A Weekend

A saturday that did not start past noon. A saturday that was not spent sleeping away.

How rare is that! And how much fun is that!

As much as I love late nights and say that I am productive in the wee hours of the night, I have to accept that I get a lot of the more practical stuff done during day time. I had an early meeting (past noon but hey!) which meant I woke up early. The sun was already burning up all those people on the street… I prayed for rain and wished there was something I could wear on my face to keep that sticky dirt off it. Or maybe attach a little fan to my head that will keep blowing cool breeze onto my face. In the end I was just glad that there were no mirrors around me to see how tanned and yucky my face got. And this was just the beginning of the day.

I had to visit an old friend who works for a local magazine. I had been there during college days – more than 5 years ago – and honestly, not much has changed. I guess that is what “long-standing” means sometimes. The walls were still faded and finding the new wing was still as confusing. But once you get past the confusing door, the office had been upgraded into the 21st century. It isn’t as chic as my office is… nor was there as much a bustle. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of the news paper offices I’ve visited recently are quiet. Is it because all the reporters have been laid off or is it because they are all just out, I don’t know. But those days when I did my internships (here and in Australia) where the office was cramped and you’d be huddled away typing out your story, is history.

The desks though are still the same cluttered. Clippings, magazines, coffee cups and photos lying in a uncomprehensible jumble. It feels like home – almost. But the curious lack of chaos was a little disturbing to me. I wondered if I were working there, would I last?

Lunch was at Oye Amritsar – a dhaba-like place, with 5-star restaurant prices. And Himmesh Reshamaiya music. Yep. But I had a craving for butter chicken since last night and since I hadn’t eaten anything, I figured this would be a good place. I mean if you can’t trust a dhaba (or a mock one at that) to come up with good butter chicken, who else can you trust.

Except, once we settled down, the waitress told us that there was no a la carte menu. Only buffet. Now, I’ve nothing against buffet. But for people like me, who don’t eat much to start with, it is a sheer waste. And I get confused with the whole range of food, end up wanting everything and just take a bite of it all and get quite full. And the buffet did NOT have butter chicken!! What kind of a self-respecting dhaba does not serve butter chicken? Or at least chicken tikka masala. Or some form of recognized, popular chicken curry. They had fish fry, panner, some weird named dish and that was that.

My friend was enjoying the restaurant though. She, who I shall call Kit (cuz I feel like it) has a sheer appreciation of any place that we go to. The last time when we went to this restaurant that is styled like a 40s luxury railway dining car, she was excited like a little kid. Enough to make the host appreciate us and give us an inner ac table. So Kit served herself as little food as me and we wished there was better music and better food but we were starved enough to eat quietly.

It was Kit’s day to treat herself – she wanted to a haircut, so after being refused at several salons because we didn’t have an appointment… (Side note: seriously, an appointment for a hair cut as well?! What is this city coming to. True, you are supposed to get better service if you make an appointment. But it is a saturday. there are emergencies – sometimes. Every place I know and like said they were booked till late evening. Surreal!) we found one place that was willing to chop off her hair.

She began to fidget 10 minutes after being seated in the chair. And the stylist had just washed her hair. There was still, cutting, setting and blow drying. And while he was doing all of that, he started their pitch about “you need to use this for hair and hey! look we have a bottle of it and it will cost you only so much!”

I hate it when parlors do that… you go there to relax and let someone pamper you and they start forcing unwanted products on you.  Which is why I like Bounce. Snobbish as they may be, they never mess up your hair and they never offer products to you unless you ask for a recommendation.

And then there was that impulse shopping – I wanted an iPhone. I have finally gotten over all my objections and figured I wanted one. I don’t need a new phone. My current one is fantastic and has all those things that an iPhone has. But I wanted an iPod, since I sort of washed my last one in the washing machine. And I figured why carry two things when I can combine that into the iphone. So that graduated from an ipod nano to an ipod touch (free wlan and radio and FB and all) to iPhone.

The iPhone is gorgeous! it is heavier than mine and apparently I need a data plan to browse the net. But it is gorgeous. And it is a lot more delicate than my phone which I have already dropped several times and it still works fabulously. But it is the iphone. And it is expensive. and I don’t really need it but oh! i do want it! And I don’t really have the money for it!

So debating with all of this stuff, I figured I better look into my financing options (and wavered on that bit a little too when I saw the little “EMI” option there. I’ve never really bought anything on EMI. Always hated owing someone anything but it was quite tempting) I headed to Mocha to think.

Mocha – the hang out for college kids, who get money from god-knows-where. When we were in college, our hang out was a little 5-rupee tea shack. We could sit there for hours, smoke, talk and the guy wouldn’t say a thing. And we’d be poorer by say 10 bucks or a little more. Which wasn’t much but was all we could afford. Now the kids have money to pay 150 bucks for a single coffee. Where do they get the money from? And how are they sitting there in the afternoon when the colleges insist on 90 percent attendance?

I feel old!

But hey the music was good. The sheesha was good. The company was good. Kit’s appreciation of things puts a completely different spin on the places I’ve gotten a little jaded about. It is new for her and she loves it. And it reminds me of those times when I was all so excited about these places. The times before my friends started calling me a snob because I wanted to try out these new places and not all of them were cheap. Before they started complaining about the “kind of crowd” in the place.

It is good to discover this city… showing someone the places that made Bangalore “Bangalore”. The city has changed… the little icecream shop where we used to buy cones in school no longer exists. Road sides are littered with vendors with the backdrop of bigger malls. And boring old factory-manufactured clothes!

But with new people to see it with, it is fun to discover the little signs of old Bangalore still alive like the rose bushes in Mary’s secret garden.

