Archive for the 'Journal' Category

Conversations with Bangalore auto driver: A woman’s character

I wrote about a part of my conversation with a Bangalore auto driver. Our conversation meandered from NaMo to Muslim-haters, Rushdie, censorship, in that order.

He brought up Rushdie and how ‘westernized Muslims’ do disservice to religion, leave alone others. I asked if he had read the book. He said he didn’t but he has heard what he wrote about – a parody of Prophet’s life. Unable to resist, I asked what he thought of the ‘satanic verses’.

‘Satanic verses?’ (Later I think if he was just checking what I knew?)

groupI explain. ‘Quran, as I understand, was verbally revealed to Prophet by angel Gabriel (Jibrail as I said to him) in the cave of Hira and it was recorded later by his disciples.

So, before founding of Islam, Meccans worshipped three pagan goddesses. One day Prophet came back from cave and announced that these goddesses were exalted. However, few days later, Prophet retracts these verses that angel Gabriel has informed him that Satan tempted him to utter these verses. Hence, the phrase ‘satanic verses’, right?’

At this point, auto driver is ‘impressed’ with my ‘knowledge’. Even while driving, instead of looking at road, he turns to look back, as if seeing me with new eyes.

‘Yes, those goddesses are Allāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt. Prophet had perhaps said it out of his desire to make peace with erstwhile Arabs who worshipped goddesses.’

Continue reading ‘Conversations with Bangalore auto driver: A woman’s character’

Conversations with a Bangalore Auto Driver

On a sultry Bangalore evening at 6pm, I waited at the end of a tiring work day to go home. However, even after 40 minutes, I wasn’t able to either grab an Ola or get any benevolent auto driver to agree to take me to my destination, my home. I wasn’t alone. There were other women unsuccessfully trying to do the same.

autoSuddenly the lady beside me caught one auto and took pity on me. She suggested that I share her ride and after dropping off, I could go further to my destination. It was only a minor detour and I accepted. Honestly, there wasn’t much choice; I had been waiting there for long now.

Anyway, inside auto, I realised that the lady, like me, was from Delhi. Our conversation inevitably covered over-chagrining auto drivers, Delhi men, rapes, Delhi vs Bangalore so on. (I still bat for Delhi though less passionately; I may be growing to like Bangalore.)

As soon as the other lady got off the cab, the auto driver, silent all this while, turned to me and asked: ‘Madam, what were you both talking about auto drivers? I am not so educated but I do understand a little bit.’ I felt a chill go down in my heart and tried to remember what had I said about auto drivers.

I kept my cool, smiled at him in the rear view mirror and said: ‘We weren’t talking anything complex and educational anyway. Of course, you understood everything we said. And we did praise you, didn’t we? For not taking advantage of the situation by overcharging us?’ He was mollified.

‘Oh yes! That’s why I didn’t say anything to you. There is no reason why any auto driver should refuse or overcharge’. We had perhaps run into one conscientious auto driver in all of Bangalore. Thank God for that. Crisis averted. But our conversation did not end.

Continue reading ‘Conversations with a Bangalore Auto Driver’

Unraveling of a ‘What The Black’ Mystery

Ah, I wrote ‘black things I would still like to buy‘ and mentioned that it was part of #WhatTheBlack activity. Now that promo is over, it is time to unravel.

An aside: This reminded me of a dialog (though it is not quite the same thing) from the movie ‘Prestige’: Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.

#WhatTheBlack was an interesting campaign around the theme of colour black which resonated with me, and few small things that indicate beginnings or begin our morning literally. It was an interesting campaign to build a mystery, pique your curiosity just enough to wait for next day’s clues. Frankly I couldn’t; I could have guessed the product. Here are all the ‘clue’ pics:

Day 1 – A black egg, you break it to find a rock, solid chocolate 🙂 Egg is symbol of beginnings.

Day1_1Day_1_2

Day 2 – Black newspaper, a thing you begin your mornings with

Day 2

Day 3 – a black tissue paper, a black glass (presumably for coffee) and an empty

Day_3_1

Final unravel – Tada!

This is what the #WHATTHEBLACK product is: COLGATE SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush.

prize

You can find more about this special toothbrush here.

5 Movies That I Have Loved

(This post is for my friend Meetu who runs a fantastic movie review blog WOGMA – for the uninitiated, USP of this blog  is that all movies are reviewed here Without Giving the Movies Away. This is part of a competition to celebrate WOGMA’s fifth birthday. 🙂 )

Movies and books bring boundless pleasures in my life. I have already written in past about my movie quirks and movies I have loved.

This time I have spent last 2 days thinking which 3 movies to zero on as my favourites. Every movie in itself has served a purpose in my life. I distinctly remember laughing off all my work stress watching Bheja Fry – not a critically acclaimed movie this one – but it worked for me that day.  At different times, I have watched romantic flicks such as Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Pretty Women, When Harry Met Sally, Roman Holiday, Pearl Harbour, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – and derived a girl’s happy pleasure out of it. 🙂 Then there were movies such as Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond, Waltz with Bashir (fantastic animation) and more recently The Whistleblower – that opened my eyes to genocides, atrocities happening in the world. They struck a chord somewhere deep inside that I did not know existed. I still draw in my breath when I see that gas chamber scene where women suddenly find themselves in Schindler’s List – the relieved sigh is not far when I realise it was only a harmless shower. Adrian Brody’s lonely adventures in The Pianist and ill-fated friendship of two innocent kids – one German and Jew in The Boy in Stripped Pyjamas are etched in my otherwise forgettable memory.  No book on Holocaust (not even Diary of Anne Frank) could ever move me so deeply and eternally like these movies did.

