Tuesday, May 29, 2007

'High' point

Pani puri ka pani on the rocks on the house for everyone!

The bar menu has reached a grand total of 500 drinks.

The blog and I have come a long way. My way of thinking has undergone drastic changes. I have learnt important lessons in self-discovery. I have found friends I never thought I could be so close to. I have made enemies I never thought I could make.

The blog has allowed me to don many personas. From Bollywood-crazy Sayesha Smitten showbiz kitten, to the baby-talking adoring masi, to the bar-tending Bhai whose name strikes terror in the hearts of many. And at other times, I am simply Sayesha, a girl who has experienced significant events in her life because of her blog.

A year ago, when a 3-day-old baby Aish was admitted to the ICU and the doctor said, “It’s upto God now.” it felt like our world was collapsing around us. I did not know what I could do. In that state of helplessness, I knew my wishes were not enough. I appealed to my blog buddies to send her their good wishes too. And they did. The wishes worked. I will never ever forget the countless blog comments, the emails, the sms messages that you guys sent to give strength to me and my family, and helped baby Aish get through it. In fact, on some levels, I feel like I owe it to you guys to tell you how my little niece is doing, which is part of the reason why there are so many posts on her.

Though I have made so many friends through my blog, I have had major major fights too. Sometimes to the point that friendships broke before the friends even saw each other in real life. I was upset at first, but took it in my stride. Friends fight, friends have fallouts. Otherwise there is something wrong. At first, I used to keep an emotional distance from my online friends, show them just my nicer side, but now I don’t. It's easy to maintain an on-the-surface friendship - after all, what are the odds that you're gonna meet every one of your blog friends? It just seems safer to be all nice and polite and keep it to jokes and not show the weak, wrecked side that all of us have. We have our 'real friends' for that, don't we? Wrong. I have come to realise it over time. If you’re my friend, I will fight with you, I will throw a fit, I will storm off, I will show you my ‘bad side’, I will yell at you, I will take a break from email threads because I know I'd been wrong, and I want to cool off without holding any grudge. I’d do everything that I'd do with a regular friend in 'real life'. If we're gonna be friends, I wanna be there beyond the silly jokes, the leg-pulling, the shallow bonding. I wanna be there when the laughter stops. And if you can’t, I don’t think there’s a point in calling this a ‘friendship’.

Blog friends aside, there is another group close to my heart. ‘The others'. They don't have a blogger account so they can’t comment but I know they are reading. They have been reading for a while actually. This blog used to be open to all to comment, but when you start getting zillions of spam comments promising you enlargement of body parts you don't even have in the first place, you have to take some measures. I'm opening up the comments space to 'The others' once again, just for this post, so if you've been one of those readers lurking around for a while, do get over your shyness and drop by with a Hi for the Bhai. :)

The most amazing thing about the bar is that it has made me a happier person. I am generally not a dukhi aatma kind of person, but sometimes life does get to you. But hanging out here in this bar with all the bewdas, and then hopping over to their blogs, just does something to me, brings a smile to my face, adds a spark to my life.

Of course, it’s not always happy-happy stuff at the bar. Sometimes I wish certain people didn’t know about my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I should take up my friends’ advice to change the URL. And then I think – nope. I chose to make it online, I chose to make it public. Now I can't pick who reads it. This is me, this is my bar. Ab jo hai, so hai.

I only realised last week that I was close to my 500th post. I know many of them have been crappy and I actually wince when I read some of then, but in a way I am proud of all of them. Because they are all mine. But if I had to pick my favourite, I guess it has to be this, because it contains the essence of what this bar is all about.

It’s just a place to get high.

On life.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The old and the beautiful

Ad director R Balakrishnan (RB) has just finished filming ‘Cheeni Kum’ – a Bollywood movie starring Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu, Paresh Rawal and Swini Khara (the kid who plays the character of ‘Sexy’). The topic is bold - a 64-year-old man in love with a 34-year-old woman - but RB thinks the topic is fresh and will work.

Meanwhile, Ram Gopal Varma's 'Nishabd' featuring the same Bachchan romancing an 18-year-old releases at about the same time as Cheeni Kum is supposed to. Nishabd bombs badly at the box-office.

Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) sits in his old tattered office where the walls are covered with old posters of Urmila and Antara Mali in various contorted postures. He looks at the box office results of Nishabd, laughs and cries at the same time. Then he picks up the phone.

RB's phone rings.

RB - Hello?
RGV - Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki!
RB - Hello? Hello? Who's this?
RGV - Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki!
RB - Hello?? Is that you, RGV?
RGV - Muahahahahaha!
RB - Hello? Hello?

RB, furious and panicky, calls up everyone associated with the movie. Tabu can’t make it because Hollywood’s come-a-knocking on her door after watching her in ‘The Namesake’. Paresh Rawal is away shooting for ‘Phir hera pheri, phir se’. Amitabh Bachchan (AB), Swini Khara (SK) and music composer Illayaraja (IR) are seated on the couch. RB is pacing the floor. Sayesha Smitten showbiz kitten is perched on a branch just outside RB's living room window, furiously noting the proceedings.

RB – Guys, I have called you here to tell you something. We have to delay the release date of Cheeni Kum.

AB – Hain? Why?

RB (frustrated) – Why? You’re asking me why?? Amitjeeeeeeeeeee....... it’s you!

AB - What?? Me? What did I do??

