Monday, October 31, 2005

The budget airline that wouldn't budge

Yesterday, a friend and I went to check out a holiday package for the new year. Now I have never been involved in the actual booking process of a budget airline before, though I did experience a frightening budget airline flight earlier this year.

So there I was, at the travel agent's, looking really lost, while my paranoid friend (hereinafter referred to as PF) did the actual talking to the travel agent (TA), while freaked out Sayesha (FOS) looked on with wide eyes.

The travel agent started giving us details on the package.

TA - And oh, seats are pre-allocated so you don't have to run in and grab yours.

FOS - Run in and grab seats in a plane?? You mean people do that???

PF - Oh yeah, on some airlines they do!

FOS - And what if you don't get a seat? Do you stand and fly?

TA - Oh no, there are sufficient number of seats, just that on some budget flights, you have to run in to grab the best seats.

Thought bubble of FOS - So the only way you can be upgraded to business class is if you knock out a fellow passenger?

TA - And as you know, no food or drinks will be served.

FOS - Well, I guess they'll give us water?

TA - Err... no...

FOS - What?? No water??? So what -- we bring our own food and water?

TA - You can... but do be discreet...

FOS - Discreet? Discreet?? They don't give us food or water and they expect us to be discreet??? So what, we hide in the toilet and eat??

PF - There are toilets on board, right???

FOS bursts into uncontrollable laughter.

TA - Of course, of course.

FOS - So if they don't give us food, and we can't take our own, do they expect us to starve to death or what??

TA - No, you can buy food from them.

FOS - Oh okay! Not too bad then.

TA - Errr.... Just that... errr... one sandwich costs 6 dollars.

FOS - 6 bucks for a sandwich??? Are they freakin' crazy???

TA - Well... Errr...

FOS - Hmmm... Anything else you should warn us about?

TA - No no, that's all. It's exactly like any other flight.

Thought bubble of FOS - Errr.. yeah right... right..

PF - So will there be stewardesses on board or not?

Thought bubble of FOS - Errr... more importantly, will there be a pilot on board or not??

TA - And oh, there's no in-flight entertainment, of course.

FOS - No worries. I think we're already very entertained.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cheque list

Way back in 1996, after my 'O' level exams, Mr. Jain, the richest man in the incredibly small town Dad was posted in, came to our school to attend the havan that my school was performing in celebration of the good results. After the havan, Mr. Jain patted me on the head and said, "Well done, beta. You've done our town proud." and gave me a cheque.

For a thousand rupees.

I stared at it in disbelief as my proud parents and sister beamed at the smiling faces around.

Someone had just given me a thousand bucks, just like that. I had not asked for it. It was not my birthday. It was not Holi or Diwali. And I did not have to touch anyone's feet for it.

A thousand rupees. Just like that. Whoa.

I was holding a freakin' thousand-rupee cheque. It was, in some sense, my first 'earning'. I stared at it again and again until I could not look at it any more.

Years passed, I passed out of school, came to Singapore, finished my degree, and finally joined the workforce. Got my first pay cheque. The second cheque of my life I stared at.

The amount looked big. What a contrast against the thousand-rupee cheque that I had got at the age of sixteen.

And yet, that cheque
from nine years ago was more special to me than any cheque ever can be. That cheque will stay on in my memory forever.

And here's something fun -- what's the smallest amount you have seen on a cheque?

Can it beat this one that came to me via mail some time ago?

Friday, October 28, 2005

The damn sehri babu and his damn doll

Why is it that sometimes we like something we would otherwise utterly dislike, just because someone we like, likes it?

(Lost a few people in that statement, didn't I?)

I hate remixes in principle. I hate people messing up old songs. I hate random girl X singing and recording a song sung by a legend. I hate the unnecessary extra beats. I hate the sleazy videos.
And especially if I don't even like the original!

And yet, I can't stop listening to the damn 'Koi sehri babu remix - DJ Doll'.

Sayesha, now you're listening to someone who calls herself DJ Doll??!!

Oh for heaven's sake, gimme a break.

Damn you, friend who lives far away from me and likes this song. And now I miss you damnit.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

At least gimme a different department, for heaven's sake!

Some people are so amazingly capable of doing things I know I never can.

One of the subjects in my course is jointly taught by this American couple. And they work so amazingly well together that it leaves me astonished. He teaches the theory, she teaches the lab work. Sometimes, they even take the class together.

But when they look at each other, you don't sense a "Oh no! Not you again!" expression. In fact, they're quite cute. He rewards us with Kit Kats when we answer questions (now that's my kinda professor! And the reason why it's my favourite subject!) and warns us "You can eat the Kit Kat in class, but hide the evidence afterwards. Don't let Prof. R see it!" And then she walks in, sniffs the air and says, "Whaaaat's goin' on here? Have you been spoiling the kids again, Prof. R?" And then he pretends to be all innocent. It's really damn cute.

He says things like "Yes, I have two Master's degrees and one doctorate. That's how sick I am." And she says, "Oh, don't you guys listen to that guy over there!" The chemistry between them is so obvious that it seems as if they're dating, or are newly married, though they have three grown-up kids. Wow!

I don't think I am capable of that. To me, this is how it would work.

Say you get married to guy X. You open your eyes in the morning, you see guy X. You have breakfast with guy X. You go to work with guy X. You're seated five feet away from guy X at work the entire day. You have meetings with guy X. You have lunch with guy X. You come home with guy X. You watch TV with guy X. You go to bed and guess who's there -- guy X! Next day, you open your eyes again and surprise surprise -- guy X is there! Even if you get away from him, and hang out with you kids, you look at them and you're reminded that you made them with guy X. There's just no escaping this guy X!

