Saturday, June 20, 2009


"Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag up to 15 friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose"

I'm replying to A's tag (my post-comeback, comeback post). I have a vague idea of the books... will play it by the ear as we go along.

So here goes, chronologically:

1) Tim and Topsy - Busy Builders: A tiny 10-page very colorful kids book about a pair of Swedish cherubic twins. My mom must have picked it up at a local Versova bookstore when I was 4 years old and could barely read. By the time I was 5, I could quote the entire 10 pages without looking. A very special book that's still lying around somewhere on my bookshelf.

2) 1000 Action Words: A "prize-book" for coming 1st in class in Sr. KG Section B in St. Louis High School :) ... A cute colorful book that sparked off my love for English.

3) Tinkle Comics: They really used to be good summer-vacation time entertainment!

4) The Malory Towers & St Clare's series, Enid Blyton: Darrel, Alicia, Zeralda Brass, Bill, Pat, Isabel, Jo, Carlotta. Midnight Feasts. Tricks. Mam'zelle DuPont. The perfect schoolgirl fantasy.

5) Five-Findouters and Dog - Mystery of the Missing Necklace, Enid Blyton: There was something about this book that merited many re-reads... Coo! Also Famous Five and the the one with Saucy Jane.

6) Are you there God? It's Me Margaret, Judy Blume: The ultimate coming-of-age book for a girl.

7) Room on The Roof, Ruskin Bond: The hills were never so beautiful in real-life. Another coming of age book, set in the beautiful Himalayan foothills.

8) Why Men Don't Listen, And Women Can't Read Maps, Alan and Barbara Pease: :) A book that I read, enjoyed and then gifted to someone 6 birthdays ago. A darned good practical guide to the behavioral quirks of the opposite sex.

9) The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein: A tome in its own right... but once you are sucked in - it's unputdownable.

10) Harry Potter and the Everything, JK Rowling: Should have come earlier in the list, but I started reading the series much later than I should have, initially dismissing it as balderdash. Thanks Jo & A - for endless hours of entertainment and forever re-readability value.

... ... Making a short soujourn to the bookshelf, to jog my memory... :-)

11) The MICA Yearbook 2006, edited by Shaunak Shastry & Deepa Swaminathan: Lovely memories in hardback.

12) The Hungry Tide, Amitav Ghosh: A powerful, absorbing book, set in the Sunderbans - that I couldn't put down during the Jabalpur trip.

13) Maximum City, Suketu Mehta: A book that made me love Bombay a little bit more.

14) The Dilbert Principle & Joy of Work, Scott Adams: I bring it out whenever I want to laugh about work :-)

15) The Twilight Series, Stephanie Meyer: My current chart-topper. Again I had dismissed it as teenage fantasy. But Edward Cullen dazzled me :)

There are also Gone With the Wind (which I forgot to add at #8), a Madhur Jaffery Cookbook with near-edible pictures, Twelve Red Herrings by Jeffery Archer, the Shopaholic Series and Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy - which would complete my top 20.

I tag daviejones, Shee and The One - wherever he is :P ;)

Friday, June 12, 2009

A year and half later

A tag from Arbitly Poo, which I just chanced upon woke me up to the fact that I might just want to blog again. And a conversation with Geetz earlier in the day on writing. And my blog decided to shake off the dust.

What fun the early days of blogging used to be... back in MICA...
Composing posts in the classroom - right under the noses of indifferent profs. Or late at night, in a room lit by a pretty lamp. And then G-talk the girls with orders to comment. "Do the doody... right now" :D Voyeuristic visits to other blogs... wondering what "The One" looks like... fighting over who discovered him first.

Now I'm on a comfortable couch, blogging under the light from the TV. I will probably send a mail to the girls and order them to comment. Not much has changed... but then again... so much has.

Many weddings, including my own. Another wedding around the corner. People moving away, people moving back.
Living with a boy :-)
Keeping a home up and running.

A year and half after my last blog, and I'm raring to go again.

Anj, your tag will be written about in the next post. Thanks. It feels good to be back.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Alone? Really? Why?

I don’t really like banks. They scare me. I never know which direction to head to, for the kind of work I need to get done. The women at counter are generally glowering old maids who can’t wait to open their tiffins and complain about their bais. The men at the counter are moustached, old and ask too many questions. The guards and the peons generally stand around leching or scratching their bellies.

