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I seem to be surrounded by people whose sole purpose in life in to throw their weight around. It doesnt actually serve any purpose, but feed to my private amusement.

But I do admit that these idiots pollute the environment with unnecessary stress, sometimes making the lives of others difficult. And all this just to prove that they know the best and are always right.

Makes one think if there is a needless premium attached to being right. After all, right in most cases, right and wrong is just a matter of perception.

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The Husband and I bought a car, a month back. The buy primarily stemmed from the need of convenience, and the luxury of, well, just having our own car.

For years I had dreamed of having my very own set of wheels. I haven’t yet fathomed why, but there is this certain mystique attached with driving one’s own car. It oozes a sense of power and control from every gleam of its metal body.

Then there are these car chase movies one grows up on. So it IS pretty avant-garde, wanting to drive it Fast and the Furious or Transporter style – like a cowboy on wheels! It is very, for lack of a better word, cool. Corny but true.

Anyway, here I was, grown-up – minus a ride.

I had had a couple of completely avoidable experiences previously, where I thought that I nearly had my machine, but then I got scammed by the Father and the Husband respectively. Had I been more susceptible of my family’s nature, I could have avoided the disappointment!

The first one was at the rash young age of 18, when I enrolled into a proper driving school, learnt how to drive and got myself as license. It was then that my beloved disciplinarian of a father categorically refused to let me so much as to touch the family car. And that put a sorry end to my tender dreams of whizzing down the highway with loud music blaring. What was the point of making me go to driving school when the plan from the beginning was not to let me touch the car?

The second one was when the Husband and I shifted to Calcutta. The Husband said, learn how to drive and then we will get a car. Thus, like an obedient wife, I signed up for training classes, I got up early each morning, and drove a battered Alto for half an hour, with a driving instructor who would talk about everything, except what he was paid to teach.

We would drive down the lanes the instructor was comfortable with, and I never really learnt anything, except steering the wheel. Everytime I made a mistake, the instructor would slam down his breaks and start screeching at a high decibel, scolding me. It was like being stuck in second grade, with Simon Cowell, and no clue as to how I got there.

After 10 days of classes, I realized that I would not learn driving if it wasn’t in my own car, where I was in control of where I had to go and what I had to do. Without further ado, I stopped taking further classes and told the Husband to start hunting for the car.

It was then that the Husband mysteriously started having a heavy workload. He started travelling and just didn’t have the time to go car hunting. When I thought of buying an Alto from a friend, whose condition was pretty good, the Husband made noises that he was too tall to fit into an Alto – this after I had learnt driving in an Alto because I would eventually go on to buy one! If this isn’t diabolical, pray tell me what is?

Then he threw the trump card – we might be shifting cities, he said, so there was no point in investing in a car for a few months. The new car would come after we made the move. I was stumped – there was no logical comeback to this one. So we were not buying a car in the near future. And that was it.

Seasons went by, we grew older, and I reconciled to my fate of an eternity of travelling at the mercy of others.

Then one day the Husband again brought forth this painful topic of buying a car. I thought, What the heck! and decided to humour him. No way was I going to fall for this and get disappointed again. Twice bitten thrice shy.

The Hubby, put forth arguments on buying a used car. We would learn how to drive on it, he said. So I decided to play along, pretend that we were buying a car. I knew that in a few days, he would change his stance and we would return to our days of public transport and taxis.

I made some perfunctory enquiries on how a car should be – longer and more indepth research had gone into buying my laptop. I hawed and hummed for a few days before I gave the nod and said Yes it would be OK to buy it.

Little did I know that this time it was for real, the Husband was not in jest. Before I could say Hot Wheels, the deal had been stamped and signed.

So one bright (read sweltering hot) Saturday afternoon in March, our sky blue ride was wheeled into our parking lot. We became the proud owners of a brand new third hand Santro.

It came with a music player, cushioned seats, no stepny and an auto locking system, which when used, set off the alarm.

What more could I say? The cup runneth over. My first car. Our first car.

Except that in the moment I sat in the drivers seat, I had my epiphany – I realized that I would never like driving.

To be continued in Part 2.