I can't do that. I need to have my space. I need guy X to have his space.

Don't you need to be away from guy X once in a while to miss him and be reminded of what he means to you and how much you love him?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wisdom hits Sayesha -- finally!

Sayesha is facing a mid-week crisis.

My last wisdom tooth is on its way, and it's causing me a considerable degree of pain.

Everything hurts, including some of my favourite expressions.

And my own silence is killing me.

To all the people who know me, here's a list of don'ts:

  • Please refrain from calling me up. Talking hurts.
  • Please don't do any heart-warming acts. Smiling hurts.
  • Please don't crack good jokes. Laughing hurts.
  • Please don't say weird things that cause me to have my typical 'thought-bubble-over-her-head-indescribable- expression'. It hurts.
  • Please don't send me sappy forwards. Gritting my teeth hurts.
  • Please don't bore me. Yawning hurts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Because I don't like to think

Long ago, I wrote this post on the hilarious letters that I get from the little adorable fans of my magazine. Sometimes, I get very profound questions from them too.

Half the reason why I love my job so much is these letters.

Here are some more precious gems to share. These are some of the responses we got from the kids in response to a survey we conducted to find out what they like and dislike about the mag.

There's no point writing about the 'normal/expected responses' so I am only gonna cover the unexpected/weird/funny ones, which show the amazing thought process that kids have. I love the way they think!

What do you like about the magazine?
- It’s nice.

What do you want to see on the magazine cover?
- Anything, as long as I like it
- Durian
- My Dad
- Vegetables

What do you want to see on the poster?
- Horse
And the cover?
- Horse

Do you pin up the pull-out poster on your wall?
- No, because I am really busy and have no time.
- No, because my mum doesn't like posters all over the place.
- No, because I don't want to destroy the magazine.
- My younger brother will tear them.
- I don't want the magazine to lose the poster.
- My maid may throw it away by accident.
- I have no place in my room.
- When I put them up, my mother takes them down.
- I spend too much time doing homework.
- No, because it occupies space.

Which sections do you dislike and why?
- Think Time. Because I don't like to think.
('Think Time' is a section with exam-type questions. Kids hate it but teachers and parents love it.)

- Real People Real Science. Because it is about real people, which I don't like.

(RPRS is a section where we interview people who hold interesting jobs that have a scientific angle.)

Why don't you like these sections?
- I don't know. To me it's not nice. To other people, I don't know.

Whom would you want interviewed in RPRS?
- Mozart
- A pastor

What would make the magazine more exciting for you?
- I don't really know.
- Send me a picture of the editors.
- If I can win the mystery prize.
- More pictures but nothing too disgusting, please.
- Nothing. It’s already very good.

Monday, October 24, 2005


On Saturday I banged into a glass door. In my own house. Thud. Ouch.

After the stars floating around my head dropped down, and I passed the 'Main kaun hoon? Main kahan hoon?' test, I made a list.

Lessons of life I learnt from the incident:

1. You don't know your own place as well as you think you do.

2. Sometimes you can see what's beyond, but you can't see what's right in front of you.

3. Never laugh at someone over something that can very well happen to you.

And here's the most important one...

4. Sometimes things are so clear you don't see anything.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

My friend Shaan

Have you ever felt an immense sense of affection towards a complete stranger?

Towards someone you don't know, and have never met?
But you feel like you know them very well. You know their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, you know what makes them happy, what hurts them, what angers them. You know what gets them.

I feel that about Shaan.

Yes, I love his singing, but I am not a gushing fan who would queue up for days to get his autograph or pose with him for a photograph to show the grandkids. What I love more about him than his voice is the way I feel for him.

To me, he is like a friend I never met.

I don't know what it is about him, but I feel like he's a guy I grew up with, and hung around from school thru university. The kind that was never good at studies, the kind whose homework I would do every single day. The kind who would go and get his heart screwed over by some random girl (who hung out with him because he won the college singing competition, and then got tired of him 'cos he was so simple at heart). The kind who would come to me and tell me about her and how special he thought she was. And then we would talk about it at the poolside and everything would be okay again.

I laugh at myself for thinking like this, but it's true, I do feel that connection with him. And even though I may never meet him (actually I don't want to meet him, 'cos that would just spoil everything), I still feel there's a common bond between us. Which I believe, no one except me can really understand.

Shaan sings every song as if it is his first song. He puts his heart with all its sincerity into it. That's why he always seems like a new singer, though he's been around for a while now. I feel this certain sense of comfort when I hear him sing.
His movie songs are very good, yes, but what I really like are his albums. They have that fresh charm in them that makes them way more appealing to me than the movie songs. That reminds me of 'our old days'. After all, we saw each other through our first crushes (actually, we probably were each other's first crushes!), our first heart-breaks, and it shows in the level of comfort and peace I feel when at the end of the day, I get home exhausted from work and school and the draining emotions encountered in the day, and he is there to ask me how my day was.

And he can sense how my day was.

When he sings 'Gumsum ho kyun', I can really feel him calling out to me, telling me that he is affected if I am gumsum. And just for that guy, I want to smile again.

Gumsum ho kyun, paas aao na...

Roothhe ho yun, maan jao na...
Dil mein hai jo, khulke kaho...

Dil mein chhupao na...

Jaane kis baat pe tum aise khafa ho gaye

Shaayad anjaane mein mujhse koi khata ho gayi

Bas itna toh bata do ke meri kya bhool hai

Phir chahe jo saza do mujhko woh kubool hai

Kuch toh kaho chup na raho, aise satao na

Gumsum ho kyun...

