Friday, 28 August 2009

The Jinx Is Broken

This summer, husband and I finally broke our jinx. It seems plants do not necessarily decide to die when they cross our threshold. Considering my disastrous history with plants which included managing to kill cacti, spiky plants and other mutant hardy plants, I was quite sceptical when my husband suggested a small patio garden. I then convinced myself that all things jinxed was before the wedding and that together we might be different - hopefully we have a different bunch of jinxes...
As it turned out it worked out. We grew some plants from seed including a herb garden and some sunflowers and some Texas blue bonnets. We also got a bunch of other stuff from the nursery and I am happy to report that they are all alive and kicking.

As hurricane Danny approaches these plants still make my patio look lovely. These are the sunflowers from my patio.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

If Only

There are times when the days just seem to overlap. There is not much to distinguish them from one other. A routine sets in and I mindlessly follow the preset agenda like a machine. It is a slow march where I am falling in line, only that there is no audience and nobody to appreciate the synchronization of my movements. I am referring of course to the work week.

I like my job well enough, the job suits me and I suit the job. But I wonder sometimes how life would be if I had picked a different calling. A more unsuitable choice. On a Saturday as I sit and cogitate about this, a bunch of options present themselves

- A kamaulika in desi serials. I would love to be the evil woman. I do not want to be the glamorous vamp. The role of the actress who needs to spend a couple of hours putting on her makeup and a couple of hours taking it off does not attract me. I want to be the equivalent of the dastardly Prem Chopra on television. The pretty, glamorous women in their backless cholies do not hold any appeal to me. I see myself more in the shoes of the shriveled up woman delivering some downright Machiavellian dialogues. I want to mock the holier than thou good girl and rub my palms with evil glee. The reason I pick television is a) their standards are much lower - I might actually have a chance b) they last forever I could spent a good couple of years doing my dark laugh, pushing old ladies down the stairs, making entries as the music rises to a crescendo ( to indicate said entry by bad person character , newbie). On a not completely unrelated note I think if I got to play someone that bad I might actually be a better person in real life. And if that does not prove to be the case then I will at least be the person having some laughs.

-Another job would be a writer of erotic novels. I cannot elaborate on the why of this (it should be obvious) due to the family nature of this blog. By which I mean of course that my family sometimes drops by.

-At number three and only because this job might require some actual work is the job of a cook. Am I seduced by the food network, do I want to make millions yelling at young aspirants when they cook the fish too fast like a British cook who is ruling all ratings? No, even in my day dreams I am fully aware of the improbability of such dramatic success. Also believing in karma and reincarnation I would be terrified and spend most of my time enumerating the species of insect that I would most likely be reborn as. Or do I want to make the most perfect cake (Martha Stewart style), so pretty that it inspires awe and guilt as you dig into it? Nope, I am too much of a no fuss person for that. I would like to be the no nonsense "one dish specialist". Spend my time making that one dish sublime. Perfect it. That one dish that you just need to have, that one dish that has captured your imagination when the hunger pangs set in and now makes all other options seem like a sorry substitute. As a person of the other side of the counter at the moment, it seems to me that the "one dish specialist" is an artist that has few equals. As I dig into that perfect Vada Pav, or flawless plate of fries, or that Spanish Rice without an equal, I feel a respect for the person whose creation leaves me so happy and sated. To crave it, seek it out and then satisfy that craving seems not unlike love making to me. And I would love to be the person responsible for so much uhhhh satisfaction...

Well that is my list for now. But the weekend has just begun so there will probably be a few more by the time I tire of this train of thought

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Graham Greene - Heart Of The Matter : Book Review

I started this blog because I discovered one fine day that I was unable to write two grammatically correct sentences that conveyed what I was thinking. I had joined a book club and in an effort to collect my thoughts before the meeting I made an attempt to write a review. I had a bunch of scattered thoughts on the book but I wanted to get it down as the written word. The black and white always helps makes arguments complete and well thought out.

In any case, my inability to express myself made me realize that I spent way too much time doing Ctrl-C Ctrl-V and formatting. The documents I produced as a part of work were so peppered with technical terms that they write themselves and when I had to present something I simply did Ctrl-C/ Ctrl-V again. As for any type of creative/recreational writing, my sentences came out as random thoughts and when I attempted to put it down with punctuation, paragraphs, capitalization I was at sea. My sentences were and still are constructed like a conversation in my head. But at least I am enjoying myself.

I go back to why started the blog because I realized that I have never written a book review after that failed attempt. And while making witty commentary (Ok so that jury is still out on that but I try) on topical news is always entertaining it is time I faced my devils.

"Heart of the Matter" is my second Graham Greene book. My first was "The End of the Affair". Greene writes in a style that I really enjoy. His language is not floral and he does not spend endless pages creating an atmosphere. My thoughts on this is probably sacrilege as far as genuine critics are concerned. What can I say? I read for my pleasure. His characters are his atmosphere and he creates the setting through their reactions to their surroundings. Whether it is heat he describes or squalor it is from the state of mind and thoughts of his characters that you get the mental picture of his/her surroundings.

