What is this?

This continuum of thoughts, of you, of you and me
The lack of equilibrium, the lack of sanity
Unsettled, unnerved by every little abandonment
Frenzied by thought of a look, of a touch

Explain this enchantment to me
Tell me how a stranger it has been
Fear, my best friend with benefits
Tells me to shake it off, to not believe

And all this because they asked me about writing
I talked of places it takes me, places beautiful
And somewhere amidst those places deep within
I chanced upon a sapling growing, of you, of you and me

Now that I have it, I know where it dwells
What do I do with it, what do I call it?
You seem to have answers to so many things,
that I can't help but look to you to help give it a name…


This Time

Each time I say 'this time'
But this time it'll truly be
No matter it does last or not
I will cherish it, for eternity

This time is like Summer Rain
For an ageing and weary me
But who can remain unaffected
By the ever enchanting Summer Rain

This time, I'm giving in
Uncareful, unanything
I'm speaking up, going under your skin
I'm pushing myself or are you pushing me?

I do not know, nor I care
I just know that I mustn't let go
I'll hold on, I'll understand
I'll make amends, take and keep this chance

This time I will dance
Under the influence of you and me
This time, I will write on blank paper
Like never before, once again




Every little devastation matters, every tear means something.
In the larger scheme of the universe, somewhere far away,
Its all adding up to a giant mountain of grief,
And all you can do is -- try to run away from it.

'You are someone to be loved', they say to you.
But they don't finish the sentence... it ends with
'...Just like everyone else'
You are not special,
No one is,
You are not extraordinary,
Why, you're not the first person on this planet.

Angry words make poetry!
Maybe they do, maybe they don't,
They're just words,
They shouldn't be taken so seriously.

He looks magnetic,
Like the first ray of the sun - its called 'Arush' in Hindi, someone by that name has told me.
Back to him - he is the most beautiful colour of skin,
The colour you cannot help but love,
He is the most beautiful thing you can ever imagine,
He is the saviour,
He will heal,
And, if he doesn't,
Then there will be no saving you or this 'meshugah' soul of yours!

There's darkness in him,
there's darkness all around him,
that attracts you, draws you in.
You don't want to take care of him,
you've had enough of that in your life.
If that's the case then why are you drawn to his darkness,
it will only destroy you - slowly but surely,
it will creep into your heart and make your blood run cold...
Until you stop breathing.

She paints,
she's angelic,
she is an old soul - a wise soul,
but she doesn't draw you in.
You just want to watch her from a distance.
Why don't you want to be a part of her?
Why don't you want her to be a part of you?

He is a snake.
You were at peace without him,
but the mountain of grief wouldn't have it.
So, it sent him your way.
He now lives in your heart,
and he talks about himself all the time.
He thinks you need him and
he needs you,
when the truth is--you don't need each other.
Why can't you just leave.

Its like molten lava inside this body,
It flows through your veins,
and its trigger is a fickle whore.
She opens her legs for just about anyone,
and there you are - caught unawares.
If only you could find a way to expend this lava,
it would set you free.
All these diseases that you have,
from not being able to express yourself creatively,
they would all be gone--once the lava is expended...
whilst the lava is being expended.

You say whilst when you're talking,
when you're typing in your "right mind" --
you say while when you're typing with your
"unright mind"



You are my Faith

Today I saw ‘My Sister’s Keeper’
I remember it was just last year that I was travelling in that plane, having spent my summer with you—I was headed away from you. You thought I’d made this big sacrifice and not travelled too far away from you for too long. I wish that were true. I hadn’t done it for various other reasons, which makes me think less of myself. Will I ever correct you on that and remind you of the real reasons why I didn’t move? Perhaps not!
I did however, fly away for a little while—me with my uncomplicated queer eye, I flew away from you and the rest of my life; perhaps it was justified. I can’t tell now. Back then it felt like I did need the break. From what, I don’t know. I hadn’t done anything. I’d just spent time with you.
Anyway, as I sat in that plane I looked at the list of films that were playing on the small foggy TV screen in front of me. On that list was this film. I had no idea what the film was about. I had no idea until tonight. I find that strange. I usually know such things. How did I not know this? And yet, I was attracted towards the film. I’ve wanted to see it since the time it was released… and, I never bothered to find out what the film was about. It’s unbelievable. Maybe I am over-thinking it.
I ate my hideous airplane pre-dawn meal, and washed it down with a couple of mini bottles of red wine. I was warm and all set to watch the film(s). I’d never really slept through journeys before. That night I slept through the whole thing and woke up in the morning, in time to hop on to the next plane.
Tonight I go back and forth that night in the plane. What would have happened if I’d seen the film? I might sound overtly dramatic here, but things might have turned out differently.
I think of all those lovely emails you sent me; the beautiful messages, the tear-filled conversations. You poured. I swept them under the rug. You tried to purge. I concealed. I’d like to purge but you know that’s not me. It’s not ok to cry in front of people.
I wish I could’ve done more. I see all this and I wish I could bring you more smiles. I wish this were the one thing in my life wherein I strived harder… somehow. Its in the past now though, and everything is all right.
I guess at moments like these, I understand faith—yours, then and now; mine—then. For now, I don’t need faith—I have you. My faith is in my phone that still rings at 11:30 in the night, and you’re calling.



