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Posts Tagged ‘India’

So, we’ve been here all of fifteen days when one of our neighbours, an American, invites us for dinner….at five in the evening! My stomach lurches at the thought of eating a full meal at five and not only because I’ve had a relatively late Nandini thali lunch. So I am like, are you sure it’s dinner, and not high tea? I mean I know Americans eat early but even by their standards five is a tad too early.

But then the hubby educates me, a North America-virgin, on the concept of Thanksgiving. He tells me that the women have usually been slaving all day long and it’s usually the first meal of the day which is served any time it’s ready. In this case it happens to be five. All of a sudden a certain Friends episode starts to make sense (the one where they force Monica to cook a thanksgiving spread and then ditch her to go do other pressing things like watch ball game).

So we walk to the party, dutifully clutching a bottle of Old Monk. The American loves the drink and understandably so. It’s the only Indian hooch that’s worth having. Other than Kingfisher, of course (the one bottled in/near Mumbai. The Delhi Kingfisher is the pits).

The American promptly takes the Old Monk and starts swigging straight from the bottle. It makes me think of the Hindi film dialogue, agar mard a bachcha hai to seedha botal se peeke dikhga.

The party consists of an eclectic mix of people. Artists and animators from America, one of whom looks like a skinny HOG, complete with a bandana and boots and tattoos. There’s a young couple engaged to be married. Then there’s an American of Malloo origin and the host straightaway asks me if I like Malloos. The Malloo and I, both are taken aback by the bluntness of the question. 

“What about Malloo Christians?” the American persists mischievously. Both the Malloo and I blush and look away from each other. “They’re all right,” I mumble.

It’s embarrassing as a people to be so transparent to others. On the other hand, it doesn’t take a very astute person to deduce that no one likes anyone from another state in India.

Everybody at the party has been there since noon. The men have been watching a ball game and the women, well, like all good wives, they have been slaving in the kitchen, helping the hostess arrange the potluck dinner. The common theme, though, is that everyone has been drinking. Like, a lot. This makes them indiscreet and share confidences of a personal nature with us.

The female half of the engaged couple wonders if people can see them have sex ’cos they don’t have curtains. The women stop whatever it is we were doing (what were we doing? Ah yes, drinking). We look at each other, our bloodshot eyes containing the same query. OMG, did she really say that? A part of me (the sensationalist writer/immature attention seeker part) is envious that it was someone else who brought the party to a halt.

I want to say, “Well if they couldn’t earlier, they will certainly try harder now,” but I don’t.

More tomorrow…

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Chick lit meets crime fic, with a dash of fun

Normally I’m a little sceptical about this whole new chick-lit-meets-crime-fic genre that seems to have mushroomed recently. It either winds up being really angsty (tough female heroine has never found love and is treated badly) or really cliché (she is saved in the nick of time by her handsome, studly supervisor) or just unable to stick to a genre (skipping wildly from here to there in the attempts to be Agatha Christie meets Marian Keyes.) Anything that is ‘something meets something’ is usually a book you should avoid. Remember that advice. It’ll come in handy someday.

But, I’m always happy to change my mind. (Isn’t that one of the very fun prerogatives of being a woman?) And so when Piggies On The Railway landed on my bedside reading pile, I picked it up with interest, but not much hope. And boy, was I wrong. This book made me eat my words….Read the rest of it.

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I wrote about The Comedy Store sometime ago. At the time they had flown down three comedians for a limited number of shows held at different venues. This event was a forerunner to the launch of the Indian Edition of The Comedy Store.

 Well, it finally happened. The Comedy Store has opened in Palladium, High Street Phoenix. As a part of their opening ceremony celebrations last week they were giving away free passes to the show. I got them, courtesy a friend who’s an investment banker.

“So how did you get the passes?” I asked.

“Oh well, I’m in business with them,” he answered suitably vaguely.

“Oh so you’re extorting money from them?” I quipped.

He wasn’t amused. “I’ve got equity in the club.”

Seeing a show my earlier quip fell flat, I resisted the urge to say, Same diff. Extortion *squealed in high soprano*. “Since when do private equity guys invest in comedy clubs?” I asked instead. “Don’t you have a more serious internet business model with no foreseeable revenue stream to finance?”