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The Sound of Silence

Last week my cell phone crashed. As I stared at the blank screen, I was seized with an unreasonable panic. I was in the middle of nowhere, and there my phone screen just died. I couldn’t dial for help even if I wanted to. A cold helplessness seized me. A helplessness that couldn’t take me anywhere and wouldn’t let me do anything.

As I stood paralysed with inability, it dawned on me how we panic even for situations that don’t matter, and how it is sometimes a relief to break away from it all.

The immediate reaction in such a situation is ‘Oh no I have lost all my numbers, How do I contact my friends?’ At that point it didn’t matter to me that I had gone months without speaking to most of them. I imagine what was reassuring for me was that just having their contact numbers residing in my directory meant the same to me as keeping in touch with them.

Randomly generated numbers were symbolic of my friends and of the imaginary well-meaning conversations I meant to have with each of them.

I did not call a lot of those numbers. Ever. Sometimes, even if I felt like it, I postponed the calling bit. If I felt extremely bad for being out of contact for so long, I would send an SMS. A ploy I resorted to, pretty often. My way of alleviating the guilt. Sometimes I wouldn’t even do that.

As I stood alone, in the dark alley, with a dead phone in my hand, I wondered if I really cared about the 400 odd names in my phone directory. How did it affect me? Would it really bother me if I never got to speak to them for the rest of my life? The honest answer was ’No’. Sure a handful of the numbers were important, but beyond that I truly did not care.

If I came across those lost people, I would still enjoy a beer with them, but their absence would not leave a scratch, let alone a void in my life. So why was I panicking about losing the numbers? Actually somewhere deep down, I was thankful that I had lost them.

I know that I will meet these lost contacts at some party or the other, and there they and some more lost acquaintances would out of politeness infiltrate their way back to my contact list and make it a robust 500. But frankly, now I am liking the way my contact list looks.

I have sent a half-hearted attempt on both Facebook and GTalk to retrieve the numbers, but thankfully not too many people have responded. Reflects, that how in our attempts to be clued in, we are actually pretty clued out. Or maybe they don’t like me enough. Whatever the reason, it is peaceful being left alone and not being reminded that there are a zillion people out there to say ‘Hi’ to.

The necessity of being left alone is compelling and at the same time repelling. At the moment it is simply peaceful.

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Losing the thread

This will probably be the sixth or the seventh time that I have started writing a new post. In the older ones were simply discarded midway. It’s not a writer’s block – I have a million things to write about. It’s mostly about the moment. This is a regular feature with me. If I feel passionately about something or if there is a particularly invigorating flavor of the day I want to write about, I have to do it at the time the ideas are swirling in my head. Else that story will never be told and will go up as a wisp of smoke. It’s lost its moment. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad one, yet. It’s more likely bad as I can attribute this reason to the fact that I haven’t written a single post since February. Most of my ideas, get lost in transition.

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The Film Fanatic

While recounting to my friend Kanishka about how I had spent the last weekend, I realized that I had seen 13 movies over the last week. Even I was impressed by the number.

Since I had just seen Julie & Julia, I was pretty wowed by the doggedness of Julie Powell to blog about cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wanted to do something similar, but I didn’t want to do it about cooking – as I am a very random cook. Totally depends on my mood.

During the conversation, it dawned on me to blog about the movies that I had watched during the week. So this post is the beginning of that thought.

The objective is first to catalogue the number of movies that I have seen, and second to opine on them.

I am no movie critic, with ideas on script, cinematography and innovative direction techniques. But I am a viewer. I am a part of the dear audience for whom movies are made. I watch them. I may like or dislike them. And I am certainly qualified to express my opinions on them – even if they are contrary to popular ones.

