Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Maids in Leather Pants

At lunch today, I overheard a few women colleagues discussing their maids animatedly. One of them suddenly piped up in a sarcastic tone: "These maids have turned so modern nowadays! I saw my maid on her off day shopping in the local market, wearing jeans, lipstick, and high heels!" As the others on the table went “ooh” and “aah” at the apparently scandalous behaviour, I started thinking.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you are saying: “Arnie and thinking? Is that not a contradiction in terms?” Well, all I have say to that is that just because it is office, that does not mean that I sleep all the time. I do have to wake up sometimes, especially when I am eating. Otherwise there is a tendency to push food into my nose, and that is not really an elegant sight. And when I am awake, and the food is in front of me, I have to think of things other than food. So maid servants are as good or as bad a topic to think of as any other.

Which brings us back to what was I actually thinking about maid servants. No, you filthy minds, I do have not that kind of perverse thoughts about maid servants. Even if those maid servants are cleaner than normal and stylish enough to wear jeans and high heels.

What I was actually thinking is why do people have this tendency to fit everyone else into comfortable stereotypes? What is so wrong in a maid wearing jeans? Or, for that matter, in the maid wearing leather pants and tank tops, if it pleases her? Not only will it be a pleasant change from the coconut hair oiled middle aged sour-mooded specimens that are the norm in Delhi, it is also a striking a blow for equality of the sexes. After all, the guy who comes to wash my car in the mornings and the guy who delivers the newspapers both wear jeans, and no body seems to find that shocking in the least.

So what's so wrong in a maid wearing jeans? Isn't she a human being with her own likings, her own aspirations, and her own young heart which wants to follow the latest that the so-called social superiors claim as their birthright? Especially when the social inferior is in better shape than the scandalized social superior, who, charitably put, resembles a giant pumpkin as she is 5 foot tall and 4 foot broad?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Boys Don't Cry

He had left his hometown in sleepy Assam for the first time and gone all alone to big bad Calcutta for his college studies. Two days before his exams started, a national movement broke out in full flame, and engulfed the nation. He had never heard much about the Independence movement in Assam, and his youthful dreams were engulfed by the magnitude of what he saw in Calcutta.

Resolving that the least he could do was quit wearing foreign clothes, he went and bought some khadi kurtas and dhotis. From that to joining the nationalistic movement was a small step, and soon he told his parents that studies could wait: the important thing was that the nation should be free of foreign rule. His parents understood and gave their blessings. Within two months, he was in jail. He was beaten up rather badly every day by the jailors, but did not utter a word in protest. After all, the British were not exactly known for their leniency during the Civil Disobedience movement. And boys, of course, don’t cry.

By the time he was released, he was a changed man. He had almost forgotten to smile. Deciding that he was too old to study, he turned to tilling the land like a true swadeshi. Independence came soon to the nation, and his parents decided that the best way to celebrate that was to get him married off. After a year, he was blessed with a baby daughter, and a year after that, with a son. Unfortunately, the girl died within a year of the brother’s birth. As he went to bury his little daughter, he tried to be philosophical about it. Men, of course, don’t cry.

The son grew up quite healthy, and five years later, it seemed everything was turning out good as they were blessed with another daughter. This one survived till three years of age, before she too succumbed to the same symptoms that had afflicted his elder daughter. He was stoic about this death too: after all, grown men don’t cry.

Another ten years passed. He had another son, who too was perfectly healthy. He always wanted a daughter, so when his wife unexpectedly got in the family way again at almost forty, he was overjoyed. Medicinal care was much better now, and the birth was perfectly normal. The little girl grew up as the apple of her parents’ and her elder brothers’ eyes. But tragedy struck again when the girl suddenly fell seriously ill when she was eight years old. The doctors tried their best, but two months later, she succumbed to her mysterious ailments. He was shattered inside, but the boys and their mother looked up to him for strength, and he could not fail them. After all, middle-aged men don’t cry.

A decade passed, and the elder boy got married. When his daughter-in-law was expecting, he half-wished that it would not be a girl, because he was convinced that the girls in his lineage were cursed. But his grand-daughter was healthy, and this time he did not have to cry. Another grand daughter followed, and he was overjoyed that the curse was finally lifted. When the younger son too produced two girls, the now elderly gentleman showered all his affections on the four little girls.

His younger brother and his two sisters passed away within five years of each other. He missed them in his old age, but after a lifetime of self-restraint, he could not shed any tears at any of their deaths. Old men, after all, are not supposed to cry.