“Just because internet business models have a long gestation period doesn’t mean they are not viable business,” he said.

Have I illustrated the point several times already or what? Then again, you don’t have to have a huge appetite to invest in a restaurant.

Anyway, I went in with high expectations and it is with regret that I have to say that I was kinda disappointed. For one, the first comic and the emcee, Paul Tomkinson (?) repeated many jokes from his earlier performance at the Grand Maratha Sheraton. I hadn’t taken to his brand of comedy even then, and to have it repeated almost verbatim was, well, intolerable.

The second comic was even more insipid. And to illustrate the point I can’t remember a single joke he cracked. The third comic was a Canadian who was obsessed with Indians carving nude female statues on temples. I laughed at his jokes but only because he had the look of a madman and scared me little bit.

Afterwards, I remember feeling grouchy. That was royal waste of time and money. Okay, the passes were free but the cab cost me a whopping three hundred each way. And the three Margaritas I downed weren’t on the house either.  

I tried to analyse why I wasn’t tickled. I’m easy to please. I still laugh at fart jokes. And I had gone there ready to laugh. Did I mention the Margaritas? If that’s not priming for laughter, I don’t know what is.

And then it occurred to me like a blinding flash on a dark night. The problem was with the material. Observational humour about the Indian accent and Indians scratching their bellies and-slash-or crossing the road at whim, boring *also in high soprano*. Hack attack. Done to death in films and TV shows. (oh, come on, these days? When one Indian character is mandatory?)

However, but club should take heart from the fact that the rest of the people were, to use internet speak, ROTFLTAO. I looked around to see if it was just me who was left cold. Nope, my friends were too. My conclusion: People who’ve seen a fair amount of stand-up comedy will find it considerably short of awesome.  

PS: The Comedy Store is having an open mic night this coming Saturday. People who are interested in forging a career in stand-up comedy can contact The Comedy Store.

PPS: No, I don’t have their numbers. Get off your ass and look it up yourself.

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    6.A gay best friend to listen to us and give us fashion advice. We all want a Will to our Grace, sharing the secrets of our soul. And that’s because gay men get the despair, the angst and the should I call him or will it make me look needy conundrum. They totally get the drama, relish it even, and, more often than not, may even trump us in that department. Besides, it is huge fun for gays and us fag-hags to talk about men we are attracted to, each safe in the knowledge that the other person is not pitching to the same guy.

    And then there’s the shopping. While our female friends are competitive when shopping and ‘secretly want our ass to look fat’, there’s no risk of toxic advice in shopping with our gay friend.

    7.Romance and sex. Breaking news, WE LIKE SEX. Tender as well as red-hot, passionate animal sex. Who doesn’t like their eyes rolling back in their heads from sheer, unbearable pleasure? The only reason many of us don’t like sex is because our partners think a G-spot is short for Gold Spot. They are too focussed on their own pleasure. And if they do think of us they think going at us like a battering ram is IT.

    And we like romance. We all like to be wooed and made to feel one in a million. But sincerely, and not just because they want to get into our pants. Yes, we like to be made to feel so hot that they can’t contain themselves. But we also want romance just for the sake of romance. So yes, we like romance and sex, preferably in the same guy. I mean after all the gratuitous eating and endless shopping with our gay best friend with all the money that we have, who has the energy to pander to two guys?

    8.Equality with chivalry.  We want to be treated as equals but that doesn’t mean we want we the door slamming in our faces all the time. A guy who holds the door open will go a long way, maybe even all the way, with us.

    9.No PMS. I was going to write no periods, but as the time for their cessation draws ever closer, I discover I’ve grown rather attached to them. So I’m just going to settle for no PMS. No bloating and crankiness when that time of the month approaches. And if we have to have PMS then let it be only crabbiness. After all, bad temper is something others have to live with. It’s the bloating that’s a bummer, really.

    10.A genie to grant us all that. Well, duh!

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Guys, in case you’re wondering where I have disappeared to these days, let me tell you, it’s not Goa (sadly). Well, not totally, although it may account for three days last week.

By now some of you may be aware that Piggies on the Railway is doing very well. Commercially, we sold the entire first print run (5,000 copies) in three weeks flat, and critically, we’ve had more good reviews than bad. So, I think, I can exhale now. Phew!

