ruins of Khajuraho
16.Tiger Safari at one of the many Tiger Reserves
17.Visit the Gir Sanctuary, the last refuge for the endangered Asiatic Lions in the world.
18.Attend the Durga Puja in Calcutta
19.Fly kites at the annual kite flying festival in Ahmedabad
20. Blind yourself dancing in the monsoon rains (my personal favorite)
21. Go the southern tip of India, Kanya Kumari.
22.Get an oil massage in Kerala
23.Ganesh Visarjan, watch the idol of Ganesh the Hindu God being immersed in the sea.
24.Visit the Tirupati Temple, Tirumala.
25.Stay at the Udaipur Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur.
26.Dine at The Taj Hotel, Bombay
27.Take the Darjeeling Train Journey, Darjeeling.
28.Volunteer at an Orphanage.(believe me it will change your life)
29.Travel in the train (make sure it’s not first class)
30. See the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
31. Attend the Republic Day Parade, New Delhi.
32.See the world famous Dabbawallahs (lunch delivery specialists, all of them uneducated) in action in Bombay. (given a six sigma rating for organization and zero wrong deliveries)
33.Meet the Real Maharaja staying at one of the heritage hotels.
34.Go to Ladakh the highest plateau in the world
35.Visit the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier in Old Goa.
36.Yak Safari in Sikkim
37.See the Sun Temple in Konark, Orissa.
38.Stay in the Shikara or House boat in Dal Lake, Kashmir.
39.See the Mysore Fort lit up, Mysore.
40.Sun Bathe in Goa.
41.Visit the Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad
42.See Jodhpur, the blue city, Rajasthan.
43.See the Red Fort and Qutub Minar, Delhi.
44.Tashi Jong Monastery, a Buddhist Monastery, Himachal Pradesh.
45.Follow the Buddha Trail, Where Budhha found enlightenment.
46.Scuba Diving in Andaman Islands.
47.Visit the Ajmer Dargah, Ajmer.
48. Ride a motorcycle on the street of India.( seems impossible)
49.Do Kushti i.e. Indian form of wrestling.
50.Get a Gold Facial. Yes, 22 carat gold facial.

Feb 21, 2011

Restaurant Week: OLIVE BAR AND KITCHEN

Restaurant Week was on, and my friends and I decided that we needed to get together, and treat ourselves fancily. So we booked ourselves a table at Olive, and loosened our purse strings.

What: Olive Bar and Kitchen


Where: Mahalaxmi Race Course, near Gate No. 7


Cuisine: Continental, plus alcohol


Ambience: 
Elegant, classy, serene. The outdoors is nice, furnished in shades of white and off-white, candles on the table, a fountain and a beachy feel to it. There are two pretty ladies personally coming to your table, playing the guitar and singing, on some days. Everything has this air of quiet elegance and soft glamour, not a hoity toity five star and not even a random fine dining place.


Food:
I went through Restaurant Week and hence, the menu was a fixed three-course meal. We did not order anything a la carte, except a bottle of wine. There were three of us, so we could order three different things in every course.



The food is decent. It is tasty, and the salads are something to talk about. Even if it is just 'leaves', as my friends put it, they are still delicious, with the dressings. The Restaurant Week menu was not something grand or great - just a usual fare of an assortment of some continental dishes.

For the first course, we had a Caesar Salad, Wild Mushroom Borek and the Olive Oil poached Duck Breast Salad.

The Mushroom Borek was a crunchy puff pastry filled with mushroom and herbs. There was a green chutney dip with it which together tasted quite nice. The textures complimented each other well, and there was a depth of flavour too. Bit the crunch, to find a soft and creamy mushroom filling.

The Caesar salad we ordered was vegetarian and had a nice dressing to compliment it. The veggies were very very fresh, and that made it a pleasure to eat. Even though it was not much in terms of preparation, the fresh ingredients made up for it. The lettuce had just the right amount of crunch, and dressing, with nothing overpowering, and finding little salted capers amidst that jungle was an absolute delight.

