Wednesday, December 27, 2006

nose job

Desi ghee ya phir rye ka tel laga lijeeyega. Pake ga nahi phir aapka naak”, advices the portly sonhar when he sees me wavering.

It really was my idea to get nose pierced. A lark, a whim, a fancy. But mostly for vanity, let me not deny that. Four thousand years ago somewhere in the Middle East, Rebekah was gifted a nose ring, a tribute to her ‘enchantingly beautiful’ nose. In ancient India, nose piercings were regarded as a mark of beauty and social standing.

Who am I to fight these strong winds of chronicled culture? Happy I am, to submit to them.

Amorous possibilities is what I had in mind. In reality, I had no clue what step one should be. It’s kind of easy to go to the beauty parlour and let the ladies sting you with a gun shot and some cheap metal. But that’s so pedestrian and I’m in a mood for some serious love song here. Besides, the only metal my precious skin can adopt as its own is 22 carats.

Some one suggested Zaveri Bazaar. It’s not far from office and my boss is not in. The planets have aligned.

Not so much actually. In the middle of the afternoon, I go from jewelry shop to jewelry shop – large showrooms to 5-foot shacks, and whilst they’ll sell you all sorts of ornaments to decorate your nose and ears, no one, absolutely no one does the job of piercing them. Backward integration to provide customized solutions – this market ain’t believers of that axiom.

Walking in the heat through narrow crowded by lanes, I’m hungry, thirsty and my 1 inch heel threatens to give up on me. Maybe today’s not the day? Maybe it’s a sign? I almost hail a cab when someone takes pity on me and tells me to try Mumba Devi Mandir.

Situated in the midst of one of Bombay’s most herded alleys, Mumba Devi temple is crowded with devotees, their prayers and offerings. The temple is alive, Mumba, commanding goddess of Mumbai, sits proudly dressed in aesthetic robes with nose studs. I figure I can at least pray to her to make it happen somehow.

As it happens, there are still some gods I may not have yet displeased. Around the temple there is sweet smell of jasmine and orange marigolds and worshipers sell copper bracelets, rings, rudraksha necklaces, incense, saffron, and more. Seated amidst this chaos are two portly men, one eating lunch and the other beating flat one piece of yellow metal.

I stop and hesitatingly ask them if they’ll be able to pierce my nose. Silence for 2 minutes.

Chaandi ki taar se?

Nahi, sone ki taar se. I venture hopefuly. Aap karenge, please?

They again measure me out. Samay lagega sone ki taar banana mein.

Theek hai, main wait kar sakti hoon. I’m not going to give up so easy.

Aisa keejeeye, aap apni taar leke aaiye. They dismiss me.

Lekin…hum kahan se taar laaenge. Aap bana dijeeye, hum wait kar sakte hain. I’m desperate now.

Nahi, aap taar leke aaiye. Hum phir ched kardenge. No more debate on this. I’m finally brushed aside.

Worn out but still hopeful, I take my case to the court of Zaaveri Bazaar again. Fruitlessly I wander around till a tiny shop Tara Chand (TC) Jewelers agree to sell me a 1 inch long, 22 carats gold wire. Bless them!

Yeh leejeeye. I pronounce triumphantly to the sonhar duo.

Again they measure me. Kitne paise diye iske liye.

300 rupay. Kyon zyada hain kya?

I’m not sure if they smirked at me, but one of them finally nodded. Hum aapse ek sau ek rupay lenge is kaam ke liye, apne labour ke liye.

Woh theek hai, lekin kya hume dard bahut hoga? Second thoughts in my mind. Am I crazy for doing this?

Arre nahi. Koi dard nahi hoga. Aap sab humpe chod dijeeye ab.

Only too happy to.

The wire is taken and sharpened. He gets up asks me – kaunsa side? Left? Right?

Ummm right side. I have really no clue.

Waise to log left side par karte hain.

