Monday, July 23, 2007

Madras Musings

If they put you on a flight without telling you where it was headed for and you stepped out into the city, you could tell it was Chennai/ Madras simply because ...
  • Its the outdoor advertising capital of the country. It has the most number of hoardings I've seen in any city and its the first thing you would notice. These also could be further categorised basis their size and usage: 1. Mega hoardings, these are the size of 2-3 normal sized hoardings combined and are reserved for the movie posters. 2. The normal hoardings - primarily used by those wanting to advertise any kind of Sarees or Jewelry. 3. Mini-hoardings, these are exclusively used for political advertising, these mini ones are omnipresent, you can't sweep your eyes about and not spot them every single time.
  • There are no plain, unadorned walls in Chennai! Every single inch of every wall in every part of the city is covered with large, hand painted figures of their gods - the real gods and then ... Amma, Karunanidhi, other politicians and aah ... Rajni. What catches your eye is not just that these paintings are there everywhere and that they are HUGE but also, how well painted these are - each expression, muscvle and wrinkle in the face visible. Too much!
  • How can you talk about Chennai and not mention the auto rickshaw guys. After they have tried to fleece you and after much haggling have settled on a still unreasonably high fare, they will go all sweet on you (or may be its just me!) ... on reaching the city, in my ride from the airport to the hotel I knew all about the Chennai weather, the unexpected rains, bad influence of west on Chennai's youth, benefits of learning Tamil and even some Tam words! In exchange I had also given out a status on Mumbai rains, traffic, my marital status, duration of my stay and my familiarity with the city. All this happened with the help of a strange mix of Hindi, English, frantic gestures and a lil Tamil :)

I'm a lil bored of the theme so I will just go on to something else ... I love South Indian food and in my quest for nice Southy food I went to a local joint suggested by someone at office, called Sangeeta, which is near Landmark. I happily ordered my food, got it from the counter and even managed to find a place to sit! As I started eating I looked around and I suddenly realised that anyone could have said without an effort that I was not a local, and all because ...

  • I was the only girl/woman around not wearing a saree/salwar kameez AND/OR Bindi AND/OR flowers in my hair
  • I was the only one eating a dosa at lunch time, while everyone else seemed to be having some or the other kind of meal with rice
  • I was the only one drinking out of a bottled drink - and who could say that an Innocent Sprite could be incriminating evidence!
  • I was the only girl/woman sharing a table with 3 men I didn't know (there weren't any women sharing tables with men, unless of course they came in together)

BTW, these guys I shared the table with were really nice. As one of them sat down with his food, I shamelessly peeked into his plate and saw this really interesting looking dish, so I thought I can ask him what its called and order that for myself. The greedy me asked him what that yummy looking thing was and there ... he insisted and insisted and went on insisting (with some help from the other two) till I took the bowl of yummy tamarind-sambhar rice from him. He even gave me two of his tiny, white papads saying they go well with that rice!! :)

Its surprising, isn't it, how by just being who you are, you can end up sticking out like a sore thumb among people. And then, with only a steaming bowl of tamarind-sambhar-rice, you are a little more closer to them :)

Monday, July 9, 2007

One way or another, Mr. Borg.

Mannn, that was some match, wasn't it?! As both Federer and Nadal played to meet our dear Mr. Bjorn Borg's records - Federer to be the next one to win his 5th Wimbledon singles title and Nadal to win French Open and Wimbledon singles back to back.

It became even more exciting as I realllly wanted Nadal to win and S was dying for Federer to win the 5th time. Both of us cheered and booed and got into small petty fights over it all, good fun :) Finally, Federer won and I'm a little disappointed, and even teased S by saying that Nadal made Federer cry!! :) Still, I'm all praise for the game both of them played, I have to agree with Federer when he gracefully said,"I was the lucky one today". It could have been any one of them.

I love the fact that Nadal was able to push it to the point where Federer had to fight it till the last shot and could not assume that the win was his for taking. The emotion when he finally won was that of relief and much more; I'm sure he values it more because he almost didn't get it! And I like Nadal not just because he has this wildness about him (at least to my eyes) and that he can come challenge a champion on his home ground (or surface) and push it this far. I may agree to their brilliance but I don't like people who are too perfect and invisible; I like people who can challenge that in another person. Hey, I have no personal animosity with Federer; but isn't a girl allowed to have her favorites!!

In the end, as I said, it was some game! And it felt monumental just sitting there at home, watching it on my TV and being a part of it.

Just as a separate point ... My interest in Mr. Borg is because he played and looked like a god! He's still god, I guess. Yesterday he sat there looking all distinguished, and so tense! It looked like his own two sons (I have no clue if he has any) were battling it out and he couldn't decide which one we wanted to see as winner! But 27 years to see your record matched, has to be a record of sorts.

At this point I have to mention S, as his years of enthusiastic storytelling about the history and details of various sports has gotten me into it. He's like a walking encyclopedia on this stuff. Sometimes the stories are just fascinating, sometimes just the look on his face as he tells them is :)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Season ... oops, reason for absence

Not that I have a big fan following but there are people who watch this space; plus I have been missing writing anything especially since there are a hazaar things that have been on my mind and I want to write about. There are even a few unfinished posts sitting in the drafts ... so this post is just about why I haven't been posting anything. Because I have been busy ...
  • Travelling

  • Following J around the country; she's in India till July end and I'm trying to spend as much time as possible with her.

  • Working my ass off

  • Feeling bone tired and sleepy every waking moment (which on bad days run into 18-20 hours)

  • Even with all the running around, spending time with S

  • And yes, past few months have been filled with people ... spending time with my family and close friends (this is not a regular feature as most of them don't stay around me). I have had more house guests than I can count (or remember) ...

  • Feeling like I'm bored, and wanting to quit my job simply because I'm not thrilled about it anymore and just chill at home (don't know if I can stomach this beyond 3 days, but I do want to find out)

  • Reading during my longggg morning commutes and napping/ catching up on the phone calls during the commute back

  • Communicating with all friends who are not around me

There, that is almost it. I feel like I have more to do than I right now have time and energy for! But does that mean I won't do all this? Low chance.

In places this sounds like a crib post. Its not, its just my explanation to myself about what exactly is it that I have been so busy with. And now I know! Anyway, isn't that what my blog is about? to be in on my physical reality and the parallel surreal.