Before RB can answer, AB gets a call. He speaks in hushed tones. “Gopal pan masala ad? Hmmm… I don’t really do pan masala ads… Abhishek? No I don’t think I want him to do it either. Hmmm… wow that’s a huge fee… well, I can spare Aishwarya to do it… chalega?”

RB (angrily turns to Illayaraja who’s singing something to himself) - And you...! You you you!

IR - Uh? Me?

RB - I hired you for this movie because I am a diehard fan of yours. And guess what? I just found out you recycled your own songs from old Tamil movies like Mouna Raagam for Cheeni Kum!

IR (sheepishly) - Well, they're nice songs, aren't they? Besides I thought... before someone else remixes them... I should... uh.... umm...

RB - And you've repeated the same songs in different voices many times over!

IR - Well, everyone's doing it... I just wanted to keep up with the times...

RB - But you could have told me about the recycling of the songs...

IR - Well, I didn't think I'd have to. You claimed you're a diehard fan of mine. If you're such a big fan, how come you had not heard my old songs then?

RB - Errrm...

SK (giggles)

AB is off the phone and RB now turns to him.

RB - Why why why Amitjee??? Why didn't you tell me you were doing Nishabd on a similar storyline??

AB - Errm... well, I gave all my endorsements to junior, so I had err... no work... so I signed up for whatever came my way...

RB - But you could have told me it had the same storyline as Cheeni Kum!

AB - Erm... I didn't know the storyline of Nishabd myself till we err... started filming.

RB - You mean you didn't see the script? How could you sign a movie without a script?

AB (whispers to SK) - Errr SK, what does he mean by 'script'?

SK - The script has the details of the movie. The full story, all the dialogues, etc.

AB – Hainnn?? You mean actors get a copy of the script??

SK – Yeah they do.

AB - BEFORE they start shooting???

SK - Yeah. But only in Hollywood.

AB - Ah no wonder! Arre Balki, Nishabd was a Bollywood movie. You know how Bollywood movies work, the script is printed after the movie releases.

RB - But why did you sign up for it without knowing the storyline???

AB - Well, it was Ramu's film so...

RB – Ramu’s film? Ramu’s film?? You'd sign a Ramu film without knowing the storyline?? Did you not see Naach? Argh!

SK (dryly to AB) - Cut the crap yaar. You signed Nishabd because of the hottie Jiah Khan.

AB - What?? Jiah?? Oh my goodness no! Hehehe... no no no! There's no Jiah in my life! *gulp* Only Jaya, no Jiah! Only Jaya...

IR - Ooooh!

RB - What?

IR - That reminds me of that song of Rahman's! Beautiful song... he should totally recycle that... Jaya jaley jaan jaley...

SK – Dude, it wasn't that. It was 'Jiya jaley jaan jaley...'

IR - Oh yeah, Jiah jaley jaan jaley...

AB (glares) - Jiya jaley! JIYA! JIYA!

SK - Hahahaha! Someone's getting a little defensive!

AB (glares) – Hey you brat, why don't you try talking like someone your age? No wonder they cast you as the smartass kid in the movie who talks too much! You're a natural for the role!

SK – And no wonder they cast you as the lecherous old man going after the pretty young thing. You're a natural for the role!

AB - Excuse me?! What are you trying to say here, huh?

SK - Oh puh-leez. You know what I am trying to say. First Kajrare, then sexy Sam and then Jiah! Dude, the older you get, the younger your heroines do, eh?

AB - RB, did you hear that??

SK (sticks out tongue at AB, who reciprocates with the same gesture)

RB (furious) - STOP IT, PEOPLE!! We have a more pressing issue at hand!

Everyone shuts up and looks at RB with serious looks on their faces.

RB - We're screwed. Screwed. When I set out to make the movie, everyone told me ad directors can’t make full-length Bollywood movies. Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar once said, "I want to make a proper movie but my only stumbling block is that I always finish my objective in two minutes." I wanted to prove everyone wrong. And now… that… that Ramu is laughing at me! Everyone’s speculating whether Cheeni Kum will be a bigger flop than Nishabd!

AB - Come on now! This movie is totally different from Nishabd! I don’t have a ponytail in Nishabd, but in Cheeni Kum I do! Remember how I hated the idea, but you made me do it? By the way, I still think it makes me look like a dork!

SK - Well, it's better than your stupid wig in 'Boom', isn't it?

AB glares at SK but looks sheepish.

RB (head in hands) - This movie is doomed! Doomed!

The lights dim as one by one, AB, IR and SK leave the room. RB still has his head in his hands.


Weeks later, Cheeni Kum finally releases. RB is pacing the floor when he hears it. The verdict is out.

RB takes his mobile phone out and scrolls through ‘recent calls’.

RGV’s phone rings.

RGV - Hello?
RB - Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki!
RGV - Hello? Hello? Who's this?
RB - Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki! Dhakki tiki!
RGV - Hello?? Is that you, RB?
RB - Muahahahahaha!
RGV - Hello? Hello?


Sayesha’s rating of Cheeni Kum - * * *

* Run for your life! And do not look back.
** Once-watchable (if you have nothing better to do).
*** Good stuff, watch it in the theatre.
**** Awesome! Watch it in the theatre AND buy the DVD!
***** Holy cow I can’t believe Bollywood came up with this one!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In good company

So I'm buying some snacks at a 7-11, and I give the very-obviously-new nervous guy at the counter a ten-dollar note. The dude gives me back my change and says, "Keep the change."

Oh the hilarity of being new at a job! :D

I can't wait to get there.

I can't wait. I seriously can't wait. I have been making statements like "I can't wait for the damn saturday and sunday to get over so I can go to work on Monday!", and getting a lot of dirty looks from my friends.