Hang on. I quickly call a friend and she confirms. Left it is.

Theek hai bhai saab, left side par kijeeye.

My head is forced to the left, some one catches hold of my nose and OUCH! It hurts. There’s no blood but my eyes are watering like crazy. People gather around to view this spectacle. For almost 5 minutes he uses pliers to knot the wire. I’m balancing between wanting to shut my eyes because of the pain and wanting to keep a watch what this chaps doing to my nose

Then it gets done. A lovely piece of gold wire pierced through my nose.

Right now it’s enveloped in a weird concoction of soframycin and desi ghee, but it feels sexy as hell.

Maybe i will get my love song after all.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Skin Deep

Really that seems to be the point of frustration always. It’s a great package. It looks pretty darn sexy. Someone’s spent a whole lot of money and time marketing it.

But you take one bite – you reel back. It’s revolting. It’s a lie. There’s nothing underneath the pretty package.

Did anyone spend anytime on first principle? On looking up quality ingredients? On trying to build the original product and not just the covers?

Nope. Didn’t think so.

We love pretty exteriors so much it clouds our judgment on anything else. It’s like all of us are on psychedelic drugs and we’re grinning gleefully at the coloured rings merging into each other.

No one respects your intelligence any more. No, change that. They don’t think you’d have enough mental faculty to actually demand much, forget being offended.

The latest pissing off entity in the market – they made what they call a movie – Dhoom 2.

Popular news channels couldn’t stop gushing about how great the protagonists were looking. Ms Bips went on to say she worked really hard for the movie. Working out to look good. Everyone did work hard. Everyone but the script writers. And Mr. Chopra. They gave us a lemon. And it ain’t even freshly squeezed juice of Vitamin C.

The other morning one ostensibly intelligent gentleman sent me a text – Dhoom 2 rocks! A refusal to concur with this emotional effusion led him to gallantly remark – it’s the age of marketing and not content.

Well, that’s like saying the Indian cricket team is the best in the world since they endorse a whole host of brands, even though you can’t remember the last time they convincingly won a match.

I’m done with the low IQ-ed mainstream garbage in the name of entertainment, infotainment that they’re dishing out. You want my attention? You darn well work for it.

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hello to say good bye

I don’t think I can forget my wedding date. It’s the day my train pass expires.

It can be an extremely harrowing, hectic perhaps even fulfilling a day. For me, it was remarkably calm. I woke up early, didn’t really take a shower and even managed to tuck in a large cup of strawberries and cream, fresh from a popular mid-town juice centre.

There are inflection points in your life – you can either ignore them, let go, or you can stand to regret them. It’s too early to tell if I’m going to regret this. The problem begins when you start to expect it to change your life, to make a difference. Expectation is clearly, the mother of all fuck ups. If you could just learn to ignore it – the feeling of excessive elation or massive disappointment.

Why is that you need the endorsement of an event to feel fulfilled?

Why are you so scared of letting go?

Why is your presence more significant than anyone else’s?

Are you going to reach a milestone that no one else has?

Are you going to disappear and no one will ever remember you?

Maybe you’re making a rather large mountain here out of a non-existent mole hill. Maybe you need to pay a little less attention to the rock on the left hand and focus more on the road ahead.

Maybe I just want to commemorate my non wedding day.

Maybe if you throw me together with a few more folks, I’ll just bell-curve out.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'd like most right now


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Monday, October 16, 2006

Dark Side of the Moon…

I’ve not thought about it for a long time, in fact ever since I stepped out of the dark room in the physics lab, in 1996, leaving the spectrometer behind. The concept of the prism had been stored somewhere, probably forgotten and the only time any cognizance of the said object had been taken was perhaps while looking at the cover of Pink Floyd’s album.

And then one day, right out of the blue, some one asked – Hey, do you know where I could get hold of a prism? Err…why? Oh for my 8-year-old son, he’s never seen one. Ah…okay, we’ll see what we can do.