This could be the end...

This scent – it takes me back to you and me
So quick; I’m overcome
I convulse
At the very thought of your warm, dark skin

Its not a fashionable scent this one
It’s a very comfortable, lived-in one
It’s the smell of you every day that I knew you
Every day that I thought would be the rest of our lives

This morning you walked into my dream uninvited
You were the same you, yet somehow different
You spoke about the new ‘her’ in your life
And I couldn’t take my mind off your promises
Of there being no other—besides me…

Music almost always accompanies this scent
A lovely, soulful riff
Just like you
This time around, somewhere in the background, someone is singing—‘This could be the end’
And I am surprised
For I wish it is—the end
I wish you’d leave
I wish you wouldn’t live in this scent anymore
I wish you hadn’t grown tired of me
I wish you weren’t so indiscreet
I wish for so much
That sometimes I wish I didn’t know how to wish…



Somewhere deep inside my heart
Lies a fraction
That only lights when it hears an accidental
It glows in the warmth of all the strange notes
In all sorts of songs
Songs about love
And loss
And all that jazz
Songs about beginnings
And ends
And all the messy parts in between

Sometimes I wish this fraction
Would put together all of these accidentals
Into a set
That my heart would play on repeat
For ever and ever
So I’d never have to listen to anything less beautiful
Anything less…
And so, I could live like this forever
Forever numb, forever cold…




With your deep, deep eyes
And your childish smile
You make me laugh the warmest laugh
Each time you touch my heart

And you
With your wild, wild ways
You have got me ensnared
You make me smile the biggest smile
From somewhere deep inside

And you
I didn't think it would be this simple
I never could have dreamt of all of this
And now that I have it all, within reach
I worry that it might go... away




I want to force myself to write,
I am too pacified,
too content, 
with my existence,
and with yours.

Nothing bothers me, 
irks me into the frenzied dependence on my pen as an intoxicant
Nothing forces me into taking refuge in the pages of some words, some story.

I want to, I need to, I would like to be able to...

Can this be real? Could I be too numb to write?
I am too numb.
For after deep turmoil comes numbness!
Or does it?
I cannot tell.
Can you? Tell me? How to get out of this, out of here, where I am, stuck, it seems, for an excruciating eternity?

Maybe if I hurt myself, if I thought about bad things, I would be driven into that frenzy, like actors are. Don't they go to a bad time in life to be able to cry?
I could do that.
It wouldn't be tough!
Wouldn't it?
I cannot tell.
Sitting here, unmoved, un-anything.

They say you should just start, start writing, anything, everything, just make a move at least.
That sounds fair enough.
Or does it?
I cannot tell.
But it doesn't hurt to try...



God resides within Me...

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” – Rumi

Be it love for a soul-mate or love for God, for I seek both, this makes sense to me… Fortunately, I sometimes forget about my search for a soul-mate… helps me live for myself and also not make any mistakes anymore, for this time around, I am not settling for anything less.

I’ve been searching for God for sometime now. Without looking for him at home, I’ve given up the search here. That’s probably because everything in my life tells me that he (will call him ‘he’ for convenience’ sake) is not here, if ‘here’ is where I live. He isn’t here because here statues are worshipped, and adorned, and blindly given one’s everything to whilst the beggar on the street dies on a cold, winter morning, not too far from one’s house. Here is where your people killed people who believe in another version of God – may be a bearded one or a turbaned one. God does not live where humans kill each other in his name. For all that he might or might not be; he isn’t someone who can allow such a thing.

So, when I went to a place where they believed in peace because their god strongly recommended it, I was tempted to join them… and follow their god. Then I found out that that would need for me to read a whole lot of literature and scriptures… and my heart didn’t urge me to make that effort.

I then came back to our gods, here, where I live. Someone close to my heart was going through a period of fire. That someone didn’t find it hard to find God; so, I followed in their footsteps and tried to find God in my rosary beads, in my bedtime prayers, in my chants, and my pleading, my tears… all for that someone to not be made to suffer.

Did I find God? No.

I still can’t understand that time. How did I manage to, for that period of time, believe and pray?

Today, I find around me, answers like… God resides within me, as myself… God resides in my heart… Whatever you do, don’t break someone’s heart because God resides in every person’s heart…

I think I will continue to look for him, for an ethereal support system but until that time… I can live with this - God resides within me, as myself!



The Joys of Being Woman Friday at a Travel Cafe

My friend Aeshna Roy has recently started a fantastic blog - content to design, all great; and it ought to be, considering she is an editor and chief designer at a leading publishing house. 

She has decided to dedicate a part of this virtual space to people who have really interesting jobs and ergo enjoy their work. The first interview that she's done is with none other than yours truly. 

It goes something like this: 
There are just so many interesting and downright awesome things people do from 9 to 5. I love meeting people who do exciting, different things as part of their work and really enjoy what they do. 