Yesterday he passed away as quietly as he had lived. He hated bothering any one, and went away with as little fuss as he could muster at the age of 83. When his youngest brother heard the news, he took it hard, but did not cry. After all, his brother had taught him that grown men don’t cry and he had taught that same lesson to his own son.

So when he called me up to tell me the news, I could not weep either. After all, boys don’t cry.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Come On Baby, Light My Fire

Thank heavens, I have given up smoking again! God, I feel fine. Homicidal maybe, but still fine. I am a different man ever since I quit smoking. Yes, I am now irritable, moody, depressed, rude, and nervous! Giving up smoking is very easy: I do it once every month. See, it has already been 2 hours since I quit smoking, and I’m already writing like a mass murderer.

A girl I was seeing seriously objected to my smoking. I had to quit, she insisted. So I did quit. I quit seeing her. After all, she was a lot less capable of lighting my fire than a cigarette. That was a terrible pun, I must admit!

Good food, good sex and good sleep: to these three basic needs of sanity, man has added nothing in the past five thousand years apart from the good smoke. They threaten me with lung cancer, and still I smoke. If they'd only threaten me with hard work, I might quit smoking for longer than the couple of hours every day I manage. I insist that the cigarette helps me lose weight too: one lung at a time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fame is a Fickle Thing

There are people who are born to fame. Peope would have known about Abhishek Bachchan even if he had been as much of an actor as Kishen Kumar. Though Abhishek and the others might crib about the enormous pressures of living up to daddy's shoes, inherited fame is pretty cool. You have it made, all you got to do is try not to mess it up.

Raj Kapoor's three sons were all born to fame. Though only one of them ultimately remained famous, I suspect it is more to do with their names. If you call your favourite son Dabboo, the son will try his earnest best to make a Dabba out of his life. If you call another son Chimpoo, the idiot will try to be a chimpanzee all his life. But if you call him Chin-two, all he needs to fear is having a double chin. Which is all right, as that family seems to develop multiple chins even without the benefit of weird names.

And then there are those who achieve fame. Chief among this kind are the ones like Paris Hilton. You know, those who are famous simply for being famous. I actually went two years reading about Paris Hilton's escapades trying to figure out why she is so famous, till I learnt to my chagrin that her sole claim to fame is simply that she is famous!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Sleeping Ugly

I suddenly woke up with a really bad headache. It's the third week of the month: too early for next month's salary to come in, too late for last month's meagre alms to continue to last.

Was it a hangover? I must have consumed too many Red Bulls last night in a fatally doomed effort to be energetic enough to attend work today. I think I should have listened to Kapil Paaji and stuck to Boost!

Actually, I really should just stop trying to sleep in office. I call it office and not workplace, because I don't really work here. I just pretend to work, just like they pretend to pay me.

The good part is that it's almost 12 o clock, only an hour to go for lunch...and lunch is FREE here at office.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Best Dining Options in Delhi

My favourite eating places in Delhi:
  1. Karim's (Jama Masjid): The ultimate in Mughlai cuisine in the capital, perhaps the best in the entire world!
  2. Big Chill (Kailash Colony): Continental cuisine to suit all taste buds, this eatery is so popular, there's always a half-hour waiting time.
  3. China Garden (GK 2): Exquisite Chinese cuisine, not the Punjabi-Chinese variety that is so easily available elsewhere in the capital.
  4. Al Bake (New Friends Colony): This tiny eatery offers awesome Mediterranean cuisine. The shawarmas are justifiably famous all over Delhi.
  5. Oriental Bloom (Ansal Plaza): The dimsums here are to die for.
  6. My own home: Thanks to the wife's culinary capabilities. And my own exquisite non-veg stuff.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hey Babie

No children for me, and certainly no need or biological urge to have any. People should have babies only when they want to, and are financially, mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to be responsible for another human being not for a day, not for a month, not for a year, but for the rest of their lives. It's a frightening thought, being responsible for someone else's life.

There may be some pros to having a kid, though I personally can't see any. "Emotional bonding" is the one most women bandy about. I'm done with emotional investment for my entire life, it's too low-percentage a game to play. I don't need to live a life where I'll have to think twice before going out or doing my own thing. I don't need a life where I'll have to think twice about what I'm watching because it might be unsuitable for the pint-sized human sitting next to me. I don't need a life where I have to bear the cross of being a role model to any one.

A good reason to have kids is when you're crazy about them, not because your insecure inner self tells you that you'll need company when you are 65 and don't want to be in an old-age home. Should I have kids because my long-suffering parents need to become grandparents? No. Should I have them because all people my age do? Nope. 

