Thursday, 24 December 2009

Amaar XL

I was on my way to the city of joy, when a wheel like logo on a black T shirt caught my eye at the Chennai airport. And then I heard some familiar course names. And then some noise and chatter. And then some committee names. And then some talk about nuns and monks. Unmistakably XL.

One woman and the rest men - some salt and pepper, some balding. I wondered when they might have passed out of XL. Cries of excitement, pats on the back, old jokes, tears from laughing hard, complaints about old age, worrying about children, disucssing old crushes and bad behaviour on campus...

I have never actually missed XL. However, watching them actually made me think - maybe I have never actually found the time to miss XL. I landed in the Kolkata airport -it was like homecoming! That sad airport, the same laaaame shops that sell terrible burgers at unbelievable prices, that rickety Airtel stall where I finished my MCCD assignement, long queues at the pre paid taxi counter, Ahalya and I straining to listen to movie dialogues in an airport that had the sights and sounds of a railway station - the memories came rushing back, and with it a warmth that I hadn't felt in a long time.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Such is life...

I took longer than usual at breakfast yesterday. I have become a little serious in my battle against the bulge – I now have the K Diet for breakfast – which goes down my throat after a bit of a battle with my taste buds. I mentally made a note on how I should blog about how useless facebook is. I quickly scanned the paper. I turned to page 7. I couldn’t swallow anymore. The reaction was instinctive. My throat became dry, my eyes moist and my hands cold. I don’t know how well I can capture the avalanche of emotions – a sense of guilt, anger, sadness, fear and helplessness all together. Check this ad.

Rewind. It seems like yesterday – I was looking through a 1500 line excel sheet when I heard of my friend’s loss in the Mumbai siege. No – she wasn’t even my friend – just an acquaintance – my senior at XL. I was stumped. A barrage of calls followed. One of my best friends had just finished a consulting project with the Taj and stepped out before the pandemonium. I remember being numbed for a while. How close was that?

Somehow, such incidents become real when it impacts the near and dear. For instance the Tsunami – another buddy of mine bore broken bones while holidaying on the shores of Mahabalipuram. I am glad she survived to tell the tale.

I wanted to write about this yesterday, but I was just too disturbed to be able to think coherently.

The candles have been lit, tributes have been paid, the martyrs have been remembered with reverence, and issues have been debated - some good seems to be coming out of it. But it is difficult to deal with the bitter truth - some questions will remain unanswered, some scars may not heal and some souls can never be comforted.

And the chilling fact that made me choke over breakfast is that life just goes on despite it all. Such is life.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Behind the lens

Colours have always fascinated me. The happy, the dreary, the simple, the flashy, the earthy, the bold. Maybe that’s why I took to painting. And maybe that’s why I am drawn to photography.

I look pathetic in photos and I am supremely unphotogenic. The term “Photographer” conjures up images of those grumpy guys behind cameras in studios where I go to get my passport size photos clicked. With all due respect to their quest for perfection, they are the most irritating people I have come across. A million instructions in a fraction of a second – Recude the width of your smile, tuck your face, lower your eyebrow, tilt your head, don’t show all your teeth… OMG – I cannot coordinate so many muscles at once! And the result is that I end up looking in between retarded and constipated in all my photos!

My perception of photography changed when I went to XL. Silly Cat gave portrait photography a completely new meaning! Broken Knee has a way with pictures - a landscape specialist if I might call it that? Totally inspired by these stalwarts, I took my first lessons during the Blore trip!

The amount of technical knowledge that I possess about photography is nothing to be proud of. I partially remember what my high school physics text book had to say about this marvelous gadget. I don’t know what shutter speeds, aperture sizes etc. can do, and I use the word “expose” with very little tact. But I do know that I have an eye for the unusual and make queer observations. I am just hoping I will be able to learn the art of capturing it.

I am so kicked with all the FB responses on the Oktoberfest weekend photos. And of course, one always needs that anchor to bring gloating spirits back to earth. Mine was Broken Knee who thought my photos were “just about average” - Thanks. Silly Cat, thanks for painstakingly answering my questions – I can get unctrollable when I start asking why, and more so when I am high on chocolate :) Thanks - all my photo subjects – Shrek, Supergirl, Rockstar, Jade and Saji who complied with my million requests and successfully endured the weekend with me!

I have been doing a lot of online photography lessons reading and I figured that I need a good camera. All you pundits out there – any suggestions?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


It has been over a year since I travelled by the Shatabdi between Singaara Chennai and Bengaluru. As I hurriedly walked along platform 2A to board the Shatabdi, its new sleek look with steel coloured body caught my eye. I remember dismissing it off as a superficial, cosmetic indulgence of no consequence and braced my self to endure a 5 hour journey of cramped leg space, crying babies and if my luck was rotten, a steady AC blast to irritate my sensitive sinuses.
I was stumped when I got into my coach. I stood at the doorway with dropped jaws. The huge glass windows reminded me of a Kajol – Shah Rukh sequence from DDLJ – only that the scene through the glass was not that scenic. As I kept thinking of one random movie song after another, I was subconsciously yanking at the door – which for some strange reason refused to open.
An exasperated gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and sadly shook his head from side to side and showed me a big bright green sign that said “Slide to open”. He was a sure shot middle management type guy – suit, laptop, blackberry… and he gave me a look that said – “These village girls…” I was too consumed by the redone interiors of the train to process his look-down-upon-you attitude. I stepped into the coach and walked slowly – absorbing the swanky interiors – jaw still dropped, so much so I caused a traffic jam of sorts.
The upholstery is now a pleasant sea green with some super soft felt kind of fabric as against the drab grey earlier, the storage space is a kickass see through plastic slab fitted with reading lights, no more musty cloth curtains – there are now some awesome pull down screens, the leg space feels like I am flying business class and the leg rests have been placed more intelligently. I kept playing with the reading lights, only to corroborate the middle mgmt guy’s impression of me! And yeah – the AC ducts are now distributed evenly through the length of the train and I did not have to do through my SOP for fighting cold.
As I settled in, I was handed out a newspaper - characteristic salmon pink with my company’s name splashed on it that made me smile with pride. And much to Mr. Middle mgmt’s surprise, I actually read the paper!
I slept like a baby, read a great book and knew that a great weekend lay ahead of me. Could it be more perfect?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Back after the hiatus!

An analysis of my writing trends throws up some weird facts. I write when I am at the extremities of my moods – anger, depression, hurt, betrayal. Or then I write when I am terribly bored, and interestingly all my boring day writing has been during all my inductions!

Every time I write and discover the joys of it, I keep telling myself that I will stay in touch with myself, the world around me, my opinion of events - by writing regularly… Not so much to send out a message to the world. I don’t think anybody has the time or the interest to read some inconsequential account of thoughts. It is just for closure - I think a lot - and being able to crystallize my thoughts is like achieving closure for all the randomness that goes through my brains. And yeah, just in case people have the time to read and comment, to engage in a debate. Or maybe just to gloat in blissful happiness with a good comment!

Well, I am hoping that with my association with a company in the print media space, the energy and creativity of all the brains around me will compel me to keep going!