Saturday, 28 January 2012

Bombay Diaries Pt 1 - Agg Bai from Mum-bai

I can now confirm that the 'other woman' in the phrase often used in Hindi, "Pati , Patni aur Woh", which translates to Man, Wife and the other woman (mistress) is not what it seems like. I have experienced a Eureka moment after figuring out who this other woman is. One understands 'the other woman' a lot better and in clear light when one lives in the city. The other woman is none other than (.......drum roll......)  the 'bai' , which is Bombay's term for a maid but literal translation is 'a lady' in marathi.  The city is addicted to them. These Bais who come to your house for a meagre 12- 15 pounds a month are undoubtedly the other woman of every family. Oh my my,  how the world revolves around these lanky, feeble looking women in traditional nauvari sari.

The true essence of Maharashtra..the colourful saris worn in a weird way, tobacco stained teeth, nose ring, tanned skin..  Naah i couldn't care less.  Just come home, wash my dishes, mop the floor, clean the bathrooms and laundry and relieve me from household chores misery. In Bombay, the lady of the house doesn't care much if the husband is late from work or kids fractured a toe in school.. what they worry for is domestic issues in their bai's houses shouldn't disrupt a clockwork like schedule of house cleaning !  It works in a circle, if bai's husband doesn't drink alcohol, he doesn't ask for money and he doesn't beat her up and thus her kids go to school as normal and she comes to work.  Hence, pray every day to God for peace in their Bai's homes [Dear God, Please help Saku Bai's husband give up alcohol.. ]

I find women on the streets/ lifts/ fancy cars/ posh restaurants/ cinemas talking only about one thing - their precious house help all the time. No one cares about dipping grades of their children in school, stock market, their husband's extra marital affairs or global warming. All they chatter about 24/7 is about their Bai woes.

Excerpts from some of my eavesdropping abilities.

- Mrs Tandon " OH Pinky, you know what, Flat 803 pays 1000 rupees more to her bai, no wonder mine has skipped work since two days. These women talk. I cannot afford to pay sheila bai more (teary-eyed)."   Three other ladies waiting for the children's school bus to halt look at her as though its the end of the world from here.     (BAi Politics)

-  On Christmas Party celebrations "Oh Mrs Mehta, my  Susheela bai's neighbour's sister-in-laws son was found unconscious in the bathroom.. when i learnt that, I quickly removed 1000 rupee note and handed it over to my bai.. something to keep her happy and motivated to keep coming to work. what if she goes away for his funeral. Main toh marr hi jaongi. "    All the other ladies go "ohhh"   "yeah yeah"... "tsk tsk"   

-  Two ladies meeting in the lift... "Ohh Sunita.... Didn't Kanta Bai come today ?  You have dark circles" said One. "Arre Bhagwan, what to do, Kanta Bai is mother in law is unwell, i have sent my driver to Lilavati Hospital to get best medicines for her. I hate my life. Why does God do this to me ?"

Every Mumbaikar has grown to believe that life will not function as normal without them. They are on speed dial. They are constantly on your mind.  If you see a woman looking out of her window, and you think awww, look at that woman waiting for her kids/ husband you are thinking wrong, she is waiting for her Bai and no one else. She knows the kids and the husband aint goin anywhere.. but god forbid something happens to the Bai or her family.  A Bollywood actor fancied his Bai so much that he went to the extent of raping her (yikes) and coincidentally his name is Shiney. LOve for sparkly things and people who make that possible ehh Shiney ?  
When the doorbell rings, they all rush to open the door and when they see their bai standing, they break into a ear to ear smile, almost foreseeing the sparkle of white marble floor in their eyes.  

 For the past two years (only), I have done my own cooking, laundry, cleaning, dinner parties without any sort of help from anyone. Well I am single person, so maybe it is a lot easier to handle chores my way. So I cut some slack to all those yummy mummies out there struggling to balance their professional and personal life.Kudos.  But for me, I prefer doing (MOST OF) my work my way. I hate it when somebody butts in when I'm in the kitchen cooking, or sorting out laundry *wink*. I often get cranky and agitated, one of the many qualities I have inherited from my Mom.  Hence I find it strange that a  housewife hires a cook at home to prepare one evening meal. How hard is it to make a meal for your husband ? In fact, why not cook with love and feed your family ? Maybe someday I could blog about ' how to cook the most easiest and quickest meals with love.'  As a life's rookie, I might seem self -righteous, over smart,  and immature but I feel I can manage doing this for my family each day everyday.Well time shall unfold what happens in the future. I am open to even appointing 6 bais, 2 cooks and 4 drivers in the future, being fully aware that all of the these people would be solely responsible for my obesity. 