Prism – 3 dimensional, triangular-shaped glass or other transparent material through which, when light is passed, its wavelengths refract into a rainbow of colors. A demonstration that light is composed of colours and indication of the arrangement of colors in the visible spectrum.

So where could I source one from? Not available in general stores, stationary shops. Chemists? Nah. I could go back to college, to the lab and ask for one – but where’s the romance? The challenge?

The World Wide Web acts as a panacea. Somewhere in its not so frequented alleys – is a phone number of a scientific instrument dealer – who as it happens doesn’t deal in the business anymore – but does direct me to Neptune Scientific Traders.

Now is that delicious or what!?

Snuggled away in the by-lanes of Princess Street, behind alleys you’d never have any reason to visit, on the mezzanine 2nd Floor of the last dilapidated building two lanes behind Edward Talkies (did not ever hear about it, but it’s playing Shiva right now) – is Neptune Scientific Traders.

It’s a treasure trove, it is.

Mild mannered Mr Pankaj Goradia, sits behind an old wooden table. The window at the extreme end of the room is the sole source of light, there’s a table fan sitting atop a metal chair. His table is cluttered with an old Remington typewriter, pens that my grandfather used to have on his study – those ball point ones with long conical gold plated bodies, a camel stamp pad and thick cardboard box files. Around the room is an inventory stock of vernier calipers, filt roll filter paper, test tubes, starch iodine, petri dishes, litmus paper (red & blue), fractional weights, copper plates, magnetic compass, pinch clips, measuring cylinders, large & wide wooden scales and so many more riches but my prying eyes are unable to read the sketch pen marks on the boxes – there’s not enough light.

I’m probably the only woman who’s entered the shop in a really long time and am the object of curiosity amongst the cat (literally standing on the hot tin roof) and some men loitering about. The 38mm x 38mm x 38mm (equilateral) prism was kept ready for me. I stand around, not wanting to leave, itching to explore this remarkable storehouse. So I make small conversation – do they have lab equipment for all subjects? Well, for physics, chemistry & biology labs, 8th – 12th standard. Do you manufacture all this? Oh no, we’re wholesalers, the equipment gets manufactured in Delhi, Haryana, Ferozabad.

Are you a schoolteacher? It’s my turn to be interrogated. No – I work for Times of India. I want to buy this for a friend. Ok, though we prefer to sell to dealers, you can come anytime you like to buy from here. I’m overjoyed.

Would you mind if I take some pictures of your shop? I ask tentatively, not wanting to offend and revoke my open invite. If you want to. Shrugs Mr Sampat.

I click a few shots and then halfheartedly I walk out, my lunch break will end soon and I have to be back in office.

Neptune Scientific Traders – a dusty, dimly lit old world store that keeps a slab of history & science alive in those swanky new age schools of these days.

Oh, to be back in the lab.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Not About U2

One of the more interesting pieces that I read over this weekend.

Like it says, the odds are slim, but can this piece of knowledge ever hurt you. Well, yes – if it’s only little knowledge and we all know that it can be a dangerous thing! But our motto is - Animis opibusque parati.

It’s common knowledge that it is the easiest thing to learn how to make a bomb – atom, nuke or any other (the menu is up for grabs) in your backyard, but if you need to know the recipe of McDonald’s secret sauce recipe – well, they’ll tell you, but then they’ll have to kill you.

So all in all – I thought this is not just a good to know information – but need to know information.

This brings me to a really serious point. Today in the local train (first class, ladies compartment) – one woman fell and had an epileptic fit. In a crazily crowded train, the women began to panic. Some one screamed for a doctor/nurse (finally in desperation - any medical person?), another asked around for water to calm her down, while yet another rummaged around for a piece of sweet so the woman could bite on something other than her tongue. All through, really no one – and I mean no one really knew how to actually handle the situation. Because none of us, shamefully that included me, had even basic first aid training.

