How was the other night?

Now when my colleague asked me this, it simply meant that the other
night was a cool one, in fact a (brrr...) cold one. I finally hired an air conditioner and installed it in my room. Though it was a hell of a job seeing my room covered in dust and cleaning it up thereafter (besides cursing myself for thinking that getting an ac fixed is a piece of cake), the end result was undescribable. I even called up my dad and started giggling excitedly: "Baba it's so cold and nice." He must have thought: "My poor daughter seems to have lost it. She's reacting like she's seen an ac for the first time." But aloud he said: "Enjoy mamma". And I am, so much so that even two days later the novelty refuses to fade away.

However, all this doesn't mean that good days are here. What an ac can't take away is the pain of travelling for assignments on hot sultry days in auto rickshaws. E says I should probably look for a car on hire!

Yesterday I had this drooly drooly experience for sure. I met Abhishek Bachchan. When I say he's hot, it's an understatement. As I sat across him for an interview, I couldn't take my eyes off his chest (his shirt was carelessly carefully open till some point). But he seemed to be quite a twerp when it came to giving candid answers. I bet the word 'candid' doesn't exist in his dictionary. Another thing...he's bloody tall.

The rest of the day was a stinker. First of all my shoes gave way on the road while I was on my way to my next assignment. I had to hobble back to the cobbler with the road scorching my bare feet. It was pathetic. At the assignment, I caught hold of this theatre personality whose name happened to be Khalid Muhammad (yes same as that of the filmmaker). The foolish PR person told me very confidently that it was the filmmaker guy. I went up and asked him: "So Mr Muhammad what projects are you working on at the moment?" He said: "I am not Khalid Mohammad of Silsilay." Why why does it happen to me?

After this I went for a third assignment. It was an UN event on anti
drugs day. My bait for attending it had been a performance by rock band Them Clones. But the prelude was too much to weather. Plus there were tiny hammers pounding together in my head, all at one go it seemed. I decided to meet P for coffee. My auto stopped somewhere near P's office and the autowallah was caught by the police constable. The autowallah had the gall to bark at me. It was like a bad comedy. I couldn't understand what he was saying nor could I make what he was shouting at me for (he had stopped of his own free will). This was followed by me standing on a dusty road desperately trying to hail another auto with an irate constable's aid.

On my way back home after dinner at Pizza Hut, I realised with a sinking feeling that my cell phone was nowhere to be found in my immensely cluttered bag. To top it all, while I was rummaging for it, my compact fell out of the auto and I saw the mirror inside it breaking into tiny little shards (well, I am a bit superstitious about mirrors). The guy at Pizza Hut was the icing. He calmly flicked out my cell and said: "Is this yours?" I am sure nothing could have been more obvious than my relief. But my good friend didn't think it was proof enough. He wanted solid proof. At that moment when I felt like screaming at him out of sheer relief and frustration, there was a stranger across the room who smiled at me in silent solidarity. It feels funny how small gestures can touch you. I smiled back at her and felt decidedly calmer. After I established my identity as the owner, I walked out an immensely relieved individual.

I returned home. There was no light.


Why can't Bengali men be like Brad Pitt?

.... So mused my friend P after a two-and-half-an-hour dose of Mr & Mrs Smith. I was, well, prone to agree with her, only there was one problem. Mr Pitt happens to have a reputation for being the smelliest stud. See... there's always a hitch to every guy. Damn.

The film itself was pretty hard-earned. Literally so. We had to stand at the PVR counter at Saket maintaining a hawk-like stance while from in front of our very noses the guys at the counter were passing on tickets to some guys who were busy blacking the same. One of the latter even approached me and asked in a whisper, "Which show tickets are you looking for?" I said: "7.15 pm" He said: "150 for 200." I put on my best bargaining behaviour. It didn't work.

I was at the receiving end of a smirk followed by the words: "Maddam
yaha 190 nahi ho raha hai aur aap 170 ki bol rahe ho?" (Here I am not
even going down to Rs 190 and you are talking of Rs 170) So I moved in a huff back to the counter determined this time to create trouble if I didn't get two tickets. I am glad I got them then. Cause I was in a mutinous mood, basically in a mood to call up Ajay Bijli right then and letting him know how pathetic everything was. (Well I did message him and express extreme indignation. And he did call back and ask for details. However I refrained from mentioning my identity. The best part was he didn't even ask.)

Inside the hall, we had to move seats because we happened to have
plonked ourselves in the wrong seats. There was a guy sitting beside P who was really weird. I asked him to shift and he refused flatly saying, "This is my final seat. Your seat must be elsewhere." And he wouldn't budge. How tempted was I to drop my bag on him (it seemed to weigh tons. It had my Vikram Seth). Finally he must have heard me mouthing loudly to P: "Is this guy retarded?" He moved.

