February 26, 2006



Won this at the fine and dandy institution called the London School of Alcoholics. Don’t ask me what I did to win it; my maalik log back home read this blog and do not approve of “spirituality”. No Ma! I did not touch a drop! I remember my Gandhian promises! No meat, no alcohol, no women!

Sadly, it’s not whiskey that’s in there, but a square glass with the Jack Daniel’s logo on it. Not the coolest thing I’ve won in my life (according to most websites, I’ve won iPods, though I haven’t got them because I haven’t clicked to choose the colour) but this is something that would be of more value to someone other than me. So I’m doing what any self respecting self conscious and self funded student should do: I’m auctioning it.

Bids start at three pounds only. Delivery in India possible next month. Please leave a quote in the comments section.

All funds go into the non-profit charity FINE: Funding Inky’s Neverending Education

February 25, 2006

Magic in the Basement

An evil and distant cousin of the Tooth Fairy lives in my residence hall. There’s this bedraggled sweatpants-wearing groggy-looking messy-haired hairy-armed thing that prowls the corridors (no wait! that’s me! begin again.) There’s this invisible wing-fluttering shimmery frock-wearing black-eyed and pointy-eared little thing that flutters around the sun-lit basement (Yes!!!! The basement is sun lit and there’s not a ray of sunshine in my room! They call themselves architects! Line em up and shoot em!) Ok. Too many digressions. The evil fairy lives in the laundry room and steals my socks. She probably makes puppets out of them, or lines the nests of pigeons with them, or makes duvets and sleeping bags for fairyfolk, and she obviously sells them as unique designer items because she never takes both socks of a pair, she only takes one.
I keep a sharp eye out for socks going missing due to my neglect. I examine the insides of the washing machine to see if a sock is stuck somewhere (once I found five pence, but no sock). I do all that I can, but what use is it battling against sprites?
The Sock Fairy has ruined four pairs so far. You never can catch a glimpse of her, but she is there. Maybe it’s an American chain and they have outlets in every Laundromat? Nothing to be done except speculate. And sell the four single socks I have with me as fairy duvets. All washed of course!

P.S.: No. I have NOT eaten them by mistake. British food tastes like socks but isn’t as soft and chewy!

February 24, 2006

Rang Ditta Basanti

In case you don’t skip the first track when you listen to Rang De Basanti.

Ik Onkar
Sat Naam Kartapurakh Nirbhau Nirvair
Akaal Moorat Ajooni Saibhang Gur Parsaad
(There is) one God, eternal- true his name, creative his personage, fearless, with malice towards none, form beyond time and death, unborn, self-emanated; (can be realized by) Guru's grace.

Aad Sach Jugaad Sach. Hai Bhi Sach Nanak Hosi Bhi Sach
Before time (started ticking), He was ‘The Truth’ (Everlasting); When (cycle of) Ages started, He was ‘The Truth’. Even now He is ‘The Truth’; True, O,Nanak, He Will Ever Be.

Sochai soch na hovai je sochi lakh var.
Chupai chup na hovai je lai raha livtaar.
(One) cannot achieve purity (and hence piety of mind, by simply) washing (body) clean, even hundred thousand times. By remaining mute (ever roving mind) stills not, (even if body seemingly) poses deep concentration.

Bukhia bhukh na utri je banna puria bhar.
Sahas sian,pa lakh hohe ta ik na chalai naal.
Hunger (lust and greed) of the hungry, ceases not even if loads of world's (choicest gifts) are tied up and piled (around him. Infact, with meeting demands of mind, its craving goes on increasing. One) may have a thousand, nay a hundred thousand worldly wisdoms, not even one will be of any avail (to him in the Divine Court).

Kiv sachiara hoiai, kiv kurai tutai paal.
Hukam rajai chalna Nanak likhia naal.
How then to become ‘Truthful’ and how veil of falsehood torn?(The answer is), by submitting O, Nanak, to the Pre-ordained Written Command Of The Lord Of Will- God.

