Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weeding it out

The weed didn't choose to be a weed. It didn't choose to grow in a pot that already had a more desirable plant in it. The wind just carried its seed there. It had no choice but to grow. Unwanted. It only tried to live. Drank it's nourishment from the soil. Basked in the glory of the sun. That it slowly began killing the other plant, the one that was potted with love, was perhaps not intentional. Or was it?

Is it the weeds fault that its a weed? Perhaps not. Would it be a better living being if it didn't kill the other plant in the bargain? But then it wouldn't have fulfilled the job of a weed, would it now? 

I don't feel great pulling out the weed. But it IS killing the other plant. One that was a vibrant red, and flourished merrily in the first few months is beginning to look more and more frail now. It's space being taken over by another being. Its water being absorbed before it can get to it. The rays of the sun being blocked by the tall stems of the weed. The parasite. 

We simply plant the unwanted guest in another pot. The weed didn't choose to be a weed, after all. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Of glasses and more.

I wonder sometimes about the glass being half empty or half full. Not because I’m trying to figure where I stand on the optimistic scale…but because I’d like to know which way I would’ve seen it if I didn’t know the psychobabble behind it. Who doesn’t?!


I’d like to think of myself as a positive person. Heck, I think I might  even be tipping dangerously towards the “its all going to be great” side of the scale. The tarot deck might refer to it as “the fool”, a card I get very often in my readings. It’s the image of a boy walking merrily, not knowing he’s standing at the very end of a cliff. He couldn’t care less though. Between gravity and good karma, it’s karma that always wins and his chances of falling head first are one in infinity.


I remember reading in ‘the secret life of bees’, that people start out one way but don’t often turn out the same. True. I’ve always believed that things have a way of working out. And part of that belief has come from the fact that it’s something that’s always happened. I’m not sure how, but it always has.


Back to the half full glass, or half empty, is it?

When I racked my pretty lil brains about who this experiment might possibly work on…the answer flat out was ‘anyone who doesn’t know about the theory’. Like duh. Problem is… its one of the first few things you learn about life when you do personality tests or Type A or type B tests and what not. (I’m type A if I remember correctly). It’s a trick question that everyone knows the answer to. Doesn’t seem so tricky then, does it? If by some stroke of genius you did manage to catch a child before someone spoiled the fun by telling him the rationale behind this lil trick, I don’t even know if his or her vocabulary would be enough to render the experiment conclusive. Assuming our bright little lab rat says “where’s the rest of the water?”..does it mean he’s wildly upset about the glass not being full or curious when it will be. I know, makes no sense to me either.


Now whenever I’m taking one of these fun personality quizzes (they never get old, really.). Are you a born millionaire? Are you a good lover? Are you the life of the party? Do you have a penis that all other men envy, …kinda tests…you’ve already figured by the third question which of the a) b) or c) is going to give you the desired personality type. And if they’ve been clever enough to not make the results that apparent…one picks the most flattering ones anyway.


A part of me wants to erase the knowledge of the full glass test. In another life perhaps I’d object wildly if anyone even tried to educate me on the matter before I could take an unbiased test myself. Since that’s not about to happen anytime soon, unless a wave of amnesia hits me ( and here I sincerely hope it doesn’t), I’m going to continue being the fool from the tarot deck who might be innocent, but is atleast in the able hands of his dear friend. Fate.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Out, in the open!

We’re sitting by the river Satluj. My cousins, my aunt and I. We’ve come to this exact same spot by the river on my last trip a few months ago. And since then, we’ve longed to come back. On this trip we’re trying to relive the same excitement. If life were a formula…we’d attempted to do all the things from our previous trip…taking pictures, playing Dog and the Bone, Kabbadi…a lil trek. But for some reason…it just isn’t as much fun as the last time. Formulas don’t work for real life.


We’re now sitting by the river. Dipping the bottle of warm Mountain Dew in the cold ripples of the Satluj. The water is so cold..that we’re bound to enjoy a cool beverage if we wait a while. The exact opposite is happening with the bottles of water that we’ve carried…that have frozen in the ice box! The water is frozen…so can’t be drunk…the mountain dew too warm. In time, they’ll both be just right.


To kill time we eat the junk food we’ve carried. Some chips and peanuts. This is no time to count calories. Carefully carrying back the wrappers with us. My cousins have a little spat and the boy takes some time out to go sit alone. It’s  my job to go get him. He comes. Minutes later he hits his sister like he often does. She cries. She’s consoled…the game is back on track. My aunt is sitting on a big rock. Her pink outfit against the dark rock. The digital camera and the zoom on keeping her amused.


