Category Archives: Delhi

Lets Start Over Again

Eight months, and not a single word on this blog. Shame on me!

First few months of my not so prolific blogging period, I blamed everybody and almost everything, for not writing. After some time, I got bored of blaming too. So, I stopped that too.

Afterwards, I decided I will drive down from Pennsylvania to California to get some interesting ideas and life experiences to talk about. Road trip has done many wonders to many lives in many movies (The one in particular that I like is ‘One Week’ by Michael McGowan). Well after 6 days of driving across this vast and widely diverse country, I thought I had a lot to talk about, but again I failed to put that ‘so much to talk about’ into words. Maybe, sometime soon, I will be able to tell you here, how people in Indiana/Nebraska drive while reading magazines on dull straight roads, while, there is a Punjabi-owned Gas Station in middle of desert. I will tell you about the salt flats, and my fridge magnet collection from road. My road trip ended at Davis, a small college town in California, which is my current home. A place where even after 6 months, I have not settled in. There is a lot to talk about this place, my gradual Californication (not in the sense of the popular TV series) mixed with a nostalgia for Pennsylvania wilds and winters (Yes, you read it right. I missed Pennsylvania in winters).

Also, somewhere in the middle of all this, I made a trip back home to Delhi. Family, friends, frenzy and fun. Lots of fun. Delhi, how much it has changed in two years. How in my heart I always feel I am a Dilliwallah, but when people asked me about Metro routes and bus numbers, I replied, “Sorry! I am not from Delhi”, and then felt sad that I had to say this in a city where I grew up. Anyways, more on that later.

Then one day, I sat down on my new chair, placed my macbook on my newly assembled Ikea table, hit play on the ‘Chariots of Fire’ from my playlist titled ‘Blogging’ (a playlist that I had made earlier weekend), and then I stared on blank screen for next 2 hours. I think I might be the only person in world with a blogging playlist.

Then in last few months, I looked for a perfect blog to make a come back.Then late today, in a moment of revelation, it occurred to me that much like everything else in life, there is no perfect topic/blog to make a comeback. So here it is, lets start over again with whatever we have. Shall we?

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200th Post, Oddballs, and Trains

Friday Night, 200th Post, a coffee mug filled with warm water, a new computer mouse, a stack of New Yorkers, a crappy external monitor, and no ideas.

I am amazed that I am still writing. 199 posts, most of them nonsense, except a few which are ‘emo teen’ type. (so much for my retarded growth). I am amazed that I am still writing. I am amazed, there are still things out there that amaze me. I am amazed that I have not gone numb. I am amazed that soggy winds have not bogged me down. I am amazed that some people still smile, when they read me.

Frankly, I would tell the truth here, (for a change), I came pretty close to quitting this blog, donning my superhero costume, and save the world by turning earth the other way round! But then, realized that costume does not fit. Though, the keys on my macbook still fit my fingers. So I came back! So, for now…

1)   I will continue trying to blow your brains out.

2)   I will continue pretending that real world does not exist, its hidden somewhere in warped ink on paper.

3)   I will continue to pretend that If my parents had not dropped me on head, I wouldn’t have been the way I am. (they still fight as to which one of them dropped me)

4)   I will continue to believe that I am an android whose circuitry has gone bad.

5)   I will continue to believe that solution to everything lies in not finding sense but in living the antisense.

Just to leave you with something; here is a video, where some oddball decided to walk up in front of an express train, lay down safely on the tracks, let the train speed over her, got up, dropped her slippers, picked them and walked back home!

“Momma! I am bored! It is 10:15 AM, 43rd Pennsylvanian would be on tracks soon, let me have a nap under it, I would be back soon…cya..”

Ok!! Embedding not working… Click here for the video .

David Sedaris

sedaris

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me for ‘a good read’ which was more on the lines of ‘not very serious, more of a funny stuff’. So I rushed to my bookshelf, pulled out ‘Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim’ by David Sedaris, and offered it to her. She gladly accepted it. So good so far, but I see her a few weeks later and ask, “How is the Sedaris going?”

She replies blatantly, “I did not like it, so I did not even finish it.”

Okay, so I am now looking for a word for my feelings at that time, lets see, hmm -offended might be it. Really, to me David Sedaris is one of the funniest writers, and has special place in my quartet of favorite writers along with R. K. Narayan, Dave Eggers and Kurt Vonnegut. Although I am still intrigued as to how could somebody not like Sedaris, it is like somebody not liking Santa, idea of a tooth fairy, or a chance to paint Pyramids in their favorite colors.   But, as of now, in what we consider as space-time coordinates of ‘present’, my friend does not like David Sedaris. So I start weighing my options; 1) I can walk into her house, paint all her walls with quotes of David Sedaris, 2) Burn all other books, laptops, any connection to outside world in her house, and not let her come out until she has finished reading all the Sedaris books, 3) Not do anything 4) Add her on my ‘revenge list’ and not appreciate her favorite author.