Translation from here.

February 22, 2006

Begging Skills 101

This is about the beggar whom I encounter daily on my way to and from school. Five months of more than two passings by a day, in a relatively less frequented part of London, and the chap still does not recognize me. More importantly, he does not recognize my determination not to part with a single penny.
I mean, if you get into the beggary business, you should have some core competencies, right? You should not waste your breath asking for “spaire chainge” off heartless things like me. And come on, how much talent does it take to distinguish between a person who’s looking at you with melting eyes that say “there, but for the grace of God, sit I” and a person whose peepers are scrunched up thinking “if I take up the spot directly opposite him every evening, will I collect enough for dinner every night?”

February 21, 2006


Dhundley kaanch par do naam
Aur aadey tedhey se do chehrey
Ginti ke woh paanch baadaam
Aur do khilauney andhe behrey

Bachpaney pe sharmindaa hoon
Par yeh sab hain to zindaa hoon

February 20, 2006


Hamlette cleared her throat and began
“Oh! What a piss off work is man!”

Dedicated to … never mind. You know who you are.


Din ka jo bhi paher guzarta hai
Koi ehsaan sa utarta hai
-Gulzar in Lekin

Din kuch aise guzaarta hai koi
Jaise ehsaan utaarta hai koi
-Gulzar in Marasim

February 17, 2006

The Mummy Returns (The Baby)

There is a contest between two kinds of women for the position of Mainstream Middle Class Ms Condemnable: the single woman who stubbornly remains so, and the childless woman. Both these can be in their respective “conditions” either because of circumstances (assumed to be the default reason unless there is proof otherwise) or out of choice. The latter category is the most intolerable, in its dogged determination to go against the purpose for which humanity was created (Yes! Despite what you and I believe, humanity was not created to beta test Firefox 1.5.1 or Windows 9.0 or whatever crazy version we’re at!)
The voluntarily childless married woman is about as useful as the naked cardboard tube in a toilet paper holder. (This analogy comes less out of my scatological mindset and more out of my opinion that women who have children just because it’s the done thing end up leading lives no better than toilet paper.) Why get married if you don’t want children? Doesn’t your uterus go dhak dhak when you see cute babies all around you? Is that job so important that you cannot give it up?
Do some women who do not want to have children give in just to put an end to those question marks?
Nobody knows why Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up (We won’t be surprised if they themselves don’t know) But Brad Pitt is the media’s “Man who wanted kids but his wife didn’t” and is beaming all over the magazines with his arm around Ms Jolie, who is carrying the world’s most talked about foetus (last heard there was more than one in there). Jennifer Aniston, meanwhile, is the “pathetically sad woman with sidey boyfriend who lost a catch because she refused to have babies”. Obviously, it doesn’t happen only in India.
If it’s “unnatural” to not want to have kids, then is it “natural” to have them, leave them in the care of others, unleash ungrateful uncouth little devils upon the world, buy laptops for three-year-olds, or to get all this going, put your body through chemical hell to get pregnant artificially? What about our daily lives, from waking up on coir foam mattresses to taking sleeping pills to be able to last the night is natural? If you do not want to have children, isn’t following that instinct the most natural thing to do?
Not everyone is meant to be a parent. It requires a sacrifice of the self at all levels of existence. The argument that our sole purpose on the earth is to reproduce our own kind is the most pessimistic kind of truth that there can ever be. If the best reason to have children is to have someone take care of you in your old age, then children have forsaken that “natural” role already.
Choosing not to have kids is not about choosing a career over a family either. Many mothers are more passionate about their work than they are about tending to their kids. If choosing not to have kids is “selfish”, then buying your little one shoes made by a child in a sweatshop is not exactly the height of philanthropy.
A few years ago, I had asked all my friends what they thought about marrying but not having kids. They were all against it. One said there was no point marrying in that case. One said she wanted kids, and that was the reason she would marry. One said he wanted to see his face reflected in another’s before he died (God, let his wife not cheat on him!). Either I made friends with the wrong people, or the world is mostly like that.
If everyone spends half their life becoming an individual and the other half making sure their child does, then who “lives”?
The price of opting out of the system, in terms of admonishment from family and disapproval from the society is huge. But the determination to not give in is much stronger.