Then it happens. I ask Daisy, my cousin if she wants to chant here. By the river, in the open, under the blue sky…the sand beneath us. She agrees, a little more readily than I’d have imagined. Soon we’re all chanting….my cousins, my aunt and I. And it is amazing! I’ve never chanted in the open before this. Certainly not by the river with a rock face so big…that we feel ridiculously small. We’re down about a hundred feet from the main road. The sound of our chanting is very easily drowned by the roar of the river. No contest. But six heads, sitting upright with their hands clasped looking towards nothing…catches the attention of two truck drivers. They stand and watch for a few minutes. Amused, but not amused enough to stay too long. They decide to move along. So do we.


The trek back up is fantastic! We’re walking up a dried up waterfall. The rocks are amazing. The thorns are not. I have a few scratches on my legs. Some war wounds and blood stains to earn bragging right back home. We’ll all embellish our stories when we replay the incidents to my grandmum. And if you happen to hear this from my grandmum, don’t be surprised if there’s a crocodile thrown into this story for added effect!


I love it here. I really do. I’m so grateful that I get to take time off whenever I want. And that when I do, I have people to share it with. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

C for Cancer

One in 28 women has breast cancer.
Men can get breast cancer as well.
 Club that with the fact that all of us ALREADY have cancer cells in our body...and its enough to make you get seriously worried. In some people these cells mutate. In some others, they decide to not go through all that trouble. You can try the antioxidant diet, green tea, regular workouts and a thin frame...but it doesn't necessarily guarantee that the Big C won't catch you. 

Here's the good news though. For everyone one of these facts that had my brain working overtime...there was the reassuring smile of a Nigerian lady called Peace.We were shooting with her for one of our last episodes for the NDTV Good Times show. She's an ad film maker. A mother of two and had to break the news of her cancer to her family. ..As opposed to the other way around. It's been eleven months since she first noticed a lump on her breast and realized she was already on stage chemotherapy is over, her hair is growing back, she's considering a breast reconstruction surgery and is throwing a reeeeeeally big party when she goes back home. Her spirit will move you...and if that doesn't give you strength...really nothing else can!

Unfortunately for me, I'm a hypochondriac. If I hear of a new disease..I think I have it. My organs conspire with my brain to make me feel some severe pain in and around the organ that the disease attacks..and I'm instantly imagining the worst! You can imagine my surprise then, when I was listening to Peace...asking Dr Sarin, who's a cancer surgeon about how bad chemo is really..and telling myself...'its no cakewalk..but it doesn't mean the end'.

Really, as an anchor, this isn't a show I'm proud of. This show hasn't provided me with the opportunity to just be..and have a ball and use my mind. What it has done teach me so much about medicine, see surgery..and get over the fear of these big fancy sounding diseases. I know that everything will always be fine with me and my body...but if shit hit does the fan...I know i have a mop ready!

Monday, May 4, 2009 new friends!

You travel alone to a new city, the trick though, is to leave with a lot of friends!

Sure, it means having to stretch out of your comfort zone a wee bit...but that's the thrill of it! My month long stay in Delhi has only been fun because of people I've met completely out of the blue! And when I was talking to a friend about all these new additions first to my phone book...and my life, we were quite amazed!

From a young french student who jumped in when I was ordering a juice by saying 'that one no...good..try pineapple....' to the coolest plastic surgeon in the country and his family ...that I so feel a part of, to an Afghani interpreter who volunteers with ailing patients explaining to doctors what they need, to an 18 year old pilot incidentally the youngest one for kingfisher airlines from Delhi (he got his flying license BEFORE his driver's license!!) trip has been so cool! 

I've had a gym friend who took me out till the wee hours just because I said Delhi was fuck boring....and by 3 am I was begging to be taken back to the hotel because it was all TOOOO alive for my taste! Can you imagine...if I hadn't been shooting, or gymming, or just buying path would never cross theirs and I'd never have learnt all the stuff that I have!

Here's what I reaaaaly like about meeting random people and making friends..See, if you and I were working together...we're thrown into a situation. We might get along great...or not. But that relationship (sweet or sour) comes out of that situation. It wasn't voluntary when it began. On the other hand..when you walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation...they have no obligation what-so-ever to continue the chat, humor you, or even keep in touch! Now, THAT'S what I love! Isn't it great to know that you can form a bond with just about anyone instantly....!