It has been a long wait. The break was good, gave me some time to catch up on 'really-doing-nothing' (which I hadn't done at all in the last two years), a breather from work+part-time studies, and a chance to do some freelance writing, editing, teaching and volunteering. Working from home is okay, but it's not my cup of tea. I guess I'm not really the 'really-doing-nothing' kinda person, in fact it drives me nuts. I need my waking-up-to-the-alarm-clock, my office clothes, my hurried breakfast, my bus ride, the office space, my cubicle, my office computer, my deadlines, office meetings, office lunches, and a bunch of lovable crazy colleagues.

Speaking of lovable crazy colleagues...

  • Right after I tendered my resignation at my last job, word reached me that one of the editors I'd hired had reacted with a, "Man! After Sayesha leaves, the Management will be totally devoid of fun." I was super flattered. A few days later, I heard that he'd quit to join Company X.
  • One of my ex-colleagues lent me her books and offered me valuable advice about my dissertation when I was doing my Master's. I often felt like I did not have time to thank her properly. I recently heard that she's joined Company X.
  • An ex-colleague used to come to my desk at least three times a day with editorial queries, even though she was in another team under another senior editor. She would be extremely apologetic about "wasting my time" but I liked helping her out. She reminded me of the time when I was a new editor looking for "nice" senior editors to pester with questions. I heard she has joined Company X.
  • I was beginning to become really good friends with this guy at work when I quit. The horse's mouth told me that he's joining Company X in a few months.
  • Generally, I prefer hiring my team members myself. Competency, creativity and good editorial skills are not the only things I look for when interviewing a candidate. A sense of humour and fun is very important. So when a girl was transferred from another team to mine, I was apprehensive at first. However, to my utter delight, she turned out to be not just creative, but a very funny and cheerful girl. The last I heard of her was that she had joined Company X.
  • "Woh meri shaadi mein aaya/aayi thi!" ("He/She came to my wedding!") is a phrase we Indians tend to use when we want to express how close a friend is to us. Two of my Singaporean friends made it to my wedding in India. One of them moved to Hong Kong, while the other joined Company X.
I start work at Company X on Monday.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Birthday (B)Aish!

Sayesha Smitten showbiz kitten has been out of the scene for a while, but tonight she brings you a very special interview with a very special guest - Aish. Not the formerly Ms. Rai, but someone who's actually important - birthday girl Baby Aish! :D

Q: Baby Aish, first of all we'd like to wish you a very happy first birthday. Now you're the youngest interviewee on the Sayesha Smitten show, and because you can't err.. say words yet (No Aishu, "dringdring" and "dhatinda" don't count as words), or at least talk stuff that we can understand, you are just gonna have to answer with expressions and gestures.
I'm gonna start with some very simple questions. Erm Aish, how many teeth do you have?

Q: Oh okie, I gotta count 'em myself I suppose. So how many years before you go to school proper?


Q: What do you like to eat?


Q: Erm, that's a book. I see. What else do you like to eat?


Q: Hmmm... very unusual taste in food I must say. And what do you do when you're given actual baby food?

Q: What is your favourite pastime?


Q: Errr ok. Any other hobbies?


Q: Your mom says you broke the spacebar of her keyboard. What's the secret of all that 'arm strength'?


Q: Oh wow. Any other exercises you can recommend to other babies around the world?


Q: Push-ups! That's great! What else?


Q: Man, you're a pro! At this rate, I suppose you're into yoga too?

Q: So your Masi says you're a big fan of John Abraham. Now is that really true?


Q: So what do you do when John's on TV but Mom wants to watch some other channel?


Q: And what do you do once he appears on TV?


Q: We understand that your masi has told you that John Abraham kinda belongs to all girl-hood. But did you know that he has an actual girlfriend - Bipasha?


Q: Sorry for being the one to break the news. How do you feel now?


Q: If you saw Bipasha, what would you do?


Q: Well, they seem to be quite serious, you know...


Q: Seeing as to how this is upsetting you, let's change the topic. Serious stuff now. Being an American citizen, there are concerns from elders that you may not respect Indian culture and traditions. What do you have to say to them?


Q: Do you feel concerned about world issues?


Q: What do you do when you encounter paparazzi?

Q: Do you share any particular trait with your masi? An obsession with something particular?


Q: How much do you love your masi?


Q: We were told that you too are musically inclined. Would you like to sing something for your fans?


Q: Okay we have come to the end of the interview where we have a special message from your masi. Are you all ears?


Sayesha (over videoconference) - Hi Aishu baby, happy happy happy first birthday! I've sent you this as your birthday gift this year, but guess what? When you turn 13, Masi's gonna give you a special birthday gift - something that even your Mommy doesn't have.

Access to
Masi's bar . :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

(Ka)yakkity (Ka)yak

Friend to me - So what new hindi DVDs have you bought?
Me - Oh I bought 'Dor' DVD!
Viv - Oh what a coincidence! I bought 'Windows' CD!
Me - :/

So it was a surprise that a guy who usually says things like the one described above can also say things like the one described below.