Heart of the Matter is set in Africa and revolves around the morally upright and emotionally numb Scobbie. The other main characters are his wife Louise, the perennially pubescent Wilson, Yusef - the wily, black marketeer who becomes friend in need and Helen Rolt the other woman. Scobie converts to Catholicism to marry Louise who is a devout catholic. But Scobie is a thinking man with a strong inner voice. Even as seeks to appease his wife who he is unable to love anymore but feels responsible for, he also struggles with the teachings of the catholic faith that conflict with how he feels.

The book recounts Scobie's tale. In an effort to make his wife happy and "find peace" he borrows money from the black marketeer for 4% interest and funds her passage abroad. In her absence Scobie is attracted to Helen Rolt a survivor of a major ship wreck. The patterns that Scobie falls into where he seems to be with women that he must take care of is very deftly brought forth. And so begins Scobie’s downfall. Once morally upright, he is now torn apart by his adulterous behavior coupled with his debt to the black marketeer. And though his heart guides him to do the things he does his faith leaves him unhappy with the decisions he has made.

Wilson is a somewhat adolescent man with all the symptoms of the dreaded teens. He is at once passionate and unsure of himself. He reads poetry but is too afraid to admit to it for fear of ridicule. He falls in love quickly with Louise who is the first woman he spends any time with in the island and hates Scobie blindly.

The characters in this book are rich and quite original. Though you seldom sympathize with the motivations of the characters there is enough depth to make you understand them. The progression of their mental states is also done with great skill. One example is the scene where Wilson is attracted to a Black woman for the first time. What he found alien when he arrived at the island is now able to arouse him.

The one complaint I have is that Greene does far more justice to the motivations and desires of the male characters. Even Yusef who is but a greedy black marketeer has shades of his character that are brought out during his conversations with Scobie. The women on the other hand are left unanalyzed. While Scobie’s torment after adultery is noted in great detail no words are spared to note how Louise feels about kissing Wilson, or about her child’s death. Helen Rolt is left even more unanalyzed. Louise's bitterness is obvious in her conversations but Helen's view of the whole affair is completely left out. But perhaps this was intentional so that the burden that Scobie felt in his effort to make the women in his life happy could be understood by us.

A strong theme in the book is Scobie’s struggle with the catholic faith perhaps reflecting Greene's own personal struggle. He is at once a believer who still dares to question the dictums of his faith. Added to his burden to do right by his wife and mistress is also his burden to right by his God.

All in all I really enjoyed the book. And passages from it remain in my thoughts even after a couple of days. But just as a felt the last time with "End of an Affair" I will not be returning to Graham Greene for a couple of months. Such introspection though riveting to read is also a little exhausting.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

We Have Arrived!!!!

A scant few years ago my mother rejected all GAP and Macy's products that were marked "Made In India". Though she was probably right in not splurging on cotton and steel with department store prices but Sarojini Nagar value, she did pick up each article with said tag and show it to me with a mixture of indignance and triumph. Her tone was the very one she used to point out the fake Nalli in Adyar.

The tag seems to have lost some of its disrepute. We have finally arrived - at least in Nigeria. With china actually faking "Made In India" tags to sell their vare. Excerpt from today's TOI ( Why do I still read this paper? I am not ashamed to admit that at the moment they have unmatched coverage about Rakhi Sawant. :) )

" China has admitted that its pharmaceutical companies were involved in shipping fake drugs labeled 'Made In India to Nigeria. "The Chinese authorities have accepted this position (that its firms were involved in the case)," an official said. "

The article can be found here.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Time Flies By

A girls night out with an old friend and a couple of pretty young things. The friend remains a swinging single. After many days of attending baby showers, kid birthday parties I am hoping that this might provide some respite from the grown up world. These parties are fun but they also consist of being followed around by kids. Kids,who though very cute insist on calling me aunty and want me to fix them a meal without any further directions. What does a 2 year old eat? A cheese sandwich? Mushy vegetables? Milk? Soya biryani? So I am hoping with girls night out these women will rub off on me and make me cool again. OK so I was never cool but at least make me a younger me.

Pretty Young Thing - Oh, I love your highlights. Nice colour.
Me ( hoping to impress her) - oh its not colour. I use henna. It also cools the scalp and conditions the hair.
Pretty Young Thing - Oh ( Loooooooooooooooooooooooooong Silence)
My mother uses that. She really likes it.
Me (sigh)


Movie night. Love Aaj Kal. Nice breezy movie. Waiting for scene where the beautiful people make stupid decisions/sacrifices because of culture, values, parental pressure.... Nope. Maybe an Indian culture speech, come on. I need to roll my eyes at these beautiful people on screen. What does it say about me that I can relate to mainstream cinema? Does not mainstream cinema lag behind the youth by a decade? Does that mean I am a decade behind the times already? Sigh


Garage band playing at an ice cream parlour. Their song list extends back to the 70s, 80s and also features recent hit singles. The ice cream is great, the band is also very good.
Hep Acquaintance - So did you recognize any of the songs?
Me - Hmm not really I am very out of touch.
HA - What about Job Bon Jovi.. He was from your time right?
Me - Yes (Sigh)

As dated as Jon Bon Jovi...Need I say more?


If this one does not bring out all variations of 140 character long crap jokes nothing will.