July 20, 2011

Wednesday Night Stream of Semi-Consciousness

Uh oh where am I? Whose house is this? Well it is the landlord’s of course but now it is quite ours in the small and bare way that houses seem to become ours. And out the window is more water than a girl from the DDA flats has ever seen before. Remember when the tank was on the third floor and mom had to climb up a bamboo ladder to see that monkeys had not made off with the lid?

Sofas are nice. Never really had one ever before this. The coffee table continues to be ugly but it’s one of the few things made of real wood, unlike the Ikea activity that’s just collapsing like a punctured balloon if struck hard! The oven is big and is tempting me to start baking, but if I make a cake or a batch of cookies, then we’ll just have to eat it all ourselves won’t we? That girl in the student residence in London gave us such nice brownies… but I can’t imagine sharing a kitchen with anyone ever again! Except with the husband, who’s gone from not eating eggs to serving them sunny side up with a flourish that would impress Gordon Ramsay, even though that dude is usually just being an ass on TV on the rare days when we watch the TV because when you’re on the sofa in front of the TV, it’s much nicer to turn your head just a little bit and see all the water outside the window…the water I wish I had for long baths when I was a kid. It’s nice, this house. The first time that a house is OURS, even though funny mail comes into the letterbox, and someone else’s name shows up when you punch the number in the keypad at the entrance.

Yes. I think I will bake something nice in this nice house.

July 16, 2011

Three Evenings in Paris!

Just back from a three-day trip to Paris, and it’s quite pointless to say “Paris is lovely” or “Paris is beautiful,” because Paris is Paris, and that is that. It is quite pointless for me to try and write a post about it.

Somewhere between climbing up the steps of the Eiffel Tower, blowing kisses to Mona Lisa at the Louvre and Sarkozy Dada at the Bastille Day Parade, the city and its friendly (yes!) people made me vow to myself to visit as often as I can.

If you’re a virtual tourist reading this post, I’ll put you in the best hands I know. If you want to fall in love with Paris, just click here.

July 10, 2011


Yesterday, we went on 6 train rides and spent the day in Brugge, sleeping on some lovely grass, eating some pointless nougat, clicking some beautiful buildings, and lamenting the presence of the bazillion or so tourists (oh the hypocrisy!)

But this post is about train ride number 6, between Antwerp and Amsterdam, between 9 and 11 at night. At one of the stops on the way, two girls got on, took their seats, switched on music on their phone loudspeakers, pulled out packs of food, popped open cans of aerated beverages, and started talking, singing and burping(!) quite loudly. Everyone on the train seemed exhausted, at their wits’ end, and just wanting to go home and crash. Some people tried to politely remind the girls that there were other people on the train, but the girls yelled “Sorry? Sorry” loudly with one hand cockily placed behind the ear, pleading deafness. The protestors sat back in their seats murmuring and shooting stern glances in impotent rage. The girls laughed it off and went back to singing and burping.

The husband, who had aged about 10 years since the morning, what with chattering banking interns from Mumbai discussing inter-caste marriages, British schoolgirls playing tippy-tippy-tap and other such high-pitched noises that had shaken his inner peace, was at breaking point with these girls, who were sitting right next to him (God, I like your sense of humor dude!). I am almost always completely psyched about being on a train here, so I was having a ball observing them, and the discomfort they were causing. Sure they were a nuisance and someone should have thrown them out of the (moving) train, but they were two young girls, travelling alone at night on a train, having the time of their (probably sad) lives, and they were pulling it off in style! Could this have happened in a country like India? No chance! What’s the probability two dudes could be and would be pulling this off on a train ride on Saturday night? Very high!

As they got off the train, the girls smiled at all the people who had stared and complained. From the platform, they knocked loudly at a window, and waved goodbye with idiotic grins on their faces. The guy next to the window angrily flipped the bird, but that just made them (and me) laugh even more! Sure their food packets, abandoned on the seat, gave off whiffs from hell for a good hour after they were gone, but as I left the train, I found myself humming the corny song that played on their phones.

July 04, 2011

Psyche ill

Everybody has a cycle in Amsterdam. Some people even have a tiny cycle that carries their big cycle. Many people who have not yet learnt how to walk or talk have a cycle. I am almost certain most babies emerge from their mothers’ wombs pedaling away on a bicycle. “Push Mevrow Push!” “Head! 2 arms! 2 legs! 2 wheels! It’s a perfect baby!”

There are dedicated lanes, bike shops, bike rentals, bike repair, bike everything except bike classes everywhere you look. So how long can you resist getting onto a bike? Just because you never got beyond balancing yourself on two wheels is not a good enough excuse to walk about everywhere or use public transport, is it?

And that’s why I went bike hunting last week. Almost fell off about 10 bikes in various shops in various cities, and realized that there were probably 2 or 3 bikes in this whole country that I could successfully ride: low seat (at five feet four, I can barely see the top of the heads of Dutch bicycle-riding toddlers), hand brakes (with biking, like with speaking, I cannot stop once I start), and pedals that freely move backwards so that I can take the Vastu-approved stance (right leg up) for propelling my bulk into forward motion without STEC (Skull-To-Earth-Contact).

One of these 2 or 3 bikes awaited me at a second-hand bike store this Saturday! It stood alone alone in a corner, and the token cobweb to denote age and neglect, the hasty and clumsy coat of silver paint to denote its potential stolen status, and the smile on its face as soon as it saw me (or so I’d like to think) sealed the deal. All that was left was to take it for a test ride, and as soon as I dragged it to a quiet lane, sat down and started pedaling, the seat began to sink down (just like office chairs do, when you’re yelling angrily in a meeting). How many of you cousins of Lance Armstrong can claim to have ridden a bicycle with a rapidly sinking seat? I did not fall, and if a cycle can be evil and still safe, that cycle was made for me! Or more likely, it was stolen from someone, painted crudely, and decorated with a cobweb for me.

I paid an unreasonably high amount to the shopkeeper and went cycling in a park. Then on a semi-busy road. And since then, I’ve been practicing in an open space near my house. I’m getting so good at it that today I accidentally rode it with the front wheel turned 180 degrees and the brakes facing me! And I still did not fall! Is this cycle great or what?

It would be childish and immature to name the cycle, so I thought a lot about it, and I cannot decide between Masakkali (mah-cycle-y) and Dogmatix (because the tiny cycle and I look like Dogmatix and Obelix going for a walk).

Wish us luck! And remind me to buy liability insurance. Using the brakes is not on my list of things to learn till next week!