Sunday, 26 August 2007


Just came back. More than anything else, the movie brought back memories of the only time I have watched a game live. Not football, not cricket, but hockey, and quite a game it was. This goes back to the 1998 Asian Games final in Bangkok, between India and South Korea. It was the last time that India won a major trophy in hockey(9 years is a helluva long time!), and I was actually surprised with the number of details I remembered!

I still remember the chants of 'Ganpati Babba Moriya, Haarega Bhai Korea!'. I still remember the names....Dhanraj Pillay ofcourse, along with Mukesh Kumar and Baljit Singh Saini. INFACT, I just opened my autograph book, and I have their autographs from then! Ashish Ballal, the star goalkeeper who saved 2 penalty strokes in the shootout. Yes, I am proud I was there. Yes, hockey is an exciting game.

Other than all that, a few conclusions I came too:

- Firstly, having the national anthem at the start of every movie is one of the best things to happen to this country ever. As i've said before, sport and movies are the only two things which bring India together. I always wondered why they didn't have this before, having seen the same in theatres abroad, but the piece was done beautifully, and this makes me look forward to watching another movie in a theatre, rather than on LAN.

- Another reason to watch such a movie in the theatre: Every goal was cheered, every miss was jeered, and there were whistles after every one-liner, especially, 'Kyunki Hockey mein chakke nahin hote!'!

- The movie is pure Hindi Cinema masala, no doubt. Total timepass. But its got a feel good factor. Each an every person will yell 'Chak De' for the next few days to come. It was good fun to see 16(and a few more) girls running around, different states, different lifestyles, different interests. But no doubt, this movie wouldn't have been any good without Shahrukh. No matter what anyone says, he is THE showman, he delivers the goods, and no one exudes the same confidence and charisma. I don't think anyone can play the role of a lovable loser any better. Screw you if you crib that the movie is unrealistic, you have no heart.

- We do not respect our national heroes. Period.

And for all those who do not know yet, Chak De means 'Come on'.

Hope you liked it too.....

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Sixth Sense Strikes........again!!

Today was a rainy cold morning, and as the shuttle bus was full, I had to take a walk. Praying all the way to get a lift, I came to the landmark hairpin turn from which the climb up the hill begins. As I stopped, I picturised myself getting a lift from this Asian, female group leader, and I have no idea why, it just struck!! Guess what, 20 seconds later, a blue car drives past, and then pulls over. Opening the front door, I see the face, Deja vu!

For those skeptical enough not to believe it, I really don't care, I'm not trying to prove anything. But I guess i'll never understand why this happens!!

My First Paycheck

Where have I been?

Visiting the Pied Piper in Hamlin....

and watching what he's been up to...
by the Wesser
A concentration camp (Munich)

Propoganda through art

Who's the man?

Free ferry rides in Hamburg

The Bavarian Alps

And a bit more of them
The Newschwanstein Castle from the bridge(Walt Disney maama)

And more of the Alps

Posing metro in Konstanz

And fooling around



Trekking in Wuppertal



Stuttgart with Karl Benz....

And his legacy!

Otherwise, I've also spent a crazy stormy evening at the Allianz Arena(yes it does change color, a red stadium is quite a sight), gone into freefall at a festival, and been water-skiing(with a lot more of swimming than skiing). Thats pretty much it.



I have been tagged by Caesar (I find this a lot better to look at than CZar or Cheejar), and have finally taken it up, and trust me, 8RFs are quite a challenge. Here we go!

Here are the rules:

  1. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
  2. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
  3. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

8RF about me:

1. I still remember my first day of elementary school. Staying away from home, the rice and cauliflower sabzi the night before, getting ready at the hostel that morning, the bus ride and the music playing on the radio. I think there were 11 people on the bus, of which most were in high school. There was another girl, and on my first day at school, I offered to drop her to her class. Interestingly, she was in grade 2, and had already been attending the same school for an year. Till this day, I think its probably the cutest thing I ever did.

2. I got started with swearing nice and early, Grade one again! Well, I had no idea what it all meant, but having this painful guy on the bus who would use it every second sentence, I picked up a bit. One day the same guy was pulling my leg, and he got a loud 'f*** you' from me. Since that day, he stopped swearing on the bus, and after a nice lecture from a 12th Grade female, so did I.

3. Still talking about schools, I've been to 9 different schools in my life, and haven't found anyone yet who could beat that count. As a result, I'm not sure which place I should call home.

4. Sleeping: I have the most vague sleeping patterns, and can sleep just about anywhere. I sleep with my eyes open. I don't sleep a lot, but I can sleep anytime, whether I like it or not. My friends have witnessed this quite a few times, and very soon I plan to put a collection of pictures up. Not only have a missed classes, invitations, etc. etc., I've had a few 'bakra' momemts too!