Tum jo hansti ho toh yeh mausam muskurata hai

Kaliyan khilti hain sara aalam gungunaata hai

Tum ho hansti ho har sitara jhilmilata hai

Mere dil ka shaher khushi se jagmagata hai

Dekho kabhi rona nahin, mujhko rulao na

Gumsum ho kyun...

When I heard 'Tanha dil' for the first time, it got me. Yes, it was about a tanha dil, but it was full of energy, exuberance and youth. It was about dreams, it was about what each of us aspired for. It was about memories, which never let go of us, even if we try and let go of them. The song spoke to me.

Aankhon mein sapne liye

Ghar se hum chal toh diye

Jaane yeh raahein ab le jayengi kahan

Mitti ki khushbu aaye, palkon pe aansu laaye

Palon pe reh jaajyega yaadon ka jahan

Manzil nayi hai anjana hai kaarwan

Chalna akele hain yahan

Tanha dil tanha safar

Dhoonde tujhe phir kyun nazar

Tanha dil...

Dilkash nazare dekhe, jhilmil sitaare dekhe

Ankhon mein phir bhi tera chehra hai jawaan

Kitni barsatein aayi, kitni saugaatein layi

Kaanon mein phir bhi goonje teri hi sada

Waade kiye they apna hoga aashiyan

Waadon ka jane hoga kya

Tanha dil tanha safar

Dhoonde tujhe phir kyun nazar

Tanha dil...

When you're heart-broken and he sings 'Bhool ja', you can see how much he feels your pain, and how badly he wants you to forget whatever happened.

In aasuon se kisko kya hua haasil

Mana kehna hai aasaan nibhana hai mushkil

Phir bhi ae yaar mere sun le meri iltja

Bhool ja, jo hua usey

Hai kasam tujhe, muskura

Khud ko yun na de tu saza, un yaadon ko tu bhool ja...

Woh toh nahin tha teri wafaaon ke kaabil

Jaane kya sochkar tuney de diya apna dil

Is baar dil ka sauda karna na yun bewajah

Bhool ja bhool ja...

Teri zindagi teri hai kisi ki amaanat nahin

Jab chahe tod de aisi ek imaarat nahin

Is baar dil ka sauda karna na yun bewajah

Bhool ja jo ua usey bhool ja

Hai kasam tujhe muskura

Khud ko yun na de tu saza, un yaadon ko tu bhool ja...

When I heard 'Faasle' for the first time, my first thoughts were "I wish I had written this song!" The words are incredibly beautiful, yes, but when you hear him sing the words, you understand and feel their real depth.

Tum nahin door tak, phir bhi paas ho
Tum mere koi nahin, magar mere khaas ho
Milke bhi hum toh mil na sakey

Dil ke armaan dil mein rahey

Tumko pa na sakey, gham nahin

Tumse paya hai jo, kam nahin

Jo hua ek tarah se sahi hai

Tumko khone ka darr toh nahin hai

Faasle hain magar, faasla nahin hai
Zindagi se hamein koi gila nahin

Tum nahin door tak, phir bhi paas ho...

Tum mere koi nahin, magar mere khaas ho...

Tumko yaadon mein laate na hum

Kya karein bhool paate na hum

Waqt haalaat majbooriyan

Jaise dil pe chale chhooriyan

Dil dhadakta raha chal diye kadam

Rukh badalta gaya, ruk sakey na hum

Milke bhi hum toh mil na sakey

Dil ke armaan dil mein rahey

Tum nahin door tak, phir bhi paas ho
Tum mere koi nahin, magar mere khaas ho
Dil ke paas ho...

I heard Lamha lamha by accident, and I was amazed. Where were all these songs hidden? Why hadn't I heard them before? And why doesn't anyone know about them??
And most importantly, are there more of them around?

Lamha lamha jalte rahein

Haan, is pyaar mein
Girte sambhalte chalte rahein

Haan, is pyaar mein

Kabhi tum jaise zeher, kabhi tum zindagi

Kabhi tum shab-e-peher aur kabhi roshni

Milke chain se saath reh na sakey

Aur judaai bhi seh na sakey

Lamha lamha jalte rahe

Haan, is pyaar mein

Girte sambhalte chalte rahey
Haan, is pyaar mein

Ek pal anjaan ho, ek pal meri jaan ho

Ek pal uljhan si ho, ek pal aasaan ho

Ek duje ko hum suljhaate rahey

Par kabhi bhi samajh na sakey

Lamha lamha jalte rahein

Haan, is pyaar mein

Girte sambhalte chalte rahein

Haan, is pyaar mein...

When others sing, they entertain me.

When Shaan sings, he convinces me.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Welcome to Sayeshaz!

Whenever someone new posts a comment on my blog, I say, "Welcome to Sayeshaz!"

Going by what's happening here lately, I can't help but get the feeling that Sayeshaz is like a tiny bar tucked away in the corner of the street. It may not be the most happening place in the city, but it's one of those tiny bars that only appeal to some people, who find it cosy and choose to hang out with their friends there. There's music, friendship, comfort and love at Sayeshaz. Aplenty.

Sayesha is your gracious but really khadoos hostess with loads of attitude (both good and bad), who runs the bar. She concocts her own drinks, and everything's on the house (yeah, she's a multi-millionaire). And the hostess does not take orders. The drinks are served on the table, that's the deal. Take it or leave it. She doesn't run the bar to make money (cos like I mentioned, she's a multi-millionaire) but does it for herself. She likes to hang out at the bar, even when there's nobody. She likes the feel of the place. And she likes the people who hang out at the bar. Most of them, at least.

