Monday, March 31, 2008

More Bang for my buck

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

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

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

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


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


"Okay then, that's settled."

"Uhh... okay."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to clear carbon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Road rulers

So Viv's uncle C (who calls me his 'nephenie') whose place I'm staying at has been showing me around Bangalore in his car. I was last here in 1992 and though the weather here is just as fabulous as it was 16 years ago, the traffic is now unbelievable. What is even more unbelievable is that in spite of following the rules himself, how forgiving Uncle C is of people who don't. We have had quite a few discussions on the terrible traffic situations we have found ourselves in, most of which (the conversations, not the traffic situations) have had me explode into laughter.

We're stuck in a traffic jam and when I look around, every vehicle is at a different angle, squirming to get out of it.

Me - So people don't follow any rules at all?

Uncle C - Of course they do! They follow the rules that they make themselves.


So we're trying to park along the road (legit!) when this teenager, armed with a whistle, runs up to our car and guides us into the parking space.

Me - So this guy... is he official? As in, he's been appointed to do this?

Uncle C - Oh yes! He's appointed. Self-appointed.


We're driving along when I spot a bad driver. Now me saying 'bad driver' has a greater meaning than a regular person saying 'bad driver'. So you can imagine how bad this guy was. Watching him almost get killed reminded me of something.

Me - You know, Uncle C, one of my professors used to say, "There are no bad drivers in Singapore. That's because they are all dead."

Uncle C - Hmmm...There are no good drivers in India. Same reason.


We're driving along when I spot a family of three balanced precariously upon a tiny scooter.

Me - Uncle C, I thought they had some new law saying three people are not allowed on a scooter?

Uncle C - Yes, that's right. Three people are not allowed. Only even numbers are allowed. Two, four, six, eight... etc.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Another Big Bang

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!! Off to Bangalore! :D

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Big Bang

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!! Off to Bangkok! :D

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Now you're talking!

So baby Aish has graduated. From merely repeating what she hears to remembering stuff and reacting to what she hears. Honestly, nothing is as awesome as hearing her talk, even though she doesn't really process everything I tell her, and even though I make her say the same things again and again. She's growing up so fast I feel like I can't even keep up with her. Sometimes I get sad about missing watching her grow up, but I also feel thankful that at least I get to see her on webcam and hear her voice every now and then.

So lately, Aish and I have been having a lot of conversations over the phone. In fact, I don't even speak to my sister anymore. The moment she says "Hello!" I go "Okay fine whatever. Give the phone to Aish."

Here are some sample conversations that have happened recently.

Me (aka AB in Sholay) - Aish, what’s your name?
Baby Aish - Aish!!
Me - And what’s your mom’s name?
Baby Aish - Aish!!
Me - And what’s your dad’s name?
Baby Aish - Aish!!
Me - And what’s your mausi’s name?
Baby Aish - Aish!!
Me - And what’s your mausa’s name?
Baby Aish - Aish!!

Me - Aishu, hai na?
Baby Aish - Bolo bolo! (My mom had taught her this song.)
Me - Papa?
Baby Aish - Bolo bolo!
Me - Mummy?
Baby Aish - Bolo bolo!
Me - Mausa?
Baby Aish - Bolo bolo!
Me -Mausi?
Baby Aish - Bolo bolo!

Me - Aishu, what are you doing?
Baby Aish - I’m dawing.
Me - You’re “dawing?” Hahaha! What are you “dawing”, baby?
Baby Aish - Circle.
Me - Circle? Wow! And?
Baby Aish - And tangle.
Me - She can draw circles and triangles??
Sis - You’d think! She just draws crooked lines all over the place and calls them “circle” and “tangle”.
Me - I wanna seeeeeeeee the circles and tangles!!!! Waaaaaa! :'(

Me - Aishu, twinkle twinkle?
Baby Aish - Little star!
Me - How I wonder?
Baby Aish - What you are!
Me - And then?
Baby Aish - And then??

Me - Aishu, where is your dad?
Baby Aish - Office!
Me - Wow! And where is your mom?
Baby Aish - Office!
Me - And where is your grandpa?
Baby Aish - Office!
Me - And where is your grandma?
Baby Aish - Office!
Me - And where is your mausi?
Baby Aish - Office!
Me - And where is your mausa?
Baby Aish - Office!

Then the other day, my sis and Aish were in the kitchen. My sis put the phone on speaker mode.

Me - Aishu, what are you doing?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting brinjals.
Me - WHAT? Hahahaha! Sis, look your daughter just said some gibberish that sounded EXACTLY like “I’m cutting brinjals.” Hahahaha!
Sis - Erm no. That’s actually what she said.
Me - WHAT? She’s cutting brinjals?? She’s barely TWO! What's wrong with you??
Sis – Offo! She’s not actually cutting brinjals! I just told her what I'm doing and now she likes to say it when I ask her what she's doing.
Me - Oh! Hahaha! Aishu, what are you doing?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting brinjals.
Me - Hahaha! Awesome! I still can't believe she's saying that! Aish, what else are you cutting? What about potato?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting potato.
Me - Arre shabash! And onions?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting onions.
Me - Hahaha! And carrots?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting carrots.
Me - Hahaha! And broccoli?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting broccoli.
Me - Hahaha! And celery?
Baby Aish - I’m cutting celery.
Me (to Viv) - What else? What else? I'm running out of vegetables! Quick, gimme ideas! What else can she cut?
Viv (stressed) - Uhh... cake?
Me - Cake! Awesome! Aish, what about cake?
Baby Aish - I'm cutting cake.

