Monthly Archives: August 2007

Making love out of nothing at all

224-empress.jpgIf Art be the much loved child

Carried to term and delivered by the nurturing womb of Creativity

Which in turn, is impregnated by the sperm-seed of an Idea

What else can Curiosity be
…but the passionate union?

And yet it takes two to unite, to create.

But Art, owned by the artist and not the inspiration,  remains forevermore the mother’s child.

And if Art imitates Life….

The horror-lix story

Walk into any restaurant in Tamil Nadu – a top-notch local cuisine spread or a roadside ‘rest-o-ruant’. Underneath the socio-economic differences, a little voice pipes up “We’re all the same! Tamizh vazhuga” (Long live Tamizh for the uninitiated..ummmm..un-Tamizhized). Don’t believe me? Run a quick finger down the menu….getting closer…closer…ah, ah there…oops, no missed it! Didn’t see it?


Ganga Jamuna mocktail
Mozambi joos
Fresh Lime soda

There! There! There! You can consume two of the major rivers in one keg-shaped glass with a slippery handle. You can experience a Bollywood masala movie through the not-so-sweet communion of orange and pineapple. I think you can do this in most places in the country (or at least everywhere you can feel the influence of that tiny indomitable speck on the India food map that still holds out to the Punjification threat…a spot called Udupi).

But coming back…the great state of idlis, kanjeevarams and eligible US-based software professionals…is the only place you’ll find that rare delicacy, that manna of every Tamizh mother’s kitchen…Horlicks paal (scalding hot milk with Horlicks and a shovelful of sugar)! A few mommas prefer the potion that ensures strength of body, strenth of mind…Bone-veee-taah. My family was rather partial to the horror-lix brand, however.

So not kidding. Really, try the above experiment and see. Me? I’m fed to the stomach with Horlicks paal…I was brought up to be a nalla Tamizh ponnu after all. Of course mommas everywhere try to stuff their darling terrors with vitamins, essential minerals and all sorts of gunk to ensure the reign of terror is complete. But only a Tamizhian carries this trend ahead into force-feeding adults with this delightful concoction as well. Witness then, the visit of Mr.Arumugam and family to friendly, neighborhood amma’s place.


Namaskaram, amma. Yenna, yepudi? (What, how?…aka…Wossup?) It is so good to see you looking good.


Welcome, welcome! What will you have? Tea? Coffee? Horlicks?


No, we had lunch before coming!


Parawallai (no matter). Have some Horlicks.

Ms.A (in panicky anticipation of future tortures):

No, we just had coffee this morning. So nothing, thank you.


Addu yepudi mudiyum? (That how be possible?) Horlicks then. It is very good for health, especially for growing children.

Ms.A at the tender age of twenty-two feels disinclined to protest. Enter a steaming hot tumbler of Horlicks paal for the esteemed guests.

Every summer vacation, as befitted the dutiful family from far-away (in Mumbai), we visited our relatives scattered all over idli-land. Time was precious and the loving family, numerous so multiple visits were packed into a single day. Every stopover would bring on a fresh wave of gushing (“Look how big she is!”) and a piping hot tumbler of Horlicks paal. Come sun, come sunnier sun, come eyeball-melting-hot sun, come I’m-nothing-more-than-a-puddle-of-sweat sun, the tumbler of Horlicks paal was always present at the welcome. Scalding hot (presumably to sweeten/sharpen tongue and produce future Horlicks-feeding Tamizh amma), sweetened to maximum with dregs of undissolved sugar lying at the bottom of the tumbler. Oh and always filled to the brim. The typical tumbler is designed for maximum discomfort, engineered for most optimal wobbliness and guaranteed to cause pain through spillage, scalding by transfer of heat to finger and cut lips with sharp rim. One tumbler full of Horlicks paal.

On one such visit, having dutifully consumed a sufficient number of cups of Horlicks paal and feeling duly brilliant (enough to pass my exams of the next 4 years with flying colours), I rebelled. Naturally nice Tamizh aunty wasn’t swayed by my squeaky protests..couldn’t be helped, my tongue was still smarting from the scalding it got from the previous cups of Horlicks.