The result was I had him sitting next to me and almost leaning on to my seat. So I got a crick in the neck while leaning towards P. Then in the middle of the movie, he suddenly said to himself, "Mr & Mrs Smith". I swear he wasn't on the phone. After the interval he returned with popcorn and started stuffing it into his mouth like muri (puffed rice). You can forgive me for begging her to exchange seats with me. She wouldn't.

In the midst of all this I got some messages from an ex colleague which pissed me off thoroughly. He made it a point to advise me to drink, but not to drink like a fish. Because apparently someone he met at a party claimed to have dropped me home "in an inebriated state" besides claiming "several other things". Hmph...Why do guys lie so badly? Obviously the latter is lying and to top it all I get this sneaking suspicion that my ex colleague's not exactly the benevolent saint he's portraying himself to be. He refuses to let out the name of the guy.

Among other things I bought six books from a Saket roadside. I have to stop buying books. Seriously. I think I have a pile of some 20-odd books waiting to be read. Meanwhile my Vikram Seth continues to be a marathon read.


Truly skin-deep

I met this Punjabi babe the other day. A tall, well-built gal with blue blue eyes (read contact lenses).

This is how I came across her. I had reached a concert where Indian Idol Abhijeet Sawant would be performing. I was supposed to meet him
backstage for an interview. The only thing was I couldn't get anywhere inside. The PR girl I had talked to was nowhere in sight. Finally in desperation I caught hold of someone who did look a PR person and said, "Please get me backstage to Sonia." As it turned out I was asking Sonia for Sonia. My sigh of relief could not have been more pronounced. Jostling for space out there among muscle-flexing guys and auntyjis with their little kids, I was quite out of depth.

I tripped in to the air-conditioned backstage feeling like a queen after the sauna-like experience in the open air. I saw this huge white enclosure with cubicles lined on both sides with names on them. All the Sony actors and actresses were rehearsing. I happened to look in at one of those cubicles where this actor Sasha was doing a mock dance. Ok so I have eyes. Which fell on Sasha's cubicle. He banged the door in my face. "Do an about turn A," I muttered to myself and went into the cubicle marked out for Abhijeet and the Indian Idol finalists. Only to see Abhijeet rushing out to the stage. I looked at the other people in the room - rather the only other occupant - a girl with blue eyes sitting on the other side of the room. The Punjabi babe.

She smiled. I smiled.

Me: Are you the choreographer?

She: No, I am Sudhir's girfriend. (I drew a complete blank. Was I
supposed to know who he was?)
My musings were over in a minute. Entrez Sudhir. In a flashy purple shirt showing a lot of pale skin, a huge golden cross and a really bald head looking at me through mousy eyes. And almost immediately started doing little jerky steps. I averted my eyes bashfully for some time. I don't know why. He was an anonymous dancer for the evening.

She: So you are reading a novel. Which one (I held up my book. Vikram
Seth-A Suitable Boy. I really have to stop carrying it around. The last time it was mishandled by a French hottie). Now it's good to read to increase your knowledge and all that but I can't go beyond two-three pages of a novel.

Me: Oh so you are not a big reader

She: I read Archies

Here there was a lull in our conversation. After which Sudhir disappeared and our lady came and joined me on my sofa. She introduced herself as Anisha. I ventured forth to ask her about her profession.

She: I am in Class IX in Presentation.

My eyes popped out. Me thought she so looked a 26-yr-old.

She: Ya I know some people ask me if I have failed ever. But I am very good in studies.

Me: Ok, but why would you need to do presentations in Class IX?

She: It's a convent. Presentation Convent. Very well known.

Me: I am really sorry. I don't know much about Delhi schools.

Next my questions veered to what she wanted to do with her life. "I want to go into the glamour line," she said. Modelling, acting,... what? "My mother was a model who left the industry because of you-know-what, so I will not go into all that. I will be an international air hostess," she informed me. She also had me know that she can sing, dance and act well. To which I wondered aloud why she wasn't out there on stage. "Well, Sudhir already has a dancing partner - Jyoti." I looked at her and said, "You don't need a Sudhir to be performing!"

15 minutes with her and my head was buzzing. Anyways next I made a comment.

You are a Punjabi?

She: How do you know?

Me: It's pretty obvious. (Quickly) I mean you look like one. Take it as a compliment.

She (flicking her hair three times in a row): Ya I know Punjabis have
fair skins. But I like dusky skin (turning towards me). I like your
skin. You know it has an allure about it.

The conversation ended there. God stepped in, in the form of the Indian Idol finalists trooping in after a performance.



Late though it is, let me do the part of a taggee.