Song of the day: Lamb of God (cuz they are playing in the city tonight. If anyone went to the concert, lemme know how it went) –


Thots in My Head

…which all suddenly seems to have disappeared.

* There was an absolute moment of silence at the traffic light today. Anyone who’s been stuck at any traffic light in India knows it is generally chaotic. Horns, noisy vehicles etc. And I was at a major junction today when I was returning home and despite all the traffic around, there was this one moment of quiet. No one honking, no noisy vehicles. I wondered if i’d gone deaf suddenly. But nope, everyone waited patiently for the light to turn green, so the person in front to move at their own speed, for people to cross the road easily. Damn weird. There is some sanity in the world maybe. Or this was the exception to the rule.

* Had the most awful sheesha at Mocha today. Second time in a row… the coals keep going off… the flavor is barely there and today, i could taste the coal. Nearly choked. What on earth is happening? With increased competition, isn’t the service supposed to get better? Actually, the service is better… for once, they are all smiling and chatty and really quick. I just love the smell of sheesha… it is so… ethereal. And when done right, it is almost a ritual.

* And talking about weird stuff… yesterday was an abnormally busy day. We had more stories, stuff to do etc. And in between I got a call from an ex-colleague. One I consider a friend as well. Except he called to ask me to send him some documents which we were using for a story. They were public documents and he could access them, with the right passwords etc, which any news organization would have. But it was still rather shocking that he would call me, when we are competitors and actually think that I would send it to him. I love my friends but work’s work. And I’d never ever send any such breaking news to anyone. Everyone knows we journos are super competitive. I know that ‘share and care’ system exists in more places. It is natural… my boss would yell at me if you got a scoop and I didn’t. And so would your boss if the position were reversed. So a lot of people tip off their competitors after we’ve secured the lead. So he could’ve called his direct people… why me? When things aren’t so rosy for me here anyway?!?!

And I make the mistake of telling a coworker this… forgetting that the coworker has the biggest mouth in the newsroom. Ugh!

* This whole morning stint proved one thing – mornings aren’t for me. No matter how early I sleep, it is still difficult to pull myself out of bed every morning. It is still horrible to drive myself all the way to work so far… and i hate the traffic. And I feel so much awake in the night and filled with energy and creativity 😦 I prefer something starting by noon and ending late evening. This bit about catching up with friends wud perhaps plain stop if i were working this shift really everyday. This is just a celebration of the deviation.

* I went shopping in a part of town I had long discarded. I had to wait for friend so figured I could make use of the time. Except every shop I went to pulled out the most horrible stuff they had. I want loose tops, but with some shape cuz i’m skinny and short. Except, they pulled out saggy tops in horrible colors… and when I pointed out that they were all too big for me, they shrugged and said “this is all we have”. If that is all they had, then why show me?!? Do they expect me to  buy those extra large sizes? So then I said I want a plain white t shirt or singlet. And they pulled out stuff which was in bad stretchy cotton and long. Really long. When you wear a singlet, you usually wear it inside something or just plain. So in circumstance would you wear a LONG one. Least not something that comes up to your butt and makes you look weird and fat!
So I skip that as well and look for skirts. There was a fairly decent cotton skirt on display… white, knee-length. Except, that is ALL they had. In that one size on a mannequin of a size no Indian woman is. The rest of the skirts were the flowy cotton ones that are copies of the gorgeous ones you see on tv but no where the same class or style. Cheap sequins and cheaper material sewn together badly.
I am not a brand person. I discarded so called ‘peasant blouses’ at Pepe cuz they were just badly sewn, thin cotton, shapeless piece of… cloth. But why do they make it so bad? It costs the same to buy the material and stitch it. The same tailors sew everything. So what is the problem?
I figured I’d head to Show Off, which used to have some decent clothes. I badly wanted a top by then, as I was sweaty and dirty… I was meeting friends and wanted to look fresh and nice. Show Off – glittery, satiny, sequinny, ripped, saggy. They look like discards or left over from the 60s movies. In a bad way. And to top that off, there was a ‘make-over show’ being recorded there. The host was passable attractive, though she was wearing tights that made her thighs look fat. But the model who was ‘made over’ was even worse. Skinner than me and she was wearing – beat this – a red satin clingy dress, with a black synthetic singlet inside as the ‘summer’ wear. I was tempted to walk over and ask them if they were out of their goddamn minds! They advertised tights, half-sleeved velvety stuff for summer. Tights? Seriously? I walked out… I could not take the glitter anymore. Needless to say, I still haven’t found anything I have fallen in love with.

This is the problem when I go shopping. I have an image in mind and that apparently never suits any trend in vogue. Skirts are too flashy or disgusting, jeans have sequins all over them. Tops have fluffy, frilly stuff and shoes are all flats. What happened to simple and elegant?

* One more earthquake in Turkey. Maybe this is the end of the world.

* The news – The kid who was found dead in Australia. Something comes along every now and then that manages to pierce the shell that is built around your heart and make your stomach twist. Honestly, when I first read the article, I thought it would just lead to more furore about racism and all that shit. Strangely, there was none of it. And the Australian government really did their bit in finding the culprit. And he turned out to be a roommate… How could someone you know do something like that to your child?
And then I saw the picture of the child… In a long time, I felt like crying. There was such joy, such mischief in his eyes. The kind of kid who would play pranks and smile innocently that you could do nothing but laugh at it. What kind of a monster even think of extinguishing that joy?

And there has been silence on the media end. No speculation, no story about why an Indian did this to another Indian. All the racist comments… all the drama that was there about someone beating up adults and we remain silent about the death of this child? WHY?

* The travel bug is creeping up again.

Song of the day: Fawn – You Make Me Smile