Then there are those inspiring intriguing memoirs/biographies and true events that sometimes inspire/impact you more than written word – The Motorcycle Diaries, A Beautiful Mind, Pursuit of Happyness.  Then, there are hugely entertaining, classy mob movies – Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and mother of all – The Godfather, which must be my most-watched movie with my favourite acting men there!

Then there are Hindi movies I have loved and been proud of – Pyasa, Abhimaan, Maqbool, Satya, Rang De Basanti, Chak De India, Taare Zameen Pe, A Wednesday, Aamir, Ardhasatya…Yet it would be unfair if I pick any of these alone as my favourite movies. So I will pick 5 movies that I thought were unique for a reason – movies I would be proud to make if I could.

Continue reading ‘5 Movies That I Have Loved’

Makings of a Book Club

So, The Tossed Salad Book Club meet in Pune had a roaring start. More than 40 people turned up. Anyone in social networking knows, no matter how many RSVPs, but if even 15 turn up for an esoteric event like this, it is a success.

A large part of credit for the successful meet goes to the presence of Amish Tripathi, the author of the book ‘The Immortals of Meluha’, which we were meeting to discuss.

Sahil Khan, who runs an online lifestyle magazine called ‘The Tossed Salad’ took initiative and talked to a famous bookstore, Landmark for venue. Since group was big, a big venue was required. A list of 6 books covering different genres was drawn and one that won was ‘Immortals of Meluha’. Sahil then surprised us by inviting the author Amish Tripathi as the guest for the book club.

We began the first ever book club meet with just 12 people. I invited introductions of all members and asking what did they expect from the book club. Soon, more people walked in. There was a crowd of people at back who stood up for the entire time of the discussion.

It was an interesting discussion ranging on theories of reincarnation, mythology, Indus valley civilisation, divinity, philosophy. Lot of questions were put up to Amish, some of them ranging from his personal philosophical beliefs, historical references and his own motivation for writing the book way he did. And Amish answered each one of them with meticulous details. One and half hour flied very quickly and I could still see raised hands to ask more questions. I was reluctant to close it but Sahil stepped up. So, I quickly took charge and announced the book for next meet and an invitation to new ones to join the book club.

Continue reading ‘Makings of a Book Club’

Angels of the Day

…are the auto-wallahs I met today.

Yes, you heard it right. 🙂

Truthfully, most harrowing thing that I have encountered in Pune has been its auto rickshaws.

Some days ago, I was actually stuck with an auto driver, who was taking me round and round the same place, asking directions to random people, taking random turns. I got very scared inwardly since I didn’t know my way to home either and it was about 9 already. I finally ordered him to stop, threw some bills (even though I was still within mile of my source point) and ran away.

Pune auto rickshaws have used every trick in the book to cheat me. They usually tell you incorrect fare, since meter shows only distance covered. Once, they used Bombay or some other place rate card (which had higher rates), lied to me that in the morning newspaper tariffs have been increased, had faulty meter that stopped in between and now they demand unreasonable price. Of course, I have deflected most of them barring once or twice, because I can easily calculate the fare correctly.

So today, when hurriedly paid some bills (usual fare) to the auto wallah and was rushing out to office, he stopped me to hand me some bills back. I gaped in confusion.

He was forty-ish bespectacled Muslim driver with hennaed hair and beard.

He explained, I had paid him more money. And I remembered then that I had flagged auto away from home so obviously it was less fare. Gingerly, I told him, no one ever takes less. He dismissed my observation with curt “Banta nahi to kyun lun.” Loosely meaning, if that is not the deserved cost, why should I take.

I was so touched by this gentleman’s gesture, I blessed him hundred times in my heart. For reinforcing my faith in people. And auto wallahas. 😀 God bless him!

Similarly, on my way back from the malls of my swine-flu city, where I had accompanied a friend to find a nice gift for her husband (What do you gift men, by the way, besides clothes, accessories, wallets, cologne?), I easily found an auto way back. By meter. It is a minor miracle since I live in bit far-end of city; and auto rickshaws refuse to ply at times.

Next time I complain about auto rickshaws, remind me of this post. By the way, is there anything we can do when autowallahs refuse to ply and overcharge? 8)

Delhi to Pune

Life can change in a moment.

Suddenly I decided to pack my bags and move to a different city. Not that sudden though, since I did have about 20 days to prepare. There was not a day when I did not lament about having to leave my city, Delhi. Delhi is home, and leaving home is never so simple.

I entered Pune while it was raining hard. Rains had delayed my flight was by half and hour, it took even longer at the conveyor belt. Flights are sometimes painful experience for me, since I have a peculiar trouble in flight. So delay was certainly unhappy, coupled it was though by yucky in-flight movie: Chandni Chowk to China! More about that later.

Continue reading ‘Delhi to Pune’


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