There are some people who could not stand Sayeshaz in the beginning. They hated the music, the decor, the drinks, the hostess, everything. But as they began to understand her, they started liking the place. And at the same time. there are some people whom she could not stand in the beginning, and she wondered why they came to the bar, but as she started understanding where they were coming from, she started liking them.

The bar has a couple of regulars, who have now become friends of the hostess and she is fiercely protective of them. She doesn't know most of them by names and has never asked. Some choose to disclose their names, and some don't. And she's fine with both. Some of these people have their own bars, and they leave their cards behind. The hostess likes to drop by their bars, leaving her own unguarded. Sometimes, she and her friends hang out at these other bars, but at other times everyone gets busy and has no time to meet up anywhere. On some days, someone gets very drunk and senti, and she has to bundle him/her off in a cab homewards.

Sometimes, some of the patrons like to take a backseat and don't say anything, but she knows they are there. But sometimes they really are away on business trips and are missing from Sayeshaz for days, sometimes weeks and months. The hostess pretends not to care, but she misses them, especially if any of the regulars are missing. But when they return from their trips, they drop by Sayeshaz and pick up the conversation from where they had left it and suddenly everything is all right again.

There's no bouncer at the door at Sayeshaz and there's no cover charge and anyone can walk in without having to show an ID. Especially on Thursdays, which is MAC night. Free flow of brickbats until midnight. The MACs are either other bar-owners or their patrons who drop by once in a while to see what's goin' on at Sayeshaz. The hostess does not mind them hanging around, but if you get drunk and create trouble, you'll be in trouble yourself.

The hostess has a glass of orange juice for herself at the table, which is enough to keep her in a state of constant inebriation. Once in a while, the hostess gets really high and does a fancy flip-and-throw-wine-glasses routine, and the patrons are left entertained. And sometimes, someone applauds her. Then she gets all hyper and tries some really dumb trick that backfires and the wine glass lands on her head and shatters. And it bleeds and hurts. But the show goes on. The show must go on.

Then there are some who just hate the place. Who hate the hostess and hate the drinks and hate the other patrons. They
wonder why they even set foot in the place. They walk out in disgust after saying a few drunken words to her. But some of them come back the next day. And then wonder why they even set foot in the place... and then they walk out in disgust... and they come back the next day... and so the cycle repeats... However, for those who storm off in disgust, the hostess could not care less. She'd rather you storm off for good than come back every day to tell her that you hate her bar. So don't make the mistake of thinking that if you go off, you'll bring her share prices down.

Her business does not run because of you guys.

Her business runs because it's not a business.

Ok I think I'm very drunk now... someone call me a cab!

"Sayesha, you're a cab!"

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! :D

Ok, now I'm really drunk!


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A tale of kindies

Some time ago at work, I was called to a meeting and told, "Sayesha, we would like your editorial involvement in the new series of kindies (pronounced 'kin-deez') we plan to publish."

"Kindies?? What on earth are kindies??" I enquired.

"Oh. Sorry. Kindies are books for kindergarteners."

"Kindies" it seems.

Boy, am I glad we don't publish books for undergraduates.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It was a dream, wasn't it?

Some time ago, I had a dream.

Or did I?

Have you ever had a dream that felt so real, even after you woke up, that was so fresh in the mind days later, that you often wondered if it really was a dream? Or did it really happen without you realising it? Can you manage to sneak away from your life and live a completely different life and still make it back in time to catch the bus to work?

In DDLJ, Simran asks her father to take a month out of her own life and give it to her to live. I wonder if that can really work literally. Is it possible that we can take a few moments, days, months or even years out of our own life, and live it like a dream, and suddenly wake up and find ourselves back where we were, with the same familiar faces that had been with us, sans the moments, days, months and years that had passed and yet, somehow had not passed?

Long ago, I saw an episode of the X-files, where the same day was being repeated over and over again. And no one realised it, except one girl. Every one would wake up to the same day, not knowing it, and would live their life for the day in the exact same way. Every single day. And the lone girl looked on, bewildered, waiting for the cycle to end, the glitch to fix itself, so life could go on normally.

What is time really?

Going back to my dream, it was strange and unfamiliar. And yet, it was magical. It was different. I was different. The way I live my life, my strict discipline, my fierce independence, my attitude towards life, my values, my expectations, my feelings, every thing seemed to have different shades. I could not recognise my own self. It was good and it was bad.

It felt like I had taken some moments out of my own life and was living someone else's life. And then the dream got over and I returned to the point where I had left my original life. Without anyone around me realising it. As if I had chosen to take an overhead bridge instead of crossing the road at the traffic light along with the others. And somehow, I had crossed the bridge so fast, that I reached the other side of the road at the exact same time as the others did. And no one had even realised that I had taken a different path, and was missing. I had stolen a few moments of my own life and lived it by myself as I crossed the bridge.

Yet somehow, it did not seem like a dream. I really was living that life. Every time I close my eyes, I can still see that dream so clearly. I can relive each moment as if it had really happened. I had laughed in it, cried in it, got angry in it, loved in it. Even now, I can sense those feelings. It felt so real, it was scary. But it never happened, did it?

Yes, I loved it. At times more than my real life. But if I were given the choice to go on living in that dream and never wake up, what would I do? Would I choose to live that alternate life or would I be happy to go back to my old life, where everything was familiar, where I recognised people around me, where I knew myself? Which one was the real deal? Was the dream my real life, or was my real life the dream?

Now I have woken up, and I am wondering.

A dream it was and I should dismiss it as one. It was not real. I will never have that dream again. It will never cross paths with my real life.