February 14, 2006

Please Don't Call It VD!!!

I suppose it was my fault really. Who’d accompany me if I said I was going to watch either Les Miserables or Hamlet on Valentine’s Day?

Such adorable couples are lining the riverbanks and frisking about in Covent Garden, the young ladies are barely clad and Himalaya-heeled, the old ladies are wearing red dresses and holding hands with their balding sweethearts, everyone has bunches of flowers and the street musicians are playing away to glory. Some parents are out with their children, to remind me of Valentine’s Day back home. Don’t tell me this is not love. You must be sick at heart to think so.

I chose Hamlet. Here is a lovely Valentine’s Day song from Act Four, which my friend Ophelia sang beautifully:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day
All in the morning bedtime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber door,
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do't if they come to't;
By cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, before you tumbled me,
You promis'd me to wed.
So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.

Take heed, all ye young women. I know some readers who still sing songs very much like it. Remember, you are free to soar, so long as you fly Virgin Atlantic. Good Night.

February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day

Dear Heart,

The roads of London are lined
with Roses of the deepest red
In honour of a cherub blind
and general giddiness of head

In vain today I set out to seek
the flowers you want me to buy
But dearest, this is not the week
for yellow-hearted Narcissi

So let’s buy some roses after all
to deck up the dusty bookshelves
And this year, let us feign to fall
for someone other than ourselves

Happy Valentine’s Day to those who’re celebrating. Isn’t all the pinkness lovely?
Happy Tuesday to those who aren’t. I can’t understand what the fuss is about either.

February 12, 2006


Yaar Pyar Rishteydaar Bukhar Sarkar Ishtehaar Rozgaar sab ke sab jehannum mein jao meri taraf se! Now I’m not talking to any of you!

February 11, 2006

O Yuva Yuva, O Yuva

Ghoomte phirte milte hain milte hain
Mil ke saath woh chaltey hain chaltey hain
Rahein ho chahein nayi nayi
Dosti hai puraani
Na Anjaana, Na Anjaani

Hai khudaa hafiz, shukriya meherbani
Pal do pal kya mile, mit gayi pareshani

Thanks to ex-bloodsucking employer, a friend is visiting the UK. Meeting him has cured my homesickness. Walked around Central London for over seven hours today. Abhi to main jawan hoon etc. Ok. Shutting up.

February 10, 2006

Scream of Conciousness

And suddenly I realized that the fairy tale was not my own, it was hers. How devious can they get?

And I knew not whether to keep living in the fairy tale, knowing all the while it was someone else’s, or to break away from it, however wonderful it might be. Or to live forever as the happy unmindful character in a happy story. Yes, we must believe in the existence of that third option, for the other two are too uncomfortable. Happiness must be available in vanilla, without the gooey chocolate chips and the bitter orange peel.

And then there’s Marks and Spencer, which has removed salt from all its food, since I’m going to be weeping into it at the thought of the money you handed over for the vegetable bake.

And “The New Feminism” does not go down any better with tube passengers than “A Clockwork Orange”. I should start buying Heat magazine, same as everyone else.

And I’m so not marrying wendigo. She neither earns nor cooks. Useless.

Update: Wendigo is not amused. I didn't mean she's COMPLETELY useless. She thinks. Matrimonial proposals from men six feet tall and over are solicited. Complete list of required qualifications available on request.