(Ting tong)  Got to go, My bai is here...  *yuss*

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Bombay Diaries

Bombay Diaries is long overdue. Its about lil lil things I have observed about people living here for so many years that makes me crazy- good crazy & bad crazy. People here never fail to amuse me. As bOmbay embraces people of all cultures/ cities,villages, sexuality.. you can meet Delhites, Punjab da Puttars, Idli Lovers from the South and Saurav Dada supporters from the West. (embraces first then bites them in the ass).  Oprah Winfrey says that she hasn't seen so many people in her entire life than what she has seen visiting India for 2 days ! This beloved city's population now crosses 20.5 million. That is more than some of the countries population put together, let alone cities.  For the longest time, people from small villages would come to the city to pursue their dream. Most of them seeking star status in Bollywood. Half of U.P wants to be the next Amitabh Bachchan, aspiring actors from West Bengal come to Bombay practising Mithun Da 'I am a Disco Dancer' pelvic thrusts,  the rest of the creative Bongs wanting to be Satyajit Ray. Every other rickshaw driver, dhobi, labourer, man waiting at the bus stop has a story to tell.  When I read Shantaram, its not just the words of Gregory David Roberts that moved me, its not knowing details of the city I lived in for so many years. His story was exquisite. I am such a huge fan of his story, his determination and the kind of balance he strikes with words to describe Bombay. Sheer Brilliance. As you read his words you fall in love deeper and deeper with him and the city is on about.
So here is Bombay without a map. Whether I settle in Spain or Mexico,  rot in Canada or North Korea,  flee to Hawaii or Cornwall,  seek refuge in Abu Dhabi or Greece, escape to Derralkatte or Vegas,  I shall always, always remain a Bombay Girl. And Bombay Diaries will give you a glimpse of the things that I love and hate the most about the city and its people.

Cheers to Amchi Mumbai.. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Friday, 20 January 2012

feeling down.. ?

Heres a way to lighten up...

Enjoy !

Lip sMackin....... BAD

I am devastated. No NO.. I'm not jobless, homeless or hungry. I am not ill, betrayed, heart broken or cheated. Its WORSE.  I can't find my lip balm. I have been looking for it frantically since last night just like how a fat kid looks for candy. I checked all my handbags. Changing handbags can be a bitch, i tell you ! As we go along we discover ourselves. Damn right ! I have done my bit for now, somebody get me my.. my (battling tears) my green tin. My lips r dry and flaky and they irritate... irritate me every minute.  In London, lip balm is essential component I carry with me at all times.  That because its cold, lips get dry. Irrespective of the size of my bag, my Lil green tin follows me everywhere i go. I must admit, I have carried it in my pockets too, only when my clutch is stuffed. I can survive without a phone, laptop, music, food, car  but only if my lips are moisturised. The two green things most important  are green tea and green tin.  I tried so many different brands, there are none like you.  Don't know where i last kept it *scratches her head*. I took you for granted and now my lips are paying a heavy price. Come back to me. I can't wait to smell the aloe vera in you. I shall never take you for granted. Please...  My brain cannot function with that dirty flaky feeling. 
"Come back... JACK.. come back" (Titanic:1997)

Looked everywhere,
- cabinets
- make up kit
- toiletries
- suitcase
- gazillion purses/ handbags i swapped over last week
- upstairs
- downstairs
- cupboards
- bathroom
- sibling cabinets
- fridge
-microwave (pls god please)
- seriously, where are you ?   

Wait a minute.. Cant find my green teabags too... I smell Sabotage  ! * wearing her "GREEN" ninja suit*

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

the reins of my life be with Me.