One such person is Shruti Sharma, the self-proclaimed 'Woman Friday' at the Kunzum Travel Cafe in Hauz Khas. She manages the media presence and develops online content for Kunzum, and also helps out (read sits around, chats with guests and drinks coffee) at their hugely popular cafe. Kunzum encourages people to visit, have coffee (you pay what you like for your coffee/tea/cookie!), share travel stories, pick up travel tips from other travelers and generally unwind. Shruti is also a voice-over artist when she's not (wo)manning the ship at Kunzum. 

Read more here...

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Aeshna; I'm honoured to be the first one to have been featured in this unique space.



I just can’t get enough of ‘love’. Every morning, some say, I wake up with a smile; I know I wake up wondering (with a smile), how many are going to love me that day and how much are they going to love me—that is my elixir! Shouldn’t that be the case with everyone?

Sometimes we forget; I do too—we forget, what a few loving words can do, what wonders, what miracles… I wish I’d never say anything unloving to anyone; but I do, many times.

Sometimes I wish I could live at the airport, and every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year, my people would come and meet me, on repeat, with gargantuan love, and never tire of doing so. 

Sometimes I wish I had six pairs of limbs, a much bigger mind and an even bigger heart, so I could do everything that everyone wants me to do for them, not seek anything in return, and seal the deal with a big, massive hug.

Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t tire of songs like ‘Happiness’ and ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, and listen to them on repeat all my life.

Sometimes I wish that Rajkumar, the mongrel who lives on my street and whom I love dearly had a horn on its head, and could fly. Then again, he is equally amazing without all of that.

Sometimes I wish I could imprint on every person I ever met.

Sometimes I wish for my son to have been born at the same time as me; I wish we could grow up together.

Sometimes I wish for a whole lot of things that cannot come true… but its all right.

*Reference: ‘Twilight Series’; Imprinting is the involuntary mechanism by which shapeshifters find their soul-mates.



Salto, Jump

No one seemed to know the street my hostel was supposed to be on. So, I kept walking along the edge of the mountain and along the edge of the water, looking for signage. When I reached the end of the town, I saw it, written in bold orange letters ‘Jump’—that was the name of the hostel.

I walked into the reception area and this beautiful girl called Sol sat there. She had the warmest smile and her dark skin glowed under the sunlight that fell through the window. As she was greeting me, a man walked into the reception. He stared at me, smiled, and said ‘Hola’. ‘Hola’ I said, and looked away, feeling very nervous. His helper who was close behind him asked him, ‘quién es ella, who is she’. The laundry man shrugged and said ‘Alguna guapa, some pretty girl’! Sol looked at me and smiled. Something like this had never happened to me before. I felt more nervous.

When she was done with the laundry man, she walked me to my dormitory that was called ‘Blue Light’. The ceiling glistened like the most beautiful lake under the spell of a warm winter sun. Suddenly I didn’t feel nervous anymore. I settled in, unpacked, and then went out to look for some food. After eating, I went back to the hostel and sat in the common room, looking out onto the sea.

Soon, night fell and the empty common room starting filling up. There was something about these people—they all seemed to be buzzing with nervous energy. I waited patiently.

As the clock struck nine and the sky turned completely dark, Eduardo walked in. ‘Hola Amigos’ he said. ‘Hola’ everyone chorused. Eduardo was dressed in a diving suit, zipped only till his waist. He zipped it up fully and said, ‘Vamos’. The word whipped the crowd into a frenzy and before I could understand what was going on, they were dressed and out into the balcony. I followed them and saw the last of them walk down the steps, into the water and then swim to a spot a few hundred meters from the hostel… the spot was lit—blue. ‘Sólo tienes que seguir la luz azul, Just follow the blue light’ I heard Eduardo shout to no one in particular.

Sol came running into the balcony wearing a diving suit, smiled and winked at me, and then swam away.

When they were all in the blue light, Eduardo shouted, ‘Ahora’ and everyone dipped into the water for a few seconds and then jumped… into the air.

I went back inside, found a diving suit in the utilities room, threw it on quickly and ran out. As soon as I started swimming, a hand came and grabbed mine. ‘Vamos a la luz azul, Let’s go to the blue light’ said Eduardo, his eyes the same colour as the light. I smiled.

When we reached the blue light, I began to feel completely weightless. Eduardo put his hands on my waist and pulled me into the water. I looked around… enchanted apparitions played the most beautiful violin pieces to the world of the dead, which looked like a big, happy park in the throes of a mild, windy summer. Only instead of green grass, there was the blue light.

‘Salto, Jump’ said Eduardo, tugging on my hand. We threw ourselves into the air, without much effort… and then we flew.


This Dance

This Dance
Is for you

Your symphony, my ecstasy
Since that day in the rain
I can taste this dance
Can you?
Will you care if I made you the father, the maker
Of this thing that I can taste in my mouth, my being
My blood flows—to this dance
I’m writing this down on blank paper
Like never before
No words, no lines
Just you and me
And this dance
Do you care?

Your image
Puts me in a trance
And I ascend
Like I’m possessed
There’s a demon
In me, of you
And I hang
By a thread
For I don’t know if you like this dance

Its cabaret, its contra-dance
Its sensual, its personal
Listen to my beating heart
It swollen and overfull
And it’s moving only and only
To the beat of this dance

Can this be true?
I can smell you
Your eyes
They’re innervating me, drugging me
With the thrill, the rapture
Of this dance

Will you dance with me?