But what I did instead is just ask her, “Why? I mean, I love that guy, I think he is really really funny.”

“I think he is deliberately trying to be funny at each line.”

“But what if, let’s say, the guy is actually that funny. I have seen a few interviews of him and seems like the guy is actually that funny in real life.”

“Oh in that case, I would give it another try”, she says.

Next day, a common friend of us, returns the book on her behalf. I put the book back in my shelf and pull out my copy of another Sedaris book ‘Naked’ and find this quote somewhere in there, “I haven’t the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.”

Later that evening, I mulled over the whole issue under a summery star lit sky, and came to a conclusion that, I learned an important lesson today -You can never become a writer that everyone adores. I wrote this bit of conclusion on paper, read it aloud to me, and then added something at the end, “You can never become a writer that everyone adores, and isn’t this thing true in general, you can never become a person that everyone adores.”

(Photo courtesy: Sydney Morning Herald)

India Diaries V: Nostalgia

Somewhere under these layers of concrete lie footprints of a younger me, trying to bowl a yorker to the batsmen in front. Somewhere in this big multi-storied building lie remains of the Neem tree, in whose branches a younger me used to sit for hours.

 

I may bicker about everything from the crowds, spitters,…,to bus rides, but somewhere in all these things lies a part of me. Somewhere in there, it is ME!

India Diaries IV: Spitters, Ringtones and Bus Ride

 

Spitters vs. Non-Spitters

Whats up with people spitting on roads or as a matter of fact, at any random place or object that cannot fire the spit back at people. Last evening, while standing at bus stop, I counted that there are more spitters in Delhi than non-spitters. So my friend, if you are a non-swimmer and a non-spitter, then you are in grave danger and you can’t do much to avoid it.

Polyphonic/Musical ringtones

Polyphonic ringtones or Musical Ringtones at really high volume should be a crime. Yesterday I was in this Metro train and this guy’s ringtone almost caused a derailment with excessive sound waves generated from his ringtone. To make matters worse, most people with such ringtones never pick up their phone in two rings, even if they are holding the phone in their hands when it rang. I don’t know why they think that they are doing public a social service by making them listen songs like Achha Sila Diya tune and Tum to thehre pardesi everytime  their phone rings.

Bus Rides

If someone ever asked me what is Delhi equivalent of Roman Amphitheatres, then I would say it has to be the Delhi buses. First of all, even boarding a bus is a battle in itself and if somehow you win your first battle, then at any given second in bus there are like 10 people hanging from each arm of yours. And after enduring countless number of emotional, physical, mental traumas, if you do manage to get down in any proximity to the right bus stop, there is a very good chance that your wallet lost more than the amount of ticket and in some cases the wallet itself. Everytime, I am being pushed around in bus by unknown number of hands, I wish my mother had dipped me in Styx. You need to be demi-god or something to come out of such a bus ride with your spirits and body soaring high.

India Diaries III: The Bookstore

More people to help you than required

At any given time there were at least two sales-people following me in each aisle of the bookstore, and had no shame on their poor detective skills as it was clear that they were keeping an eye on me. Now, when something like this happens, it gives you a feeling that you have ‘Shoplifter’ written over your forehead in bold font.  And as if just following was not enough, every 30 sec, somebody would stop by and say, “Sir, Can I help you?”

“No thanks”. Now what makes them think that I need help every 30 sec. I am in a bookstore, not like in a pit of fire, kitchen or a Maths class.

“Sir, Can I help you?”

10th time when somebody asked me, I curbed my instincts to say, “yeah, can you leave me alone?” as that would have made the ‘shoplifter’ sign on my forehead a flashing red in bold, so I said, “Yeah, Do you have any books by David Sedaris”

The guy did not even look for a second and said, “NO!”

“Ok, do you have ‘Being Followed Endlessly’ by G.O. Nectar?”

This time he went looking and came back and said, “No Sir!” and exactly 42 seconds later there was this guy who came back and asked, “Sir, Can I help you with something?”

“Yeah sure! Your aisles are too long, Can I have a camel cart to travel through your shop!”

“No thanks”

Scratch cards are not meant to be scratched

The brightly colored box said on top “Pick up a card and scratch to win 10, 20 or 50% back on your purchase”. So obviously we picked up a card and started searching our pockets for a coin to scratch the card, but just then the women at the counter said, “Sir, please keep it back in the box” in a tone that was a mix of authority and request and would have suited a statement like, “Sir, the mummies are going to eat us all if you don’t keep the card back, and you will be the one to blame for death of us all.”

“Why?”, asked a slightly puzzled me.

“Sir, they are limited in number”

“What do you mean by limited in number? If I am buying something, I can pick one up. Right?”. Limited in number as if they are saving it for the holocaust and one day we are going to survive by eating these discount cards.