Is there one person you fear the most ? I hope not. Because when you do, life isn't pretty. Four years back, a friend's sibling made me his tarot card subject. I have no belief in horoscopes, tarot and feng shui. I have faith in God but thats about it.  Every question I asked and pulled a card had a strong figure in it. Later i learnt that , that strong figure lurking around my head is none other than my father. I was told that every decision of my life is and will be highly influence by what he thinks. This piece of information, i already knew, i have lived all my life knowing this little 'secret'.  My siblings and I have had utmost respect for the man. And there is a great deal of fear of letting him down.  Now he is a great man, and I'm not going write about his success story and struggle. Every father has a story to tell. I am proud to be his daughter.  He wants the best for us and reiterates that we should achieve more than what he has so far. But to climb that 'EXPECTATIONS' wall is so much harder than i thought. Everything is presented beautifully on a golden plate. Is there any similarities among Gandhi's son Harilal, The Ambani fiasco that the just brought it together, the flak that Abhishek Bachchan got when he first entered films.. all seems to have been burdened with expectations even before their first sight of their shell.  This can either make you or break you.  I don't know where is this going.  I block my dream when i allow my fears to grow bigger than my faith.. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

from fab to flab

When I look in the mirror, I see a person who was once very happy with her weight, until the unwanted kilos got added on. When in London, i  want to lose weight, but the boredom of cooking solo gets to me. Plus when in a foreign country, food cooked by others is most welcomed, whether its a Chinese take away or a kebabish. People eat to live but i live to eat. Once a friend pointed out, 'what is with you people, u eat breakfast and can't stop thinking what u'll day for lunch.. and once lunch is over , u think about dinner'. Now, I'm home, its tougher to lose weight. Mom is feeding me with tasty treats morning noon and night. And my expandable tummy just can't get enough of it. I hate this double chin (bastard) that peeps out in photographs. This time the damage is lot more. seems like the flabs are here to stay. All i do is talk talk talk... very little action. I'll do lunges, crunches. MAybe i should join the gym, I love swimming.. helps to tone, next time I'll climb 7 floors, NO using lifts, no butter on my toast plz, ginger lemon tea in the morning to boost metabolism, only fruit and veg for a week, no bananas, maybe I'll eat half my stomach's capacity..  This are some of the thoughts that come in my mind each minute !  2012.. please be my year to lose all my excess kilos. I'm down on my knees. In a few months i will resemble Guddi MAruti. And i will have to find my Yokuzona.  and we will live in a extra large world.. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Aaj toh bahut crazy hogaya.. !

"All full , madam", said the burly man behind the low lit counter in a heavy southindian accent.

"what ? not even one room.. all beach shack owners asked us to check Ganesh Cafe. We had high hopes. Please. Single room will also do." I said noticing vibrant pictures of Hindu Gods on the wall and below them tables full of dreadlocks tanned foreigners singing, laughing, drinking and smoking.

"No room, today Saturday.. AAAL FULL(a). Try some other place"

"Please, one room.. where will three girls sleep ?", I said. Referring to 'Damsel in distress' situation works most of the time in India. Indian men like all other men love a good ego boost of helping a woman when she is needy (In most parts of Bihar, she will be molested). However, this holds true for a few people now, and that number is too rapidly diminishing but always worth a try.  He says no and walks away.This time its a firm NO. Why I kept pushing is because, shack owners hold vacant rooms for foreigners as they can charge them more money. I understand that. Everyone works to make more and more money.  They cannot charge us 300% more, we are locals we will verbally bash them.  Hence we are roomlesss mainly because we are brown. Talk abt Racism !
Three girls walk out of Ganesh Cafe disappointed.The feeling wasn't new to us. Some of the shack owners nodded their heads seeing us at a distance. We didn't even have to communicate. Now I'm starting to get a little worried. I search my rucksack for a sip of water. A five hour train journey + 40 mins in a mini van crammed with people double its capacity + a rickshaw ride up the hill + walk on the beach with bags in search of a room in atleast 8 shacks has taken its toll.  Beaches of Gokarna, Karnataka, unfortunately had no place for us to rest for the night.

Seven years back my chaddi buddy shifted to another state to pursue a career in Medicine, I had plans to visit her ever since. A plan waiting on my to do list for years never really materialised until last week.  A part of me thinks of the 2012 end to the world and is slowly but surely scratching of items of my long bucket list. Either way, I am going to benefit from it, my pockets.. not so much.
This winter when I visited Bombay, I had decided, I am visiting her (Bappi Da) in Mangalore. Hence a three night trip was planned. I got to Mangalore after a 6 hour wait at the airport. My 9 am flight got cancelled (they hate me) and the next one was at 1 pm, which got delayed by an hour..LUCKY ME.. One of those days when you buy a novel and finish it too.