Oh, she's only 17!

I had posted this photo somewhere else a little while back. At that point of time I was listening to the Kings of Leon album 'Only by the Night' on repeat... and for some reason when it came to naming the photo I could only think of 'Oh, she's only 17' from the track '17' on the album.

Someone did question the name and said, 'Why, why, why?' and I kept thinking 'why can't you leave the poor title alone'.

Newho, if you can come up with another title for the picture, I'd be happy to hear it ;)



an ode ... or not !

here's an ode
to some good weather
to this unproductive stage
to the numbness
to the things that don't scare me, when they should
to other things that scare me, when they shouldn't
to love
to laughter
to pain
to desire
to waiting in vain
to all that jazz
and everything else under the sun

come back...



wobbly bridge from tate modern

London town
My heart is falling down
Will it break on the ground
For you
I'm in love in London town



Nidhi and I and ...

Nidhi and I have known each other since I was born, considering she was born eight whole months before I was and ergo is much older to me. We are family friends.

She and I became close to each other at age 9, when I realized that she was crazy. My family and I were at her parent’s house for dinner. Nidhi, her cousins, my sister and I were all playing ‘house’ (how original!) and she tried to cook and feed us all ‘red beads’. No, they weren’t candy, they weren’t pills, they weren’t edible – they were beads from a string or a necklace. When she reads this, she will claim that she has no remembrance of this incident but it’s crystal clear in my memory. That was the day I decided that she was as crazy and twisted as I was and so we could be friends.

We became even closer, like ‘best friend’ types, which is what I call her even today for some reason, when we spent the summer of ’97 together doing our “holiday homework”. What we actually did that summer was – discover the pleasure of English movie channels that aired ridiculous films like ‘State Park’, 'Stepmonster' . We would watch them every time they were aired, and feel elated for reasons that are beyond me, now. This was also the time when we started hating our parents to a degree where we wanted to run away from home. Nidhi spearheaded the movement with her brilliant ideas – think she had me convinced at one point that she was going to leave home any day and would make a living by selling newspapers. I think I genuinely wanted to follow in her footsteps. Of course, that was the one and only point in our lives where I wanted to do so.

A few years later, after having given up on our plans to run away form home and having decided that our parents were actually quite decent and likeable we hatched a new plan – we were both going to marry the same guy, that too a chef. We were quite vocal about this for the longest time and would tell anyone who asked us if we were taken that, we were on a lookout for a chef.

About 4 years ago, Nidhi left for the States for a study program. Little did I know that she was going to end up making new plans that wouldn’t include me! This plan was a chef turned finance guy (I think that’s what he does) called Amrinder … and last September she married the new plan. I was so mad at her for ditching our ‘marry one guy’ plan that I didn’t even go for her wedding.

She sent me pictures of her wedding ceremony etc., and it was after I saw this photo that I forgave her … because who wouldn’t forgive someone who would actually get a photo taken like this!

So, in the end – the joke’s on you! 

Haahahahahhahahaha! :P



Ralf Hart and all that jazz!

10 a.m. sharp, I switched on my desktop to start work. I soon remembered something I needed from my laptop so I switched on my laptop as well, to make the transfer. Whilst the computers booted, I went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. When I got back to my desk, my laptop had already spent 35 % of its battery. And that, right there, triggered a sweet stream of consciousness.

Six months ago, I was sitting at Departures, Delhi airport listening to Mikali’s Il Faut Du Temps Au Temps from the soundtrack of ‘A Good Year’ on repeat and trying to figure out a way to pass the time. Reluctantly, I switched on my laptop. I say ‘reluctantly’ because I knew the old, aging battery of my dear comfort computer wouldn’t last too long and ergo wouldn’t really help me pass the time. However, I still tried my luck and wrote a quick half-pager before the battery warning started blinking cantankerously.

Brilliant, my comfort computer had stayed with me for exactly 20 minutes. I put it back in my bag, folded my legs and began to look around. Within seconds, I found him!

He was sitting, hidden in one corner of the waiting lounge bent on some sort of gadget the size of an ipad but it couldn’t have been an ipad, could it? Were they in the market then? His hair fell on his face tenderly. He was dressed in shades of brown from head to toe – He was Ralf Hart!

Yes, ‘the’ Ralf Hart of ‘Eleven Minutes’ or ‘Onze Minutos’, Maria’s boyfriend and one of my favourite protagonists ever! The way he looked, he seemed to be the man, the artist who has just met Maria or is about to, as opposed to the boyfriend/husband in the end or beyond of the book.

And, no, I wasn’t attracted to him. That should have been my natural reaction but I wanted nothing to do with him. Yet, I was ensnared and unable to stop staring, albeit discreetly. And, he sat there unaffected by the viscosity of the airport, its acerbic friendliness; somehow shielded because after all – he was fictional, or was he?

A little later, he walked off into the crowds and I physically felt his charm being recanted. Soon, it was time to board.