February 07, 2006

Yet Another Passage To India

“I’m going to Indee Yah with my boyfriend! We’re planning to go to Jay-Poor and Khair-Allah and Nude Ellie! I’m so excited!”
I smiled at my Chinese-and-British classmate AW as she gushed about her upcoming trip to me and a couple of others. The poor thing took more courses than any of us last term, and she totally deserved a break!
“So I’m really interested in Indian history and culture and I want to know more about it. Can you recommend a book that I could read on the plane?”
My mind ran from imagining the task of decoding Indian history and culture on an eight-hour journey, to a book that could encapsulate India even if not very well, to how shameful it was that I knew so little about books and about Indian history. I needn’t have gone through this arduous exercise. The question was not directed at me. It was directed at another British girl.
I wasn’t offended, for two reasons. The first being that my constant silence in class and among classmates might have led her to believe that I could not speak if I tried. The second, and more probable, being that she did not need to know an Indian’s India. She needed to know a tourist’s India, and I was as useful or useless for that purpose as anyone else.
The other girl recommended Naipaul, himself a tourist, and after several attempts, the name was taken down without spelling errors.
AW is back to school, tanned beautifully and raving about Indee Yah. She found me sleeping on the sofa today, and I asked her how she liked the place.
“Oh! It’s amazing! Jay-Poor is so beautiful! The food has so much Gee that my boyfriend was in the loo the whole time! Khair Allah is awesome! The beaches are so clean! I went swimming! The food was also much lighter!”
I told her that the food was no lighter in Kerala, and they were planning to nuke the world with Malabar Parathas any day now. It was probably that the food was cleaner, as the south is generally more conscious about hygiene (bias mine).
“Oh! But I read that the South was much poorer!”
I tried to calculate the per capita income of all Indian states, remembered I had no data, and switched the conversation to her data, or the book she had read about India.
“I got this fabulous book. Maharani. It’s about these four princesses and it’s so romantic! The princess has one maid just to do her eyes, one just for the left part of her sari, one just to paint her toenails…”
Now I was torn between imagining the “romance” of this roomful of women, and sighing at the fact that I had nobody to paint my toenails in this DIY country.
“I bought these three saris. They are so lovely! Turquoise and Purple and Black. They have all this gold detailing on them. I figured they were too thick to wear, not like saris at all, so I just bought the sari fabric, and figured I could do creative stuff like book covers, or just throw them around the house like drapes, you know….”
Ah, purple and turquoise Orientalism. How familiar you sound! I offered to help her put her sari on, and she was pleased. She then informed me that people stared at her, and I told her she must have been more uncovered than covered, because she does not look like a foreigner at all. She informed me that all the women in India were wearing Indian clothes, which means the country has changed completely since I left, and I must visit soon.
“And we saw all these men with rods through their cheeks hanging from wooden sticks in Khair Allah. It was some sort of festival. Hindoo Festival. Are you Hindoo?”
Made mental note to ask Joker Anna about Kerala festivals and if there are none such, then about drug abuse in Kerala.
“In Nude Ellie, the people were so hospitable! Both at the Sheraton and at the Oberoi.”
Ah! Nude Ellie. Will not leave me in peace ever. I suddenly remembered I had some important reading to do for tomorrow’s lecture.

February 06, 2006

Waking Dream

Spent over two hours waiting for Pyramus and Thisbie to begin. Dunno whether it’s Shakespeare’s personal fault or his Royal Company’s, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream did not quite draw me into itself, even though I was in the second row from the front, and the fairy smoke was in my eyes and nostrils as it floated outward from the stage.

But, Pyramus and Thisbie was worth it and more!!!!!

Favourite lines from the play:
Things base and vile, folding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind:
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured every where:
Act 1, Scene 1

February 04, 2006

Dyed Saffron

Finally managed to see Rang De Basanti. Too many conflicting reviews made sure I went with an open mind.

Ok. Have typed and deleted what I should say in this next sentence three times. And that represents what the movie has done to me. You think you can say something about it, but then you realize you cannot. Because the movie is full of things it says, but there is little that it does not undercut and problematize immediately after. Without melodrama and caricature, it shows you the mammoth problem India is faced with. And how it can hit us personally even though we think it cannot. It shows you one problem and one solution. The solution itself realizes how precarious and unworkable it is.