My cousin however, having acquired a requisite set of survival skills from a childhood in Chennai winked to me to accept the tumbler without further ado. Then with a clear, innocent voice that could only sound that sweet from too much Horlicks paal, she announced that she’d like to show her Bombay cousin the garden ‘since poor child doesn’t get to see trees in Bombay’. Nonplussed I followed…I didn’t remember having any botanical cravings back then.

As we trotted around, me carefully balancing the tumbler and taking tentative sips from the tumbler to get the level down. At the corner, sweet cousin neatly poured her Horlicks paal under a plant stem. Eyes goggle-eyed with admiration, I started to her when she stopped me with

Wait! Not this one, then they’ll notice. Even plants get enough of Horlicks. We must find another tree!

Duly sympathetic to my botanical fellow sufferer, I trotted around dutifully and spotted another one. With a gleeful whoop I descended on the spot splashing the Horlicks paal out instead of the graceful streaming my cousin had accomplished. Oh horror-lix of horrors, some of it landed on my dress! And what’s worse….nice Tamizh aunty and my parents turned the corner just then (aunty having decided that the ‘poor’ Bombay adults needed a tree-sighting as well).

You can’t imagine what came next. No, I didn’t get the firing of my life for disrespecting food, drink, the benevolence of the ma-cow that produced the milk and the martyred calves that gave their food away to me, the kindness of my elders, the hospitality of my dear great-aunt, the love my parents had shown in bringing me back to my roots…(do you know there are children who don’t get enough to eat! And here you are throwing away Horlicks paal!)

Instead, my lovely Tamizh aunt (obviously well-fed on a staple diet of Horlicks herself) gaped, recovered in a fraction of a second to say,

Oh poor thing. She really likes trees and in the excitement she spilt the milk. Don’t cry over it. I’ll make you another one!

Hmm…if revenge is sweet, the second tumbler of Horlicks paal was sweeter. I gave up my battle against the Horror-lix that day.

I still wonder though, if children everywhere else are subjected to the same delights each day. Someone should undertake a study to see if Tamizh kids really are better at maths, at running races and giving smart answers in class. Some of us certainly grow a strange sense of humour. Like my uncle who famously claimed that no Tamizhian ever need learn Kannada. Apparantly substituting ‘pa’ for ‘ha’ and vice versa in every word in Tamizh would convert it to Kannada. Hallelujah! Apparantly my dear Kannadiga friends suffer from an onslaught of Porlicks hallu then! I better stop before they notice that along with my blood pressure level, haemoglobin count, my Horlicks paal intake has reduced as well. Tree up ahead!


As regards the lust for life, emotion is the biggest aphrodisiac.
On the other hand, even nymphets must stop sometime.

(Click to see full comic on seperate page)


But do take note of this lesser known fact.

A joy forever

Why destroy something because you cannot have it?

Destroy the desire
Destroy the obsession to own
..the very need.

And if there is divinity enough
Cherish and nurture that desire

After all, there is poetry in yearning
…beauty in unrequited longing
…romance in the unattainable.


Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth and DarcySometimes,
you close your eyes
to shut out the whole world
you’re the only one in it
For a piece
of that illusory peace


you close your eyes
And leave them shut
Just to see if,
when you open them
the other person is still there


Speakers interchanged
But the words stayed true.


Bizarre day. Presentation, twenty thousand phone calls before and after and then a meeting on conference call. I stumble back to my seat and announce:

I’m tired of talking.

SNC (in an indecently gleeful tone):

I think I’ll send that out on an all-company e-mail!

SFOS to SNC (on chat accompanied by smileys):

I heard that! Is that true??


I saw that!


Khee khee khee…

Hmph. Now I’ll sulk.

7 bizarre ways to die in Mumbai

Oh yes, everybody, we love the Island City. Not for its glittery Page 3 crowd, not for Bollywood, not for the stock markets and business hubs. We love it because it is a city of survivors, it is the city with a never-say-die attitude. Well, why not? That’s the only way to survive the mayhem of Mumbai.

But on a suicidal occasion that one wants to remember the ways that Yamraj plays peek-a-boo with us here, one comes up against some rather bizarre options:

1. Love over sanskriti:

No, we aren’t cynics. We do believe that love conquers all and that celebration is joyous and should be shared. On the other hand, we’d think twice about setting up a gift shop for Valentine’s day outside a Shiv Sena shakha.