As soon as I was comfortably set in my aisle seat, I saw him again and instantly my heart was in my mouth. I didn’t want him to sit close to me, not even, where I could see him. I wouldn’t have been able to relax or breathe easily through the 8-hour flight. And, I needed to.

As I hyperventilated obsequiously, he walked right past me and sat somewhere in the back and thankfully I was able to sleep through the flight.

As soon as we landed and I was off the plane, I saw him again; he was walking a little ahead of me. Groggy yet reverent, I tried to match his step. It felt like we were both walking in beat with Makali’s song. He was as surreal as he could possibly be, self-assured and as close to perfection … my mind was racing now trying to keep up with my heart that was saying that Maria was there at the exit, waiting to greet him, and if I just dextrously followed him I’d see her too. I was almost dizzy at the thought … 

The next second a hand stopped me in my way.
‘Do you know where you are headed Madam?’ a man’s polite voice said.
I looked at him and said, ‘Yes’ confidently and curtly.
‘May I look at your ticket please’ he asked and I showed him.
‘That’ he said pointing in the direction of where Ralf was headed ‘is the exit. You should be heading back that way to connections. Your next flight departs from terminal 3.’
I looked at him stunned, and then looked back at Ralf’s fading figure. In my heart, I bid him and Maria farewell.

Just then, I remembered I needed a notepad from my room. Whilst looking for it, I found this notebook of mine. I haven’t opened it in a while. I wonder why! I use it or rather used it until 4 months ago, to scribble ideas with the intent of coming back to them, to draw inspiration or some such floozy thing. But I never really come back to it.

I opened the notebook to a page with little bits of paper that I had been drawing

and writing on whilst on a train journey from France to Italy.

“… from the train - fields of rubies, gold, emeralds, and topaz canopied by possessive, dramatic skies. Is it pathetic that I am analogising these beautiful artworks of nature with precious stones? Perhaps! Perhaps not – the intent isn’t to capitalize nature … it is to say that nature is equally precious, if not more.

Beautiful midget houses. I want a midget house. I see a unicorn. I must have done something right. Forts, rivers, lakes and cemeteries.

Pampelonne - Carmaux - Toulouse - Narbonne - Montpellier - Lyon - Geneva - Roma”
I think we had just reached Montpellier.

Somewhere near Geneva that night, amidst confused rail tickets, towns looking deserted at 8:30 p.m., taxi drivers who refused to drive one anywhere and upon much begging mercifully drove one to the train station whilst giving one a tour of lake Geneva etc., wonderfully helpful fellow passengers, and a ridiculous number of traffic signals; somewhere amidst all that I lost myself in a thirteen minute time warp and missed my train to Roma. So, in my notebook the next 8 – 10 pages are blank. I wonder if I left them blank hoping that I’d go back!



My Aeshu!

Just wanted to share this with you quickly: 

My lovely friend Aeshna Roy is the Editor & Chief Designer at Hay House India and sometimes my very own personal editor who cleans up my messy stories gratis. She is also one of my favourite people on this planet and my personal fairy tale - recently her boyfriend of four years asked her to marry him in the most romantic way possible.

So, today Aeshna saw me struggling with my blog template - I've been experimenting a lot with it, as you can see ... And , very sweetly asked me what my favourite things were and I listed them out for her without asking why *frandship mein no qoschuns asked ;)* ... And 15 minutes later she sends me an image she's created with my favourite things, for me to use as a background image. 

Unfortunately, I don't know how I can use this image as the background image for my blog, so ... for now I've used it on my twitter page :) have a look. And in case you want Aeshna to design something for you, let me know, I will put in a good word for you ;)



from the diary of a chef

i wrote this one sometime ago but posting it now ... 

I’ve been sending desperate tweets all weeks saying ‘I need to be physically detached from the computer’ but no one really paid much attention or came to my rescue. So, today I decided to take matters into my own hands, and at about 4 pm I switched my computer off. I am almost certain my heart skipped a couple of beats when I did but the ever growing bulges that used to be my eyes once, seemed to be desperate to get away.

I tried watching television for a while … like about six minutes, and then got really bored.

Then I tried to take a siesta (yes, some people do still do that kind of stuff) … and I slept for exactly 20 minutes. After my power nap I didn’t know what to do with myself. So, I just sat there … contemplating. After about 4 minutes 30 seconds my father’s voice started ringing in my head, "considering you’re not doing much these days why don’t you help out your mother, in the kitchen or something" … like, what does he think I do on the computer all day. Anyway, considering I want to ask him to buy me something, I decided to try …

So, I picked up the phone and ordered some raw chicken. It went something like this -
Butcher: Haaalo!
Me: Hello bhaiiiyaaa? One kilo chicken chaiye hai! (I want a kilogram of chicken)
Butcher: Hain? One Killo?
Me: Haan!
Butcher: One chicken matbal. (You mean you want one chicken)
Me: Tut! Haa-an wohee! (Yeah! Same difference)

So then, half an hour later he sent the chicken over. And I really didn’t know what to do with it … So I called up Sim for a recipe. Sim gave me her mum’s Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe, which goes something like this … for all you copy-kitties! :P

Lemon Pepper Chicken, from Meeta Aunty’s Kitchen
(I don’t have an ear for detail, so the proportions might not be exactly the same but it turned out all right)

Take one chicken. Wash it.
You could hold your nose with a clip.