Wannabe Doctor
I spent first 24 hours in her city, exploring a Doctor's life, watching her drive like a maniac *proud*, learnt hospital intern gossip, giggled at dental mentals, drank Nandini Lassi and other local delights, witnessed a man being stitched in the Casualty Ward after a RTA (Road traffic Accident) as blood oozed out of his wounds, pleaded a cinema manager to let us watch a south indian film that had started an hour ago (permission denied),battled lizards, and walked in Hospital premises confidently pretending to be a Doctor. Also learnt that she is the gang leader of her Hostel and everybody pays respect to her while passing her room each time. Gang-leader, purely due to her kindness, willingness to help, and her impeccable comic timing. Little do the girls know that, BAppi books train tickets, as its her favourite pastime. If there is one thing, besides Sorority life she LOVES, it has to be the drama and tension of being wait listed on Indian Rail website. Indian Rails are not like any other. One has to be on it, to believe it.  

sail away..
Thereafter, Bappi Da had planned a trip to Gokarna, 380 Kms away from Managlore, train tickets were booked.. return wasn't.. and no accommodation. Being a regular at impulsive trips, my dear friend assured me that we will find a place to stay without any effort. WRONG !!

Walking on the beach barefoot, sweaty, tired, in search of a room at night time would not be regarded as without any effort.  I looked ahead, only two more beach shacks to go.  If not those, we had two options
a) hire a rickshaw and go 3 kms into the city to find a place
b) hold on to our bags and sleep on the beach

Option A was out of the question, we didn't travel all this way to stay in a place where we couldn't hear the waves hit the shore! Then Option B it is !

 Palace de Gokarn
We walked in to the next place, it didn't even have a board.There was power cut and the place was dimly lit with candles one on each table. A young girl walked out, serving food to her guests. We asked for a room, At first she said no. then went in to ask her parents. The three were running helter-skelter to complete orders. Each member of the family spoke to us for not less then 3 seconds, they would run back to the kitchen and wander around like headless chickens.. The Tandoor Grill had pieces of marinated chicken.. and i was getting hungry.  They hadn't said a flat NO to our faces, well maybe because we couldn't see their faces in the dark and 3 seconds and swooosh the person is gone. If not this one, there one just one place remaining. I sent the other two to check for any vacant rooms in the other shack remaining. I stood there like a rock, not wanting to budge as i had seen a glint of hope. The father stood at the grill outside the shack. I started pleading him to give us a place to stay. There was a point when i was down on my knees with my hands joined on eye level to the tandoor grill. Black bits of the grilled meat flew everywhere around me. This was a serious moment hence we couldn't capture it on our cameras. However, we have a mental picture engraved in our minds.  He said that the place is full. We could sleep on the floor in the restaurant area  with four others who had decided to stay there (yay). All that he would provide us is a straw mat to sleep on. A lot of other shack owners had offered us a mat to sleep on the floor, however this one felt safer as it was family run.  We agreed. After a little of coaxing, the young girl (the most co-operative) told us to wait. And a few minutes later escorted us to a room. We had struck gold. Prison cells in most countries would be better decorated ! It had a cement concrete bed and a 2 inch think mattress covered in a faded old bed sheet, rusted fan and no power supply. But it felt like, it was a Palace. It cost us Rs 300 for the night, i.e about GBP 3.00 for the three of us ! WOWZA..  Rooms like these make great stories. We chucked our stuff in the room and ran to the beach. Most of the night was spent eating and lying under the stars *priceless*. A group of foreigners lit a bonfire and one of them played the guitar as we stared at the stars..

Kudle Beach

Gokarna is regarded as poor man's Goa.. I must say, the rich are missing out on something spectacular. This place boasts virgin beaches, picturesque locales and beach shacks/huts that are more like home stays managed by one or two people. The facilities are basic. By saying that I'm being modest.  However the place is breath taking. Especially if you have friends that make you love life more, then you would never want to be back.  

Mint Tea Magic

The shore has a cafe after every few yards. Each one is decorated with Indian handicrafts. These cafes serve more of continental food than Indian treats. Most of the places in Goa may not have many of these treats. The food is great in most places. A 20 min trek takes you to Kudle beach. There is no other way to get to the beach ! How lovely..