This success is bringing with it its own share of pressures. For instance, my publicity person is now exhorting me to write the next book ASAP. She calls me up to ask me how many words I’ve written so far. And she does this EVERYDAY. Ever had someone who does this to you every day? Wait a minute, I forgot, most of you have jobs. So you know the best way to suck joy out of something is to make it into a job.

And if that’s not enough to rob me of the will to live, my maids have taken off to their respective villages for the duration of the summer vacation. While I’m quite content to live in an inch layer of dust, eating out is proving to be a problem. A drinking problem.

I can’t help it. Ever since I graduated from college, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten out sans booze. Well, there was this one evening bang in the middle of something stupid the Maharashtra Govt observes. A Gandhi birth week during which they force prohibition down our throats (I would’ve have punned here but I can’t think of a clever punch-line to the set-up). But that was only out of ignorance. Usually I’m pretty up to speed on dry days but somehow that one escaped me. Must be ’cos I was new to Bombay.

In any case, I don’t think it’s that big a deal but my friends seem to think that Margaritas in the afternoon are a sign of alcoholism. I tell them it’s not alcoholism, it’s melancholism. I’m drinking to drown my sorrows. But they’re not amused.

I’m also writing a screenplay for an animation movie. I’m doing this because it’s a friend’s project and also it’s a huge amount of fun.

I’ve got my life somewhat under control now. Not totally sorted but managebale. And I hope to be able to post more regularly from now on. Ciao.

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Private investigator Kasthuri Kumar, the narrator of Smita Jain’s Piggies on the Railway, is a kick-ass heroine. She does interior monologues in the style of Philip Marlowe and other hardboiled detectives in 1930s crime fiction. But this being a book that – improbably but successfully – combines a detective story with chick-lit, Kasthuri (also known as Katie) has more on her mind than just solving the kidnapping case assigned to her…Read more

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Finally it was the 22nd and the day before I was to fly out to Delhi. There I sat, in the spare room of my house (Get that? I have a spare room. In Bombay!) surrounded by 15 outfits not counting jeans, tees, PJs and other casual wear; 6 sets of lingerie, not counting changeable straps and sports bras; 5 pairs of shoes not counting my bathroom slippers and Nikes; endless accessories – four belts, a huge make up kit, 2 perfumes and 3 eau de toilettes, scrunchies, headbands, clips, pins…

….and a cabin baggage-sized strolley.  

I swear I was having a tiny Rebecca Bloomwood moment. Like the aforementioned shopaholic, I was having a minor panic attack at the thought of stuffing everything inside the tiny luggage.

Okay, okay, don’t panic, I told myself. It’s just a question of doing things systematically. For instance, the clothes can be sifted through. After all there are only two launches. I don’t need 15 dresses for that. I have the little black dress so I can certainly do away with the red one with the beige and purple flowers. But what if the LBD is too much for 5 o’clock launch, I said to myself? The blue satin number’s shoulder straps are a little dodgy so can’t rely on that totally. And I’m not sure the white printed silk one goes all that well with silver sandals.  No, I’d better take them all. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

And then there’s the shopping I’ll do in Delhi.

Fuck it! I’d better go out and buy myself a bigger, correction, the biggest suitcase available.

So armed with a lot of enthusiasm and not as much cash I made a trip to Lokhandwala market. Of course, since the luggage shop is right next to Firewalkers, it made sense to quickly duck into the dress shop first. Trying out dresses with a suitcase in hand, albeit an empty one, was plain…unwieldy.

Why was trying out dresses, one may ask, when I already had 15 dresses? Well, the answer is that although, verily, I had 15 dresses, not a one among them felt like THE ONE. Besides it makes sense to purchase something you like when you see it. Cos you’ll never get it you actually need it. It’s some kinda Murphy’s Law of Cosmic Causality impervious to prayers and positive affirmations.

Well, Firewalkers didn’t have anything but the shop around the corner Xact had a 50% sale going on so managed to pick up three dresses for the Bombay launch. Yes, I’m almost certain there will be a Bombay Launch.

Then a quick trip to the ATM and it was onto the luggage shop. I resisted the urge to pick out a set of matching, monogrammed suitcases and picked out the largest, sturdiest suitcase available.

Phew! Packing crisis averted, onto excess baggage crisis.

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