The Olive Oil Poached Duck Breast Salad arrived, and the meat was camouflaged under the leafy green lettuce. The presentation left a lot to be desired, as it almost felt like the duck breast was attempting to engage us in a game of hide and seek, among the leaves. But once the salad touched the taste buds, it was an explosion of flavour. Dominated by the lemon vinaigrette, the leaves were crisp, and the orange and arugula added an interesting contrast to the flavours, with tangy, bitter and saccharine playing subtle games with the taste buds.

The best thing was the portions. They were really good for one person, and would fill someone with a good appetite. At the end of the course, we were already feeling a bit full.

Next came a watermelon sorbet as a palate cleanser. And it did the job quietly. The flavour was just about right, without dominating, or leaving a strong aftertaste in the mouth.


The main course followed. We first opted for the Seared Tenderloin Medallions, the Seared Basa Fillets and the Vegetable Pot pie, but we were then informed that the medallions were not available. So we substituted the Medallions for the Crumbled Sausage Green Peas and Cauliflower Risotto. and we chose a Vegetable Pot Pie, the Seared Basa Fillets, and the Risotto. The Pot Pie was honestly, quite ordinary, and not something I would come to a restaurant to eat. I expected more out of the vegetarian menu and was quite disappointed with the main course offerings. My thought was that if I am coming to a nice place, I'd like to try something new too, and not the usual Arrabiata or pot pie. The pie was creamy with diced vegetables and a crunchy pastry on the top. It was rich and hence, very filling. Yet there was something missing.


The Basa Fillet was delightful. The fish meat was succulent and tender, and did a good job of retaining the flavour of the marinade. The meat, though tender, was not quite melt-in-the-mouth quality. The glaze that the brown butter provided glinted in the candlelight, providing a bit of visual appeal, and also added a richer quality to the flavour. The seasonal vegetables that accompanied the fish added a contrasting crunch to the smooth texture of the fish. All in all, the dish was good, but not what one would call memorable.

We ordered all three desserts. I absolutely loved the cheesecake. The Affogato was nice too, and chocolate fans would quite like the pate. For me though, it got a bit overwhelming after a couple of bites and I could have no more. To be fair, it was nice and gooey in the centre, as it should be, and had the right texture.
We ordered a Sula Chenin Blanc, which was not too sweet, not too dry, and went well with the food.


Negatives:
The menu felt very limited for a vegetarian, and if the purpose of Restaurant week is to have people try out new places, then they should have at least attempted to have something new in their menus too. I am not talking about extravagant and expensive dishes, but I am talking about something a little more than just vegetables put together. The non-vegetarian section seemed sufficient on that count, though one item on the main course menu - the medallions, was not available. It was surprising that the management allowed that to happen, especially during restaurant week, as they should have expected a crowd which would probably be trying out Olive for the first time. Instances such as this definitely diminish the chances of a repeat visit.  


The wine list at Olive seemed limited too, as they did not have a dessert wine, when we asked for one. The Chenin Blanc was what was recommended to us, and it was good yes, but we preferred something sweeter.
The servers did have a knowledge of wines and food, that seemed useful for first-timers who do not know what to expect at Olive. Though, they could do with passing on the knowledge in a friendlier manner.


Positives:
The ambiance is quite nice and a good mix of casual and classy, comfy and sophisticated. We liked the outdoors better than the secluded interior space.
We were lucky to have live music on the day, with two young women moving from table to table with a guitar, singing songs on request. We even interacted with the two musicians and it was quite nice.


The outdoor area is really nice, and something rare in Mumbai, without any traffic noise or any other interruptions. It is a great setting for nice conversations.
The portions were very good, and I liked the first course the best. It set the bar high, but unfortunately, nothing else matched up to it.

The service was polite and prompt, and quite smooth too. Wine glasses were refilled quietly and the servers would ask how we liked everything.


In short:
It is a nice place to go once in a while, and spend some quiet, happy time with friends or family or your beloved. Children are not allowed, so it is nice if you want to go for a date too. It's better in the evenings, with the candlelights. Choose your meal well, with some wine, and you will have a good time. But a fair warning, don't go for the food, go for the ambiance and the experience. 