OM Beach

We had initially planned to take the 4pm train back to Mangalore the next day. Travelling ticket less was one of my greatest motivations to leave this place.  Also i had a flight to board the next morning back to Bombay. I convinced Bappi's friend to allow us to extend Gokarn departure time to later than 4pm. I was wanting to see the sunset. She agreed. We sat in our resident cafe , sipping on mint tea watch the sun leave us.

Our journey back to Mangalore was an experience in itself. I could write a new blog entry on it. However i have written enough... So i would cut the description short. We got to Kumta station at 11pm to board a train arriving at 12.15am. 
Midnight Dance

An hour at Kumta railway station was spooky. 
We decied to head to the waiting room.As we walk in there is no place, we walk in, some of them wake and offer us some seats.. Trying to me as quiet as we can, we think about our options as we have none left. The train is running late and we got no tickets. We call our 2 am friends to book our seats on the internet. When i look around in the room, now almost everybody is awake, seems like our "being quiet" wasn't quiet enough..  While in that thought, i see a lizard scrawling on the ceiling right above my head and i SCREAM..... and run out the room. Now everyone is awake.. I did not enter the waiting room, my friends got my bags and we walked to the platform.
There were not many people and the ones around were all sound asleep. People would occasionally wake up to attend to nature's call (not a pretty site). It was dark and quiet. We were exhausted to the bone, however this didn't stop us from being a pain in the ass to others present. We clicked a gazzilion pics with flash on.. and giggled when people woke up due to our banter. (thats right... we r going to rot in hell), when that was done, we didn't miss out on james bond impersonation, ram-leela and some yoga postures..ALL FOR THE CAMERA..   An hour later, we learn our train has been delayed by 2 hours.. Grr. BAd karma i guess. So we waited until 2.15 am to finally squeeze ourselves in to the train. There was no seat for us. Were we going to accept that and stand for 5 hours ? NO way.. We three hopped on to the wooden luggage rack above the seats. The rack under my bum was broken, Out of the four planks, it had just two. So if i lose my balance i would be landing into the annoying lady's lap. The family in our train booth were so annoying. I would slap them all. I spent my journey giggling at them and lost of eyes rolling. and spent our journey making more and more memorable moments..

This trip couldn't have got any better... I swear by every inch i gained on my waist due to excessive intake of aloo parathas.. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

The g00d Times have begun... (indeed)

Happiness.  my head will explode of love. They say , too much of anything can be harmful in life. Then why is it cant get enough of love ? Today i shun  the term 'long distance'.. That is nothing but bull shit. strings are attached through our hearts. not by our physical existence.. NOpe.. Sitting on the tube, surrounded by a hundred strangers,  my mind races to special people living in 7bunglows - media mogul, Derralakatte, St George street, abu dhabi, pefka thessaloniki, sofia and blairwitch's maryland.. why ? if physical existence mattered then i should be connecting to the dopey man, urine stinking oldie, and the girl applying make up since 10 mins.. (seriously, how can one apply eyeliner sitting on a wobbly tube ? )

Gratitude. I give my heartfelt gratitude to GOD because he makes me meet my kind of people in life..and when we meet.. we click.. and then there is no clicking back... oops i meant no looking back. I have only attracted people who are "Pure" like me. These people understand that a few lines written are far more precious then materialistic baubles. They understand that travelling on a midnight train to be in the city for roughly 24 hours will mean the world to me. They shower love by filming raunchy dance routine.  Their presence is felt when its needed the most. NOte to self : Hold on to them.. forever.. (echo sounds) ever ever evr...

Progress. I am excited to see this year unfold bit by bit . Its going to be crucial. I will be taking some important professional decisions for sure in the coming months. Whether they are good or bad, I will blog about it for sure.  I have learnt some valuable lessons in 2011. Every day was a challenge in itself and i know this year is going to be no different. The mistakes will not be repeated. The idea is to transform anger to discipline, prolonged sulking into gratitude and forgiveness, negativity to optimism, challenge myself to take more risks and more impulsive decisions as this time i have is precious..
This year is not going to be about maintaining moderation... it will be all about embracing it with over the top optimism and enthusiasm. I 'll voice my opinions louder than before,  fight to be heard, i"ll travel more, I'll eat, drink, meditate and socialise more.. more importantly communicate more more  more.. (Work in progress).

One Life...

Happy new year !!!!!!