I'm looking forward to the day she's old enough to read all this and go "Sheesh, Mausi! You sure made me play some really boring games when I was a kid!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bheja fry

One of the most disturbing forwards I've ever received, especially considering my love for sadak-chhaap food... :/

(clipping from a Malaysian newspaper, click to make bigger)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Showing his true colours

So Viv had been on a rather unsuccessful search for a collared white T-shirt with full sleeves that had no stupid text or motifs on them. Apparently, the cricket authorities only allow white collared T-shirts for playing. He had seen thousands and thousands of full-sleeved white T-shirts and rejected them all because they were not suitable.

Finally, he found an Adidas one in Dubai that he liked but the stripes on the shoulder and sleeves were blue and he wanted them in black. So even though he came out of the shop with a long face, I was doing an internal bhangra of sorts. I was absolutely thrilled to have (a) an assignment, and (b) an idea for a anniversary gift for a guy. (All girls who have ever torn their hair apart in frustration trying to think of what gift to get for a guy say "Aye!").

So when we got back to Singapore, I went to the Adidas outlet near my office to check up whether they had the T-shirt with black stripes. They did, but in size S. I asked the sales assistant if they were getting an M or an L anytime, and she didn't know. I went back a few days later just to check, and they still didn't have it. However, this time I had another shop assistant who was more helpful.

"Let me call up another outlet and check. Which one is nearest to your place?"

"Parkway Parade." I told him.

So he called up the Parkway Parade outlet, but no one picked up. He then wrote down the code number of the T-shirt on a piece of paper and gave it to me.

"You can call them later and quote this code number."

I was anyway going to pass by Parkway Parade on the way back from work so I decided to drop by the tiny Adidas outlet there and check. I was greeted by this guy whose nametag said Mingzhe (strange, considering Mingzhe in Mandarin means "name") who said that outlet didn't carry that item at all.

"Let me check the system for you anyway." He keyed the code into the computer.

"The system" turned out to be this ultra-cool thing because it apparently told him something critical.

"Hmmm..." He said. "Only one piece left in the whole of Singapore."

"What???? Where??????? Which outlet?????" I couldn't contain my excitement.

"Paragon. Orchard."

It was too late to go to Paragon that day, but I was paranoid.

"Do you think someone would have bought it by the time I get there, say tomorrow or on Saturday?" I asked.

"Possible. Why don't you reserve it?"

"Reserve it??? I can reserve it???"

"Yeah, I'll call them."

So the delightful Mingzhe called the Paragon branch and reserved the T-shirt for me. On Saturday, while Viv was at cricket, I went to Orchard and picked up the T-shirt. He was deliriously happy to see it.

He wore it for the match yesterday. The T-shirt was so white his white pants didn't match it!! Sheesh!

Anyway, so the dude comes back in the evening victorious and tells me how he scored the highest number of runs, hit two sixers and took six catches.

But of course, all good things come at a price.

ps: If the above picture is a shocker, here's another one. The 'before' pic here is actually the 'after' (washing) pic. Safedi ki chamkaar! :D

Saturday, March 08, 2008


  • We're constantly telling ourselves not to be judgemental. Would it be easier to just convince ourselves that we are indeed judgemental hypocrites and that there's nothing we can do about it?
  • We ignore the people who don't care about us, because we know there are people who care. But these people who care... do they really care?

  • We waste our time on those who don't waste theirs on us.

  • We expect our bosses to be evil so we can bitch about them during lunchtime. But when they're not evil, we get confused.

  • We look at kids who have no sense of tehzeeb when they talk to elders and wonder what kind of upbringing they had. But if our kids turn out like that, whom do we blame?

  • We are always right and everyone else is always wrong. But once in a while, we wake up in the middle of the night and go, "Oh crap. What if this time I am wrong?"

  • We force ourselves to bitch to fit in. But what if we have nothing to bitch about?

  • We freak out if something is too good to be true. But what if it is indeed true?

  • We try to be the devil's advocate. But sometimes there really is no devil.

  • We are often stopped by a sudden instinct just when we're about to say something. If we still say it, we're screwed. If we don't say it, we are still screwed.

  • We all reach a point in our careers where we go "What the heck?". But not many of us do something about it.

  • We say we're fine in our comfort zone. But if the comfort zone is so comfortable, why are we so restless?

  • We are always on our guard because the world is out to get us. But what if the world couldn't care less?

  • We reject people and things that come our way. If we decide to stop at some point and accept them, we realise later that better things were actually in the path ahead. But if we keep rejecting, we will probably never find anything, or settle for something we didn't really want.

  • We are utterly bitterly confused most of the time.

  • We are not afraid to admit to others that we're wrong. We're just afraid that such admission will come and bite us in the ass one day. And it does.

  • We don't quit when we should.

  • We thrive on misery. Isn't that why we always find things to complain about?

  • We think too much about the things listed above. But sometimes we don't think enough.

  • Blogging helps. But not all the time.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Special of the day


  • End of a hard day at work

  • A looming deadline for a writing project

  • An impatient publisher

  • An understanding and cooperative Viv

  • Express inability to make dinner due to looming deadline.

  • Try to suppress look of horror when Viv suggests that he would cook instead.

  • Get on the computer and start work on the project.

  • Try to ignore clanging noises from the kitchen.

  • Finish writing.

  • Send to publisher.

  • Breeeeaathe.

  • Hey... wait a minute... what's that yummy smell?

  • Follow the direction of the smell.


  • :O :O :O

  • :P ~ ~ ~