(With inputs by Mariette Valsan, esp for the non-vegetarian section.)

Feb 15, 2011

Nouveaublogophobia - Fear of new blog posts

Aibohphobia - Fear of palindromes
Person 1- "Dammit, I'm mad!"
Person 2- "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Alliumphobia - Fear of garlic.
Vampire, anyone?

Allodoxaphobia - Fear of opinions.
No comments.

Ambulophobia, Stasibasiphobia, Stasiphobia - Fear of walking or standing.
Cathisophobia, Kathisophobia, Thaasophobia - Fear of sitting.
One person, both these fears. Go imagine!

Anablephobia - Fear of looking up.
Eyes on the floor, young lad, eyes on the floor!

Androphobia, Arrhenphobia, Hominophobia - Fear of men.
Ha ha ha ha ha!

Anglophobia - Fear of England, English culture, etc.
What an arse!

Francophobia, Gallophobia, Galiophobia - Fear of France, French culture, etc.
Must be British.

Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Autodysomophobia - Fear that one has a vile odour.
Keep a deo handy dude!
Autophobia, Eremophobia, Isolophobia, Monophobia - Fear of being alone or fear of oneself
Who's that?
Oh, it me...
Oh wait... Aaaaaaaaa!

Cacophobia - Fear of ugliness.
Interesting.
Caligynephobia, Venustraphobia - Fear of beautiful women.
Even more interesting.

Chirophobia - Fear of hands.
Yeh haath mujhe de do Thakur!

Chrometophobia, Chrematophobia - Fear of money.
Plutophobia - Fear of wealth.
I am a pretty helpful person. I am willing to take what these people fear. For the greater good of course.

Coprophobia, Scatophobia - Fear of feces.
Oh shit!

Counterphobia - The preference by a phobic person for fearful situations.
Sadist!
Decidophobia - Fear of making decisions.
Should I blog this, should I not? Should I? Should I not? Aaaaaaaaaaa!

Dextrophobia - Fear of objects at the right side of the body.
Fine, I'll keep to the left.
Levophobia - Fear of things to the left side of the body.
Dammit!

Diplophobia - Fear of double vision.
Dipsophobia - Fear of drinking.
Funny how they are co-related.

Ephebiphobia - Fear of teenagers.
This fear is courtesy of a parent.

Euphobia - Fear of hearing good news.
- Congratulations! You are cured of the fatal disease.
- Noooooooooooooooooo!

Geniophobia - Fear of chins.
Now, that's where a double chin would be a real nightmare.

Homophobia - Fear of sameness, monotony, homosexuality or of becoming homosexual.
Ummm... how are homosexuality and monotony related?

Katikomindicaphobia - Fear of the RNI (Resident Non-Indian).
Mikatikoindicaphobia - Fear of the NRIs (Non-Resident Indians).
Funny how it's all about India.

    Syngenesophobia - Fear of relatives.
    I'd say, welcome to India :)

    Novercaphobia - Fear of one's stepmother.
    Meet Cinderella...

    Symbolophobia - Fear of symbolism.
    You're telling that to an English Literature student?

    Technophobia - Fear of technology.
    Hello Apeman... Do you understand what I am saying?

    Macrophobia - Fear of long waits.
    Suicide point: government office.
      Mnemophobia - Fear of memories.
      Try amnesia... Ghajini style.
      Amnesiphobia - Fear of amnesia.
      Ummm... do nothing memorable?


      Ideophobia - Fear of ideas.
      Idiot.
      Phronemophobia - Fear of thinking.
      Lazy.
      Ergophobia - Fear of work.
      Smart!


      Panophobia, Pantophobia - Fear of everything.
      Convenient!


      Feb 11, 2011

      Office Office

      It's a new office and a new place for me. The job profile has changed slightly. The people have changed entirely. But of course, there are some things that never change.