So Viv and I are kayaking in the middle of Macritchie reservoir on a sunday afternoon when he gets a call from work. I'd been planning the kayaking thing for weeks, and did not want the weekend interrupted by work calls. So he takes the call, but tries to keep rowing with one hand, and soon realises that that's only gonna make the kayak capsize. We have a system, you see. We make a good team on the kayak. Division of labour. He steers and I row to keep the kayak going. He can concentrate on changing the direction without worrying about whether the kayak is actually moving, and I can keep the kayak moving without worrying about where the hell we're headed. And our system, just like the caller's server, had just crashed. So I am pissed as hell, feeling like a fisherman's wife, rowing and steering by myself while he's going, "Yes, yes, the server... something something... the log file... something something!" I felt like snatching the phone from him and saying "Delete everything!" to whoever was on the line, and then breaking into the signature fisherman song, "Ooooooooo maaaaaaajhiiiiiii reeeeeeeeeeee!" just to freak the caller out.

Finally, he ended the call, but we were in trouble. There was a trio splashing about in the water trying hard to get back on their capsized canoe. We just about avoided them. Then an old man freaked me out by shouting out as he came dangerously close to our kayak, "No license! No license!" Whoa. Yet another lady kept yelling out, "Collision! Collision! Collision!" even though her kayak was nowhere near ours. Then we got real adventurous and ventured into an area where we got into some real trouble with a dozen angry red dragonflies. After using up all of our energy trying to row away from the territorial mean machines as fast as possible, finally we relaxed. Got the system back.

So Viv is steering and I'm rowing, and suddenly the dude makes the most random statement ever.

"Hmmm... " he says, "This is like life, you know."

"Huh? What is like life?" I asked, wondering what bad joke was gonna follow.

"This. You provide the energy, and I provide the direction."


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Metro... in life

Random thoughts after watching 'Life in a metro'

  • The movie nicely captures snippets from many aspects of interconnected lives.
  • Sharman Joshi stands out in spite of being surrounded by biggies. That kid is all set to go places. It's amazing how much he has grown as an actor since his 'Style' (yes yes I saw that movie, don't you dare judge me) days. Especially loved his smile in this one. Damn I think I will have to watch Raqeeb in spite of the unbearable Tanushree Dutta.
  • Who would have thought an unlikely couple like Irfan Khan and Konkona would add so much zing to the movie?
  • It's incredible how Konkona seems to effortlessly slip under the skin of the character she's playing. She is such a delight as an actress that you couldn’t care less about her not having conventional movie star looks.
  • Ditto for Irfan as an actor. Truly mindblowing.
  • Nafisa Ali is beautiful. A true timeless beauty.
  • Shilpa Shetty's fabulous figure continues to inspire me the same way it used to years and years ago. Only she can look like that hot in a sari. All right, time to hit the gym again!
  • Kangana looks nice with her hair straightened, but she has lost the 'Kangana look' that was so unique to her.
  • The sexy nerdy black-frame glasses are SO back. I'd been considering them for a while, but this seals it - I've gotta get myself one of those!
  • The Dharmendra-Nafisa angle was boring boring boring. I know it wasn’t becoming of the character he played, but I was actually hoping he'd break into a "Kutte kameene, main tera khoon pee jaunga!" somewhere in the movie.
  • Why does Kangana always play the manic-depressive suicidal chick in every movie??
  • Why does Shilpa Shetty always seem to live in houses where people are mean to her, and then walking off with tons of money?
  • I knew it! I knew it! I knew there would be a gay angle the moment I spotted the ‘Brokeback Mountain’ poster in Konkona’s boss’ office!
  • What on earth made Shilpa Shetty ask Kay Kay for forgiveness for hanging out with Shiney for 5 weeks, without reacting first to his 2-year-long affair with Kangana? Gosh! Wasn't she supposed to be the strong, independent career woman who could get a higher-paying job than him anytime?
  • And that reminds me - Shiney is hunkilicious.
  • Pritam, you're a terrific music director (if the Metro songs are indeed original) but please please please don't turn up at random moments in the movie with your rather unwashed three-man band?
  • Long time ago, I learnt a tamil phrase 'pichkaran madiri' because I found it rather interesting but I could never really find a situation where it seemed apt. Till I saw the sudden appearances of singer James in this movie at random bus stops, traffic lights and rooftops.
  • Great music though.

Sayesha’s rating - * * *

* Run for your life! And do not look back.
** Once-watchable (if you have nothing better to do).
*** Good stuff, watch it in the theatre.
**** Awesome! Watch it in the theatre AND buy the DVD!
***** Holy cow I can’t believe Bollywood came up with this one!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Murli, Meena aur Makdi

This week's video of the week features a clip of Spiderman dubbed in Punjabi! The dubbing has been done by a bunch of guys (yes, even the female characters' voices have been done by guys!). And oh, did I mention Peter Parker is "Murli" and Mary-Jane Watson is "Meena"? Watch out for the scene between Harry ("Babbu") and his Dad in the car, hilarious! For those who want more, I think the entire movie is up on Youtube. Enjoy! :D

Video courtesy mehsuskaro

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Order! Order!

A couple of years ago, when I dined at the Indian restaurant run by the Temple of Fine Arts here, I looked around at the 'waiters' and 'waitresses' in awe. I'd heard that were all volunteers, professionals like doctors and lawyers who had devoted their time to serve at the restaurant. As I looked at the men in their dignified kurta-pajamas and the ladies in their elegant saris, I felt a deep sense of respect for them.

Little did I know that a few years later, I'd be one of them.

Last week I got a 'promotion'. It was a very proud moment for me. When I started volunteering, I was stationed in the kitchen and my task was to get the food ready to be taken out by those in saris and kurtas. The 'promotion' indicated that I was considered presentable and trustworthy enough to 'take the floor'. Meaning not only did I get to serve the food to the restaurant patrons, I also got to wear a sari and do it. I've been 'on the floor' for almost a week now, and though it is very different from being inside the kitchen and getting the orders ready, it has its own challenges.

