Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another day Another Bandh!

Man proposes and the Railways disposes. My reservation remained no.2 in the waiting list and I am still in Hyderabad facing another day of Bandh. Thank you Railways.
Yes this is the same Railways which transformed our tainted Lalu Prasad Yadav into David Blaine the perfect illusionist. On second thought Lalu was always good.
Anyone who can make all that fodder vanish must really be good.

But this time he out did himself. He not only created an illusion , But he also embarrassed his political masters. To top that, He even embarrassed an ivy league university no less. The PM, a legend in economics, must be squirming in his seat for he was very effusive in praising the Railway minister’s Midas touch and how he brought the railways from the red into the black. But frankly , All the ex- minister really succeeded was in making the third A/C very very uncomfortable with that foolish idea of adding a middle berth in the side berths. Also he rubbished Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”.

With all the egg the Harvard university had by inviting him to lecture their students, I am sure that the venerable dean can have a hearty breakfast. I am looking forward to a sequel to the book “ what they don’t teach you at Harvard” maybe something on the line of “ What they shouldn’t teach you at Harvard.”

But give the credit where it is due. Were it not for that feisty lady of Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee we would still be singing Lalu chalisa. It was she who brought out the white paper and explained how he manipulated the statistics to give an illusion of profits. She gave a valuable lessons to all the youngsters out there that statistics are like bathing suits. What they reveal may look promising but what they conceal are vital. So guys look out for the real stuff!

With the train refusing to take me in, I don’t have any option but to sit through another bandh. However, people have learnt their lesson three days back during the earlier bandh and hence all commerical establishments and schools etc. have already declared a holiday. So this one looks to be peaceful.
There are more than 12000 policemen around. Thats very comforting indeed.
The government has cancelled more than 7000 buses and over 150 trains.Wise decision. Granted it would lead to a lot of inconvenience.

But better reach late wherever you are going rather than not reaching at all!

The agitating parties have warned against any new year parties. So giving all the revelries a go bye. Given a choice between shaking my butt and protecting it, i prefer the second option. Any way I have two left feet. so no great loss to anyone.

It’s going to be a sedate farewell to an eminently forgettable year.

The only notable event this year was the beginning of this blog.

Thank you to Sundeep. You made it possible. Thanks Satish and Sis. You gave me the encouragement. A special mention of Sandeep who really showed me what is a blog.

And above all thank you dear readers. It was gratifying to see readers from as far as Kerala and Kashmir in India to readers from different parts of the world. I am truly honoured.

This blog began as something to kill time and because of your constant encouragement became an integral part of my life. I pray to God that he gives you a longer life than me so that i am never starved of readers! Finding readers with discerning and sophisticated taste ( ahem!) is tough and I am glad I found you.

My sincere wishes for a very happy and a prosperous new year. Hope 2010 turns out to be much happier and sunnier than the previous year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sex, Lies and a trampled State.

Delhi is a complex city unlike Hyderabad.

There is a metaphor hidden under every stone there. These days there is a chill in the weather there. But Delhi being Delhi ,the chill is both metaphorical as well as real.

Hyderabad on the other hand, is blazing hot. Yet Hyderabad too, being Hyderabad, It’s plain and simple metaphorical.

Sounds convoluted? Pardon me guys, Like George W Bush, I am lost. There is a madness in the air which has done me in. and no one can blame it on the sun. Its benign at this time of the year.

The Economist Dr. Manmohan Singh could advise PM Manmohan Singh to invest money in buying a unit manufacturing zippers. His party needs them badly. The sheer number of zippers required would justify buying it.

The congress men need zippers to shut their lips as well as their flies. That would save them a lot of blushes and the country a lot of grief. The situation in AP could have been far better only if Home Minister knew how to keep his mouth shut. Added to that , now we have the embarrassing Governor’s sex tapes released.
If only he wore pants instead or dhotis which had zippers!

When Governor N D Tiwari was the chief minister of UP, he was called as Nothing Doing Tiwari since nothing moved during his tenure. From nothing doing to Naughty Doing, that’s quite a flight. Even Bill Clinton could tip his hat in admiration. This man is 85!

So indeed the water in the land of Kamasutra does have something in it.
Now that he has been relieved of his duties as a Governor, he may well be a consultant for Play boy.

The only two in the party who don’t need a zipper are the PM himself and his Honorable party President, Yes the one with the Capital P. They both would do well if they talked a bit more. While AP is burning, not a word from these two.

I envy Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. She can have her cake and eat it too. Dr. Singh can simply watch and wring his hands helplessly.

What she grandly offered as a gift to the state on her birthday till some clever leader from the opposition reminded her that their state is not a birthday cake which can be cut, soon became an albatross. But hail the congress. The Goddess can do no wrong. So while the state burned she happily ate her Birthay cake. Any one reminded of Nero!

The BJP isnt quiet either.

Arun Jaitley can shout hoarse from the roof top.

