aristera says

Thursday, June 29, 2006


half time

Mid-way through the year. Time to see the accounts. New year resolutions were made. Ofcourse, they were for the entire year, but its nice to see how far we have come (or not come). So here goes, me 6 months ago…

1. go see ankorwat - missed it, but still might.
2. buy a car - done
3. read books on my list of must reads -decent progress, not bad at all
4. get my works published on cover page - work in progress, will be done
5. learn to salsa - tried, twice, not my cup of tea
6. drive down somewhere far in the rains - work in progress too!
7. have a threesome - sigh. lets see.
8. go for the abida parween concert at humayun’s tomb - missed it only because no one told me when it happened!! grrrr!!
9. get rid of my cold - no cold as of now
10. be happy - sigh. work in progress, i guess...

Ah, well. Not too bad. 6 more moths to go. I think I can manage it, n’est pas? We shall see. Some more plans are in the pipeline. Lets see how it goes. No clue yet.
One thing I cant handle is bureaucracy. Endless paper work, endless queues and unprofessional attitude. No value for the other persons time. It disgusts me like mad. It really does. Ruins my entire day and depresses the hell outa me. I don’t know why, but it does.

Another thing I don’t like to do is accounts and clerical paper work. I feel I am wasting precious time which could have been well spent doing something more meaningful. But this I can handle. I know that eventually I will have someone to do it for me. As for now, I will survive.

Nothing cheers me up like Sex and the City. Am always in an upbeat mood when I see the show. Its like a placebo. It makes me smile, ponder, giggle, chuckle and roll my eyes.

One line that Carrie said, struck a chord. I thought to myself, hey! That’s my line. “we have nothing in common but each other”…. Pondered over it and laughed it off. Sigh.

Another thingy I identify totally with is the film Closer. A question that Natalie Portman puts across to Jude Law, ‘isnt love enough?’. It kills me. For the longest time I would think that it is enough. But that is naïve. Love is only enough when everything else is there. It is the everything else that goes to make love what it is, in the first place. So in a sense, love is enough, but at the same time it isn’t. am I making sense?

A new development in my head. A one constant factor that I held dear to me, I have discarded. It doesn’t matter anymore. Am willing to explore. It is liberating and scary. But, I tell myself that this is the time and age to shed such constraining constants and just do what my heart says.

Eating lots of gulab-jamuns. Left overs from a dinner last week. A fun time. I cooked some. Ordered in some. Didn’t get time to marinate the chicken, so called for some, the rotis too. I cannot and willnot make rotis. Just. So I tossed a raita (or whipped up some, I don’t know) and make a nice improvised hibiscus mojito (vodka, hibiscus juice, mint, lotsa ice and soda) and got some chips and hommus. Made some methi mutter malai and kadai paneer. Very Indian. Was fed up of tossing a simple pasta. Hehe. Some drinks, only close friends. Am very fond of all of them. Talked nonsense. Laughed a lot. I think these ‘soirees’ are my favorite times. I think they are. So are B’s parties. Though they are not as small in scale, but the fact that the people I am comfortable with are around guarantees a good time ahead. Ended the meal with lotsa Bavarian Chocolate Icecream, courtesy R. divine divine tub of icecream. Perfect for a night-in. Sigh. Hehehe. So the story was about the gulab jamuns. Since R got the icecream, no one touched the gulab jamuns. And so, I eat gulab jamuns all the time and live ever happily ever after.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Poona aani me

The weekend, after a particularly futile long week. Struggling over things which were of no use. Exasperations and tribulations. A late night to wind up ridiculous work. And an early morning journey to Poona. Took forever to get there. That it takes just 3 hours is such a myth. No, wait. It’s a blatant lie. Anyways. The journey was largely spent in sleeping, except for a halt at the food court on the express way for a nice maharashtrian breakfast of missal paav. Divine.So I reach the little town of Poona (no it is not a city… you see, I have a theory, it goes ‘there is Bombay and there is India. The only ‘city’ city, if you know what I mean. Delhi? It’s a very big ‘small town’. Yes, I know people hate me for this theory, but, do I look like I care? *wicked grin*). So where was i? ah, Poona.