Firstly, there's the weight. Even light meals are actually not that 'light'. It's not easy to balance everything on the tray, navigate amongst the mesh of tables and chairs, find the right table and then go around it, carefully placing each dish in front of the right person. And all this in a sari and jewellery (the other aunties insisted I wear a bigger bindi and some jewellery too)! You have to memorise the table numbers and locations, there's no way you will find your table if you just walk around looking for the number, cos it will be invariably be covered by a jug of water, a napkin, the menu, and what not.

And oh, did I mention I'm on the way to becoming ambidextrous now? My left hand is getting stronger by the day. Here's now. When you serve a thali meal, you carry the tray with the million things on it using both hands, but once you reach the table, you have to serve the basket with the puri/chapati using your right hand. And at that point in time, the gigantic plate with all the little dishes is resting on little but your fragile left hand. 90% of your concentration must be on not dropping it on your patron's head, while the other 10% goes into mental calculations on how to make space on the table for the plate to rest. Not easy. I really admire my 'boss' Aunty R (of course, we're all volunteering, so there's no 'boss' system, but she taught me almost everything I know) who can effortlessly carry two meals at a time and glide through to the table tucked in the middle of everything.

Temperatures in the kitchen are often as high as the oil in which the puris are deep-fried. On the floor, however, is a calmer picture. So when I am fleeting in out of the kitchen, my facial muscles get a lot of exercise. In one moment, it'd be, "Where is the extra raita with the chana bhatura??? I asked for extra raita with the chana bhatura!!!!!!!!!" and the next moment, it'd be a calm, pleasant and hospitable, "Here's your chana bhatura with extra raita, sir. Enjoy your meal."

And just when you finish serving and head towards the kitchen, you encounter raised hands from what seem like every alternate table around you. My history as a teacher of primary school children makes me want to yell, "One at a time, kids! Okay? Otherwise I will not attend to anyone. Understand?" but I have to stop myself from doing that. Ahem. The raised hands can be for anything - from "Can I have an extra basket of papads?" to "Where is the washroom?" to "I ordered a mango lassi, but it is not here yet." to "I did not order this, but can I have one too?" to "Does this have garlic?" and what not.

A lot of the patrons are non-Indians, and they ask the weirdest, most random questions of all. Once I was asked, "Is the South Indian thali more sour or the North Indian one? I'd like to order the more sour one." Thankfully, my familiarity with both kinds of cuisine helped me out on this one. Tamarind is used in both sambar and rasam, so surely that had to be the more sour one. The Indian patrons - many of whom are South Indians, also present a challenge, especially if they name the dishes they want, in Tamil! Everyone at the restaurant speaks Tamil, and sometimes all I do is catch the English words and figure out what the hell everyone is talking about. This guy once ordered what sounded like "Nimbu without ice". I did not wanna clarify if he meant numbupani (lemonade) because he looked so confident (he was a regular), so I went in and asked if there was a drink that sounded like 'Nimbu'. Thankfully Clueless - my partner in crime - was able to identify the word as 'Neer more' (buttermilk). Phew.

Of course I have the last laugh when people order in Hindi. Once Aunty R came to the kitchen and asked me what kind of a dish "Adha" was. Apparently someone had ordered "Adha". So I asked her if he'd said something before or after the 'Adha' and it turns out he wanted half a portion of the potato curry. And Sayesha saves the day muahahaha.

Then there was the Caucasian lady who stared at the painting on the wall and engaged me in a lengthy conversation about sari pallus and dupattas.

On my first day on the floor, one of the guys at a table asked me if I was new. Sheesh. "This can't be good" I thought to myself. I'd got the order right, I'd not spilt anything on any of them, why the hell was he asking me if I was new? When I said I was, he even asked me my name. Man, he was so gonna complain. But complain about what? Later, Aunty R put my fears to rest. Apparently, they were regulars. People who worked in the area and ate there every single day. No wonder they got curious when they saw a new face. Phew, that was all it was. Of course, Aunty R told me in detail how they got scolded for not asking her name when she'd been serving them for months, but as she put it, "one young girl appears and they want to know her name??" Hahaha! :D

But the best part is when all of us 'waitresses' sit down in the late afternoon, chat and share stories. I heard a good one today. One of the girls was on her way back to the kitchen with a complicated order in her head when she was summoned by a guy at the next table. She went over, nervous and heard the words, "Too sweet... lassi...". So she started profusely apologising for the high sugar level in the lassi, only to realise that all he was doing was trying to order "Two sweet lassis".

Ooh this one's mine. In my quest to be as professional as possible, I started incorporating the "Enjoy your meal" phrase after serving it. Yesterday I served a lady her meal, and said, "Enjoy your meal." and went back to the kitchen to fetch her guy friend's meal. However, when I got there with his food, she'd finished her food, but he'd gone to the bathroom. I kept his food on the table, and felt this sudden loss of words to say. I felt like I should say something, but there really was nothing to say. It had become such an automatic thing to say "Enjoy your meal." that I had to literally strangulate my cheeky self to not end up saying "Enjoy his meal." to her! Sheesh.