But the pitch in Ferozeshah Kotla ground was not a pitch. It was a minefield.
I wouldn’t suggest that pitch for any one. Not even the Australians!

Alas, Delhi Cricket match was just a game! The Sri Lankan team will go home. The media will find something more interesting. We shall continue to be the no.1 team. And wait for the Common wealth Game to screw up.

Hyderabad is more serious.

There is a bandh again on the 30th. The city I love looks like an army cantonment. I eagerly await my reservation status. Planning to leave for Gwalior tomorrow. I am no.2 on the waiting list. I have no option but to play the waiting game.

Wish the Governor and the Home Minister had done that too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The office secretary in my friend’s office brought a delicious Christmas cake today. It was as delicious it was big. It was a traditional rum soaked cake rich with resins and other dry fruits. We left our diet plans for a while and simply hogged.

As the aroma of the oven fresh cake wafted through the office, it brought back many happy memories of the Christmas of yore, those days when Christmas was not gloomy as it is now because Christmas means the end of vacation and time to go back to USA. In fact many times I have watched nostalgically my favorite Christmas themed movie, “I’ll be home for Christmas” alone in my apartment in the USA, Ironically returning from home on Christmas.

The Josephs were our neighbors when we were seven and eight year olds in Nagpur. They were an old couple as their children were married and serving in the forces and posted in Delhi and Chandigarh. So Christmas became as much our festival as we helped Mrs. Joseph in decorating the house with buntings and helping her with the batter for the cakes. We went all dressed up with them to the church and watch movie about Jesus.

In the evening there used to be games and show at the Airforce ground and a junior officer dressed as Santa used to distribute gifts to us children. This used to be followed by a grand party at the Josephs residence. I can close my eyes and still savour the keema samosas that she made.

When we shifted to Chandigarh, there were no Christians around and it lost the personal feeling that once we had. Later they became just another reason to get sloshed.

Hyderbad is remarkably egalitarian and the Hyderabadis enjoy every festival with equal fervor. From the mouth watering Haleems to the roast turkeys, the denizens of this charming city show no partiality to any one cuisine.

I remember the Christmas office party in London. I am a big connoisseur of Red wine but somehow the white wine is a strict no no. Now every party in the west begins with champagne and then graduates into whatever you like. Unfortunately my lovely colleague just heard the wine part and sloshed me with the bubbly . Not wanting to appear rude and chivalrous to the core, I dutifully kept emptying flute after flute!
I promised myself that I wont ever hence forth discuss my wine preferences with a half attentive blonde ever again.

Turkey isn’t much popular in India. But in the UK, stuffed turkey is the perfect Christmas lunch.

I shall never forget the kindhearted neighbor in Miami who delivered a platter of turkey and other savories before they left for their Christmas dinner. I didn’t have to worry about cooking for a week!

Christmas is the celebration of love and happiness. Lets spread the message of universal brotherhood and peace.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Paying for my indulgence folks!

I am finally done in by the delectable cuisine of Hyderabad. All the succulent biryanis, mirchi ka salans, khubani and double ka meethas have left an indelible mark on me( my waist ). Now I have to suck in my breath to button my pant.

However things didn’t look that serious till I overheard tanmay, my friend’s precocious seven year old ,commenting to his mom that if Uncle starts exercising, he will become Shankar bhagwan from Ganpati. Desperate measures needed!

Getting to an hour glass from an apple shape is easier said than done. I calculated my hip and waist size. Definitely an apple. Though not the rosy Kashmir type. There’s still hope. If Adnan Sami can do, any one can!

Mornings are starting a little earlier than before. A game of badminton, a few cardios and running up the stairs. Haven’t yet started weights. Floor exercises also have to be added.

Cutting my favorite sweets and starch out of my diet. Next week maybe go for a one week diet plan. This is also a good detox. It’s a very scientific plan calculated by taking the body requirement of minerals and vitamins into account. The first day it’s all fruits. No bananas though. The second day it’s all vegetables no potatoes though. The third day is a mix. All the body needs are calculated. For example Potassium and other salts are provided by the bananas on the third day, the starch is provided by the baked potato. Iron and proteins are provided by the meat on the fourth and fifth day.

I remember my trainer from Miami. He was totally against any dieting. In fact he didn’t even allow me to cut down on my wine. More parties meant more time in the gym.
He was a hard task master. We used to do weights, machines, floor exercises followed by 40 minutes of rigorous cardios.

He just had one mantra, “ Bust your ass, Sudhir. That’s the only way.”

I am glad he is thousands of miles away.!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The ' T' Bomb.

I saw the Ticket checker coming from the other end of the aisle and waited impatiently to enquire what was wrong. The train had been on the Kagaz Nagar station for over half an hour. That was strange since it is a very small station. I had been to this township. All it had was a paper industry( Hence the name Kagaz Nagar). This is a large industrial belt from Chandrapur in Maharashtra right upto Ramagundam in AP with many major cement industries , Thermal power station, Collieries and two big paper plants.

The train did stop at all these stations. But hardly for two minutes. Something was really wrong.