Met G mid way in the town and headed off for some work that needed to be taken care of (it was work come pleasure trip na). got done only mid-afternoon. A simple lunch at her place and we were ready to head out again. She had a class to teach and me had time to kill. So while she went off to alliance francaise de Poona, I gladly went to Manney’s. this quaint old bookstore on MG road. Awesome collection of books. Not very different from Higgin Botham (the Chennai bookstore I talked of in the last post?). so I spent some distracted time here (a mean client kept sending messages all this while, and infuriating ones at that… my mistake was that I kept replying *rolls eyes*) and then I couldn’t just think of books, so I walked out. Keeping me company was the new Kundera I picked up the previous day at the Bombay Crossword. ‘Laughable Loves’ a collection of his short stories. The title somehow seemed apt *chuckles*. Already done with 3 of the stories, but I think he is much better with his novels. Just finished ‘Identity’ and loved it to bits. Takes you to a different level all together. And only Kundera can do that to you in so simple a way.

So I head off to Marzorin with my Kundera. Marzorin is this beautiful irani sweet-meat / coffee shop on MG road. For the uninitiated, it is bang opposite the Bombay Stores. Spent a good 2 hours there. Reading, sipping guava juice (my favorite place for guava juice, Samovar only comes second) and munching on chutney sandwiches. The tables on the upper floor are all by the windows of the long balcony and one can look down at the passers by on MG. some nice hot coffee to go with the cloudy evening sky.

Meet G at the class and headed to the Max Mueller Bhavan on the beautiful Boat Club Road (this plush tree lines precinct of Poona with low rise buildings and old bungalows). The German institute was a huge old bungalow with an even more beautiful lawn at the back. We had come here for a concert for ‘fete de la musique’ (for my nice ‘non-foreign- language-speaking’ readers, the international music day is celebrated all over Europe on the 21st of june every year).

The program consisted of German, French, Marathi and Hindi songs. Some of the songs were fun. The lyrics ofcourse went all above my head, hehe, but nevertheless, it was fun. The few English songs they sang were really good. This nice song from the musical ‘Oliver’ was rocking. The Pocket Choir (pocket sized as the singers were as young as 8 ) was charming and the renditions of Beethoven and Mozzart (combined celebrations of the genius’ birthday) were much appreciated and reminded me of my brief encounter with Western Classical Music *devilish grin*. P sang two songs in French and was duly recorded on the video cam. We skipped the hindi and marathi numbers ( I was the only one who wanted to stay back for them….) and headed out to dinner. After numerous arguments and painful dialogues (will not bore the reader with the trauma that I suffered) we landed up at All Stir Fry at the Poona Gordon House. An awesome meal of dimsums and chicken noodles in a wok with chilly plum sauce all with a chilled beer (to unwind, you see). Reached home very very late. Lesson of the day: I hate 18 year olds. They are STUPID. May I also add INSUFFERABLE.

Restful sleep and some nice simple breakfast, discussing photography and tripod. Post shower, about 2 hours of work. And then off to Koregaon Park for a hearty lunch. Central Park for a big buffet. Pigged out on the food. Some great salad, some mousse, some nice fish some good chicken and some time with G, one on one. Discussing future plans. nice.
Writing this post on the way back, while they play a horrid ‘Haseena Maan Jaayegi’ in the bus. Did I forget to mention that I saw an equally juvenile ‘Kyunki Main Jhooth Nahin Bolta’. The bus winds madly on the western ghats. The view outside is fabulous. The green green hills and the skies heavily laden with dark clouds. I think its about to rain. Yay! Just dying to get home now. Make me some nice tea, ponder over the weekend, plan my week and catch up on some sleep.

Is there more to life than time well spent talking to close friends, eating good food and making plans for the future? I think it makes all the weekday drama-trauma worthwhile. I think I can keep telling myself all this week, ‘This too shall pass, this too’.