Volunteering there teaches me a little something every single day. And I'm not just talking about killer cooking skills muahaha. Often, I smile at the parallels I draw between this and my previous job as a book editor. The supplier who waited for the books that were still in production, the patron who waits for his Mysore masala dosa that is still in the kitchen. The reader who discovered the error in the book, the patron who discovers he has got the wrong meal. The excellent teamwork based on competency and trust I had with Bananapen at work, ensuring smooth production and delivery of the books, the excellent teamwork based on competency and trust I have with Clueless, ensuring smooth production and delivery of the orders. The madness when tons of books, each of a different kind had to be printed within a short period of time, the madness when tons of orders come pouring in, each of a different kind, to be sent within a short period of time. The celebration when projects ended with positive feedback, the celebration when the shift ends with patrons leaving the restaurant with a smile on their faces, and a thank-you for the volunteers for all their hard work.

In the past, I could never stand people being rude or sarcastic to waiters and waitresses, but after volunteering at the restaurant, it has reached new levels. I actually laugh less at the scenes from the TV series FRIENDS that show Rachel as a terrible terrible waitress. Though I'd always identified with Phoebe, now I've started to identify with Rachel. Waitressing is not an easy job, and now I know so.

Be nice to your waiter/waitress - we're really doing our best.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I spy de man!

Random thoughts after watching Spiderman 3

  • Is it weird to like a movie for everything apart from the central character?
  • Is it weird to totally love the superhero's nemesis?
  • They take the best-looking guy in the movie, mutilate half his face, turn him into a good guy, and then kill him off??!! Why are all Harrys being killed off??
  • How come Harry is so devastatingly handsome, and his dad is so not, and yet they look exactly like each other?
  • It had been a while since I saw a movie that made me gasp from time to time.
  • I can't remember when I last dug my fingernails into the arm of my guy during the action sequences. Like a chick on her first date. Sheesh.
  • Only Viv can make a statement in the middle of the movie like, "Oh look, she's using a Sony-Ericsson phone. You know why? It's a Sony Pictures movie!"
  • "A man must put his wife before himself." Thanks Aunt May, for that statement. Something to use on Viv now and then. Muahahaha.
    ps: Of course, you gotta not interpret it in the context of gunpoint.

  • Did anyone else think that Sandman kinda looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in some scenes?
  • So there was like no 'bad' bad guy?? What kinda superhero movie has no 'bad' bad guy??
  • The black suit was kinda sexy, no? And yet, Spidey in a black suit, is no Spidey.
  • Holy cow! That's our Eric Forman! And boy, can he pull off a non-Eric Forman role!
  • That was one ugly ring, eh?
  • Why does Tobey Maguire remind me of Daniel Radcliffe?
  • I miss being able to call up a friend and say like MJ did, "I need company. Is it okay if I come over?"
  • JJ is the only character who seems to be straight out of a comic book.
  • Uncle Ben must be turning in his grave and going, "Would you stop it already with the whole 'Who killed me' fiasco?" For all you know, the police will call Peter and May in the next movie and say, "Sorry again, but errr... we found out that actually it WAS the first guy who killed him."
  • That MJ girl sure likes to fall from great heights a lot.
  • For that matter, all the people who fall are females, huh?
  • Dammit they didn't use my idea to annihilate Sandman - use one of Harry's green fireball things to heat him to a temperature high enough to fuse him into glass so that he's not so flexible anymore? Muahahaha!
  • Awesome effects.
  • There's something about Kirsten Dunst. There's not a single thing about her face that's pretty, and yet somehow it looks good from a distance.
  • I know they were doing the whole "Superheroes can also cry" thing, but puh-leez, Tobey Maguire should not be allowed to cry on screen.
  • Great tagline - The greatest battle lies within.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mom's the word

Sometimes we just forget about old-fashioned ways of doing things, don't we?

So when Dad said he can't receive .jpeg files via email anymore, Mom was very sad that she could not see any pictures of how baby Aish is growing up. They don't want to get a computer at home yet because they dunno much about them. She said she wondered when she would be able to see Aish next. I asked her to come visit me so she could see Aish every day via webcam like I do. It did not strike me for the longest time that all I had to do was go to the Kodak shop, get the latest pictures of Aish printed and post them to Mom! I only thought of it when I got some 'Mother's Day' flyer in the mail, and saw all the standard Mother's Day gift ideas that made me wanna hurl. They also made me scrap my original idea of sending roses like every year, and send her a collection of Baby Aish's latest photos instead.

The best thing is that the envelope reached Dad's office just yesterday! I'd already emailed him to tell him not to open it, but to give it to her today. This morning, when I spoke to her, she was ecstatic! She said it was a total surprise because she'd really been missing Aish and had thought that the next time she saw Aish would be when she'd already be going to school.

In the last few weeks of being at home, I've felt closer to Mom than I ever have. Perhaps because I've been performing the roles of a wife, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, a homemaker, just like her. I'm joining my new job end of this month, till then I've been working hard trying to set up 'home and hearth'. And every single day, I learn a little bit more about home management. And most of it comes from my memories of how she used to manage our home.

In those days, the more respectable term 'home-maker' was rarely used. Mom had been a 'housewife' for me all my childhood. And yet, I never saw any regret in her about giving up her job offer as a university lecturer and staying at home to take care of us.

But me - I've had many many regrets.

I regret not being much of a help to her at home, refusing to eat greens, being lazy and stubborn, for wanting to watch TV all day long during holidays (there was no Internet at home in those days, otherwise I'd be blogging and youtube-ing all day), yelling at her, slamming doors, cribbing when asked to run an errand, thinking that good grades in school were my ticket out of housework, never learning to cook till I lived on my own and absolutely had to, being so difficult at times, and using tears as a counter-argument. Today, when people compliment my cooking, I think of all the times when I hung around the kitchen, never to help or learn, but to tell her what happened at school. I guess some things I subconsciously observed registered themselves for life because I remember them so well even now! But then I think of how much better a cook I would have been, if I had just shown some interest, if I'd just listened, if I'd just helped.

