Sunday, July 30, 2006

Weekend Again

Where does the week dissipate away? I only seem to recollect the weekend these days. I pretend to be doing work Mon-Fri but have so little to show for it at the end. Is tomorrow really Monday?

This is seriously starting to sound like a rant and I don't want it to because I had a really nice, lazy weekend. Sans work. Its been so long since I had one of those late lie-in, encased in sunlight mornings, sauntering at a market, stretching all the way to glorious afternoon in the park ending with white wine and strawberries kind of weekend.

There was another bonus-Zadie Smith. I went to watch her read an excerpt from On Beauty on Saturday. I was there on time but it was already packed. Two middle-aged women sitting at the back exchanged: 'She is so gorgeous'. I think most of them there were mesmerized by the lissom vision. And she read like a dream. To pin-drop silence in the hall. And took all those standard, mundane questions of 'what is your inspiration?', 'who are your influences?' etc which must have been brandished to her thousands of times. With utmost patience. No tantrums, no standoffish shrugs as slagged by the press. There was even a kind of shy bewilderment with all the attention.

Isn't it lovely that a writer you adore doesn't disppoint in person? Of course a cynic may say that its all a show-she needs to be nice now that she's had so much bad press about her atrocious behaviour. I can't be bothered about all that fine print really. She's great (except for brown shoes with black dress fashion faux pas ).


On the Rushdie v Greer sequel, two literary giants battle out about whether the filming of Monica Ali's Brick Lane should continue in the area. There's been a big hue and cry by the Bengali community. I come from a country where censorship is a way of life (if you disagree with me, go to this blog). I don't think the protestors even appreciate all that is to be lost by if the filming is to be halted ( I think it already has).

I didn't think that Brick Lane was a particularly good book. I agree with some of the allegations made by the Brick Lane-ites. That the book projected some very stereotypical views about their lives. I don't know whether it is going to make a good movie. But like the book, we can all sit and criticize the film once it's made. Wouldn't that be better?

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Weekend (in parenthesis)

I seem to be unable to talk without parenthesis (theses?) these days. Maybe it is a subconscious reflection of how life itself meanders, stop- gap like between this interminable PhD. Everything else is a peripheral add-on (why do I keep plodding then? I don't know-I am a self-flagellating freak I suppose).

M and I threw the house open last Saturday for a summer party cum very belated house warming (9 months since we moved in. We are slow like that-we needed to sort the house first. Work and stuff like that caught up and after that, decided that we will wait for better weather. Which seemed worth the wait later because Saturday dawned with a light, refreshing shower. Such a welcome after the oppressive heat these past few days. It got fairly hot and sunny mid-morning but we managed with a few fans and air coolers). From late afternoon onwards, the air was cooler and everyone started streaming into the garden. There was BBQ and all manners of food, thanks mostly to my mom (my parents are on holiday here currently which has generally been lovely. On the days that I am working from home, I have company for breakfast and lunch. And the gastronomic delights that keep emerging from the kitchen. Wowzers).

Some of my favourite people turned up (even though they were choc-a- ful with work-so many thanks for the company). Unfortunately, I don't have any blog friendly photos. The last guests left around half 11 and goodness, were we exhausted. All the peeling, cutting, chopping and stirring the day before and the cleaning earlier suddenly seeped to our limbs (next time we are having a party, I am catering).

The next day, we woke up late, ate left overs and watched a really bad Hindi movie on TV.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hello, Hello, Hello

I recently attended a conference in the heart of Whitehall. For a brief period, I felt that I had stepped back into a place frozen in time (I am into cheesy phrases currently) with large pictures of William Gladstone and Thomas Babington MacCaulay staring down at me (I know that blogtiquette necessitates a link here but they are old fogeys. And I am being lazy). The place even had a proper powder room (such a pity that I didn't have my camera with me). I could just picture the flawed high society women from Oscar Wilde going upstairs to powder their noses. And all the proper balls at the function room which was draped in regal, damask curtains and an ornate chandelier.

The conference however was very much about the present: development and poverty and all those things we think can be solved by discussing (maybe not?). It was all about talking, sharing, disagreeing and networking like crazy. The thing that struck me later after the whole conference was the hellos that were exchanged.

Hello. A word that punctures your life with a new person.

Hellos that make you laugh. An esteemed legal theorist who thinks Superman is better than Spiderman as a cultural concept. A whole new juxtaposition opens.

Hellos that introduce you to new thought streams. A centre-left wing, European hello gelled with a loud American right-wing hello over lunch. As the neo-liberal hellos fill me with a genial disbelief (can there be such a thing? Its all in the nice hello that started the conversation I say). Strange insights ensue. Hellos that agree to disagree.

Some hellos mean nothing. You know after leaving the room, you will never meet the person again. But there are nicer hellos that will seek you at the end of the conference, group a few others and go for a drink afterwards. Hellos that get slightly tipsy together and promise to meet up again.

The best hellos are the ones remembered later. When we become really good friends and recollect how we had first met.


Last weekend, we were joined by friends of friends for lunch. It was later, when they stopped by at our place, that M and I knew this would be a hello that would blossom into a long, proper friendship.


With regards to the all out war in Beirut, this diary-note by a Lebanese artist particularly struck me:
"I would have to leave behind all my artwork in my studio.
What about all my brushes and paints and glitter and books? (All my books!) What
about our photo albums? Our family pictures? What about the doodles I drew on my
balcony a few summers ago when I was suffering from a bad break-up? What about
all the love letters I have saved? Letters that document my youth that I wanted
to someday give to my daughter."
The destruction of ordinary lives as political chess games are waged.
The most sensible piece I've read about the problems in the middle-east has been by Ahdaf Soeif. Although I never liked her fiction, her non-fiction work is scintillating.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

For Mumbai

From Salman Rushdie's "The Moor's Last Sigh":

Bombay was central, had been so from the moment of its creation: the bastard child of a Portuguese-English wedding, and yet the most Indian of Indian cities. In Bombay all Indias met and merged. In Bombay, too, all-India met what-was-not-India, what came across the black water to flow into our veins...Bombay was central; all rivers flowed into its human sea. It was an ocean of stories; we were all its narrators, and everybody talked at once.

Uma reminded me all over again about the city's spirit as it crawls under the debris of a meaningless, hateful attack.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Turning One

Amidst the flurry of life passing by, in muted tones, this blog turned 1. I almost let it slip by but today, as any day is, an apt day to remember all that it means to me, especially the warm friendships and girl camaraderie that have bloomed as a result in this past year. I feel that we're old friends already.

To each one of you, the ones I know and don't, the commenting ones and silent ones. You've made all the difference to this blog in this past year. Thank you.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The pain in my heart

festers as tumescent old wounds are pried open and scratched. I am the sum of choices made, options discarded, chances blown away. Today, my cloistered world is blue, black and green.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference


Bawl. Repeat above. Internalize. Move on.