It was just a dream.

Wasn't it?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

It's not you, it's me

Earlier this year, when two people in the longest relationship that I knew broke up, I was taken aback. Suddenly nothing seemed to make sense. I realised that you may look at 'two people in love' with absolute awe and think how perfect they are together, and the next thing you know, they're walking separate ways, and you stand there bewildered, wondering what just happened in front of your eyes. I realised that these 'people in love' themselves can make all the plans they want, and believe that they have found their soulmate, and think that they're gonna live happily ever after, but in the end, what happens can leave them astonished and disoriented.

Human relationships are as complex as human feelings. What you feel for a person today may not be what you feel for him/her tomorrow. And yet somehow, I wonder if we can simply blame ourselves for it. What we feel is what we feel. Because that's the way it is. That's the way we are.

A year ago, I wouldn't have touched the topic of break-ups with a barge pole. To me, it was taboo to talk about it, to think about it, to even be in its vicinity. But then I have seen enough number of break-ups to have a more mature standpoint on it now.

The reasons why two people who were so in love once upon a time can break up, can be so many that it's mind-boggling. Here are just a few of the not-so-straightforward ones:

  • You're going out with person X. You realise that person Y is closer to you than X. You realise it's probably not fair to X that someone else is closer to you. You break up with X and get together with Y.
  • You realise that person Y is closer to you than X. You realise it's probably not fair to X that someone else is closer to you. You break up with X. But you don't get together with Y.
  • You were never going out with X. Just that one day you woke up and realised it.
  • You are way older than X. X seems like a kid at times. You don't see yourself living your entire life with X. You break up.
  • You are way younger than X. Sometimes you don't find anything in common with X. You don't see yourself living your entire life with X. You break up.
  • You have been together with X for many years now. When you wanted to get married, X did not. Now X wants to, and you don't want to be 'the person who waited around to be proposed to'. You waited for the proposal, and got your vengeance by breaking up.
  • You have been going out with X for over a decade. You wake up one day and ask yourself why. You break up.
  • X does something that changes the person you thought X to be. You break up.
  • You do something that changes the person X thought you to be. You break up.
  • You run out of conversations with X. You break up.
  • X does not let you want to be the person you are. You break up.
  • You don't want X to be the person X wants to be. You break up.
  • You and X never knew where the relationship was going. And now you know. Nowhere. You break up.

These are just a few that I have witnessed. The actual number of reasons (if at all there is one) is probably as complex as human nature.

Every second of the day, someone somewhere is breaking up. And others are judging them. They are taking sides. They are curious, "Hey, those two broke up?? What happened man??"

Does it really matter "what happened?"?

"What happened" is merely a story put forward to the curious public by the PR agencies (read close friends) of the respective parties. Because "what really happened" is something only the two people who broke up will understand. If they're lucky that is. Others will never get it. They can only try and speculate whom they can brand as 'the bad person'. Because branding one of the parties as the 'bad person' makes it easier for others to 'understand what happened and why', provides them with a certain 'closure'.

But maybe, just maybe, there was no 'bad person'. Maybe it was just two 'good persons' who realised they were not meant to be together.

The negativity associated with break-ups is what makes the topic taboo. Break-ups are not all bad. They are painful, yes, but they prepare us better for our lives ahead. And they help us make choices for our lives.

When two people break up, their common friends have a tough time. I have noticed that generally, guys tend to be able to hold the 'neutral friend' role much better than girls. Girls tend to pick a side and stick to it. Brand the other person as the 'bad one'.

When we go through a break-up, we don't need anyone to tell us that X was a bad person. We don't need anyone to pass judgement on the relationship or on the people involved. We don't need sappy idealistic views like "These things happen in life." or "X is the bad person." or "I told you you should have never gone out with him/her!"

We're hurting on the inside. And we don't need to hear this shit at that point.

At that point, irrespective of what happened or whose fault it was, all we need is our friends around us to love us for who we are.

And perhaps, to tell us that X did not deserve us.

Friday, October 14, 2005

To kill a mocking nerd

In school, every class has a CC (Class Clown).

Similarly, in university, every course has a CP (Cruel Professor).

A CP has a general dislike towards your happiness, and delights in making you squirm.

I've had the good (or bad, if you may) fortune of being the CC for most of my school years, but never ever had I seen a CP as cruel as the one I encountered last week.

We're sittin' in the lecture theatre, all 50 of us, some listening to the lecture, some sleeping, some sms-ing, some eating, some lookin' around for interesting faces, when CP decided to drop the bomb.

"We'll take a break now, and after we come back, I will flash some emails that I received from you about the assignment. Students will point out what is wrong with them."

"What? Emails? You mean the emails that we sent him about our research assignment?" The whole class was buzzing with anxiety.

You see, the emails in question were really dumb. We had been asked to send in research proposals to him over email, and that's when we'd not yet learnt anything. So everything about those proposals were raw and juveline and sometimes plain illogical and dumb. And there really was no point of this exercise. Everyone knew what was wrong with theirs, and we never wanted to be reminded of the fact that we'd sent them.

Not to even mention how atrocious I thought flashing someone's email in class was.

And so the trauma started after the break. One by one, my classmates were asked to go and stand next to their emails near the screen (at 300% zoom, no less). And some cruel classmates found reason to wake up and tear each proposal apart based on what we had learnt after we sent those emails! It was freakin' embarrassing to stand there for a full 15 minutes and be made to feel really really small.

It made me very angry.