I love it. Think about it. It means you're ALWAYS surrounded by just dont know them yet!! Make it happen ;)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Brain surgery!

Watching someone's skull being cracked open isn't exactly dinner and a movie. But I'd pay good money to watch it happen! Now, before you hop, skip and jump to conclusions about me being a freak and what's only fair I tell you why!

We're in the operating room at the Apollo hospital in New Delhi, and cool cat Dr. Rajendra Prasad is removing a tumor from a patient of his. We happen to be given access because we're shooting for a series called Apollo 11 for our friends at NDTV Good Times. And watching a grinder saw through a skull and the scalp being folded back to expose a squiggly mass called the brain, are just perks of the job! I'm surprised how my brain is reacting to seeing another one of its kind being worked on. I'm not shocked, unlike my producer... I'm not squeamish, I'm actually fascinated. 

The patient is face down on the operating table...his entire body covered in the green hospital cover, only part of his skull is exposed. And that perhaps the reason its so easy to leave your emotions in your back pocket while you simple stand, look in awe...and see how we've managed to understand our bodies so well...that we can actually fix these issues!

Here's the reason I took such liking to putting on a pair of scrubs and stepping into the OT from time to time and see wassup. For one thing we all associate surgeries with a lot of pain and discomfort. Sure it isn't exactly like a peck on a cheek, but the pain isn't as bad (or as horrible) as one might imagine. And that idea was reiterated each time we ran into a patient after the operation and they were roaming around like nothing big really happened! Sure, none of us want these things to happen...but if shit does hit the roof.....bring out the vacuum cleaner, and head to the hospital. 

It's only brain surgery afterall, not rocket science! ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fire or flowing water?!

 You're having a casual chat with a friend of yours, about nothing in particular...but that's what makes it so beautiful. In those moments, words are exchanged, things are said... and you've generally had a nice time. Here's the most beautiful part though... once the friend is gone, the coffee has been taken away (or warm water.. if like me you don't fancy coffee or tea) somethings come back to you. And you have your 'Aah! what a wonderful thing that was' moment!

Most of my epiphanies come to me when I'm in the shower. Funny how soap and lather and generally touching myself inappropriately helps open my mind! A friend of mine was telling me about the intensity that chanting requires... Her philosophy used flowing water and fire as analogies. 

Fire dies out quickly. Sure, its intense for the moments it burns...but it withers soon. To put it in perspective, I'd rather have a 20 watt bulb burning through the night in my room rather than have a 1000 wt bulb burn for ten minutes and have me bumping into furniture all night! 

Low voltage bulbs aside, I realised very often in my own life...I've wanted things too fast without really asking myself 'can i sustain this?'. Sure I could be over 5 channels doing rubbish shows and make money now...but is that going to serve my larger good. Do I want longevity or am I satisfied with exposing all my potential now and keeping no reserves for later?

My choice is flowing water. There's really no right or wrong here. Its where you take your life.  I want to grow, meander, touch places and plains I hadn't imagined. Slow down if my life hits a village that's beautiful to enjoy its country side, and speed up if life isn't offering me much somewhere. But I MUST KEEP FLOWING! Because if i burn too soon, rather if i don't flow... I'll never reach the ocean. I want to.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MY 'Challenges'

Its something a friend has been saying over and over again and  it's beginning to become an inner voice for me. 'Every second you're creating karma...', he says...and I couldn't agree more.

I know it sounds like a lie when you look yourself in the eye and tell the mirror...'You're fine.' I know it seems like a lie when you begin to tell yourself that you have the strength to face it all. You know you're lying. But here's the most wonderful thing... faith, like much else is easy to fake. Like they say, if you tell yourself a lie over and'll believe its the truth.

My setbacks are not roadblocks. My sorrows, grief, disappointments aren't coming in the way of my progress...they are challenges. They're the bitter sweet instrument to teach me the fine art of living, to teach me to enjoy and cherish my life when it finally does blossom to its fullest. It'll get there. Soon.

I know its easy to get caught up in the moment. Some of us deal with these challenges with rage, some pretend like it doesn't bother us, some turn to friends for comfort..some of us might even drown ourselves in the bottomless ocean of self's the learning though.. no one can pull you out until YOU are ready to be pulled out. 

My way is to smile. I think a little part of me has begun to believe that I can trick my mind. When you tell yourself the lie about being happy over and over do begin to believe it! And that...for me ...has become the trump card to face these 'challenges'. 