Take 2 – 3 cloves of pulped garlic. Like you could pulp it or buy packet-ed pulp.
My family really likes their garlic, which proves that we are not vampires, so I used like 2 tsp of packet-ed pulp since I was too lazy to pulp the cloves. I like the word pulp, didja notice, didja? Pulp! If you don’t want to smell of garlic for two days after consuming the dish, you should use a little less, one or one.five maybe!?!

Take one or one.five tsp of whole black pepper and grind it.
Better flavour than pre-grounded ?!

Now, make cuts on the chicken pieces.
Don’t imagine that blood is going to ooze out of them, or you won’t be able to do it. Blood is not going to ooze out of them! Seriously!

Mix the garlic Pulp (pulp) and the pepper, and squeeze half a lemon into it. And then smear it on the chicken pieces, and let the chicken marry-nate for about 20-30 minutes.
It feels like you’re playing Holi with someone who is podgy. Chicken-marry-Nate!

When the chicken has marry-nate-d, eat it!

Haha! Gottya there. Don’t worry Meeta Aunty isn’t cruel :P

Take a pot, a medium sized one and put some cooking oil (about two to two.five tsp) and some butter (about ye high … like what you’d put on your parantha if you’re Punjabi a.k.a two tsp)
Umm! Give me some tummy lovin’!

When the butter melts, add the chicken, and cook until it changes colour. And looks like so …

Then cover the pot, and let it simmer until it’s cooked a bit.
How would you know if its cooked? Just ask your mum, like I did. 



Oh no!

This is a photo of mine that was published by FLOP Magazine in their Oct 2009 issue. I found out about it whilst I was away from home on a Eurotrip for a couple of months and the news (that the photo was being published) made me very happy back then ... it had something to do with being alone at that point and hearing some really good news, which made me feel a thousand times better ...

I am posting it on my blog today because I just found out that the magazine is shutting down ... I am very, very sad to hear that considering this magazine has been my utopia for almost a year now. So, all my friends who see this post, please visit http://www.flopmagazine.com/ (or click on the title of this post to be directed to the magazine website) any time this month and pay your homage - April end FLOP will do their last issue ... *sniffles*



Meeting Manolo Valdés!

It was a winter morning but the temperature wasn’t too low, and the sun was kind. I was sitting in the common room of my hostel where I was staying for a few days, feeling freshly infused with a special kind of Sunday languor by the angel of indolence, snug on an overtly cushy pink and green sofa chair. I had made this common room home; since I shared my room with 3 other travellers - I was living in a dorm (the horror!!!).

Away from the quagmire of shared rooms, bathrooms, and loo(s), this room felt ‘a lot like home’ with its Television set placed on top of a warmth-inducing dilapidated wooden book rack that hosted lengthy volumes of the lonely planet guides to all parts of the world amongst other books left behind by weight-shedding backpackers. Right in front of the TV was a worse for wear centre table with a tiny potted plant on top of it, which was probably the only ‘young thing’ in the room. The other three walls supported three antique looking wooden and jute sofas. Close to the balcony door was the nebulous sun-hatched spot with a sofa chair … ‘my sofa chair’ that I dashed towards each time I entered the hostel and to my delight, found empty each time I did. The warmth of the sun here, in this chair, made me feel connected to something universal. I could be anywhere in the world, and given a sofa and a spot in the sun ‘like so’, I would be home! 

15 minutes into my weekend reverie, my drooping eyelids were wheedled into attention by a friendly voice from across the street. In the balcony right across the hostel’s, was a young boy of about 18, yelling ‘Hola chica!’ 

It took me a few seconds to wrap my head around the intrusion and reply, 

‘Hola, que tal?’, (Hello, how are you?).
‘Muy bien, y tu’ (Very good, and you), the boy said.
‘Bien, bien’ I replied.

 He then started off with a cheery rant in rapid Spanish and I had to intrude at some point with,

‘No entiendo’ (I don’t understand).
He grinned and said, ‘Hablas poquito Español eh?’ (You speak little Spanish, eh), to which I said ‘Si, Si’. 

A big smile and a wave goodbye later, I got out of the chair and left the common room, it didn’t feel private enough any more. The boy was sweet and well-intentioned but the recluse in me wanted to set out in search of better obscurity. 

So, I went to my dorm, picked up my little day-bag and set out … Sigh! What a job it is to be a tourist on a Sunday. I started walking in a new direction, hoping that it would take me somewhere nice, somewhere I’d want to be … somewhere I could be completely anonymous again! I walked and I walked and I walked … and behold! After about an hour of walking very slowly, taking in the sites I passed by, I found myself at the gates of the Museo del Prado (
Tut tut, don’t google it, I’ll tell you, I was in Madrid). 

Inside my head someone said ‘George just lucky, I guess’. But George was about to get luckier as ‘Along came Polly’! Polly told me that since it was Sunday the Museo del Prado was ‘gratis’ (free) in the evening from 5 pm – 8 pm, and right now it was the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía that was gratis … Now I couldn’t believe my luck, I was damn glad that boy had cajoled me out of my reverie.