When my parents came up with the idea of me buying my own place in the city, I said yes quite joyfully. The EMI would be affordable, it would be great investment, I could stop cribbing about the travel, and yes, it was quite likely that I’d be living in Bombay for a few years at least. With the apartment identified, I already began visualizing the colors of the paint, the position of the sofa, the softness of the cushions and the table lamp next to the bed. I’d even roped in this whimsical young Maharashtrian interior decorator when my dad politely reminded me… “Um, don’t you think you should actually BUY the place before you do all this?”

Hmm… buy the place… of course. I needed a home loan. Aren’t banks always dying to give loans at my doorstep? The frequency of the telemarketers calling me exactly when my boss was asking me for an important statistic, certainly seemed to suggest so. My helpful friend declared that home loans were processed in less than a week, and he had gotten his in three days.

So I began my research and erm, found that EMIs were not all that affordable, especially on my former job’s paycheck. The only resort was to pick a bank that had very affordable rates, but might not offer to come to my doorstep to give me the cheque. Not one of the posh foreign ones with a head office in Fort. My helpful friend said, ”Go with the lowest interest rate. Customer service doesn’t really matter in bank from where you are borrowing money.”

I headed to this low-interest, low-fat, low-taste bank. After a thirty minute wait the Middle-Aged South Indian Bank Manager beckoned us into his cabin.

MASIBM: “You want housing loan?”
Me: “Yes”
MASIBM: “In your name”
Me: “Yes, I am buying the house”
MASIBM: “But why madam?”
Me: “To live there”
MASIBM: “Alone?”
My dad,
fearing an expletive filled outburst from my side intervened: “Er, yes. You see, she wants to live closer to her office.”
MASIBM: “But saar, that is not correct no? She is not married. If she gets married tomorrow, who will pay back my loan?”
Me: “What connection does marriage have with a home loan? I have a regular income.”
MASIBM: “Which company you work for madam?”
I mentioned the name of my former employer, which, while being a recognizable name in the media/advertising fraternity, had still not built its equity among the middle-aged South Indian bank manager fraternity.
MASIBM: “What business does it do?”
It was difficult enough explaining media planning to my relatives and even my non-MICA friends; but to explain it to MASIBM was a pulling-out-hair-in-frustration task.
MASIBM, choosing to ignore my 5 minute talk on Media planning 101: “You have to give me the balance sheet of your company, madam.”
Me, through slightly gritted teeth: “Like I just explained, it is a private limited company, we don’t publicize the balance sheet. Many of colleagues have home loans.”
MASIBM: “We are not ICICI or HDFC to give loans just like that. See child, if you worked for ONGC or TCS, I could give you loan just like that, but this way… I don’t know. And what is this MICA?”
I supposed his daughter/daughter-in-law worked at ONGC or TCS.
MASIBM: “Ask your father to be the guarantor and we’ll see. Now it is 5pm I have to go home. ”

So, the process began. In Bombay, in 2007, 16 years after economic reforms, it still continues to be an ordeal for a single woman working for an MNC to buy a house. You need a father/husband backing your claim of financial indepence.
The paperwork that followed, the visits to the advocate, the processing of 25 different documents, the arguments with the Bank Manager’s assistant, the obtaining of a No-Objection-Certificate all took a good three months. Everywhere, there was déjà vu.
X: “You want the NOC/transfer papers/agreement/loan document/registration papers?”
Me: “Yes”
X: “To be made in your name?”
Me: “Yes, I am buying the house”
X: “But why madam?”
Me: “To live there”
X: “You are Mrs or Ms?”
Me: Unmarried
X: “You will live alone?”
Me: “Yes!!”

Replace X with lawyer, lawyer’s assistant, Marathi-speaking-lady at government office, equally Middle-Aged-South-Indian-Secretary of the Housing Society… and you have my story.
My helpful friend had an endless source of amusement from my stories of woe: “I got my loan in three days.”

But all is well that ends well. The loan cheque finally came through, just before I was going to give up the idea of moving into my house, “Alone”.

Now it’s back to the whimsical Maharashtrian interior decorator, the texture of my tiles and the size of my wardrobe. Which is another story altogether.