2.The grand outdoors:

The heat in this city is killing and we do love our seaside. Then again sleeping outdoors mayn’t be a good idea. Much less trying to experience the great outdoors on the Bandra boulevard. Even if you don’t have the money to go elsewhere. For who knows which filmstar or rich kid may choose to go drunken drag-racing just then?

3.Brick by brick we were built:

lakshmi-chaya-collapse.jpgWe believe in progress. We like to beautify our spaces. And yeah, we like money just like the next city…we’re the financial capital after all!!! Which may be why we let the shop on the ground floor get a face-lift. Even if it ignores all building safety norms.

4. Train travails:

Not to say that Mumbai isn’t a city for adventure. Feeling particularly suicidal tonight? Get into a Virar local. If you manage to make it intact, do whisper (rather loudly) to a friend in the opposite side of the compartment that you’re getting off at Bandra. Yes, the locals are very friendly and they’ll show you the way right upto heaven.

5.Money, money, money, must be funny in a rich man’s world:

Oh yeah, let it never be said that Mumbai gulshan-kumar.jpgis a city of angels blessing progress. Let us never be accused of the heinous crime of honest trading. Nor the depressing thought of ‘happy and successful’. The richer we are, the more we pay. Taxes, hafta and protection. We succeed, we make music, we make money and then it’s time to face the music.

6. The net of networking:

We’re right up the information superhighway though we have our share of dark alleys. Setting up a cybercafé is great but we mayn’t want to advertise our business on ‘orkut’ unless we were looking for some extra-bloody action. Alternately we could always promote international harmony by parading through Dadar carrying a certain green coloured flag. Guaranteed success if done the day India loses a cricket match to a certain neighbor.

7. Water woes:

Finally if all else fails we return to water. Wait for the monsoon and pray for a repeat of July 26th. Or just take a plunge off Aksa beach and stay there.

Just in case, I still do need to clarify this, most of this post has been in jest. I mean no disrespect for the dead and nor do I make light of the very real perils of life here. As a Mumbaiker, I’ve lived through two earthquakes, one gigantic flood, numberous bomb blasts, gang shootouts and communal riots. I’m extra cautious on December 6th as on February 14th and major religious/patriotic celebration dates. I’m also susceptible to being a casualty of bomb blasts, train mishaps, building collapses, road accidents and general street crime. But I travel the length of this city every day, realizing fully well that death and danger to life could happen in the most unanticipated, most mundane ways possible. Each day, like in the jungle, is a fight for survival. Like everyone else, I swallow that thought and go on or make a joke of it. It’s just too much to bear otherwise.

Keep smiling, keep walking, Mumbai.

Note: This is a part of the Mumbai 7 series on Mumbai Metroblogging.
Please leave your comments to this post here.

Mumbai Seven

Did you ever wonder what the 7 islands of Mumbai really are? Or where to find respite from the concrete jungles here? How about a nostalgia trip into this city’s scrapbook? Or a grand tour around the glitterati here? Where to go, who to meet, what to see, what to eat, what to do (and what not to do!)….here’s a hitch-hiker’s guide to Mumbai. (DON’T PANIC 🙂 )

Mumbai Metroblogging is running a series of posts on 7 things related to Mumbai. Arzan Wadia relates the history of the 7 islands while Viewer tells us the 7 best places for a celebrity sighting. Other bloggers including yours truly are also scheduled to speak up here with their favorite lists of 7.

Do trot over and see the other great 7s that this city has!

An affair to forget

He liked her, far more than he wanted to,
And for reasons he didn’t want to think about, much less discuss
She, as always, dragged kicking and screaming in…
Enjoying the experience, quite reluctant to admit

Oddly enough, it was memorable
For a short while
Till they encountered the return to near-normalcy
Sarcasm to cover up that which defied explanation
Flippancy to shroud fear
Back to business, life as usual.

They went their separate ways
Into sweet, poisonous lies disguised as confession
And acidic truths masquerading as satire

For a while they shot arrows at each other
Of chilling indifference,
Of macabre over-attention,
And searing affection for others

And finally they rested
She lay, wasted in her mortal remains,
Satiated with pain…always so heady, it gave her a hangover
While he mused, stoic as ever,
Life must be a woman…evil bitch.

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