Given my luck, It is not that I expected anything more than ‘Try again’ or ‘Rs. 1 off on your next purchase of 1 lakh or more’ but still I kept on haggling for an opportunity to scratch one card.

“No Sir, it is only on purchase of 1000 Rs or more! You have only bought stuff for 454 Rs. only and you have already got a discount on that.” She replied.

“But the box does not say anything like that”. I was pretty sure that she just made that rule up by herslf, so I kept on pestering.

“Now sir, can you please put the card back in box. Here are your books and here is your receipt”. This time the tone was one that said, “you only have two options; 1. forget the scratch card, take your books and leave or 2. we will make sure that you do.”

India Diaries II

 

The adventure continues. An important piece of advice; never bring your WHITE Macbook to India (just to be politically correct, lets say Delhi in particular). Thanks to the construction work of Delhi Metro and a flyover, my house gets more dust per day than entire annual rainfall in Kalahari. Statue of a retired army Maj. General in Town Square is under such a thick layer of dust that it looks like one of those Easter Island ones now.

 

Took a ride in Haryana Roadways bus and the same old question from my childhood days came back to haunt me; How the hell do these buses even move an inch without falling apart? As soon as driver moved to 1st gear, I was pretty sure that next second my unhinged seat will be flying out all alone and land in a debris with all other seats lying around me on road, but still they somehow manage to get it to run across the length and breadth of whole Haryana state. I also travelled in this video coach bus and they were playing this crappy old B-grade movie flick starring some out of work A-grade actors. Then there was this drunkard who wanted to pee, so the driver had to stop in the middle of nowhere.

 

Shuffling channels on TV is fun. Every alternate channel is a news channel and in between news channels and soap operas, there are movie trailers. Oh! By the way, I found this trailer of Dev.D particulary interesting. Starring Abhay Deol, this movie is based on Devdas but I am pretty sure that it is going to be interesting take n Devdas. Specially with a song titled Emotional Atyachaar, and a band named Patna ke Preselys, this is one movie, I am looking forward to.

India Diaries -I

 

I am jetlagged! Totally! If you are talking to me in daytime, chances are that I am thinking that you are part of my dream. And in night, when I am awake, I am pretty much doing nothing, just thinking of how to make contact with alien race. Anyways, whenever I am not sleeping in the daytime, I am trying and avoiding death at the hands of cyclewallahs, rickshawwallahs, buswallahs, anything-on-the-road-wallahs. Yesterday at least 34 bicycle ridden assasins tried to kill me, and that too in a span of 10 minutes till I reached bus stop. After that the bus driver took over.

 

All this while I was trying to prevent these two people from falling out of the bus, I was thinking about these lines from Sunscreen song by Baz Luhrmann, “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.”  I was wondering if New York can be replaced with New Delhi and Northern California with Happy Valley in my case.

 

Oh! And did I tell you I was on same flight as Dr. Amartya Sen. Really! Although I thought that he was Amartya Sen intially but after my own face matching analysis I rejected the notion. But yesterday after reading newspaper, I realized that it was infact him. Another interesting thing happened in the flight, this old couple from Punjab sitting next to me, after getting all information about me, popped up the question about a potential arranged marriage match. I am still undecided as to whether I should see this as a sign of things to come in near future, or as a random question born out of a long flight on old minds. Whatever!

 

The non-stop flight to India was nice, except that the uncle ji sitting next to me kept on talking in some accent, of which I only understood, “ohji ollihji ollo olli khar khar khar” and girl sitting behind me kept on shouting that the engines are going to freeze midway. Stupid Girl! Due to her I could not imagine anything but a 30,000 ft skydive on my 14 hour long flight.

 

That’s almost everything so far! Will be back as soon as I can manage the telecom companies to repair the net connection at my home or else my next post will be from a telephone wire pillar.

Who is burning my world, my country, my hometown…?

 

Coming back from work at 3 AM has become ‘adventure’ in my hometown and that ‘adventure’ is bad. If somebody decides to shoot me for being so ‘adventurous’, my chief minister is going to blame my being adventurous for that incident.

 

Mob is delivering so called ‘justice’. A CEO of company fires some people and there comes Mob, beats him to death. I thought somebody would shout, “CUT! Next take” after this. But no its stark reality Mob kills a poor boy in village, Mob drags a women naked on the streets, Mob puts a train on fire, Mob kills another mob in riots…where are we heading….Instead of ‘flood’, is it the ‘Mob’ this time?

 

Bombs, bombs and more bombs!

“Hey Mom…can I go get a candy from nearby shop?”

“No kiddo..lets just stay in the bunker..the candy might just explode!”

“Where is Dad, momma?”

“Oh! He will be back from his adventure trip soon…”

 

Among all this, can somebody please signal me, when there is brief moment for all of us to smile!