Monday, March 31, 2008

More Bang for my buck

There are holidays you plan elaborately for weeks and months and there are holidays where you let someone else do the elaborate planning and you just go along.

And finally, there are holidays that you suddenly find yourself in, without any planning by anyone whatsoever. Sometimes, those are the best kind of holidays.

So when Viv told me that Singapore XI was going to Bangalore to play KSCA XI, my first and only reaction was "That's great! Good luck. Okay bye." Little did I know that one threatening phonecall would change everything. Now a Bhai getting a threatening phonecall is no big deal. But when the call is made by Uncle C (he's the one with the "traffic" sense of humour), it is a big deal.

"What is this I hear?" He said. "You're not coming to Bangalore with him??"


"Well, you know what? You're coming."


"Okay then, that's settled."

"Uhh... okay."

Well, I crumbled under pressure. I agreed to go. Even though I had just taken a weekend holiday in Bangkok. Even though it was annual reports' season. Even though our office relocation was scheduled that week. Even though I had one team member on maternity leave and another on marriage leave and I had to ensure efficient coverage of their work in their absence. Even though I had told myself that after Bangkok, I needed to lay low before I'd saved enough for the next holiday.

I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed to go to Bangalore.

Or maybe that's the catch - I wasn't thinking.

My mom-in-law had already planned to go down to support Viv, but my dad-in-law was in two minds. To my utter delight, the moment he heard that I was going, he decided to go too (thenga to Viv!). I also discovered that my cousin Sid, who has a habit of surfacing at random places every few years, had landed in Bangalore. Viv's aunt also lives there. So there we were, a big army of support staff out there rooting for Viv at the cricket ground. I think we freaked the other team out (and possibly Viv's team too) by carefully orchestrating our appearances so that each match had one new relative of his turning up. I believe we also achieved the side-effect of sufficiently embarrassing poor Viv.

Of course, I had no intention of watching every match all the way. I can sit through a live T20, but not a live 50-over match, especially when there is no action replay! It was fun to do the 'sunglasses wife' for a match or two, but I couldn't pull that off for five days straight. So on the flight, I thought to myself, "What the heck am I going to do in Bangalore for 5 whole days without an itinerary??" I'm the kind of person who can't fathom the concept of "just relaxing" and "doing nothing". I feel wasted if I just sit without a purpose. I push myself to be productive at all times, sometimes to an OCD-ish level. Usually, I need a plan, a route, a purpose before I venture into anything.

But somehow, this time, it was different. I was just drifting and letting things around me take their own course. The credit for this is shared equally by many components - quality time with family, Uncle C's lively personality, his yellow car (which was my mode of transportation to a multitude of delightful places called "anywhere" and "somewhere", concepts I had been quite unfamiliar with before that) and the chairs in his living room. Now these chairs are not ordinary chairs. They are not the fancy Joey chairs either. They are special chairs - the kind of chairs in which even if you sit all day long and do nothing else, you feel like you have made a significant contribution to society. I can't even remember the number of times we sat down in those socially relevant chairs and talked absolute nonsense for hours, laughed endlessly at inside family jokes, listened to Radio Farishta (a channel which plays amazing songs that seem like they belong to an era before silent movies), or You-tubed hindi songs into the wee hours of the morning.

If the traffic was a damper, it was more than made up for by the absolutely delightful Bangalore weather. It was therefore, no wonder, that on two of the five days, we were up at 6 am to go for a brisk walk, breathe in the morning air and listen to the birds chirping. During the last match, it felt like winter as a chilly breeze blew across, making me shiver. Next thing I know, hailstones , the size of regular ice cubes, are dropping from the sky. Awesome!

Each morning, we'd set off in the yellow car and drive around to the most random of places and do the most random of things. Not a single touristy thing featured in our ad-hoc itinerary. Shop here, roam there, eat here, go there. That was it.

Street shopping always figures high on my to-do list anywhere, and I managed to get some amazing trinkets in the lanes at Commercial Street. I had taken a half-empty suitcase, but it was now full with all the clothes and accessories I bought.

I even managed to sneak in a visit to a company that we outsource our typesetting to, and the welcome I received was mind-blowing. What was supposed to be a "I'm on holiday, but I'll drop by for 15 minutes" turned out to be a 2.5-hour session.

