Friday, November 25, 2011

Present Tense

First it was the Indian festival season, now there is the wedding season and soon it will be the Western festival season. What is common between all of them? Gifts. And of course shopping too, but that makes for another story.

How do you pick a gift? Seriously, how? Of all the social customs, I find this is to be the toughest. It isn't even something which you get better at with age (as if there is anything like that, other than the record for the longest cough). It was so much more easier when we were kids, when our parents would pick the gift. And the choices too, so many! I mean any thing that you don't possess, gifted by someone else classifies as a good gift, when you are small ("oh wow! a shiny ball of yarn!").

But now, there are so many conditions that you have to follow!

  • The most important one - put some thought into it. Easier said than done. Whatever happened to just stuffing some cash into an envelope and giving it away? I find that to be very thoughtful, it involves so many thoughts! You thought of going to the ATM, you thought of buying an envelope (or reusing an existing one, I am not judging) and most importantly, you thought of not wasting their space and your money on something which they will anyway gift away to someone else, in case they don't like it! How much more thoughtful can you get!

  • Gender specific - oh boy this is a toughie! As kids, when you were invited to a birthday party, all your parents had to do was rush to the nearest store which sold toys and pick one. As simple as that. Sure there were some stereotypes followed - like girls got the dolls and guys got the balls (pun unintended), but hey, it never hurt anyone, did it? This was before the times of political correctness. But now what do you do? Books are the most gender neutral gifts but then again, how many people read these days? Even if they do, how many appreciate a book as a gift? (Refer to the above point about thoughtfulness of the gift)

  • The budget - something that not only tests your math skills, but also your memory. Jot down these questions in case you are weak in this particular area. "What did I get from them last time?", "What did they gift others in a similar situation?", "How much do I earn?", "How much do they earn?", "Will this be an individual gift or will I be pooling in with other people?" and finally the most important one - "How much do I like them?" Your final budget is the sum of all these figures multiplied by Pi and divided by the number of years of your life left, after going through the mental agony of thinking of these answers.

  • The occasion - broadly classified into birthdays, wedding and miscellaneous. What comes under the miscellaneous category, you ask? A: Anniversaries, Farewells, Promotions, House warming ceremony, naming ceremony - basically the events that you would attend only in case of a gun being pointed to your head or the person in question being a blood relative/someone very close to you. The festivals are easier, at least for us Indians (not into business) - a box of sweets or dry fruits, depending on the occasion. Among the rest, I consider birthdays to be the most important - it comes every year and is a judge of what kinda relationship you have with the gifter-giftee. Thoughtful and expensive - consider marriage; non existent or lame and recycled - consider divorce.
I am sure I have left out many small details which are a part of the procedure of selecting a gift. For example the protocol for giving flowers - roses/ lilies/ garbera? Or the corporate (read useless) gifts - pen stand/ photo frame / coffee mug? Or the timeless dilemma that boggles all new home owners - "What the hell are we going do with all these clocks?" This gift giving business is hard!

P.S.: Now do you see the usefulness of the cash-in-envelope gift?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Up, up and away

I envy Superman. Not because he has superpowers, not for his flashy lifestyle (pun unintended) and definitely not for his dorky glasses and terrible hairstyle. I envy him for the opportunity he had, to break free. To break free of the life he knew, the life he grew accustomed to, the life that bound him to his planet.

There comes a point, sometimes once in a blue moon and at other times all too frequently, that you want that for yourself. It is not necessarily when you are sad, it is not a form of escapism. It is just a new life. To start afresh. To cut all old ties and start all over.

To go to a new place, a place where no one knows you, where you can be whoever you want. Because the whole world can tell you to be yourself, but you know within your heart that you would give anything to not be that person, if only for a short while.

When I say go to a new place, I don't mean it in the tourist kinda way. That doesn't help. That is just a form of distraction, and helps only to get away from other people. What I mean is when you want to get away from yourself.

Where you can be the person who can't take a decision, the fool, the vagrant or even the enlightened, the wise. Doesn't matter. As I said earlier, the person you want to be, not the person you are. Where people don't expect anything from you because they don't know you. Where you don't have to smile at someone because you are expected to. You can choose to be the unsocial recluse or you can choose to be the extrovert.

Where you can choose. Where you have a choice.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cut, snip, complain

I made my regular trip to the salon recently. First of all, let me tell you how difficult it is for me to find a place I like. I know for a fact that I am very choosy and particular about most of the things in life, and a hairdresser is one of them. Initially, during school-college days, it would be the beauty parlour closest to my house. Of course things changed when I started earning. Too much money to waste, you see.

I have somewhat thick, yet light, frizzy, wavy hair, so those of you blessed with beautiful, naturally straight and shining tresses can stop reading this blog and GO AWAY! Based on my hair type, it is very difficult to find and stick to a hairstyle that a. actually looks good b. stays the same way after the setting by the salon is washed away.