Should I have them because my biological clock is ticking away at double speed? Hell, no, that's like saying I never bought something from the supermarket and now they are on sale and will be out of stock soon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Shade and The Shadow

I am back on the long road. All alone on the endless journey with the scorching sun burning my back. The big tree I had called my own has been chopped off. My only chance of finding a momentary shade is gone.

My shadow wants to leave me too. The shadow is following me only because of the sun, cruel though the heat may be. But who will stand by me in the dead of the night? Can I start a tenuous friendship with my own loneliness?

I walk alone, with just my tears to call my own. Alone again, for ever, on the endless journey of life. The desert is limitless, and the sea shore is too far away.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Be Happy, And Stay Happy

It is not your fault. Maybe it's just that we no longer seem to have anything in common. Your horizons have broadened. You have achieved so much in life at such a young age. And I stayed the same old man, still driving the same old car. Maybe moving back with me is nothing but a step back. Into an arena where you don't feel the same happiness you do in your new world.

I feel the tone of resignation that creeps into your voice whenever we talk about settling back into the old routine. Maybe you need to be away from me to be happy. And I think we should all do whatever we all need to do in order to be happy. Please go back again and again as many times as it takes for you to be a permanent resident of the wonderful land of opportunity. Each time you need to return for a limited amount of time to find your moorings, I shall welcome you back.

Be happy, and stay happy. Thank you for whatever you have done for me. And thank you for having once let me dream of paradise.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

25 Rock n Roll and Country Rock Songs

Time to wind up the song season. This time it's my list of the greatest rock n roll and country rock numbers. This list is slightly longer than the other two, primarily because the King kept on making too many appearances in the list, and I just could not keep out any of his best stuff.

25. Elvis Presley – Love me Tender: Sung to the tune of "Aura Lea", a sentimental Civil War ballad, this has Elvis singing with little or no musical accompaniment. And yet manages to sound just awesome.

24. George Jones - She Thinks I Still Care: Anne Murray also has a cover version of this song, and even that one's really good. I think it's probably the lyrics.

23. Elvis Presley - It's Now Or Never: The King's take on "'O Sole Mio" makes the Neapolitan song sound incredibly romantic.

22. Anne Murray - You Needed Me: Murray's rich alto voice breaks the boundaries between country rock and pop, but who cares? For those of you who haven't heard this Canadian lady, you don't know what you're missing.

21. Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing: I know many of you think this song should belong to my rock list, but I insist that this earliest of their hits is more rock n roll.

20. The Beatles - All My Loving: Paul's inspired vocals and Harrison's Nashville-influenced guitar solo on this country-ish Beatles number makes it special for me.

19. Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock: For me, this is the quintessential rock n roll number, and the best from the early Elvis era.

18. Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock Around The Clock: the companion piece in spirit to the one above, this is heady rock n roll.

17. Elvis Presley - Blue Suede Shoes: Try listening to this song in conjunction with the two above. Pure old rock n roll magic!

16. The Beatles - You Really Got a Hold on Me: This Beatles cover of a hit from The Miracles has outlived the original. Reason perhaps is the vocal superiority. Features Lennon on lead vocal with George on close harmony.

15. Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode: This song arguably had much to do with the establishment of the guitar as the lead instrument in rock and roll, rather than the piano or the tenor saxophone, both of which had been in the running since the emergence of the genre. The riffs and guitar licks are truly memorable...

14. The Beatles - Love Me Do: The Beatles first single has some funky bluesy harmonica by John, and some fantastic high-energy lead vocals by him and Paul with George cheerfully donning the harmony vocals part again.

13. Elvis Presley – Don’t Cry Daddy: This little-known number (by Presley's standards, not by anybody else's!) is hauntingly beautiful.

12. The Beatles - Let it Be: This is Paul at his balladic best. God know why John was not so fond of it...

11. Don McLean - American Pie: Don's allusive song about Buddy Holly's death is an epic song of the spirit of America. This is high poetry, not some soon-to-be forgotten love lyric.

10. Elvis Presley - The Girl of My Best Friend: Another rather obscure number by the King, this song inspires amorous feelings about other people's wives and girlfriends...probably because of the hypnotic vocals.

9. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds: How can this man sing so well?

8. Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Over 150 covers of this song have been sung, including one rather good one by G 'n R, but the greatest living poet in the English language deserves to be in this list if only because of what he's done to music over the years.