Sitting at CCD after a huge birthday treat, with around 15 of us there, I had happily pushed in a chocolate fantasy and a sundae. While birthday boy went to the ATM, collapsed. The plot unfolds.....

'Sir bill'
I rub my eyes, and in horror look around to see that everyone has disappeared! I shake my head, pray its a dream, and realise what has just happened. Very soon the the waiter gives me a smile, and I dash out, to see a buncha young men launghing their heads off. I still haven't learnt my lesson though.

5. Most of you wouldn't have heard of it, but the movie I've probably watched the most times over is 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa'. Its around 20 years old, with Shahrukh Khan right at the beginning of his career, and set in Goa, with pretty good cinematography and music. Its not really a favorite, but the movie symbolizes youth, with a hopeless romantic, and lots of light-hearted moments, and is one I can watch anytime. Infact, I just watched it on Saturday. Of the other movies I can watch anytime, would be Dil Chahta Hai, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Golmaal, Jaane Bhi Do Yaroon, Pushpak(a silent movie starring Kamal Hassan which I highly recommend), Lakshya and Hera Pheri. As you would notice, most of them are pretty light, and I still find cinema to be a sink for escapism. I have serious difficulties in watching serious movies at times.

I still have way too many english movies to watch, to start watching any one of them over and over.

6. I feel I have a sixth sense. Very often, I've had this sense of Déjà vu while having conversations with people, as if I have already had the conversation before, and can almost predict the next statement. I also have a knack of guessing names of strangers I meet, which is pretty scary at times.

7. My favorite leisure destinations are those with a waterbody. Give me the sea, a river, a lake, and I need nothing else. Every weekend this summer I've been to any one of those, and each weekend has been pretty enjoyable. Bessie beach is the best part of living in Chennai. I love getting drenched in the rain too.

8. I usually am the last person to finish my meal in a group. Not because I am too slow, but because I eat too much. I've got quite an appetite, and am not picky about food at all, but definitely know my cuisines and benchmarks. Not a bad cook either.

The hard part is finding 8 people to tag, and as every blogger I know has already been tagged, I'm still searching!!! Volunteers please!

I blog again

Hello darlings.

Yes I know, its been a long time. Yes, posting lots of posts at once, once in a month is not what blogging is supposed to be. Apologies, I would like to say I had not time, and never really a structured post to put up.....but here I go again, on a spree. Its been a pretty eventful month or so, I've done some of the craziest things I could ever imagine, and otherwise, learnt quite a bit.

Screw all that.....hope you had/have fun reading!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Land of Missing Children

Every once in a while, you watch something on TV which leaves an indelible impact on you.

Old habits die hard. I was deep asleep, with the lights, laptop and TV on. At 3 am, I wake up, and head towards the TV, to shut it down. Just as I'm about to turn the knob, this documentary begins. "World's Untold Stories: Land of missing Children". I am pretty drowsy, but I decide to watch the first few minutes, and am pretty shocked by what I see. YouTube link given below.

Basically, the documentary is about sex slavers, and illegal trafficking of under-aged girls in the sex trade. It starts off in Silliguri, with a family whose daughter had been abducted, forced into prostitution, raped, but rescued by the family ultimately. Similar stories of abduction along the India-Bangladesh-Nepal-Bhutan trade route continue, and slowly the story moves into Kolkatta and Mumbai.

The lead journalist goes to various prostitution union offices,
dalals and red light districts all the way, trying to figure out who can give the right information on under-age sex slavers. Teenage girls, some probably as young as 13, are shown at red light districts, not allowed to speak without permission. Denials of any under-age trafficking follow from dalals and authorities.

The really shocking part is this. Finally, Sam Kiley(the journalist), manages to find an activist who, who can take him to a brothel in Bombay, and decides to take the police along. Going up to the ADCP, he requests him to come along and follow the lead, mentioning the instances of abductions and children being forced into prostitution, to which the officer replies:

This is the need of the society. This is the need of the male person. If these need are not fulfilled, I think they will commit some rapes. Or some molestation of the good girls and ladies of the society.

The wind is knocked out of my sails.

Stress on the words in italics. Obviously, this is not about legalization or legalizations of prostitution, which is a totally different issue altogether. This is about the system. The fact that to come to terms with crimes like rape, the police needs to adopt such measures. The fact that prostitution is viewed as a channel to avoid other crimes. The fact the women involved in prostitution are categorized to be inferior to the
good girls and ladies, in spite of never having made the choice. I am too disgusted to say anymore.

The documentary ends on a terribly shocking note, with a raid being conducted, and the true intentions of the police revelaed at the end. Just when you thoughts things would fall into place, the ground below breaks apart. Devastating. Shocking. I'm ashamed.

The documentary is on YouTube in 3 parts. Just click here. Please do watch it.

