Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Thoughts, cloudy

Breakfast looking out over the rain-stippled pool. A sudden explosion of parakeets. One merges with the crown of a neem tree. Two perch on the stone façade of the next building, clinging half-way up the man-made cliff.

Mid-morning. Looking out over Nehru Park. The weather’s achingly beautiful. A soft rain. Just right for coffee and a smoke by the window while “Bobby sings the blues”. But I lack the time for either.

On a glistening road while the tyres whisper to themselves. Rain in my breath, and on the sidewalks marigold beds gleam through the grey air.

The sun seeps out. Slow sleepy afternoon with the hint of a breeze in the ticking leaves, small distant noises that highlight the silence, a smell of dust and drying rain, the murmur of voices in the next room. Fighting sleep. And memories.

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But kingfishers are BLUE!

Thoughts on the uniform of a Certain Airline -

"What red pants are, as a rule, is unforgiving. You might as well stick a large sign on your behind saying 'Look at this butt!!'"


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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Nasty old man at airport

Very cool – the gent behind me in the check-in line. Shaven head (but two-day stubble) and choti, anorak over mundu. So comfortable with who he is. Platinum-plated watch discreetly hidden, peeking out only when he lifts his cell-phone to his ear. And speaks confidently but not stridently about “two lines being enough in the Supreme Court”.

Uncool – comb-overs. And Rayban Aviators worn in determined fashion inside a neon-lit terminal.

Also uncool – buckles on shoes, even if the rest of her outfit is neat.

Sad truth – you may pick the shortest check-in line, even factor in trolleys with checked baggage, but there will always be SOMEbody ahead of you whose ticket has Complications. That take (on an average) 23’ 15” to sort out before he can be checked in. While the other queues move, shorten, dwindle in the distance.

Sadder realization – a pretty lady may ASK to sit next to you. And the guy on the other side may be a little scruffy. But when a certain effluvium impinges upon your conscious and you gaze accusingly upon Scruffy Man, you may realize with some regret that it is the Lady who Stinks even if she Has Nice Hands and a Bright Smile.

Uncool – a quilted zip-up jacket worn over a formal shirt and tie. Or, conversely, a tie worn without any jacket; it makes the wearer look like a medical representative. Very 70s.

Very uncool – mincing up to the head of the boarding queue on clicking heels, then looking very surprised when directed to the BACK of the line. You know that look that tries to convey “Oh? There’s a QUEUE? How quaint, but I’m REALLY not used to standing in line”? Well, it looks stupid when she has to go the back of the line anyway. Very stupid. Ha!

Coincidence for the day - I noted the name on No.2, Palam Marg as we drove past. A modest cottage (can't be more than 12,000 sq. ft. on a quarter of an acre) with two other names on the gate. Now Karan Thapar is right in front of me, along with two other men who look vaguely familiar and therefore Must Be Celebrities. At least when in his company.

Uncool to the point of loathsome – man with a belly like a 5-month pregnancy, B-cup man-boobs, shirt open to the third button to reveal three gold chains, several amulets and lucky red cords and graying chest hair. And those shoes that look like wicker-work. (Karthik, you are NOT reading this!)

Unpleasant memory – spending the night at Delhi airport last week. The incoming flight was diverted to Lucknow because of … fog? Technical snag? No. Traffic congestion. The damn airport just can’t handle the load. And I have to fly from this place about twice a month. Brilliant.

So pleasant it’s cool – a flight that takes off on time.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Le'Empereur, he has no clothes

At one time, Moscow’s Hotel Rossiya (one of Stalin’s Bigger-is-Better babies) was the world’s largest. More than 5000 rooms in tasteful prison-block layout. Slap on a faux Mughal-era façade and you have the Ashok in Delhi. One of the landmarks from my childhood because it’s across the road from Nehru Park and not too far from Nirula’s. It has (only) 550 rooms, but that was enough to make it India’s largest hotel. Not any more, with the two monsters that have come up in Mumbai. Infosys are expanding from 500 to 800 rooms this year and the Calcutta Shonar Bangla will soon have 600 plus.

Even so, I had to walk about half a mile from reception to my room. I’d asked for a room facing the park. After that walk, I wasn’t even sure whether they meant Nehru Park or Pragati Maidan. But it wasn’t so bad. Clean, an array of little coloured bottles in the bathroom. I love those even though I can’t filch them any more (after a diktat from the Better Half. Can’t store rubbish. Rubbish? I WILL use them some day. Yes, even the shampoos! Cross my heart!)

Most appliances work. Except the direct-dial buttons on the phone, so I have to get room service and housekeeping through the operator. And the coffee-maker boils over, so I have to place a towel under it. (Should I ask housekeeping for a daily stipend?) Not a major problem, especially since I’m lucky to get a room at all, this time of the year in Delhi. Service is a little slow but eager and friendly. I don’t mind a scruffy uniform if a smile goes with it.

The food is surprisingly good. A scrumptious breakfast spread and a huge ham steak from room service. I turned in around midnight, one Contented Bear.

Came the dawn

Or rather, an assault on my door. The Gestapo? Had I overslept horribly? The clock said 01:05. One in the morning?! A fire? The police?

Bleary-eyed, I opened the door before it was broken down. A wild-eyed grandpa with a bristling moustache handed me an envelope. “Left for you, sir”. And vanished before I could hitch up my drooping jaw.

Which left me with a headache and a temper. What kind of evil, what misbegotten sadist wakes up a hotel guest at ONE IN THE MORNING to deliver mail?!

Ze wurruld, she is full of morons.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Realisation of Inadequacy

Every day I come across a dozen things I’d like to put on my blog. If I had my laptop and the time, I’d do another India Uncut (albeit far less erudite and far more flippant) and post 346.29 times a day. But I don’t and I don’t. (On second thoughts, perhaps not far more flippant than Amit. Of late, he's been stooping to conquer.)

There’s another problem. I’m too damn self-conscious. My posts have to conform to my personal standards of Writing. It won’t do for them to be grammatically and syntactically correct, they have to read well, hold the attention of the imaginary reader. Well, not so imaginary after all – thank you to the two dozen of you who drop by at least once a week (though I do wish you’d leave a comment each time. Maybe even two. Feels good, you know what I mean?)

So as I was saying, after I find something to write about, I get stuck trying to write something Clever and Interesting. Then I give up. (I’m very good at Giving Up) Which is why this blog gets about 2 posts a week during a good stretch.

Bothers me, it does. All these clever folks who are so prolific. About politics, the environment, relationships. (Relationships. Now there’s a word that strikes terror into the hearts of most men. Even, I suspect, the ones who wax creative about relationships.)

Books, films, music. And such music! From Andy Summers to Raga Hamsadhwani and Rachmaninoff. All I know is between the ‘60s and the ‘80s. The books, too. There are people out there who have read every book short-listed for the Booker. Do I even know the authors’ names? Me, I’ve just discovered Artemis Fowl (and am reading Durrell’s – Gerald, not Lawrence either – Corfu Trilogy rather than The Inheritance of Loss. Whattodo, we are like this only.) The last film I (re)watched was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Don’t mention that to Jai and Falstaff, the poor dears might need medical attention.

So anyway, these are erudite polymaths with refined taste. Which inspires their writing. What inspires me? Food.

So the Sad Old Bong [1] is a Sad Loser. I’m low-brow. Creatively constipated. And just too damn lazy. I might as well live with it.

[1] Sorry, sometimes I get a bit carried away with this link thingy. And the awful temptation of footnotes.

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