Today when I look back, and I think of all the things she said or did, followed by a "It's all for your own good." I understand. In those days, it was the most annoying statement ever, but now I know exactly what she meant.

Lately, the guilt has been really really getting to me. It would have taken so little to make her life so much easier. But I didn't.

Now that realisation has thwacked me on the head with the back of a non-stick saucepan, I can only hope to make up for all of it in the years to come.

I end with this particular video of the week (hat tip: Raam Pyari) because I hope this kid - though terribly cute - does not continue the argument when she grows up.

Video courtesy yarab85

Mom knows best. You never argue with Mom.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Century in last mat(c)h!

At the end of a long hard day, I discovered a beautiful surprise sitting in my inbox. It was an email from my tuition kid. Technically, she's not my tuition kid as I'm merely covering for my friend who's out of town, but over the last few weeks of teaching her, I've grown attached to her and the crazy little things she does.

This is A, your tuition student. I got my maths marks today. Your tuition paid off, I got.................................................................100/100!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so happy! Tell you more about it on Sunday. See ya!

When I first started teaching her, I could tell she was a very bright student. But she often made careless mistakes, especially in the last stages of a sum, forgot to convert units before calculations, and loved to divide the area of a square by 4 to arrive at the length. But her grasping power was immense, and if she understood something properly, she'd never forget it. In the last few weeks, since her exams were close, we had been working hard on her misconceptions and careless mistakes.

Hi A,
What an awesome surprise! 100/100!!! I'm sooooo proud of you! HIGH FIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
See you sunday! :)

I was happily bouncing around like a big ball in a swimming pool full of kids when I suddenly remembered something. My friend - the original tutor - is coming back to Singapore next week, and sadly, this sunday will be my last lesson with A.


But I think I'll go for the half-full glass thingie.

At least I am retiring at the peak.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fit to a T

Two days ago, I sent out a flurry of mass sms messages. No, it wasn't the "The end is near, we're all doomed!" kind of message but more like "Do you know where I can get a personalised T-shirt printed?"

Baby Aish is going to turn 1 soon, and I wanted to send her a personalised T-shirt from Viv and me, complete with a picture of us posing with her. The text below the picture said, "Mausa's and Mausi's most favourite person in the whole world... ME!!!" Last night, I made poor Viv go thru 50 different fonts for the text, till we found one we both liked.

Then we had an argument about whether we should remove the word 'most'.

"Favourite is always 'most favourite', isn't it?" He argued.

"But then favourite is always 'in the whole world', isn't it? If we remove it all, there's nothing left, isn't it?"

"Hmmm... that's true."

"Let's not get too editorial about this," spake the ex-editor, "and just try to get the emotion right?"

He agreed, but he did suggest that we change the spelling of 'favourite' to American English. Finally, it was done, just the way we wanted it.

The picture was ready, but the T-shirt wasn't. For the last few weeks, I have been wandering around the malls of Singapore, trying to find a white plain T-shirt on which to print the picture. It was a painful process, as I discovered that plain white T-shirts for babies are not really common.

Here's what my typical conversations at baby shops would go like.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for a plain white T-shirt for a 1-year-old baby girl."

"How about this one?"

"No, this has some tiny patterns on it."

"How about this one then? This one is white what!" said the sales assistant.

"No, this has some text. I want a plain white T-shirt."

"But this one is nice what! It says, "Little Princess". Nice what!"

"No, I don't want 'Little Princess'. I don't want any text. I just want a plain white T-shirt."

She gave me a polite smile, but I could see the thought bubble hovering over her head with the words, "So utterly boring, this new mum!"

At the same time, I was also looking for a printer who would print the T-shirt for me. Fortunately, I got tons of replies to my sms message. Most replies indicated that Queensway was the best place to go to, but it's really far from my place. I know I know Singapore is only 47 km wide, and no place is actually 'far away' but relatively speaking, it is far away, okay? Okay.

One of my friends gave me the number of a printer located close to my place, and I called the guy up.

"This is Mr. Tan."

"Hi Mr. Tan, do you print T-shirts?"

"Yes, we do. How many you want?"

"Uh... only one."

"One only ah? Cannot. I give you my neighbouring shop's number - he prints small quantities. His name is Mr. Sam."

So I called up his neighbour.


"Is this Mr. Sam?"


"Hi, Mr. Sam. I got your number from your neighbour Mr. Tan. He said you print small quantities of T-shirts?"

"Yes, how many you want?"

"Only one."

"Okay, bring T-shirt and whatever you want to print to the shop."

"Okay, where is your shop?"

"It's the one next to Mr. Tan's shop." His telephonic thought bubble had the word 'Duh!'"

"Err... And where is Mr. Tan's shop?"

"How come you dunno? You got my number from him, right?"

Uhhhhh. Anyway, nothing much came of that conversation, and I decided to go down to some of the other places suggested by my friends. Today, after my volunteer thingy, I had a couple of hours before I was meeting my ex-boss for dinner. So I decided to walk around Funan mall, Excelsoir Plaza and Peninsula Plaza to find my printer.

First stop Funan mall.

I walked past all the shops on level one but could not spot a printer, the mall directory or the information counter. Then I walked past all the shops on level two. Then I walked past all the shops on level three. And then I found the information counter. Sheesh.