The first trip to Poona was many years ago. During school days, I think over 12 years was a completely different experience. But then so were the numerous trips that followed. Another memorable one was during college, me exploring the osho commune. Was a lazy and interesting 3 days in Poona. The study tour was another memorable one. We walked the length of Jangli Maharaj and MG road so many times, and explored all the bakeries that came our way. Partied like mad and generally had a great college-mad kinda trip. The various trips that followed once G moved to Poona have essentially been very good. I’d rest, I’d eat and read, we talk, some good restaurants and coffees, some walks in the verdant bylanes of koregaon, some bottles of good wine, and so much conversation.

Is there another way to live this life? I hope not!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


The Auroville Diaries

The 8 day holiday, that happened in a funny way (atleast I think its funny). The plan was initially to go to Cambodia. Have been dying to see Ankorwat for many years now. My sociology prof at college raved so much about it my first year of college, that I decided that I will go there someday. Plus Thailand was a major part of the plan. But me being me, and finishing work only a few ohurs before the day I could leave, could not make the necessary bookings, visa issues and the works. So here I was, work all wrapped up, clients informed of my absence for the next 8 days and nowhere to go.

Out came my lonely planet (yes, I refer to the lonely planet, no its not a firang thing to do… all my friends who thought so, have bitten their tongues once they figured how useful it is) and I short listed my options.

Option 1: Leh
Erratic flights from delhi. I might land up spending half my holiday in delhi. Nahi! Plus I don’t climb mountains. But the bare landscapes are so tempting. It doesn’t help that I am asthmatic.

Option 2: Sikkim
Needs more planning. The research would have to be better than a late night 3 hour figuring out. But tempting as hell.

Option 3: Kerala
Too touristy. Too easy. Too scenic. Perhaps with someone?

Option 4: Auroville
Ah! Why didn’t I think of it before. Have been dying to go there for 8 years. Makes sense. A friend had just gotten back from there. The data was easily available. Bingo!

So the next morning I find the cheapest fares and book my tickets to Chennai.

Auroville was all I expected it to be and more. It was an architects laboratory. Such experimental work. It was heaven. I cycled in the woods. Explored on a moped. Did organic farming (an immensely satisfying experience, this) and earned me a breakfast in barter. It was a meal I felt humbled earning. Its different from earning money for the work you do and buying food. The lemon rice tasted so nice! Pottery lessons! How I longed to sit on the wheel. Finally managed centering. It was so much fun. But the best bit was the architectural trail. I hunted these beautiful houses hidden amongst trees. So many of them. It was a dream ville. Met interesting people from all over the world at the guest house. Ate organic food. Nights were with friends at the town hall to watch films. Drank amazing hibiscus juice. Got some back home. So many cookies and jams. Teas…organic. A Mexican girl who played and sang us some folk music from mexico. And a generally fun bunch of others. We tapped and clapped to the music and had a great time.

Pondicherry was the nicest small town, ever. So clean, so calm. Where else do you see women on cycles with a basket full of flowers, bakes and books? The heritage walk was fascinating. The streets have an insence fragrance. Its so surreal. The French food was divine. At Satsanga. Coq au vin, pate’ and so much more. The courtyards. The French villas. The chance encountering of making a friend and travel buddy over lunch. The promenade. The books. The French streets. Rue de francois martin. So so French. The Francophile would have loved it. The tamil precint and the French precint. The people were friendly. Met some architects. Discussed how they were conserving the buildings there.

Mahabalipuram on the way back to Chennai. Beautiful temples. Rock cut. Everything I had read about them came Back in a flash. The shore temples and the cave temples. The rathas. The ganas. One of my favorite temples. Mahabalipuram is a true temple town.

Chennai was a bit strange. Didn’t connect with it at all. But had a nice time overall. Was there for only half a day. Met some friends and lazed around. Sari shopping for mommy at Nalli’s. books for me at this nice book store called Higgin Botham’s. bought too many books.

Came to Bombay, late at night. Major flight delays (I have come to accept this as a part of my destiny….dont remember the last time I took a flight which was on time, I swear). I didn’t come ‘back’. I just came here. There wasn’t anything to come back to. But I still think of the swim in the sea on auroville beach. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, indeed.

Read loads on the trip. Finished two books. Bought 6 more. Reading them now. All in all the trip helped in clearing my head about some matters. Some it didn’t. some new goals. Some failed ‘times’. Some self-discoveries. But, I learnt something very important about myself.


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