So some of the movies that I have seen in the past 10 days are:

  1. Coco Avant Chanel Audrey Tautou is unbelievable in this very real portrait of Gabrielle Chanel. From her beginnings to how she became Chanel, this movie did try to decipher the Coco in Chanel. Trying to survive in a culture where women serve a single purpose, unrelenting in her pursuit of achieving fame, Coco did come across as real person with all her flaws including her elaborately concoted background story. So I surely liked this movie, though I did sense the drama in some scenes.
  2. Sherlock Holmes – I watched this the second time round. Well of course I had my drivers – Firstly it’s based on my all time favourite detective – the indefatigable Sherlock Holmes. Then there is Robert Downey Jr. Giving him company (if not competition) is Jude Law. And finally it’s a Guy Ritchie movie. Need I say more? Yes I do. Apparently one critic has commented Mr. Ritchie excels in making cool movies and there is nothing apart in this movie apart from its cool factor. Well Mr. Critic, your point was?
  3. It’s Complicated – If I really wholeheartedly relished a movie after The Family Stone, I think that it would be It’s Complicated. It’s funny without being painful, doesn’t delve in histrionics and is an unabashed statement of how sometimes we need to act, just to be ourselves. John Krasinski’s role is predictable and some of the characters are the caricatures of the ideal All American family – but I still liked the movie. For me, it did have a bottomline.
  4. The Book of Eli – I would not like to waste my time on even writing about this movie.
  5. The 39 Steps – Classic Hitchcock. I watched this with Mo over a glass of Cognac and we marveled together on this milestone movie. Made 80 years ago, this film was way ahead of its time. Snippets from the 39 Steps can still be glimpsed in most movies today. The 39 Steps is about the right man stuck in the wrong story and what he does to get out of it. This movie is the real McCoy with all the intrigue elements that go into making the classic thriller. As Mo said, ‘Bust the villain and get the girl’!
  6. The Transporter – Well I like Jason Statham and I like mindless action movies with cool stunts. This is my Achilles Heel. Period.
  7. The Princess and the Frog – An old school Disney movie after a long long time, without any of the new-age animation styles. Plain Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King type of movie – like Mum’s pancakes! It is the first Disney movie, where we have an African American heroine. Typical Disney script, replete with a larger than life villain, do-gooder bumbling ally, a smart mouth type and a moral in the end – stuff of what dreams are made of. Sigh!
  8. Daybreakers – I think the vampires have made a comeback, since True Blood – and how! I like this new genre of alternate reality vampire movies – not the stupid garlic-and-stake ones. Well this one focuses at a time where humans are harnessed by vampires for blood to a point that the blood supply started running dry. Interesting topic. Treatment though could have been better.
  9. The Blind Side – I loved this movie. There was a great chance of making this a tearjerker of a sob story. The portrayal of the Tuohy family could have been unrealistic. The storytelling could have been flawed – immensely. There were a million things that could have gone wrong. I am glad nothing did.
  10. Fist of Legend – Standard Jet Li. To be watched with butter popcorn and coke.
  11. Up in The Air – A surprisingly real movie, that did touch me in a way I didn’t expect it to. As a rule, I do not like Vera Farmiga. However, I did like her character in this movie. At her penultimate scene, I went wow. The sideline story, highlighting the agony one goes through after being unceremoniously fired, that too by an unknown corporate downsizer contracted to do the job, because your boss did not have the guts to do it face-to-face, is heartbreakingly accurate. You could feel the pain, the despair and the futility across the screen. Even more heartrending was the scene in which the protagonists tested their remote-layoff program – the unknown corporate downsizer firing you via web-cam. New definition of shitty.
  12. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s eponymous book. Gripping and thoroughly pleasurable. Williem Dafoe as Rat, one of the antagonists and Kristofferson, Mr. Fox’s all-rounder nephew who performs yoga as a stress-buster, are the characters to watch out for in the movie. Definitely one for keeps.
  13. Harry Brown – My respect for Michael Caine, as a performer, increases with every movie that I watch. Harry Brown is a hard hitting movie that tries to give us a peek in to way of life of the youth gangs and the mayhem and harassment they cause to innocent locals. Michael Caine is Harry Brown – the quiet old veteran Marine pensioner who goes about minding his own business and is in turn forced to turn into a vigilante after the merciless murder of his best-friend at the hands of the local youths. Old script, sure. But Caine is Caine. Unbeatable.
  14. Julie & Julia – This movie is only about Meryl Streep. Make no mistake. And excel she does as Julia Child. Julie Powell, on the other hand, could have been cut from the script. I did not enjoy her. After watching this movie, and being inspired by Julia Child (she did make cooking look easy), I ambitiously downloaded Mastering the Art of French Cooking and right away decided I wasn’t even going to attempt beyond the section on Omlettes. Stellar casting. Definitely a film for gourmets, or as in my case, individuals who like to think of themselves as gourmets.  One thing I couldn’t help but wonder, Amy Adams, kind of excels in choosing, blend-in-the-wallpaper-type-loser-who–prevails-in-the-end kind of roles. Is it a strategy?
  15. The Young Victoria – Period Drama. Costume Drama. Enjoy the drama.

