Friday, March 20, 2009

You will be glad to know

that Gaurav Chopra has apologised.
With chocolates, no less.
I'm very pleased to hear this.
As Kiran says, it takes courage to say that you are sorry.
Good job, GC!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not even an origami camel

We had gone to Puri this weekend, the SRE, our younger daughter G, and I. G took time off from her job as she had some leave saved up. She tries to come home for at least a week or ten days each year, and get us out of Kolkata and our mundane routines for at least a couple of days. She has also been the child responsible for getting the staid, prim and proper SRE into shorts and t-shirts, and, miracle of miracles, this year, even into floaters!
Our kids have some great ideas regarding our future. G and M, our older daughter, have decided that they are responsible for our welfare. They have a good deal between them. G will entertain us and make sure we take her somewhere for a holiday each year, and keep reminding us how to have " fun". M will look after us in our old age (Heaven help her). Since she has opted not to have kids, the younger son will take care of her when she's old. The older son being abroad for now is an unknown factor in this equation, so he isn't accounted for just now.
We were told to pose for some 'fun' photos:)

Anyway, I digress. G and I had had a totally hysterical session on the beach with the breakers washing over us, the earth moving from under our feet, and, of course, sand entering unmentionable areas of both clothing and anatomy.
The SRE staidly sat on his deck chair, having a good 'maalish'.
A camel wallah was told to wait for us to finish our 'beaching'. Once that was over, G decided to have a maalish too. I lolled on the chair, enjoying my daab. The SRE asked me to go ahead and have a foot massage at least, but I have several reasons for not having any kind of massage.
a) My feet are extremely ticklish as well as sensitive- anything unusual can make them ache.
b) I can't bear the thought of a random stranger touching my skin. I can have a shampoo and haircut done by random strangers in a salon, though!
c) He had one unhappy kind of towel with which he was dusting off the sand from people, and a bottle of strange smelling oil.

Now, I honestly don't know what transpired between the time the SRE booked the camel ride and our actually mounting it. The bejewelled lady camel (solo pic) was the one we were supposed to ride. Methinks she took one look at my bulk and refused outright. Our camel chap went and brought another camel wallah with a male camel, who was apparently macho enough to take us on. I was most amazed to find myself climbing up a ladder to mount the camel's back. G climbed aboard too, and the two of us had a great time galumphing around the beach. The petrifying part was when the camel sat down for us to dismount! I wildly lurched forward, doing my level best not to crush poor G in front of me.

That, folks, was the only time I've ever ridden a camel.

So long, G, and thanks for all the fun:)

Space bar, I don't think this meets your requirements. But I did try.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Meri Bindiya Re!

I used to wear a bindi most of the time, once I got married. Since I tend to perspire a lot, I'd wear sticker bindis, large-ish, rather than use powder or liquid bindis. The bindi was something I never even thought about - it was just there, stuck on my forehead, unless I was wearing 'western' attire.
A friend of mine used to wear her bindi even with western clothes, insisting that it was a part of who she was. For decades it was a non-negotiable part of me, something that I automatically put on and bought and replenished supplies of when my stock was getting over. But, for the last couple of years, as a considered political statement, the bindi is no longer a part of my attire.
I do not wish to be identified, at sight, as a member of a particular religious community. If I'm out in public, I am just another Indian woman, wearing whatever attire I choose to on a given day. The people who know me do know who I am, and I really don't care about those who don't. Neither do I wish to announce my marital status to the world at large. On a recent visit to Delhi a young niece of mine noticed my missing bindi, and asked me about it. My explanation made sense to her- she realised it wasn't just a random whim.

I think bindis look really pretty, and, until I thought about it, I really did like wearing one.
But in my own small way, this is my way of expressing solidarity with all Indian women, not just the ones whose religion expects them to wear a bindi.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jacarandas, A Camera, and Brisbane!

We planned to spend a day in Brisbane, after a few days spent at Gold Coast. Our itinerary included a sight seeing tour of the city. After our early morning hot air balloon ride, we were packed and ready for our ride into Brisbane. Our mini-bus came in on the dot, and we picked up assorted passengers on the way, some of whom needed to be dropped at the domestic air terminal, some at the international one. We picked up a young woman and her two children from what seemed to be her mother's home. The young woman was in tears, bravely trying to hide them behind her dark glasses, and from her side of the conversation on her cell phone, we deduced that her mother was seriously ill. Her little boy was skirmishing with his sister, who was prettily dressed in pink, with a matching hairband. As we approached the airport, we learned that owing to some passenger generated confusion, our driver would have to pick up someone from the international terminal and would not be able to drop us to our hotel and come back in time.
The SRE and I had been enjoying the scenery all this while. I'd noticed beautiful jacarandas along the way, and I tried taking a couple of pictures, but wasn't pleased with the result. I handed the camera to him, and he took the photograph I've posted here. In the meantime, our driver spoke to his supervisor, and arranged for us to board another bus to our hotel. So we unloaded and reloaded our bag and baggage, and were maybe a couple of kilometres away from the airport when the SRE realised that he'd left the camera in the first bus. Apart from whatever intrinsic value it had, the camera also had all our precious photographs of our vacation, so we definitely wanted to get it back. Many phone calls later it was decided that it would be delivered to us at the airport in the morning, as the driver had taken it back with him to Gold Coast, and the airport was midway between the two cities. We were not very pleased with life, though. With this delay we'd also missed our sight-seeing tour of Brisbane. The bus took a fairly circuitous route, leaving airport passengers at various hotels along the way. Brisbane was hilly, and absolutely full of jacaranda trees in full bloom. Glorious purple trees lined most of the roads, and Brisbane seemed far hillier than Melbourne.
We were booked into the Ibis, a hotel which actually had comfortable mattresses.
Two queen sized beds in one room- such a luxury! What I really loved in all the hotels in Oz were the one ounce containers of milk in the fridge- just right for a regular cup of tea.
We strolled down the road and discovered some amazing life size statues on the road. Across the road was the Old Queensland Museum, which used to be used as an exhibition hall, and is the proud possessor of a huge organ . We discovered that Brisbane and the Museum had had its share of floods. All kinds of beautiful handcrafted objects from exhibitions down the ages.
And a huge organ in a beautiful hall. A hall full of modern paintings, adjoined by a shop selling funky jewellery, scarves, toys, books, posters, all kinds of interesting memorabilia.
I really missed our camera there. We decided to cross the Brisbane River, over to the South Bank, which had the more modern museums and theatres, but it was much too late to see any of them. We did walk several kilometres, working up a good appetite for our dinner.
The river is wide and grey and lovely. We knew that we hadn't seen much of the city, but whenever I see a jacaranda tree, I do remember beautiful Brisbane.
We did get our camera back at the airport the next morning!
Edited to add: I was in Australia last October. Just trying to put the memories down, albeit rather late in the day.