Reina Sofia (the national museum of 20th century art) is just down the road from the Museo del Prado (featuring exquisite collections of European Art from the 12th to the 19th century).

After Polly had finished asking me for alms for god knows who or what, for giving me the information that she had; and after saying ‘Sorry, I haven’t got much money’, I started walking down the road towards Reina Sofia. My camera was at this point focused on autumn leaves, fountains, people - the usual, until it spotted something very unusual across the street …

I randomly took this picture (picture 1) and then went back to it on the LCD screen of my camera. I am going to shamefacedly admit that it took my slow brain a good 30 seconds to realize that this was public art! I crossed the road, to get closer and find out more about the artist.

Mesmerized I walked back and forth this road …  

Lillie, 2006, Bronze

Irene I, 2006, Bronze

Irene II, 2006, Bronze

Ariadna IV, 2004, Bronze

Lydia, 2004, Bronze

La Dama, 2004, Bronze

Colosos, 2005, Iron


Regina I, 2005, Bronze

Odalisca, 2006, Bronze


Las Meninas, 2005, Bronze

I had never heard of Manolo Valdés before this day but what I saw on this day I absolutely loved - loved the work, the use of wood, the display. Of course, I had to go back to the hostel and google him to be able to understand things better, since all the information provided alongside the display was in ‘shudh Español’ and I couldn’t be bothered trying to read it.

I later figured that Valdés is a Spanish artist, from Valencia, who works in paint, sculpture, and mixed media. Heavily influenced by old masterpieces, it was in 1983 that he started working with sculpture in a big way. Today, Valdés is hugely celebrated for  his work using materials like alabaster, bronze, marble, granite, ceramic, silver, and wood. 

The massive bronze female heads adorned with hats are inspired by the paintings of Matisse, and
Las Meninas are inspired by Velázquez. In the last few years these works have travelled through Europe and North America  (I think) with the Meninas being exhibited in Paris in 2005. In 2007, the women and the Meninas went to New York, in 2008 to Barcelona, and in late 2009 I unknowingly caught up with them in Madrid.

Muchas muchas gracias well-intentioned balcony-friend!



True istory it is!

I was at the doctor’s for my monthly check-up – nothing to worry about, just some good old regular thyroid trouble that is well under control and I will soon be off medication. I don’t even think about it until it’s that time of the month again – to visit the doc.

It was around 6:40 p.m., and I had just finished making some chai for my mother and was about to get back to work when I remembered I had a doctor’s appointment. “Argh! I thought to myself. Why can’t my doctor and I have this conversation telepathically and be done with it?” I just didn’t feel like getting out but had to.

I reached the clinic at my usual 7:15 and made my way through the crowd to the ever so busy & uptight receptionist. My doctor hadn’t arrived. “Eh! I can wait.”

The clinic is a multi-specialist one, with four rooms where some of Delhi’s well-known specialists see their patients on a twice or thrice a week basis. The place usually works like well-oiled machinery. Obviously, they charge you for being ‘smooth operators’. What was I doing at such a place? Well, I was getting my treatment done, free of cost. The thyroid specialist whom I see at the clinic is one of my closest friend’s father. So, I have it easy.

And ergo, I didn’t mind waiting for him. I usually just have to wait for about 5 minutes before I get a chance to see Gary’s dad, and I usually pass that time by checking my email or browsing the internet on my phone. On this day, I did the same. But how long can you do that on the phone? Apparently not very long! Moreover, I could feel an intrusion – by the person sitting right next to me. He seemed keenly interested in my inbox, so I quickly shut it off, got a little more comfortable, and tried to zone out. Of course, my neighbour didn’t like the idea.

“Myself Mr. Bhatia” he said.
I smiled and nodded without making eye contact. Somehow, I knew that, that would be a fatal mistake. Or maybe it didn’t matter whether or not I made eye contact. Mr. Bhatia meant business; he wanted to make some conversation. Period.

“Which doctor you are here to see” he asked most curiously.
“Um the thy … Um a hormones doctor” I said, assuming that a big word like thyroid would bring a volley of questions my way. Maybe I shouldn’t have made that assumption …
“Achha, achha. That problem you are having” he said, vigorously wiggling his head. “My wife also once had, same problem. I took her to … you know Batra hospital?”
“Yes, I do” I complied.
“Haan, so there, there is one doctor called … well if she is still alive that is. Then, she is called Dr. Hingorani” he said.
“Oh Ok” I said, curbing the urge to laugh.
“So, you go check, if she is still alive, Dr. Hingorani huh, and then you take treatment from her. Ok” he dictated.
“Um I am very happy with my doctor here” I said.
“Oho, these doctors, they know nothing. See he is late today, and making you wait. He must be late every time. I know. Plus, he doesn’t know his job” he said.
“Um, this doctor is my friend’s father and he is very well known in Delhi” I was on the defence now.
“Tut. He doesn’t know anything. Go to Dr. Hingorani, ok. You haven’t written the name down, you will forget it. Write it somewhere – Dr. Hing”
“orani. I will remember. Don’t worry” I tried to placate him.
“Yeeeess, Dr. Hingorani” he said, beaming.
My brain was about to self-destruct, but Mr. Bhatia continued the onslaught.