We also went to this unbelievable second-hand bookshop which had pretty much all the books I needed to complete my Malory Towers and St. Clares collection. I also found 'Best of O'Henry', a collection I'd read when I was a kid and had been looking for it. My excitement knew no bounds when I saw a copy of SATC going for Rs. 150! I am a big fan of the TV show and had been looking for the book since forever. To my dismay, the book turned out to be in German! They did not have the English version. But I still managed to buy a whopping 15 books or so! No wonder I had to actually borrow an extra bag from Uncle C to bring everything back.

Foodwise it was paradise too, as I sampled everything from MacDonald's paneer salsa wrap (they SO need to bring that to Singapore!) to parathas at Mast Kalandar to sugarcane-ginger juice at the Garuda mall foodcourt to dosas at Adigas to babycorn kurkure at Ebony. Everything was heaven.

Pani puri always features high on my list of reasons to go to India. However, this time I had been warned by many that I should not expect Calcutta-level street food in Bangalore. But Uncle C had his contacts too. He took me to this pani puri wala and told him of my special requirements, and the pani puri wala, in an effort to upkeep Bangalore's rep before the girl who liked things spicy, turned up the heat so high my mouth was on fire for the next 15 minutes or so. When we went home, out came the containers of shrikhand, but I did not have them. I wanted the taste of pani puri to linger on, in spite of the sting. Kind of like how I felt when I got back to Singapore and was immediately inundated with work stuff. Though it hurt real bad to end the holiday and come back, I did not want to be so overloaded suddenly that I forgot to be homesick. So I kept playing each moment of the holiday over and over in my head and in a rather masochistic gesture, living through the end-of-holiday-agony-and-misery-syndrome. You should try it sometime, instead of the textbook 'Remember the good stuff, and don't think of the bad stuff" funda. Even though it hurts, that's the only time you realise how human you really are, and how much you need others to love and be loved by.

In the five days I was there, never once did I feel any stress. Never once did I think of the pile of work that awaited me back in Singapore. Never once did I wonder about what value I was adding to myself. I was living a completely different life. For the first time in my well-oiled, ultra-disciplined life, I was enjoying each moment without planning the next one.

A friend of mine who regularly gets random and weird sms messages from someone who claims to be her daughter's twin instead of simply her daughter, once got a message asking her if she wanted to "go clear carbon at pg". She forwarded the message to me for decoding, and after extensive research, we found out that "clear carbon at pg" like our initial suspicion did not refer to a bunch of teenagers planning to go smoke in the playground (pg), but was a motorbike term. It is a reference to clearing accumulated carbon in the motorbike's engine by riding it really fast along a stretch of road without a route in mind. I found the phrase very interesting and it had since stuck in my head, and now I realise why. This holiday has made it crystal clear. I have never felt more rejuvenated. I have never enjoyed any vacation in India more than this one.

Having a plan, a purpose, a route, is not a bad thing. But every once in a while, you just need to ride really fast. Without a plan, without a route, without a purpose.

to clear carbon.


Bivas said...

presentation ceremony begins n Gold goes to urs truly after a loooong time :-)
Wish everyone could and would clear carbon once in a while...the kind of life we are leading nowadays badly needs such occassions once in a while. Nice that you seized the opportunity when it came. :-)
And well...that hailstorm was surely terrible...we just got inside the house before it actually started pelting...saved by the whisker!!!

Janefield said...

ah, a holiday filled with heart and hearty moments -- the best kind :)

letting loose is necessary.

what's the point in being wound up like a clock all the time? nothing like a trip to the motherland right? :)

starbreez said...

what a great holiday! am so glad you had a good breather. let tomorrow take care of itself, you know?

am also feeling all sorts of wish-i-had-been-there-too-ness (aka envy?) :)

shub said...

awwww! *hugs* :D
And you're so damn right on the need to have a plan, stressed out thing - heck, I feel more stressed out and out of time during weekends than during the week!
Reading this post made me very happy, happy for you! >:D<

PizzaDude said...

It rained hailstones in Bangalore ??? What the ??!
Am so glad you had an awesome time in Bangalore! :D It feels damn good when someone tells me that they had a rocking time when they visited my hometown!

Joy said...