After much hunting, searching in the last five years, I finally seem to have found a place that meets my criteria - well ventilated, smells nice, is clean, and has people who don't feel obliged to make random small talk (see what I mean by being choosy?). Of course it meets my budget too; for someone who goes for a cut once in 3 months, spending what I spend seems OK (subject to argument).

OK if you are thinking that this is a plug/promotion for some salon, then you are wrong. If you are thinking that this is pointless banter over a topic as trivial as my hair, then you are right. This has got nothing to do with any political/social topic of interest. Go now and live free. Back to the topic, then.

After all that drama over the right salon you would expect me to be happy, right? Wrong. I now move on to what irks me about these hairdressers. I go in, anticipating the wonderful washing of hair, followed by a hair cut. I do get the wonderful hair wash but what comes next always takes me by surprise, even after all this time. The criticism. This is how it goes:

Hairdresser (HD) : *flips the wet hair*
HD: *runs his fingers through the wet hair*
HD: *runs a wide toothed comb through the wet hair*
HD: *sigh* Which shampoo do you use?
me: *gulp*

It does not matter which shampoo you use. You can spend half your earnings on the shampoo/conditioner and your hairdresser will still be unimpressed. There has to be some problem with it. I personally think that they undergo this training, along with learning the various techniques of holding hair between their fingers before cutting it. The various things that I get to hear ranges from "your hair is too dry, change your shampoo", "you have hair fall, change your shampoo", "your hair appears dull, change your shampoo", etc.

Has it ever occurred to you, dear hairdresser, that I might not have so many problems if you would just let me stick to one freaking shampoo? And with that, my self esteem shattered, the happy hairdresser proceeds to give me a magnificent cut, which my broken soul laps up eagerly. The End.

P.S.: changed the feed option; should now appear in full on reader.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bollywood Wishlist

Watching some awards ceremony on tv took me back to the time when as a kid I would look at the heroines on screen and wish I would own the dress they wore, as flamboyant as it may be.

1. Kimi Katkar in Hum:
I don't even remember how old I was when I watched the movie "Hum". I have definitely not watched it in the theater for sure. Maybe it was on cable, back when the cable guy would print out the schedule of pirated movies he would show during the coming week/month. Anyway, back to the dress. Oh how I yearned it! The frills, the colour, the heels, the whole do! If I can remember it so well to this day, it must have had some impact right? I also remember promising myself that one day when I start earning I will buy such a dress for myself. Umm. Yeah. It's a good thing it's not on paper.

2. Madhuri Dixit in Khalnayak:

OK stop laughing. This has nothing to do with the song. Seriously. Stop. This was lehenga-choli at it's best! I did own a very typical Rajasthani lehenga-choli set but for obvious reasons it was not even close to the one shown above. *Sulks*. Backless back, shells hanging, mirror embellishments, white bangle thingies upto the biceps as accessories - loved it all! Yes, the stomach baring would have been a bit too much but hey, such wishes aren't meant to be practical, are they?

3. The long frocks:

They say the 90s was the worst phase of Bollywood. All the good singers were dying or dead, the good actors were getting too old, there were too many horribly done south indian remakes and let's not even go near the so called fashion sense in the movies back then. But hey, I liked it. For all you know the things that we wear today will be the object of ridicule tomorrow. That's how it works. So back then, the puffy sleeves, high waist jeans, the leggings with long T shirts and of course the long frocks were the rage. My favourite happens to be the one Madhuri Dixit wears in HAHK. A close second is Juhi Chawla's in Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke. Atrocious, I know.

I am trying to think which movies/trends/dresses interest me now. But I just can't seem to put my finger on it. I guess nostalgia is the best reminder.

Monday, June 27, 2011


The problem with taking a break is getting back to the routine after the break. Hi, I am Captain Obvious. The break that I refer to is the break I took from blogging. I didn't even realise that the break became the routine. I have no one to blame, no excuses to give. It took a backseat because I let it.

This isn't a grand "Hey kids, look who's back!" blog. This is just me, rambling on as usual. Because you know what, that's what it was to me. Before life caught up and changed my world in a million little ways. But I want to write again. I wrote before blogging became THE THING and now I want to write much after blogging isn't THE THING. It's much more fun this way.

You write, people read if they are interested, most of them ignore it, some leave a comment or two, you write again. No one wins, no one loses. There are no comment wars, there is no one upmanship. It isn't something you do to put on your profile, it isn't something you do to get those hits, to go up on Google's search index, to be featured in some lame column of a dying newspaper trying hard to keep up with the drastic changes in technology and lifestyle.