Finally, it was my turn. I took a deep breath, got up from my seat, went and stood next to my grossly magnified email on the screen. Before anyone could say anything, I picked up the microphone and said, "Hi everyone, I'm Sayesha and that's my email you're looking at. The professor mentioned that students will point out what is wrong with the proposals. Being a student of this class, I am also entitled to point out what is wrong with this one. Now before you guys can tear my proposal apart, I am gonna tear it apart myself and save you the trouble."

I then proceeded to tear my own topic apart. Pointed out all the flaws, all the weaknesses, the vagueness of the variables, the uncertainty of the attributes, the impractical research methodology. Every fault I could find, I handed it to the class.

By the time, I was done, the professor and the class were gaping, and I was feeling victorious. (Though later I did ask myself a million times over if I really did what I did!)

Chin up, I walked back to my seat as the class cheered.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

You wanna mock me publicly? Not if I get there first and do it myself, buddy!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Picky? Me??

In Singapore, sudden showers are no surprise. Carrying an umbrella with you everywhere is not just recommended, it’s essential.

So last week, when my old umbrella finally breathed its last in a violent rainstorm, I went to buy a new one at this tiny shop that sold only umbrellas.

As I browsed, the shopkeeper approached me.

And here's how our conversation went:

Shopkeeper – Can I hepchew (help you), miss? What you looking for?

Me – Uhh… an umbrella?

Shopkeeper – Oh okay! What kind you want? I got every kind.

Me – Err… no, I don’t think you have it. I’m looking for something very specific.

Shopkeeper – Tell me. I got every kind. Brue, gring, red, puppaw, every kharaw! Very nice!

Me – Ummm… ok. The umbrella should not be more than 20 centimetres long. When folded, it should take on a cuboidal shape, not a cylindrical one. I want anti-UV reflective coating and I want it on the outside. I don't want silly girly patterns on the umbrella because my guy friends would rather die of pneumonia than endure the embarrassment of being seen under a girly umbrella.

Shopkeeper (looks at me with open jaw) - Huh??

*Long pause*

He ponders for a while, and then hands me a long red umbrella with Hello Kitty patterns on it. And it does not have any reflective coating. And when folded, it’s cylindrical.

Shopkeeper – This one how? Can or not?

I glare at him.

Shopkeeper - This one got very nice kharaw what! Suit your skin kharaw! See?

He placed the umbrella next to my arm. The cheek of him.

Me – Suit my skin colour????

Shopkeeper – Yeah, to buy umbrella, look at kharaw onni wat.

My thought bubble - Look at colour only?? Dude, it's an umbrella I'm buying, not a car!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My thumb-drive theory

Last week, my thumb-drive, containing a couple of my design assignments, crashed. I lost everything in it. And just like it happens in all drive-crash incidents, I had not backed up the data anywhere. Luckily for me, all the assignments on it had already been submitted. So I wasn't feeling too bad about it.

But it did remind me of my thumb-drive theory.

We store incredibly large amounts of data in our memories. Family, friends, things, incidents. It's all in there, jammed together, in a big crowd of memories. Real messy. But we know where what is. Most of the time, at least.

And then there are the tiny moments. Moments that we may not want to save in our main memory. Memories I refer to as 'thumb-drive memories'. I believe each of us has a little 'thumb-drive' meant for storing only the most special of our memories. I know I have one. I sieve through my memories and save my most precious moments in a thumb-drive in my heart.

These moments are really tiny, and they don't take up too much space. And to another person, they may not even appear significant. Which is why I store them separately. And I can carry them with me wherever I go.

These moments are independent of the rest of my memories. They are inaccessible to others, including the ones who are part of those moments. I can't copy them to any hard disk. I can’t show them to anyone. I can't share them on a network. I can't store them anywhere else. I can't back them up. I can't recover them if my thumb-drive crashes. That’s the way it works.

And if some day, I lose this thumb-drive, it will self-destruct immediately. Because it's mine and mine only. And no one can stumble upon it or take my moments away from me.

If I ever lose it (by choice or otherwise), I will have no regrets. I chose to save my precious moments in the thumb-drive. It was my decision to not back it up. Because there are some things you can't back up. You just let them be in that tiny thumb-drive.

'Cos if you lose those moments, you were meant to lose them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

High on a highland

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

I find this tagline really catchy, though I fail to remember the product it is used for. Which makes me wonder what the point is if you remember the ad but not the product. But then I digress.

Yeah, so Sayesha's back in town. And unlike Starbreez's fears, I am not dead, but very much alive and kicking.

I went to Genting Highlands for a much-deserved mini-vacation over the weekend.

And I did a lot of things for the first time.

I went to a casino for the first time in my life and gambled.

Oh dear. I gambled. Bad bad girl.

Highlights of my trip:

- Awesome weather. Though it got quite brrrr at times, but it was a welcome change from Singapore's tropical heat and humidity. And the general levels of stress I'd been facing lately.

- During the bus ride to Genting, they could find no other freaking movie, but they chose to play 'Speed'. And since it was a night ride, I found it really freaky when each time I woke up, I would hear someone saying frantically "There's a bomb on the bus!" Of all the millions of movies in the world, why would anyone choose to play 'Speed' in a bus that's speeding uphill? Why why why??

- The security guard at the casino entrance
asked to see my passport because he thought I was under-aged. Yeay!!!!

- Ok, I admit it. I was (still am, on most levels) totally totally clueless about gambling in a casino. Zilch knowledge. I think I made the dumbest statement of my life when I told my friend, "Let's go to the casino early in the morning. There won't be too many people so we can make a lot of money!"

- Did I ever mention how much I love the Malaysian people? Every time I visit Malaysia, I find new reasons to fall in love with the place. But the thing that remains constantly close to my heart are the smiles on the Malaysians' faces. So genuine, so from-the-heart. It's a lesson in life. Really.

