July 30, 2006

Sabse Badey Ladaiyya Indeed

Na ghilaaf, na lihaaf
Thandi hawa bhi khilaaf

Gulzar is the new item number king!

Thumbs up to Vishal Bhardwaj's Omkara. Must take swearing classes just to be able to understand half the words! The irritating English subtitles were no help there…

Up next from Bhardwaj:
Hemlata, I say!!!

Now tell me, won't that be cool? Hemlata (Konkona?) with Zamindar father (Naseeruddin Shah?) and evil stepmother (Kirrrron Kher?) and ghost mom (Raakhee Raakhee) steady friend Harsha (Raima Sen?) and loose-limbed and weak loverboy (Zayed Khan-ish) in a village in Bengal and … ok ok…the rest is silence.

Weekend of fun is over! Back to ishtudy.

O ri rani, gudiya
Jag Ja!

July 26, 2006

Taxing Times

Almost 27 years, and I still haven't figured out which side is left and which is right. However, that is only because I spend my time and energy on greater things. Like the British tax system. Here's how it works. Each year, they pick a number between 4000 and 5000. The only condition is that the number has to be higher than the previous year's. So last year's was 4890. This is where the fun begins.

  • Everyone in this free country is free to work freely and earn freely up to 4890 pounds a year.

  • If you earn one pound more than that, the taxman comes knocking. On an income of 4891 pounds, you pay a ten percent tax, so they take away 489.1 pounds. Had you earned one pound less, you would have 488 more pounds in your hands.

Ten percent is the lowest tax rung. If you earn much more, you pay a higher percentage. So if they keep taking away bigger chunks than they're handing out, here is what happens:

  • At 10,000 a year salary, they not only take all your money but also take away your car.

  • At 20,000 a year, they take away all the cars in your neighborhood.

  • At 50,000 a year, they allocate you to a soup kitchen van, where you can get slop twice a day.

  • At 150,000 a year, which some of our professors reportedly earn, they allow you to have marathons held to raise tax-free money to keep your body and soul together.

Prince Charles, Lakshmi Mittal, Tony Blair and all those solvent people you see in this country make 4890 a year. Either that, or HM Revenue and Customs owes me an explanation!

See how much simpler this is than left and right. It's right when nothing's left. Now the job's gone too!

Update: Umm. Apparently it does not work that way. It works the normal human being-y way. Well, it never hurts to let out the spleen I say... :P

July 24, 2006

Fricken Fricker

Looking forward to going back home, where people don't hurl abuses at me for being Indian.
Only for being a woman.

July 23, 2006

Book Bazaar

Under Waterloo Bridge: yes, the same
that was built by women in the War
(It's left to women: the building of bridges)
there is a book market of modest fame.
It draws a decent crowd most days; for
not everyone would rather spend at Selfridges.

Undaunted by tourists and skateboarders, the books
are laid out in rows on makeshift tables of wood.
No doubt some "customers" are thieving crooks,
but all said, done and pilfered, business is good.

An imaginative and unlabelled arrangement ensures
that "Les Miserables" is next to "Let's Manicure".

To be fair, though, a cardboard box is reserved
for "Poetry": home to half a dozen paperbacks.
"One Pound Or Less": and those hardly deserved.
(As much as the nearby café's coconut flapjacks)

I have passed by the book market many a day
(the women's bridge often cries tears of rain)
and when I have time for more than a peek
I imagine my tuppence book next to "Fourplay!"
and wonder if publishing is worth the pain.
I hear Selfridges has slashed its prices this week.

Accidental Photographic Genius (Or So I Am Told)


"A Digital Camera Of One's Own": my upcoming book

July 21, 2006


Against the wall of my residence hall a young mother stood her four year old daughter and three year old son last evening and spanked them soundly. They yelped like puppies as she alternately spanked them with practised art. In their grubby hands, the kids clutched ice-cream sticks; no doubt they had just finished a treat before fury was let loose upon them.

The ice cream sticks reminded me of an incident a week ago at Brighton, where a woman was wheeling a perambulator that contained her two year old darling boy. He had just been bought an ice cream cone, and was in the process of enjoying it, when suddenly, the cone slipped a bit and some ice cream smudged onto his right hand. I am sure it felt nice and cold, and the little fellow's reaction to the accident was most amusing. He decided to investigate the matter of the dirty right hand, and to lick it clean. For this purpose, he carefully set down his ice cream cone on his left thigh, the ice cream dribbling all over his pants, while he held his right hand  in his left and licked it clean. The mother did not notice this activity. Reminded me of the problem solving methods of my erstwhile corporate life.

Another ice cream incident that it bought to mind is from my childhood, when we saw a man bring his little daughter to the grocery store and buy her an orange bar. She was tiny, and unable to manoeuvre the thing correctly (I know many grown-ups who still cannot). In about two minutes, the orange bar fell to the ground. The man slapped her soundly in public and dragged her away. My Dad murmured something about cruelty, and the shopkeeper replied that the man did so every day! Some training that little girl was receiving.

And the last child-and-ice-cream story of all: when I was young enough to forget most details of my life beyond the preceding three months or so, I once said in righteous indignation to my bemused father: "Yesterday I did not have an ice cream and none today either?" He replied that it was not compulsory to have an ice cream everyday. My poor little heart could not take the shock! He actually implied that my existence did not automatically qualify me for an ice cream every day! How unfair is that!!!!!

Ok enough nonsense. Now everyone dig your nose into a tub of Ben and Jerry's. Dublin Mudslide for me please!

July 20, 2006


And it so happened that today at a bus stop near home, I saw a Black gentleman with a considerable potbelly, in a cream suit with black stripes, and a mauve shirt, wooden bead necklace, jooti-shaped faux crocodile skin cream shoes, and a cream straw hat, leaning against the bus post and whistling. Just that. At five on a hot July evening, a cool breeze appeared from nowhere and I felt what wendigo calls inner peace, and mom-in-law calls sukoon.

I am going to bawl like a baby when I have to leave London and the kind old Sikh uncles and aunties who work at Heathrow Terminal Four are going to have a tough time with me.

July 18, 2006

Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki?

I remember playing House with childhood friends. We'd have little dolls and a house for them, and each of us used to hold one doll and take up its part. With one friend, I took up Mamma doll, while she took up Papa doll. Early on in the game, it became evident that Papa doll was going to yell a lot and hit Mamma doll at every slight provocation. I was quite shocked, because neither my Mamma nor my Mamma doll would take a beating quietly. The game was clearly going nowhere and was abandoned.
I remember wondering then, as I wonder now, if her placid and almost painted-on-the-wall Dad hit her effervescent Mom. Perhaps one cannot judge, no matter how close you are to a family, what goes on behind closed doors. I know the family still, and I still wonder about the beating…

July 16, 2006

Parting Words

"Don't Miss Me, Be Mrs. Me!"

P.S. Back Soon

July 02, 2006

The Matricide

Today I was buying detergent after a long long time, and I browsed through the choices leisurely. Suddenly, I remembered a little incident.

When I was about five or six, and every new titbit of knowledge was laden with excitement, some girl in school confided in us: "If you want to kill your mummy, just feed her a little detergent."
This home remedy did not go down well with the group. "Hawjee! What a bad girl. How can she talk about killing her mother?" was the content of the buzz that went around instantly.
My first thought was: "My mother isn't stupid enough to be fooled into eating detergent! It tastes odd!"

The head. It is screwed on wrong.