“You see, I got married in ’83 and for 2 years we, my wife and I, were not having children you see. That was a problem. So, I took her to Dr. Hingorani. Dr. Hingorani is one of those doctors who is like a mechanic … samjhe ke nahin? Matlab she can degnose (diagnose) the disease, just like some mechanics can degnose the problem with scooters and cars. And you know, she degnoses and then compojej (composes) her own medicine. You know, some doctors can do that”
“Really” I said, feigning intrigue. Err! Wrong thing to say.

“Yes, yes, they can compoje and you can go to chemist and say please make compojed medicine. And the chemist will give you. And this medicine is so much better than ready-made medicine, you know. You should try it. You have been taking this doctors medicine for so long, it hasn’t helped, haina?”
“It has helped actually” why are you even bothering, my brain said to me.
“No, no it doesn’t help. You know it is like compojing your own atta. My wife and I, we get our atta, pissa hua atta latte hain hum, you know. We use that to make dough. Then you can make pooris on slow fire with this atta, and the pooris survive for much longer than pooris made from normal atta you see”
I nodded but my brain was saying ‘I will slap you if you nod at him again’

“Same pooris … once I was in train, with wife and son. We were going to lucknow. We met these two men, they were hungry. We offered them our pooris. They asked us if the pooris had gone bad. We told them sawaal hee nahin paida hota. We have made them in special way. Then they enjoyed also.”
I was eyeing the exit greedily by now.

“So you get compojed medicine ok, you will be fine. And try to make pooris also, the way I told you, they will be good”
I nodded again and my brain sighed and said ‘stupid body’

“You know this is how people should meet, make friends. At the doctor’s clinic, waiting for doctor. In India, people don’t do that, people are very busy with themselves. In forin countries, they do this. They meet at doctor’s, talk, give each other phone numbers. After that if they meet on road, they remember each other, help each other. Hamare yahan, they see you outside doctor’s clinic, they don’t recognize you. Aap mat bhool jaana, theek hai. Yaad rakhna, Bhatia ji mile the”
“Jee Bhatia jee” is he trying to hit on me, I wondered. Brrr!

“Acha hormones kee problem theek ho jayegi aapki, aap chinta na karma, theek hai. Yaad hai na, Dr. …?” he wanted to check if I remembered the name.
“Hingorani. Haanji” I said.
He seemed pleased that I did. “Haan sahi hai.” He stopped to take a breather.

Just when I thought that he couldn’t churn out any more nonsense he asked “So, what you do?”
I usually find that a disconcerting question since I never have a tangible answer. I cleared my throat, tried to concentrate and said “Um, I write …”
“What” he spat.
“Um, small books for children” I said unsurely.

He was quite for a bit. Deep in concentration, I think he was trying to come up with an intelligent thing to say to someone who wrote small books for children.
“You know publishers are there. They can print your books and give them to you,” he said.
I knew it!
“I do work for some publishers” I said and smiled.
“Achha” he said and looked away trying to come up with something else.
“Aur bhaisaab kya karte hain?” he turned quickly and asked.
“Kaun bhaisaab?” I looked at him concerned.
“Tut arre bhaisaaaaab!” he said, a bit exasperated.
It took me a few seconds to realize that he was talking about my non-existent husband.
“Um bhaisaab nahin hain Bhatia jee. Meri shaadi nahin hui” I informed him.
“Acha” he said surprised.

Now, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I got up, walked up to the receptionist and enquired if Gary’s dad was arriving anytime soon. She told me he was stuck in traffic, and would take another half an hour to reach.

I cursed the traffic, turned around and made a beeline for the exit. I literally ran to my car, and sped off as fast as I could. Once in the car I laughed until my eyes watered and my stomach hurt. After I’d split my sides laughing, I thought about what Bhatia Ji must have made of our conversation – an unmarried girl going to a hormones ka doctor, which to him meant – a fertility specialist or some such thing.

I drove around for the next half hour and only entered the clinic once I saw Gary’s dad’s car parked outside it.

Mr. Bhatia couldn’t still be there, I thought to myself as I stepped out of my car.

Oh! But he could, and he was. 

I averted my gaze, and went straight to the receptionist. Of course, I was going to have to wait. I placed myself delicately on a miniscule stool lying right next to her desk, as if the desk was a shield.

No, it wasn’t!
Even if it was, it wasn’t strong enough for Mr. Bhatia. Although he clearly seemed to have found his next victim, (what was he still doing at the clinic?) I saw him leave the victim alone to make his way towards me.

“Phone number nahin diya maine pehle hain. Likh lo” he ordered.
No, this wasn’t actually happening! I still took my phone out and pretended I was typing the number.
“Hain, Mr. Bhatia kar ke store kar lena. Aur na mujhe meesed call de do. Mere pass aapka number aa jayega”
“Haan haan, mein phone karoongi” I said, wiggling my head and keeping my phone back in my trouser pocket. ‘Thank the lord’ said my brain. “Acha mera number aa gaya haan” I said and dashed into my doctor’s room, who fortunately didn’t ask me to wait outside even though he was attending to another patient.