I am a book freak and apart from reading them I love collecting them as well. So when I enter a bookshop, I go completely berserk. I just don't know what to leave out from my list of buys. The result is every time a poorer me emerges out of the bookshop.

One thing I hate absolutely hate - seeing those slimy silver fishes scurrying about the edges of my precious books. I have never managed to exterminate one till now. They are so incredibly quick.

Now let me stop straying and get to the details.

How many books do I own?
This is really tough. I have a library room back home which is stacked with books and books. Some of it are my parents' collection and it has loads of Bengali classics, of which I have read only two per cent(I have just asked my father to send me a copy of Saratchandra's Parineeta). The rest of the books are my additions over the years of haggling with booksellers on College Street and afternoons of coming out laden with books from Landmark and Oxford Bookstore.

The last book I bought
Quite a few. Yesterday I went and spent a grand on The Motorcycle Diaries of Che Guevara, A Georgette Heyer and a Tintin (sheepish smile). The week before I bought four classics because I loved the binding (of course it was a big bargain): She by Rider Haggard, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome, Madame Bovary by Flaubert and The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The last book I read
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. An entertaining read.

Five books that mean a lot to me
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - To think that a convict could write so well! I was enthralled by Shantaram (Roberts was christened so in a village in India). The way he has documented Bombay, I don't think any other writer has ever managed to do that. Immediately after this I read Suketu Mehta's Maximum City Lost and Found which was again on Bombay. It paled in comparison.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth - From the beginning I have been hooked on to it. And the fact that it has been criticised by the Dragon, has egged me on to prove him wrong. But seriously san any hidden agenda, I am enjoying the book.

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee - Yeah yeah I know it is a cliche. But I fell in love with Atticus Finch.

Feluda series by Satyajit Ray - I have guzzled each and every book of Ray in my teen years. I just can't get over Feluda and his adventures. They have this wonderful holiday mood about them...E has brought back a fat collection of his stories from Cal. I am
dying to get my hands on it.

Narnia series by C S Lewis- Indelibly linked with my school days

Now I feel like going on and on and on about more books. I am straining at the leash.

Five more people to tag
Now whom to tag? Hmm...
Ok ok I have run out of names. Cause almost everyone in blogland's been tagged.


Three words ain't enough

This is what I have been upto of late. Covering concerts, checking out men dancing to Bollywood item numbers and being thought a pick up by some French bastards. The most taxing of all - catching up with a former crush and pretending nothing's on between us.

*Men dancing to item numbers for the ladies sounded tempting. I was
convinced it would be a night out ogling strippers. My fantasy never
came true. These were men dancing bare chested trying to imitate the
likes of Shahrukh, Salman and Hrithik. They were hopeless. Not only
because they didn't go the full way with the Full Monty act, but also
because they were pathetic dancers.

*I couldn't believe I was interviewing Engelbert Humperdinck (And
all the while I knew that he was dead). Anyways the interview happened to be a pleasure. The man had no hoity toityness about him. And his concert took me back me even more. I was not exactly dying with enthusiasm to attend it. But I was surprised to see that a 69-yr-old man could be so entertaining, that he could be so enjoyable. The old-world charm was infectious. And I was glad that I had gone after all.

*Now I know better than try to talk to weirdly dressed French guys. Even for a story. At a do I saw this guy in a flamboyant orange hat, nerdy glasses and natty suit. He looked quite like a strutting cockatoo as he went up and down about the whole place. You couldn't miss him. I couldn't. My next move was trying to talk to him since an extremely drunk PR woman kept saying he was some interior designer. What she didn't tell me was this: He was a nutcase.

When I first tried to get his attention, he swept past me royally. His friends turned to me. Now just a while back I had been casting admiring looks at one of them. He was quite a hottie. But the moment he brought his face inches close to mine and asked me: "What book are you reading? Is it a Bible?" I could have swatted his handsome face. Instead I had this saccharine sweet smile on my face: "Yeah I carry Bible to parties."

When I finally talked to Orange Hat, he had this eeky smile on his face. Putting his hands on my shoulder which next kept traversing the length of my spinal column for the duration of our talk, he said: "First lets have some dinner. Come, come." The moment I said I was from a newspaper everything changed magically. His response changed to: "Let me finish dinner." For the next few minutes, his friends (including the hottie) couldn't take their eyes off me and P (who was standing at some distance all the time). I guess they must have thought we were easy lays. Bastards.

*What is it about attraction that irks one so? I have been having some old turbulent feelings resurface after I met my former crush. He's come down from Princeton and is on his way to Calcutta even as I write. I might try to pretend that I want nothing from him, but the truth remains that I do. Depression's setting in real fast.