"Excuse me, are there any shops here that print T-shirts?"

"No more oredi."

"No more?"

"Yeah. Used to have. Now no more."

Oh man. I didn't find anything in Excelsoir Plaza either. Finally, I found a shop in Peninsula Plaza that had 'T-shirt printing' printed on its glass door.

"Hi, do you print T-shirts?"

"Yes, how many you want?"

"Just one."

"We only do bulk orders, sorry."

So I went next door which had a similar sign on their door.

"Hi, do you print T-shirts?" I asked. "I need only one." I quickly specified.

"Sure. What size?"

"Uh... baby size?"

"Baby size?? Hahaha! Sorry, we don't."

I was on the verge of total depression when I happened to spot this photocopying and binding shop and decided to give it one last try.

"Excuse me, do you print T-shirts?"

"Yes yes. You got your own T-shirt or you want to buy from us?"

"Oooh can I buy the T-shirt from you??"

"Depends. What size?"

"Uh... baby size?"

"Baby size??? Hahaha! How old?"

"Two years?" (I added a year cos I wanted Aish to be able to wear it for another year at least.)

"Okay, let me look for it. I've never printed a T-shirt that small. Hahahaha! So cute!"

So the lady dug through drawers and drawers and finally showed me this T-shirt. It kinda looked all right for a 1-year-old but maybe not so much for a 2-year-old.

"Do you have anything bigger?"

"I have nothing else for a baby! You think this one too small for your baby?"

"Well, I'm not sure. What do you think?"

"Hahaha! How will I know? It's your baby lah! You should know what!"

"It's not my baby, it's my sister's."

"You should still know what!"

"She lives in the US."

"Hmmmm okay..."

She called her colleague over and passed him the T-shirt.

"This one too small for 2-year-old or not?"

To my utter shock, the guy put the T-shirt against himself! I kid you not! Then he said, "Okay what! Even I can get into this!"

"Huh? Are you sure??" I asked.

"Hmmm... Your baby fat or thin?" He asked.

What the...?!

"My baby neither fat nor thin, she's fine, just fine." I said indignantly.

"This looks okay for a 2-year-old. But it will become small for her very soon." He said.

"Oh that is fine. Cos she's actually only one. I just want her to be able to wear it till she's two."

"Oh she's only one ah???"


"Then how come you said two?"

I explained.

"Then okay what!" Both of them exclaimed.

So I picked the T-shirt and examined it.

"After printing, can it be washed in the machine or must I handwash it?" I asked.

"Yes, you can use machine. But you must turn over first."

"I must turn over??"

"Yes yes, must turn over first."

"Oh! You mean I must turn it inside out before washing it?"

"Yes yes, you must turn inside out."

The next stage was to transfer the image from my thumbdrive to her computer. "Miss, you don't mind waiting? Our computer is very busy." So I waited and waited and waited till the "very busy" computer was free enough to take on the new assignment.

She plugged in my thumbdrive, opened the folder titled 'T-shirt', saw that there were four files and asked me, "Which one?"

"Oh I saved it in four formats, .jpeg, .tif, .eps and .psd. You can pick whichever one is suitable." I proudly said.

She smiled at me sweetly. But I could see the thought bubble hovering over her head with the words, "Sheesh, what a geek!"

Anyway, after doing the Chinese equivalent of 'Akkad bakkad bambai bo' in her head, she pointed to the .psd file.

"I'll use this one."


"Hahahaha! So cute this will be! I cannot tahan (bear/tolerate) oredi!" She said when she opened the picture.


"But your image too big for the little T-shirt! We need to make it smaller."


So she folded a piece of paper and put it against the T-shirt. She kept folding till it was just the right size for the T-shirt. Then she measured the piece of paper and said, "Okay the height of your image should be 120 mm."

She opened up the file and went to the image attributes.

"Wait wait, you must check the box marked 'Constraint proportions' first!" I interrupted her before she could type '120' in the 'height' box.


"Because if you don't, the image will get truncated."


"One side cut off."

"Oh. So I tick this box here?"


But I still wasn't sure.

"Can we print this on an A4 sized paper so I can see if the text has not become illegible due to the reduction in image size?"


"Can you print this on paper?"

"Now you want me to print on paper ah??"

"Yes, paper first, T-shirt later."


"You can print in black and white. I just need to see the actual text size."

"Oh black and white can??"


So she printed it out and looked at it again. "So cute I cannot tahan oredi!" She said again.

The printout looked fine. I asked her to go ahead with the printing.

"Miss, you will need to wait some more. Our presser is not here."

"Your who?"

"The presser? The guy who uses the presser to press the image on to the T-shirt?"

"Oh you have another guy to do that?"

"Yes, none of us here has the strength to press the presser. I press until my arm hurts and still cannot press. So you have to wait for the presser."

I couldn't stop laughing at how adorable this lady was. So I told her I didn't mind waiting for the presser to press the presser. She didn't laugh at my bad joke. Sheesh.

Anyway, she said she'd give me a call once the presser turned up to press the... ufff... you get the drift.
She taped the printout to the T-shirt and kept it aside while I wrote down my contact number.

"Your baby so cute I cannot tahan oredi!" She said. Again.

"Actually it's not my..." I started off and then stopped. That was not the point.

"Really cannot tahan oredi! You know what I mean ah?" She was still admiring the picture.

I smiled at her. Hopefully she saw the thought bubble hovering over my head with the words, "I know exactly what you mean. I can't tahan oredi either." :)