By popular demand…

When more than four entire people asked me to revive the old blog, I thought it was time.
Not that it hadn’t been attempted in the past year… Word docs would be opened, few lines written and then shut forever. It’s quite a struggle to write this too. The fingers don’t glide over the keyboard as they used too… often resulting in pathetic lines like this one.

It has been an eventful time since the last spurt of blogging. Campus is replaced by an office environment. My cosy room is now a cubicle. The tuk-tuks give way to stuffy trains and cabs and autorickshaws. Late nights remain late nights. But the CGPA is now the points on the appraisal sheet. There are new characters in the plot – the boss, the colleague and the business associate. It’s a mad mad life with pushing, shoving and a Darwinian fight for survival. And most of all, it’s fun.

Welcome to the second phase of blogging on “A Li’l Less conversation” - a story about life in the Big Bad and Utterly lovable city called Bombay.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Long time Nosy

10 Reasons for not blogging:

1) Inertia
2) Blog-aversion
3) Too much work
4) Some shady Indian ISPs
5) I'd rather spend weekends sleeping
6) Bombs, Rains, Floods, Riots, "Business Trips"
7) Way too much happening to write about
8) Writing from an office comp, not my laptop
9) Spending weeknights staying up waiting for 6:00 am alarm to ring
10) Drafts that become outdated two hours after I've written them

Monday, May 29, 2006

Waiting and watching

The post-MICA shakedown has been quick. Like pulling off the clichéd Band-aid. Quick and momentarily painful. The illusions of bonding created by proximity were quick to disappear. Nostalgia strikes now and then – leaving behind a distinct bittersweetness. They were the best two years… and then one day, they weren’t.

It has been a hot, sweaty Bombay summer. The days have been spent in the company of books and thoughts and television. Re-reading Five Find-outers (and Dog). Unputdownable whodunits solved by the inimitable Poirot. Travelogue. Newspapers, in which real news has to be hunted down with a fine-toothed comb. Tamil soaps peppered with bigamy, pseudo-morality and inappropriate background music. New Hindi soaps that will never end unless killed by zero ratings. News channels that could be mistaken for Bollywood fare.

Taking sides. For Aamir Khan. Against reservation. For Jayalalitha. Against orkut-spamsters. For Da Vinci Code. Against the Indian side minus Sachin. For myself. Against expectations from life. All the while knowing everything but the last two don’t really matter.

Life took a nosedive and rose again. A perfectly inverted parabola. Quiet conversation. Unexpected messages. A lil’ bit of poetry ;) … Seeing Bombay in a way I haven’t seen before. Yet fighting a déjà vu.

Retail therapy. Salon therapy. Waiting to start work. To bring home the first paycheck. All in pursuit of yuppie-ness.

There’s three days to go to June 1st, when I start working. I haven’t been counting down, so this comment on an earlier post caught me off guard.

“To those of you who are about to enter the media industry... long hours, sleepless nights and acidity, heartburn, insolent clients, cocky media buyers, temperamental operations guys, mid and senior level managers who'll put the country's politicans (with their politicking) to shame, rocky marriages, indifferent kids, a taxi driver who bares his soul to you on the ride home at 3 am, potbelly, free drinks, and oh yes 24x7 work week with almost no chance of ever seeing real sun shine again ... are all part of the deal.”

I’ve heard it before, though on a much less graphic level. And wonder if it was all worth it. Worth the 20 odd years of books and admissions and exams and assignments. Worth the paycheck at the end of the month. Worth the 150 minutes spent commuting everyday. Worth the dream that I’m chasing.

I’ll never know till I find out for my own.

It’s going to be an interesting two weeks ahead. The first steps into work life. The first lashes of a Mumbai monsoon. Hellos… and Goodbyes. And some psychological yoga to help me brave it all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ivana... I-vana Blog-a-Lot

My last real vacation is slipping away too quickly, and I’ve blogged only once in the last one month, which is grossly unfair to this blog. To make amends, I’ve decided to call this the blog-a-lot week and I will churn out one post a day, at least. Proposed genres:

1) General Rants about Life
2) Inappropriate Anecdotes
3) Uninvited Social Commentary
4) Mindless Crap
5) Review of Movie or arbit stuff on TV
6) Photoblog
7) Blatantly sexist remarks on why blogs are better than men (excluding the cute ones)