I was on the upper berth ( alas ! For the second time. And was punished with a pulled muscle in my back while alighting). The TTE took the exact moment to look up as I lowered my head down. He was a tall man. Accident prone that I am , I crashed my head into his. I don’t know what he saw. I saw stars!

The Telangana separatist movement supporters had stopped our entry into Andhra Pradesh. They were squatting in front of the engine.

Hundreds of anxious passengers inside were worried. We weren’t sure when we would reach Hyderabad. For once, the friendliest city in the country made us feel unwelcome.
Passions were running high in the city. Their leader was on an indefinite fast. His condition was rapidly deteriorating. I worried about the A/C. If they hold the train for long there was no option but to switch it off. Luckily that didn’t happen.

The cab demanded Rs.300/ hr for a 20 Km. trip. I was a bit hesitant to accept since I know the traffic snarl. It would take a minimum of two hours. But I wanted to reach home as early as possible. So I agreed.

It was pleasant though a bit intimidating to see the empty roads. I remembered the good ole days of the 80s and 90s. we reached in just forty five minutes. Incredible. In normal times we wouldn’t even have crossed Paradise!

Each person has his own theory about the Telangana Movement. The taxi driver from Adilabad feels that they have been dominated by the costal region for too long. I ask him if he feels that a separate state would drastically alter his life. He says doesn’t matter. He would be proud if someone from his region is the CM. I again asked him if all this violence is justified? He let out a colorful expletive in chaste hindi for the ruling government. He said these $%#$% wake up only when there is violence. He had a point.

I am all for smaller states. They can provide better governance.We can see how well Uttarakhand and Chhatishgarh are doing. (Jharkhand is more a victim of corruption and not poor governance). It definitely makes sense to divide a large state like UP.But does it make Geographical sense to bifurcate AP.

Who will take Hyderabad, the Jewel in the crown of AP? Or will we have a common capital like Chandigarh. More questions than answers.

Had a warm bath, hot food and now sleeping peacefully. Grab all the peace you can. We may wake up to a very violent morning. Its going to be one long and cold winter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The soire'e

Last Friday a train carried me home. This week another one will ferry me back. What will remain is another foot print on the canvas of my life.

I am now standing exactly in the middle of my vacation. Confused if I should be happy that there is still half to go or sad that half of it is over. Nothing new though. I am always confused. I tend to look both sides on a one way street!

So what did I do? I did something I have always been good at – nothing. It takes a lot of training to do nothing. I have perfected the art to a T.

I just sat in the living room enjoying everyone playfully fighting over what to watch on the TV. Just absorbing the sights and sounds.. Hogging all the green veggies that I have missed. Mom was a great cook. Her USP was the simplicity of food. No elaborate spices. No heavy garnishing. The vegetables would still retain their original flavor. She is no more. But the tradition still continues.

Some times silence is more eloquent and more meaningful than a thousand words. We sat many a times simply enjoying each others company. If I look back I could have saved myself many blushes by just being quiet. But each has his own special talents. Mine is making an ass of myself. I remember the character played by the old time comedian who is tutored in social etiquettes and ends up asking ladies if they are married and even when a lady says she is single pops the next question – “Oh great. So how many kids do you have!”

The writer copied me but robbed me of my royalty.

Yesterday morning we were returning by road. I saw one of the most breathtaking sights. There was nothing between us and the horizon as the sun rose slowly, blushing like a newly wed bride, all crimson and round. The landscape ,deep emerald green complemented it beautifully. I was so moved I wanted to cry!

We stopped by a road side dhaba. A wedding party had taken a break. Their enthusiasm was infectious. I would have been rubbing my butt if I had traveled in that tractor. But not these beautiful people. They seemed oblivious of the discomfort and were happily chattering. The dhaba owner looked at me strangely as I requested him for a black tea.

Today I watched lazily as the golden ray of sunlight sneaked into my room. That is rare.

In Hyderabad it’s all a rush. We wake up long before the sun rises. My sister brought me the morning tea. Its my first tea in bed after a long time. Being single I can’t afford that luxury.

The delightful irony. I took some time to adjust to the cacophony of a metropolis after the serenity of Miami. Now I am again struggling to cope with the absolute silence of my brothers new beautiful duplex home. Next week I will have to again get used to the morning commotion as it would be time to go back to Hyderabad. The mad mornings, rudely waking to the shrill whistles of dozens of pressure cookers, the milk man and the paper boy noisily delivering their stuff, mundane noises smothering the pure and soothing bhajans of MS Subbalakshmi.

Last night I slept late. Since I don’t wear a watch nor keep a mobile it was difficult to gauge the time. I peeped out of the window. There’s a large lake behind the house. The city lights reflected in the calm water. The reflection looked frozen as there was no movement in the calm water. This was a symphony for the soul. The sounds of silence, the frozen lake, the still time, I felt like a king.

I am enjoying till it lasts. All beautiful things must come to an end. So will this soiree.