"God has given you an Opportunity"

I do not take religion too seriously. I'm yet to find out why I follow one. At times, I feel its a place to store all your insecurities, the answer to all unanswered questions. Some of the journeys which I have been on to find out the answer have been memorable, but I am yet to find out. The following post does not intend to hurt the feelings or beliefs of any faction, but just describes one of my experiences.

After a long day, with lots of travel on foot all over the streets of Rome, the 4 of us (Ankit, Mohit, Vivek and Myself) are dead tired. With a train to catch at 6 in the morning, we decide that there is no point in finding accommodation at a youth hostel, being as lazy as we are, there is no way we could make it back. Moreover, we are looking to save wherever we can. Post dinner, hoots and snickers, the benches at the subway station are where we have to spend the night. Everyone is fast asleep.

At 1am, we are woken up, and told to go out, as the platform closes down from 1-4. It takes some effort to move. And pretty soon, there we are, outside Rome station, for the night. Its shivering cold. A little dirty too. Too exhausted to stand any further, to sluggish to bother about comfort, we find a corner, and are soon dead to the world.

The night gets colder. At 2am, I can't sleep anymore. 10 metres in front of me, stand a dark man in a green coat, and a pregnant woman, having some kind of argument. I try to be ignorant, but sleep doesn't come. Once an old man, then a tramp come up and hopefully ask me if I have a cigarette, a nod answers their question. Soon the argument ends, and a couple of minutes this man walks up to me. I am shivering. I don't know what to expect, and am right on my guard, well awake. Here is the conversation, with his lines in italics, mine in bold.

This woman, she is pregnant, and not eating anything. I try to tell her. I try to explain. She doesn't understand.
I nod, hoping that he leaves.

Where are you from, Sri Lanka?


Then where?

So are you Christian?

But in India there are a lot of Christians.
I am Hindu.


(20 second pause) All of the sudden:

God has given you an opportunity. Why do you stay here? What are you doing here? Come with me to the Church. They will give you food and water. Come with me.
I look on in disbelief. Confused. Suddenly, it strikes. He is at work! Politely, I say NO. He insists.
Finally, I decide this has to stop.

I live in Germany, and I'm going to Venice tomorrow morning. I have a train at 6 am.

He acknowledges the reply, and without saying bye, walks away. Later in the night, I see him having animated discussions with many more people, telling stories, shaking hands.

What do I call him? Who was he? A pastor? A priest? A cleric? Did he want to convert me to Christianity? And what does he get out of it?

I felt a little proud that night, that I actually had a religion and a god. I realized how integral religion is to ones individuality. But why should it matter, what religion I am?

The Great Indian Railways

This post is dedicated to The Indian Railways and our rail Minister, Mr.Laloo Prasad Yadav. All through my life, I have cursed the Indian railways for delays, dirty platforms and coaches, poor service, and so much more, but after my experiences with Italian Railways, I'd have to be grateful for whatever I got back in India. With the number of tourists visiting this country, and the money they are making(mostly a result of what their forefathers built), one has to be disappointed. Taking Rome as an example:

- There are no waiting rooms on platforms. Platforms close between 1-4 at night, and you have to stay outside, even if you have a train at 4.30 in the morning.
- Pay and use restrooms, even for passengers.
- All announcements are in Italian. No English.
- Trains are delayed 'indefinitely' from their initial stations for bad weather, when its not raining.
- There is no inquiry center open at nights.
- No berths on the trains, only seats. Very few night trains actually have berths.
- Graffiti all over Metro coaches (refer to previous post)

Be grateful for the wide berth you get on Indian Trains. The Chaiwaalas passing by every 5 minutes, the samosas and the bread ommlettes. The lady who keeps making announcements every thirty seconds in 2-3 languages. The coolies. The cabin attendants. If only they ran on time!

Sunday, 10 June 2007


My first weekend here was pretty crazy. An extended weekend, and the irresistible option to go to Italy. Yes, It did burn a huge hole in my pocket, and I am yet to get my first stipend. But this is what living in the moment is all about. No planning, no unnecessary fancy shit, bare minimums all the way.

The scenic train ride through the Alps of Austria
Venice! No roads. Just water buses, water taxis and gondolas.


And then, it rained.
Venice is flooded 230 days an year.

Rome metro. Gross. Busted.

Rome ka Gateway of India! The Palatino
Shoaib Akhtar ripped right through them!

Rome ka India Gate this time.
The Colosseum
Vatican City

Oops! Battery over. I haven't got more pics from the others yet. But yeah, the Vatican was quite an experience. Rome was a disappointment. I don't know why, but all through the city, I got the 'This is India' feeling, and so did my friends Ankit and Vivek. If only we were smart enough to respect our national monuments and promote tourism better. This city has the same feeling as any Indian city: pollution, traffic, corruption, crime. And more on the trains in the next post.

The trip ended in Verona, with Juliet's castle, and the balcony famous for the most well known conversation in Shakespearean theater. I guess I'll probably go back to Venice and Verona 10 years down the line....hmmm.