7. Elvis Presley - In The Ghetto: Another great one by the lord of all he surveys...what more can I say about him?

6. John Denver - Country Roads: John Denver's ode to West Virginia is really good, in spite of all it's popularity!

5. Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight: "Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?" the man asked in a concert, showing the versatility of the lyrics!

4. Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy: Hmmm...everyone know the refrain to this one and joins in gustily, after forgetting how the rest of the lyrics went!

3. The Beatles - Hey Jude: Now what can you say about an eight minute song with a two minute fade? Don't bother, there's a reason why this is by far the most popular Beatles song.

2. Elvis Presley - She's Not You: This is my favourite Presley number, and I can't really tell you why. But it rocks...

1. John Denver – Annie’s Song: Probably the single most romantic song ever written. The song has become a standard expression of love for many people, due to its grand imagery and the fact it could apply to anyone - after all, Annie Denver is not mentioned by name in any part of the song.

Monday, March 19, 2007

20 Favourite Pop Songs

Carrying on with my musical musings, here's my list of my favourite pop songs. Unlike rock, pop is not really a genre, just a name given to popular vocal-driven songs of any era. Hence the presence of disco, soft rock and blues numbers in my list.

20. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean: Though I am no fan of Wacko Jacko, I can't deny his status as a performer. This song is my numero uno among Jackson's chart-busting success stories.

19. Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive: Falsetto never sounded so cool.

18. Rolling Stones - Satisfaction: The original bad boys' attack on the status quo finds its place on most lists. Deservedly so.

17. Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven: Clapton's heart-rending eulogy to his son sure tugs at the heart-strings.

16. Madonna - Like A Virgin: The Queen of Pop reinvents herself every five years, but her earliest mega-hit still remains her best.

15. Wham - Careless Whispers: Silken magic. Sugary sweet melody, but works for me.

14. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You: For sure lung-power, Houston takes the cake in this one.

13. ABBA - The Winner Takes It All: Thank ABBA for the music...the magic lingers on.

12. Carpenters - Yesterday Once More: The siblings knew how to soothe the ears lovingly.

11. Roy Orbison - Oh, Pretty Woman: They keep on rediscovering this song every decade. Proof of its evergreen magic.

10. The Eagles - Hotel California: Whichever version you prefer, this song really rocks.

9. Carpenters - Top of the World: A really upbeat number that never fails to pick up my spirits.

8. ABBA - Mamma Mia: Another one from the Swedish group. No wonder only Elvis and the Beatles outsell them.

7. Simon and Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence: Eerily beautiful.

6. Billy Joel - Piano Man: Though Uptown Girl and River of Dreams may find more takers, for me this is the quintessential Billy Joel number.

5. John Lennon - Imagine: Don't look for the Beatles in this list, but Lennon's immortal ode to world piece is a priceless pop gem.

4. That Thing You Do: This rocking number from the movie soundtrack about a fictional band never fails to set me foot-tapping.

3. ABBA - Dancing Queen: No really a dance number, even with that title. But one heck of a peppy tune.

2. Cliff Richard - Evergreen Tree: The bachelor boy's ode to immortal love is probably the most romantic song I've ever heard.

1. Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water: This song haunts me. Probably something to do with Garfunkel's vocals. Or maybe it has something to do with those lyrics...

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Greatest Rock Songs Ever

For no particular rhyme or reason, today I’m putting together a list of what I feel to be the 20 greatest rock songs ever. Please note that I said "rock" songs - that means certain artists and certain songs aren't eligible to enter this list. Maybe some other day, I’ll compile a list of the 20 greatest non-rock songs.

20. R.E.M.: Everybody Hurts: I'm not really a R.E.M. fan, but this one is something special.

19. Beatles: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds: I love the atmosphere this song creates. It has a very cool, almost inexplicable vibe to it that just draws you in as a listener.

18. U2: Pride (In the Name of Love): I love Edge's ringing guitar and Bono’s impressive vocal performance is truly awe-inspiring.

17. Aerosmith: Dream On: The original "power ballad", and possibly Tyler’s best lyrics.

16. U2: Bad: An intensely emotional sound is what sets this apart.

15. Bob Marley: Redemption Song: This song is the story of Marley’s life, and a call to future generations to "sing these songs of freedom."

14. Metallica: One: The greatest true heavy metal song ever put to tape.

13. Aerosmith: Sweet Emotion: I love this song for the swagger it presents.

12. Beatles: Revolution: A strong melody, good playing, and a song that actually has something to say.

11. Tom Petty: Free Fallin: I don't know a solitary soul who hates this song. That alone is enough to get it on the list.