This needs to be made mandatory. With big plans of disaster management that the BMC has, and the Mumbai Police wants to make Mumbai Terror Free (Make Mumbai Unbreakable) – we need to start, perhaps, with baby steps. As citizens – it is our onus to take responsibility and charge when desperate situations arise upon us. It is only us who will be able to help ourselves.

Make a list & implement it:

  • Learn First Aid
  • Managing self & others during - Earthquakes, Fire (buildings/local trains), Bomb Blasts
  • Emergency contact numbers - Railways, Police, Hospitals, Newspapers, News Channels

Here's some links that may prove useful.

National Disaster Managment

Queries on Maharashtra State Disaster Management

First Aid

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I wrote this a long time ago. And it still rings true sometimes...

On a clear day, a pitcher and a half should do. Per person. A crowded room, or a tavern as the patrons might call it. Music those born after 1980 perhaps may well not recognize is a comforting environment. The smoke from Marlboro lights, Goldflake kings, Wills Navycut doesn't itch the throat much as the diesel being burnt on the highway. It could be simply a Friday night glee Or even just the relief of it. The music blares but you don't mind it. Perhaps it's the taste of the dwelling, or maybe you're just tending towards mellow bliss. Either ways you seemingly enjoy it. There's Floyd, Clapton, with a hint of Floyd and Tull thrown in; a dancing in the dark, and some college hangover!?

It's nonetheless the ratio I'm in favour of. On a not so rough estimate, it would be 52 to 6. Male to the fairer species. A school of thought would undoubtedly react to further divisibility issues, but for purposes of imagery I'd stature it suffices. The best part of course being the obscurity of it all. The song changes to 'Careless Whispers'. Around each corner you find someone mouthing the song, tragically. Conceivably, broken hearts aplenty. Though I look around when 'with our without you' plays after a while a few takers for a personal favourite. Lets not then again get predisposed to a theory. As the songs steal away time, the quotient becomes heavier further. When the drizzling outside encourages a refuge. Or a plea.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Desi Othello versus Watchamaycallit (better known as KANK?)

Both movies last well over two and a half hours. But by the end of KANK, you’re pulling your hair out. Or if you’re like me – walk out of the movie mid way even though some one else paid for it.

SRK’s every twitch gets magnified and slo-mo-ed putting every saans-bahu soap worth it’s salt on national television to shame. And what’s with Rani? Why does one end up being frustrated by her instead of empathizing? And Karan, if this is what growing up does to you…sigh…please don’t attempt any more ‘bold’ movies?

KANK – insults your intelligence. Where’s the struggle? Where’s the conundrum of an extra-martial affair? The easiest thing in the world is to hate a relationship and look for some gratification external to it – subconsciously or otherwise. But to be torn between relationships, to be able to be honest to one (self) and admit loving candidly two people completely and be unable to leave or let go…well – try that as food for thought Mr Johar. And please…would some one respect my time? If not my money? Oh wait – that was a free ticket. Yet I couldn’t sit through all of it.

Omkara, on the other hand - ‘tanik lambi, magar badiya hai’. Shakespeare is never easy to do – there’s 400 years of history to compete with. But so far as adaptations go, this one is not a tragedy. Desdemona (Dolly – Kareena) & Cassio (Keso – Viveik) are admittedly wet blankets, but Iago (Langda Tyagi – Saif) carries the movie on his shoulders. His is a subtle, virtuoso performance – filled with refined, sinful acerbity. Omkara (Othello – Ajay), well, as it happens Saif steals his thunder.But what I enjoyed most about O – the rustic profanity – slipping out of people’s mouths like beer in Munich! And Konkona has some gems – ‘hansi badi mehengi ho gaye hai duniya mein’.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Two With Nature

So I begin this today. How long will it be alive - I do not know.

Does it need a momentus ocassion to be able to do this? A mahurat? An agenda? A deep knowledge? A higher IQ? A sense of lonliness?