In the end, they youth is making inspired speeches into media microphones across the country. You are free to choose whether a revolution is beginning, or a flash in the pan is happening. It’s nice when nobody takes up more space than they absolutely need to. And it’s nice when everyone does his or her bit well. I can’t remember one character or one performance in particular, because the ensemble cast works so well.

To conclude, remember it is not a documentary, it is a film. Don’t ask for rational solutions. The question is not whether it gives Bollywood anything to be proud of, the question is whether it takes away some of the things that Bollywood is proud of (Karan Joharesque easy solutions, for instance). It does, and I’m glad about that.

And Aamir, if you decide to marry again (third time lucky et al), my email address is on my profile. No, forget it. You’re a jerk. Just keep acting.

February 03, 2006

Getting My Own Back

The serve Coca Cola and cookies at movie screenings and often the DVDs don’t even play because they are illegal copies. Who says nothing in life is free?

I was reading “A Clockwork Orange” on the tube to and from office today. A bright blue label on the cover said “Course Text”. With my scary black overcoat and gangster cap, the terrified people on the tube must have wondered exactly what kind of course I am doing.

Fifty days before I visit home. Not much, but fifty nights also. So one thousand fifty in all.

February 01, 2006

You Ask. Inkyji Answers.

Ok. Four and a half months or thereabouts. After having spent many, many anxious months (before coming to London) asking people stupid questions about the city, the school, and the cold, I am now in a position to dispense some advice of my own. The chosen topic here is food. Some queries have been cooked up and are served below:

Inkyji, do you believe in God?
Ok. So this is not your typical everyday food question. But yes, it is because of food that I believe in God. Not because he gave me today my daily bread. Because English food showed me “the light”.
Everything is bland and tastes the same. When you cannot distinguish between your pie and your (freshly washed) socks, then you usually look at the condiments section and decide to add a dash of mustard. When English mustard goes into your mouth, something tears painfully out through the top of your head, hovers for a moment before your teary eyes that can barely remain open, and then makes a painful re-entry into your body through your nostrils. Your ears tingle when this process is completed. The entity that temporarily dances outside your body is your Soul. I saw it through my tears. It was wearing a badge and all: “Inky’s Unsaved Soul”

Inkyji, should I take the “best before” date on food products seriously?
Now that’s a direct question, even though a stupid one. When a can of chemicals says “Poison. Do not consume.” do you drink it? When a washing machine says “Do not wash your baby sister in this” do you still shove her in? Then why are you suspecting that those nice people at the supermarket are cheating you of perfectly good food by making you throw it away? The first rule of British food is that it tastes like (freshly washed) socks. The second rule is that on the date of expiry, it implodes/auto-combusts/becomes an ecosystem/vanishes into the great void. Not a day sooner, not a day later. Sometimes, there’s a nectarine in your hand, and as you are preparing to bite into it, the clock strikes twelve and the nectarine instantly grows a three-inch layer of fungus. Cinderella had a pleasant food transformation story, but apart from Jesus Christ, nobody has had similar luck after that.

Inkyji, food is strangely priced in London. I cannot figure it out.
It is quite simple really. Remember how in India a vada pao cost three rupees and a fancy meal at an air conditioned restaurant cost two hundred times that much, at about 600 rupees? It is the same here. A student snack costs three pounds, and a feast costs four times as much, at 12 pounds. This is a general rule of international mathematics. It is also displayed in the number of calls you need to make to someone to get something done. Two hundred times in India is the same as four times in London.

Inkyji, what is the best way to eat cheap and healthy food during my stay here?
After thorough research into the subject, it has been found that Air Sahara offers the best healthy food package. For 250 pounds, you can fly to India on Friday evening, eat all of Saturday and most of Sunday, and fly back to London in time for your Monday lecture. If you are airsick and cannot travel often, there is always (freshly washed) sock soup.

If you have food queries, write in to Inkyji.