- Orange flavoured ice lolly as I shivered in my jacket in the freezing cold weather. Outta-the-world feeling!

- The way words are spelt in Malay never fail to amuse me. Ice cream = ais krim. Ticket counter = tiket kaunter. Ambulance = ambulans. Lobby = lobi. Reminded me of the time I was working on some books for Malaysia and the reference books I received spelt 'Science' and 'Physics' as 'Sains' and 'Fizix'.

- An amazing conversation between my friend and the guy at the information counter.
My friend - "Where can we go horse-riding?"
Info counter guy - "Huh?"
My friend (trying to "clarify himself") - "Err... Riding a horse?"
Info counter guy (with a cry of recognition) - "Ohhh!"
Wow, some clarification that was, huh? Wonder how different 'horse-riding' is from 'riding a horse'. But who cares as long as it works!

- The guy at the information counter was trying to call up the ranch to book the horses. "No one picking up." He told us. "Maybe there are no horses." Suddenly visions of horses in uniform, sitting at the booking desk taking calls from customers filled my mind as I tried not to laugh in his face.

- We found a little horse ranch with a very sad-looking white horse. "Oh, let's bargain and get the ride really cheap!" My friend and I decided before we approached the guy. Our grand plans to bargain went outta the window when we were told that the ride only cost 3 ringgits. It made me incredibly suspicious. But my 3-ringgit horse ride, the shortest in the history of mankind, was totally worth it.

- The cable car ride down the hill was fantastic. The fact that you could not see the end of the cables because of the heavy fog, making you feel like you were just going to be swallowed by nothingness, just added to the thrill. I think my friend freaked out a bit because of that. And it did not help that I said, "Gosh, it would be so cool if we just died here."

- The Safari pub we partied at was pretty cool too. After a really good performance, the unbelievably friendly band members came down and mingled with us. It was awesome. I was totally high. And no, the orange juice I'd had had nothing to do with it. It was just the feeling.

But the greatest high? My friend's incredibly good fortune and gambling skills ensured that our entire trip ended up being fully sponsored by the Genting casino. ;)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


It's gettin' hot in here. Stressed Sayesha needs to chill for a while. I am going away for a well-deserved mini-vacation to hibernate in a cold place with no computer. No, I am not locking myself in the refrigerator. Though that does sound like a tempting (and cheaper) option.

Gotta go.

Be right back.

Meanwhile, here's a message for you guys! :)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sleeping with a stranger

Have you noticed how incredibly adorable some people look when they sleep?

Ever since I moved to the west, I have to take the train everywhere. It's a bit disorienting since I'm used to taking the bus where you don't sit facing other people. And so I have still not gotten used to looking at complete strangers for half an hour every morning.

A good tactic people use to get around this is to take a nap in the train. Now I am not the nap-on-the-move kinds. But lately, my lifestyle has become so odd. I get up at unearthly hours to reach office early and use my designer's Macintosh to do my design assignments. I rush to the uni in the evenings. After classes I get home late. And to top it off, on most days, I can't sleep unless I blog before going to bed.

In short, I run very low on sleep.

So if I'm not doing homework or office work in the train, I try and catch some sleep.

A few days ago, as I found a seat in the train and made myself comfortable to take a nap, I was about to close my eyes when I noticed him. Cute guy, sitting opposite me, with his eyes closed, taking a nap. Now he wasn't the drop dead gorgeous kind, but he was cute in a strange way, possibly because he was sleeping without a worry. Like a baby. So pure and so innocent.

I had two choices. I could either sacrifice my nap and look at this wonder of nature, or I could forget about him and do a favour to my sleepy self. I had 10 minutes to go before the train reached my station.

Shut eye or eye candy?

Drool or droop?

The decision had to be made fast.

And with a heavy heart and eyelids, I closed my eyes. And both of us slept.

Ten minutes later, I opened my eyes. It was time for me to alight.

I looked up, hoping to see him. He wasn't there anymore.

He had been replaced by a guy who had been watching me sleep! :O

Monday, October 03, 2005

My little space

Long long time ago, in the days of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, there was a concept called 'kope bhavan' (fury chamber). Queens would enter the 'kope bhavan' if something pissed them off, and stay there till they had cooled down and were ready to step out.

(Personally, I believe there was a gym in here, where the pissed off queens worked out to let off steam. But don't listen to me, I believe a lot of things.)

My new place has a tiny triangular balconey just outside my room. With just enough room for one person. To lock oneself out of everything. I believe it was built for only one person who wanted that space just for himself/herself.

I love this space. It's where I stand and look at the sky, at the clouds, hear the wind rustling through the tall trees, feel it blow through my hair, watch the bright yellow bird that makes an appearance near my window once in a while, hear the cuckoo sing. And if I am lucky, feel the rain brushing against my face.

And think.

Really think.

About myself. My life. What I want from it.

One of the people on my blog asked me something over email, "Tera dhyaan kaun rakhta hai?" ("Who takes care of you?") And suddenly, in that moment, I was rendered speechless. And even though I shot off a typical oh-so-confident-Sayesha reply "Apna dhyaan hum khud rakhte hain, aur kya?" ("I take care of myself! What else?") it felt like I had suddenly run out of words.

And I really asked myself -- mera dhyaan kaun rakhta hai?

I guess that email had caught me on one of those days where I wasn't my usual strong self. When I was lonely and sad and homesick. When I reached home, I shut myself up in my space. It was raining. The raindrops brushed against my face as if trying to conceal my tears. After a while I couldn't even tell whether it was the rain or the tears running down my face. But I felt better.