This is me, blogging once again. And boy, it feels good! Also, yay! on my 90th post. :)

P.S.: Thanks to my current joblessness, I'm pretty sure I can keep up this break-from-the-routine-that-was-meant-to-be-a-break for some time at least. Let's hope so.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Of pensive babies and mickey mouse

I have no freaking clue why people here in HK are so freaking OBSESSED with Mickey Mouse. Yes, they don't just like that silly cartoon character, they obsess over it. Mickey Mouse is on bags, tshirts, caps, suitcases, plates, spoons, u name it, and they will have Mickey Mouse over it. WHY? As I said, no freaking clue. Sure, there is a Disney Land here, but the merchandise I am talking about isn't even "official". Even 50+ yr old women wear it on their clothes. Madness I tell you!

There are two things very unique here - dogs and babies. I have put these two in the order of my liking.

Dogs: It may not apply to all localities but where I live, you can find dogs of all sizes, shapes, colours and softness. They love dogs as much(if not more) as their kids. They carry them around like babies, run with them, clothe them in weird attire and generally fuss over them. How is that different from pet owners around the world? Here, they prefer dogs of smaller stature so that they can carry them around in bags. You see a lady with an open handbag and you know that there is a living thing inside. Sure enough, it pops its head out and looks at you like you are the one in a weird mode of transportation.

They also train their dogs to perfection. Sometimes when the dog forgets its "etiquette's" and barks at you, the owner will apologise like it was the greatest sin ever committed. It's a treat to watch these little creatures and their mannerisms. I would absolutely love to own one (not just any one of them, I have my sight and heart set on a particular one - my Takiya). Sigh.

Then there are the babies. What is the deal with them here! You see a baby and your first expectation is for it to start bawling in a while. I mean come on, they are babies, that's what they are supposed to do. Hungry-> cry -> full -> poop -> cry -> thirsty ->cry ->full -> pee ->cry. It is a vicious cycle of needs and crying. But not here. First of all the babies here look freakishly pensive. They look like there is a lot on their mind; always in deep thought, as if solving the deep mysteries that have troubled mankind since the dawn of civilization. Then there is the fact that they don't cry. EVER. You see umpteen number of women with strollers. But you never see a woman with a baby that is crying. The baby just sits there. Still. Silent. Not crying. Blinking. Staring. F.R.E.A.K.Y!

How do they even do it? Is there a top secret govt. organisation behind it? Are there some special words uttered during childbirth that takes away the baby's..umm.."crying mojo"? I personally think that it's the mom. Who would not be scared of that angry Grudge like look? *Shudder*

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bangalore to Hong Kong!

No prizes for guessing what this post is about. There are so many things I want to share about this place that my head was bursting with observations and comments. So I'll just get down to it directly, no fancy buildups, no hows and whys.

  • What are the chances of meeting two people you know in the international airport, where being your first international trip you have landed way too early and have more than 3 hours to kill? And that too one being related to you! Well not too high, let me tell you that. But that is exactly what happened with me.
  • I did embarrass myself at a couple of counters but that's a different story altogether.
  • The journey was uneventful, and the air hostesses - rude. I guess they know that it's the only direct flight and hence you don't have much of a choice.
  • The flight was late and I just remember drifting in and out of sleep, only to eat and go direct back to sleep. By the way, whoever came up with the idea of playing "What's your Rashee?" as in flight entertainment, thank you! Works better than a warm glass of milk, instant peaceful slumber guaranteed!
  • This place defines "bustling"! You see people everywhere, everyone looks important, busy and like they have something really big to do and someplace very urgent to be. It has such a high energy that you wonder if you can keep up. My first weekend was pretty disorienting actually!
  • Customer service actually has a meaning here. They look like they want to serve you well.
  • Language problem - BIG problem. Most of them struggle with framing simple English sentences and when they actually do, their accents make it even more difficult for me to grasp what they are saying. Lesson learnt - use keywords, speak slower than usual, pay attention.
  • Gotta love the public transportation. You can get from anywhere to anywhere by three very convenient and simple means- trams, buses and trains(all A/C, of course). If you don't mentally convert the rates to INR then they work out really cheap too!
  • The clothes! How can I not mention that! I kid you not, no two women on the street wear the same clothes. Forget same, they are barely similar. I don't know whether the reason behind this is the abundant choices or just the desire to stand out, but it works!
  • The shoes! Yes, this post is getting very girly and what not but I cannot help it. Nowadays when I walk, I don't even look up. Girls/women here wear such pretty and funky footwear that it is difficult to focus elsewhere. Sure, given a choice I probably wouldn't even have the guts to try out these styles but that's also a point I want to make. Anything they wear, they look like they own the look and at total ease with themselves.
  • The men aren't too good looking. I prefer our Indian men anyday! It's been six days since I landed here and I could spot just one fairly good looking guy.
  • Food is a bit of a problem for a vegetarian like me but since I have "my people" already here since the past couple of years, I know where to look and what to avoid. In short, I am well fed.
I have loads to add but not right now. Work beckons.

P.S.: I didn't even know why today i.e. July 1st is a holiday here. Turns out some political thingy. Oh well *shrugs*