As I end my list for now (Oh My God!), I can just think that this is only the beginning.

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Homeward Bound

Well its getting increasingly difficult to keep up to my initial target of 40 posts by March/April. Firstly, I was not well for nearly a month. Then there was nothing I could remotely think of to write about. So between an illness and topic block, I am way behind my schedule.

Now this impending trip to Calcutta, for a slew a weddings, is going to put me further behind my target. But when I get back I should have enough meat to keep this blog alive for another 5 posts. However, more of that for another day.

This imminent visit back home is something I have been looking forward to for quite a while now. There are many reasons attached.

Firstly, there are weddings involved. And these are weddings that require active participation not the boring Khao Piyo Khisko involvement! A couple of them are of really close friends. I will be meeting the school/MBA friends after ages and we all plan to extract maximum juice from the weddings.

Secondly, home is a foodie’s haven. So while on one hand I have my mother’s kebabs to keep me alive these 5 days, I basically also have the wedding biryani’s to look forward to, not to mention the zillion food joints in Calcutta that are like the Mecca to me.

Thirdly, it is Christmas season. So all the Christmas savouries will be available at all my favourite bakeries. And I am going to go mad with plum cake shopping. Not to mention the fudges and marzipan toffees. Slurp!

Fourthly, as the school gang is going to assemble after a hiatus, there are a lot of stories that need to be shared, a lot of updates to be given and taken and finally a lot of ‘Do You Remember The Times’  kind of chats to be had. Basically a lot of girlfriend time together. (Which I didn’t get to do at my wedding)

Finally, going home also means long train rides by the Rajdhani. I love the way the landscape changes as you proceed towards Bengal. I love the first glimpse of the Dhakineshwar. I love the ice-cream offered post dinner, in the train (something I always wait up for, even if its Vadilal). I love the incessant chatter in Bengali all around me. I love the realisation that I am headed home – to a city that flows in my veins even when I am miles away from it. Flights don’t evoke this wave of nostalgia.

Each trip back home is precious. Even if I have nothing to do and all that’s there on my agenda is 5 days of uninterrupted sleep and oodles of dal, bhaat and aloo bhorta.

So for this trip, there are a lot of things on the to-do and to-shop list, and a huge medicine pouch to carry so that I do not, at any cost, relapse and miss all the fun.

So till I am back from the 4 and a half weddings and a funeral (tragically), this blog will go into hibernation. But not for too long!

Next post – The Calcutta Weddings.

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I am at the end of my tether. Stuck in a job that is going nowhere, coupled with a husband who lives 300 kms away on some days and double the distance on most days, I think I am way well into one of the most frustrating periods of my life.

 So here I am thinking of how to keep myself going and bang it comes to me. Another epiphany – in the long list of epiphanies that I keep having on a regular basis. That I should probably revive this long dormant blog and resuscitate my writing habit.

 My ambition is to blog at least 40 articles in the next 6 months – this is a very conservative limit that I have set for myself. Only time will tell if I can pursue this goal doggedly or not.

 In all previous instances, I have written, when I felt like it or when some topic struck my fancy. This time around, I will try this more as a discipline rather than an act of randomness. And that is going to be extremely difficult, keeping in mind my propensity to procrastinate.

 Another hurdle is, given now that I have to actively think of topics to write about, I am definitely going to crib and complain about a fictitious writer’s block.

 But all these must be overcome, if I am to get any sort of decent start to disciplined and religious writing. So the answer to this lies in writing shorter and more coherent prose, and restricting long rants to topics I feel passionately about.

 Thus begins the second…wait third…duh, I don’t know which leg of this blog. But I hope this will last longer than the previous runs.

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