This is my space. This helps me to cope with loneliness, with anger, with fear, with jealousy, with hurt, with heartbreak, with homesickness.

This is my 'cope bhavan'.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

When is a good time to stop a wedding?

I called up a school friend in India some time ago. He was telling me about how he helped one of his friends elope with a guy, days before her marriage to another guy.

I was a bit shocked.

And he was shocked that I was shocked.

"Knowing you, I thought you'd find this so adventurous and exciting, Sayesha!"

"Duh! In movies! Not in real life!" I said.

"Why not?? It's so romantic!"

"Because, you moron, this is a WEDDING. Parents are involved. Extended families are involved. It's not just about the two people who're gonna get married. Other people's feelings are at stake!"

Yes, my views on certain things are a bit traditional. I am wild, yes, and doing risky things excite me. But eloping on the night before my wedding?? I don’t think I’d be up for that.

If things need to be changed, they need to be changed at the right time. At least before the cards are printed.

I was thinking about it long after our conversation. And I realised that most of my favourite movies have this aspect – the girl’s with someone else, and they’re gonna get married, and guy X just swoops in and takes her away. And because the story is about these two, no one thinks of the others involved and how they feel.

Classic case - Dil Chahta Hai.

Two weekends ago, I had a screening of 'Dil Chahta Hai' with two friends at my new place. Yes, we watched it for the nth time. And laughed for the nth time. And loved it for the nth time.

Now I have watched the movie so many times that in my head I have analysed the movie like a million times over. I've picked up tiny things that are not so obvious when you watch it the first time round. I've thought about which parts I'd have changed if I were the director. I've thought of the story from the viewpoint of the other characters.

The aspect of the movie that affected me the most was the Akash-Shalini story, and how a guy like him falls in love with a girl who's engaged to be married, and goes all the way to tell the girl what he feels and possibly stop the wedding.

It's quite amazing, isn't it? To have the guts to go to a wedding and say, "Mujhse shaadi karogi?" ("Will you marry me?") to the bride. But I rejoiced when I watched it. I went “Whoa, what a love story! Awesome!” Yeah, it's very romantic and all that, but if that really happened in real life, how would one handle it? Would I dare to do what Shalini did? To get away with a simple "Rohit, I love Akash. Please understand." the way Shalini did. I can imagine Rohit’s thought process. “Understand? Understand what? That you did not say anything all this while and just before the wedding, I’m supposed to "understand"?”

But he does it. He lets go of the girl. Cos she's in love with someone else. And it happens in Dil Toh Pagal Hai, in Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, in DDLJ, in Pardes, in Tum Bin, in Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, in Yuva, in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In fact, I realised to my horror that it happens in most of my favourite movies! Yeah, I like a bit of adventure... the forbidden always pulls me towards it... and what's more forbidden and adventurous than suddenly discovering three days before your wedding 'hey, I don't love guy X, I love guy Y!' Freakin' scary!

I hope it never happens to me.

I don't buy the argument that this is all very filmi and does not happen in real life.

What if it does?

Life is unrealistic. And we're human.

As I maintain, each of us has more than one soul mate. I wanna put a number to it. Okay, let’s say seven (the most overused number for such things). So I say each of us has seven soul mates in the world. Seven people we have the connection with. We may or may not meet all of them in our lifetime. If we’re lucky, we’ll spend our life with one of them.

And since we have seven soul mates, it is not really an impossibility to suddenly run into one of the other six while you’re about to be married to the first. And if you wanna change your mind then, what do you do?

Stop the wedding? After all, it’s the question of your happiness, your entire life, of what you want.

So when really is a good time to stop a wedding? Not at the mandap. Definitely not at the mandap. Too much is at stake, and too much has already happened. And too many people have become involved.

I'm quite lost myself. I have no answers. But the ideal answer would perhaps be -- be DAMN sure whom you wanna marry, and stick to your decision.

But how do we become damn sure?

I remember Rohit saying, “We love each other, that's why we're getting married. Isn't it, Shalini?"

And Akash says, "You should ask yourselves this question, not each other."

Maybe we should all ask ourselves. Do the Dil Chahta Hai test, close our eyes and really try and see whom we wanna be with. And know it before we get married. If there's a wee bit of a doubt, I'd say don't get married. Even if you can't be with guy Y, don't marry guy X because you can't be with guy Y. That's a bad reason to marry anyone, besides it being unfair to guy X.

I know someone who got married to a guy X because guy Y whom she wanted to marry never really said anything explicitly.

Which reminds me of another DCH scene. When Akash asks Mahesh Uncle how Shalini is, Mahesh Uncle says, “Khush nahin hai. Pyaar woh tumse karti hai aur shaadi Rohit se kar rahi hai...” ("She's not happy. She is in love with you but she's getting married to Rohit.")

And Sameer said, “Aur woh karey bhi toh kya? Ek taraf hain woh log jinhone usey woh zindagi di jo woh jee rahi hai, aur doosri taraf hai ek aisa aadmi jo usse pyaar karta hai nahin karta hai woh nahin jaanti!”

("What can she do? On one side are the people who have given her the life she is living, and on the other side is this guy... And she doesn't even know if he loves her or not!")

All of us have the right to tell the people we love, that we love them. Yes, we have the right to tell them whenever we feel like telling them. And sometimes, the timing is really bad. But it just happens. Life is unrealistic.

If you love someone, do something about it. And telling the person would be the first step.

But if the one you love is getting married and you wanna do something about it, you'd better do it soon.

Don’t wait till the wedding.