10. Guns N Roses: November Rain: It's not often that an 8 minute epic becomes a band's biggest hit. But such was the case with G'nR and November Rain.

9. Aerosmith: Walk This Way: Probably the best known guitar riff ever.

8. AC/DC: Highway to Hell: Those opening chords just sound like you're starting on a trip to hell. A whole lot of people can relate to being on a highway to hell.

7. The Doors: Roadhouse Blues: Sounds like a band on a musical rampage. No matter how many people think it’s great, it actually is!

6. Guns N Roses: Paradise City: A six plus minute long hard rock epic, this has one of those unforgettable and great hard rock choruses, not to mention some all around fantastic playing.

5. The Doors: Light My Fire: I love the Doors. More accurately, I love Jim Morrison. Enough said.

4. Queen: Hammer to Fall: I honestly think this has some of guitarist Brian May's best work. It's certainly an under-rated song by a band that had so many great ones.

3. U2: With or Without You: What else can be said about this song? It's probably one of the two or three best songs to come out of the 1980s, and it remains just as inspirational and hopeful now as it did then.

2. U2: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: I honestly feel that this is the most honest song ever written.

1. Pink Floyd: Another Brick in the Wall Part II: The only Pink Floyd song on the list. It is almost impossible to calculate how much this song, and the album it was a part of ("The Wall") influenced other bands and artists, but to say it was great is an extreme understatement.

In case you noticed it yet, this list still looks incomplete. That's because the single greatest rock song is not on this list. That's because that song is beyond this list. This one is beyond controversy, beyond argument…and beyond belief…

And that song is...

#Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody: NO song has it over this one.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Old Questions

The Questions
Why do things go wrong?

Why do I still remember?
Why can I not move forward?
Why am I afraid to move back?

Why does it get so difficult to breathe each time I remember you?
Why do my eyes take on a different light When I look at your old photos?
Why does my voice break each time I mention you in passing?
Why are we apart?
Why are we still alive?

The Answer

I can't deny

Never shall try
Someday these arms
Shall chain you again
If to the cosmos
Our love belongs
Then it shall survive
Every death we die
Remember me do
Till you close your eyes
That day swears
To also close mine…

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Loser

I hear a silver laugh in the pale moonlight. It sings to me of quicksilver emotions, and of quicksand promises.

It asks me if I could desecrate the temple which I built with my own hands. It asks me if I could defile my idol even if it had feet of clay. I had long worshipped at the altar in silent awe, but my bared heart got a hollow reply, a cacophony of broken dreams.

I had but a small wish, like the child who sought the moon. And now on the sands so white, I see writ a single word. And the waves roar along: "Loser..."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Will Survive

You can try hurting my sensitivity or violate my personal space. But if try to emasculate the free striding gait of my original thought, I will not just lie back and shriek impotent abuses at my violator.

I have broken through the shackles, leaving behind the placental comforts of familiar domesticity. I will never allow the solitary voice to be lulled into silence by the air polluted by senile worshippers of mediocrity.

This too, shall pass...and I will survive...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Travelling Light

I travel alone, and I travel light, all the while warbling a sad little tune. No blue skies beckon in the horizon. I know but vaguely my own destination. I had set out bravely, with dreams in my eyes. Now I'm left wondering where the road does end.

My broken down car with my rundown tyres match my threadbare clothes. The tired stars are my only guide, and my silent shadow my only friend. But I know that I have to keep walking till I come to the seashore. I can rest only when my exhausted feet touch the wet sand. And I can be washed away with the dying jellyfish...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Search for Infinity

I tried to unravel the web that connects my thoughts, tried talking to my self. I tried to reach the innermost recesses of my conscious reality, tried to reach the native throne of every emotion and creativity. And of course, the throne has lost its one-time lustre. And I have been left bereft of all my moorings.

My consciousness starts to slowly dissolve in the vast unknown. The outside world ceases to intrude, and now there is nothing to fall back upon. The positive absence of nothingness. The presence of absence, the presence of non-presence...after all, all contradictions break down in the narrow vastness of infinity.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Have Recovered my Eyesight

In the dark of the moonless night, I can see one more deliberate accident. All the smoke from the crowded pyres can barely shroud a murder most foul and imprudent.

As I look closer, I see the human sacrifice being bathed and made ready. With eerie chants, I watch the macabre procession going down the blood-red streets.

I join in intoning the demonic melody. My bloodshot eyes can see nothing peculiar in angels and devils perishing together.

After six sightless months, I have recovered my eyesight. I shall not sleep again.