Must be an awesome holiday. I agree we need to let ourselves loose once in a while...

mythalez said...

pani puri on the street ...
sugarcane juice at garuda ...

and yeah literally cleared carbon on go-karting

things i did too in blore :D

Sanchit said...

wow.. I know what difference a holiday can make to the stressed up work schedules :) we guys too cleared up carbon this weekend on kashid beach *wonderful 't was*

Urv said...

Aah yes, Bangalore weather is awesome. I have been here since 9 months, and everyday I keep falling more n more in love with it.
And you went to Mast Kalandar! Bingo! Lovely food there. Its like my second home.

A LOOF said...

not fair, not fair!

i've been a "Bangee" all my life, and I missed the hailstorm bcoz it didn't rain hailstones in my part of town! and you come here for a week and get to see all the action???

not fair, not fair...

but I get to experience b'lore weather everyday. so its ok....

Directhit said...

really coool post as always - reminds me that i need a carbon cleaning pretty soon too
btw wht hppnd to the match? :)

also - any idea on how i put in comments here with my wordpress account :?!

tevezmess said...

Awesome post! Did Singapore XI win all the matches? :)

Shivani said...

Ahhh, so you raided Blossoms is it? What a splendid bookshop it is no? :)
Also, did you gorge on the "Death by Chocolate" @ Corner House? And the pani-puri at Calcutta chats?
Sorry, just getting nostalgic reminiscing my B'lore days ;) ;) :P

Harshi said...

>>Even though it hurts, that's the only time you realise how human you really are, and how much you need others to love and be loved by.

That was really touching Sash.
Yeah, isn't it rejuvenating? I felt the same in India and after I got back. I never missed the internet for even a second there oddly, and here I have withdrawal symptoms without it. A different "energy" resides there
:-). Yes, I totally agree with "going with the flow". I think the universe always has a plan for us and we need to trust it enough that we will be lead and called where we are supposed to be. And no road is wrong really...every road has a meaning. Gosh, getting philosophical!! Enjoy basking in the India trip sunshine :). Maybe you should visit often there Sash. Take care...

Sudha said...


You have been listed in the best Indian blogger list.
Check out

Great .Congrats


Sayesha said...

Hehehe... yeah that was fun! The last time I saw hailstone was when I was 16! :D

//nothing like a trip to the motherland right? :)

Absolutely! :D

//am also feeling all sorts of wish-i-had-been-there-too-ness (aka envy?) :)

We also felt that and missed you very much! :)

Hehehe! Thanks! >:D<

Hehe! :D

Totally! :)


Kashid beach? Where's that?? :D

Haha! Yeah that was one good meal! Loved the daal makhani! :D

Hehehe... whatever works for you buddy! :D

There were 5 matches in all. We won two and lost three. And no idea on how to post comments without a google account! :O

Thanks! :) Naah, they won 2 out of 5. :)

Yeah Blossoms! I wanted to buy the whole damn shop and make it my India-wala library! :P

Didn't have the choc (not a big fan of choc) but I had flaming roadside pani puri! :D

//I never missed the internet for even a second there oddly, and here I have withdrawal symptoms without it. A different "energy" resides there


Oh wow! Yeay! Thanks for the link. And the congrats. :)

learning the ropes said...

Somehow, I missed the mention of Mast Kalandar earlier in your post. I sooo loved it. It was haven for die hard vegetarians like me. Your post brought back so many fond memories of Bangalore. Cool

justme said...

Simply sayesha...simbly superb! Thanks for a sweet read :)

appu said...

So Blossoms it is. How much I love that store! I have never seen a better one :)
happy to hear you had a great time in b'lore :)

Anonymous said...

I'm all for jhat decide pat go on holidays. It's so much fun that way.
BTW you loved Blore dint you. Blore rocks babes! But im too frustrated and annoyed by the crowd and traffic.

rt said...

hey good post as usual..
others doing ur planning is something fun and interesting and actually takes off the tension from ur just enjoy...

btw where is that seconds book shop in bangalore??(i really want to know)

Sayesha said...

#Learning the ropes,

Literally and otherwise! :)

Thanks! :)

Thanks! :)

The traffic was really bad, but Uncle C's jokes more than made up for it! I had a gala time! :)

Thanks! :)

The bookshop is called Blossoms. I think you can google it - they have a website too!