      Every office has certain characters that are very very standard. They are a staple in a medium to large sized office environment, and every office is incomplete without these characters.
      • There is the moody and broody Finance guy. He releases your salary, and more often than not, it seems that he takes that personally. He seems to be PMSing at the end of every month, mourning the loss of cash, and every new employee is like a stab for him. His high is not alcohol, but profits. And what a high!
      • Then there is the office 'chamia'. Everyone loves to love her. And she loves the attention. She is the looker, she is the reason why people don't mind dragging themselves to work every morning. One smile, and the day is set. And she is what they talk about when they are drunk with office mates.
      • There is of course, the poor, hard worker. He may be the trainee, or he may be a regular exec. But he will work harder than all of them put together. He is the one you will see in office after everyone has left and before everyone is in. And he will quietly go about doing every task and more.
      • Tyrannical bosses cannot be missed out. They run about, they scream, and they are the topic of frustration-venting-discussions. Sleepless nights were a gift from them. And their backs are the best places to exchange glances. They will blame everyone in the world. And everyone will love to blame them.
      • The office jesters, who prance about, crack bad jokes, lighten the mood and love everyone. They smile, and get smiles, they make trips fun, and they are always invited to everything.
      • The star - who will hog attention, and want it. The star - who is sometimes arrogant, and talks only to select people. Who knows he/she is good, and never fails to show that.
      • The silent star. This is the real star. But will never show it. he/she will quietly go about working. But the day he/she is on leave, that is when chaos comes to earth and the star is valued.
      I am sure there will be more. These are those I noticed. Feel free to add more if you can think of them.

      Jan 11, 2011

      My Card

      So, people who read my blog, I am proud to present my official personal business card:

      Designed by: Saman Ansari

      Jan 10, 2011

      The computer creatures

      This is something I think about a lot of times when I am sitting on my comp. When I see processes moving slow, or very fast due to more or less load, I always imagine little creatures inside the CPU working really fast. When you are doing too many things, they can't multitask, and therefore everything becomes slow. If the comp is on for too long, they are tired, and everything gets delayed. Otherwise, they work in perfect sync, passing on information to each other and quickly finishing work.


      So here is an attempt at a story, based on that imagination of mine.

      The computer creatures
      They were sleeping peacefully after a long night of running around when they were suddenly roused early in the morning. Work beckoned again. They got up lethargically and started carrying the items to their right places. Within microseconds, their speed had increased 10 times and they were rushing about faster than light. The little orbs of information had to be transported from place to place, and it was their job, their life to do it.

      An authoritative voice shouted out orders into the loudspeaker. Some file had to be opened, and the little green creatures turned the key hanging around their necks and opened the large file in a micro-micro second. At the same time, there were orders to move a 'boulder file', as they called it, to the far end of the area. Immediately, many of them rushed to the spot and lifted the boulder to carry it across.

      That was not enough, it was time to set up 'the connection'. As if working within the area wasn't enough, now it was time to work with other green creatures, in other areas. Did the humans even know how chaotic and exhausting that was? Did they even know how many casualties that led to? One 'virus' and half the area could be affected by the plague and be wiped out. Plus, everyone was afraid of that 'Worldwide Web'. It was like the black hole. No one knew where it led to, what would emerge out of it, or even where it would lead them. Only the daredevil ones ventured into that profession. The meek and timid ones stayed back and took care of the area work. They managed the old files, managed the backups and archiving, sat in the library for hours and took care of all those details. Adventure was a bit too much for them.

      The portal to the black hole had been opened, and a few daredevils plunged in with their parachutes. They had special search torches to find their way in case they were lost. And they hoped to God that the human had hired the special forces for security against the terrorist viruses! Because only the specialists had training in recognising unwanted elements before opening or bringing them home.


      As the day progressed, the green creatures were reaching the limits of exhaustion. The movers team was working ever so slowly, and parcels would just get stuck mid-way because someone had collapsed on some aisle. Yes yes, the human was frustrated with the 'not responding' errors, but there is only so much a green creature can do. Everyone has their limits.

      Dragging their feet along the ground, the daredevil team finally returned home. It was a good adventure today, no casualties, just a lot of exhaustion and work. They had to rest before the next trip now, because, well, you couldn't trust the humans. They would press the buzzer and wake everyone up at any time. Better to catch a few winks when you can!

      So, buzz ya later! Keep clicking.