Really, its all in the fucking mind... one moment the damn thing is down and out..and in the second instant it sees hope..and just when you hit rock bottom.. you hear the words 'it can only get better from here', and you smile!
 Best part, you're not even faking this one!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Of kings and Queens

I remember as a child playing in the corridors of the palace. The palace itself, a wooden fortress, in the small town of kumarsain was a matter of pride for my cousins. My nani, was raised pretty much by Raja Badhyar singh, because he made a promise to my great grand dad by his death bed…that his wife and daughter would be looked after.

 Now, this may sound like its straight out of  a movie about jaydaad, and vaaris and what not..but my grand dad, in all seriousness took the raja’s vachan….and that’s the reason why the raja himself found a match for my nani in a 16 year old orphaned lad, Charandas mahant. She was 12..and remembers playing marbles with him, Only they didn’t use marbles…they used walnuts….from their own tree mind you!

You can see then, how this palace was important to my family. My nani’s grown up there, my own mum (the hottest 38 year old the world ever lost) ran about in the palace and my 12 and 13 year old cousins..until very recently studied in the palace foyer. A part of it was converted to a school.

I remember seeing the palace last year when we shot on the palace steps. A large part of my cousins and aunts and uncles, nani in the centre…posing for a family picture. To put it in perspective, this palace, The Hira Mahal…is what the gateway of India is to Bombay. I know, it serves a very inconsequential practical purpose…but it’s a part of its DNA. It’s like the mole I have under my right eye or the one I have on my left might consider it cosmetic….but they’d ask about it if they were identifying me…wouldn’t they?!

It’s in ashes now, this sprawling palace made of deodar wood. A short circuit started a fire that quickly spread through the corridors. The palace was on fire for hours. And the fire brigades that made a futile attempt to reach here from simla and rampur (both 2 hours away) were too late.

It’s in ruins now. A gaping hole at the very centre of the town. If you hadn’t seen it in all its glory, its hard to imagine why anyone would miss this thing really. From the day I arrived here, I’d been wanting to go in. I finally did manage to climb over the burnt wood, hoping it wouldn’t give way and send me tumbling down about 20 feet. My cousins followed me in, but only slightly. The main courtyard is massive. I remember going in once with mum to meet her friend, the princess. Now, I only saw an empty wooden chest which agreeably might have been full of riches at a time. The tulsi plant at the very centre has managed to come back to life, Kumarsain’s very own phoenix.. and the wooden steps that lead to the raja’s personal chamber are intact. I climbed down. Scared of the legend that the Raja’s spirit still lives here. Curious to see if he will greet me. Hoping he wouldn’t!

I’m not sure what this did for me. But I feel at peace. The place makes me sad every time I see it. And it scares me because my own aunts and uncles have heard shrill sounds of crying late at night from the ruins. I’m not sure if it’s true…one part of me hopes it is.

The palace has gone from being fact to legend. And legends are only complete with ghosts. I’m hoping for one here. The stories then, will live on. A part of the palace, with it.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Small town blues

I'm not sure you'll really understand this until you're in this situation...but for some strange cousin and me had been yeeeeeeearning to have ice cream for a long time while a little north from simla.

To put things in perspective, in the city...everything is available everywhere all year round. I'm talking about a place where ...asking for bottled water might be too much. And I'm not making this up, i was told water is "off season" when i asked for packaged water at atleast six stores in kumarsain! Apparently, people don't drink water in winters...and certainly not from a sealed bottle!

You can imagine our delight then, at holding three yummy baskin n robins cones in our hands! We even shamelessly asked the woman at the counter to take a snap shot of us eating the damn thing. She was more than amused! The ice cream...heaven!

It's fun living away from the city from time to time. it's good to take a break. But honestly, i do enjoy picking up boxes of cereal without having to check expiry dates...or eating stuff at 2 am..or know ..doing other things you do all the time in the city. Bombay needs me. I can feel it more than ever! How the city survived without me for more than a month, i cannot imagine...but the saviour, ladies and gentlemen, is back!! haha!! ;)

Saturday, January 24, 2009 a bus!

My bag is stuffed beneath my seat. It's a big bag mind you. My legs are bent and resting on the bag..I'm sitting next to a guy I just met at the Chandigarh bus station. And he's possibly the reason I'm feeling the first place!

After a shoot in Patiala for CNN IBN, I'd decided to head to Kumarsain (about 80 kms) from simla where my mum's family is. While the notion of going to the hills might be romantic, the road that leads there definitely isn't! And if the dusty roads weren't an issue, the state transport buses hit you in the ass like a fucking hard baseball bat! The pain in my ass at the moment, was the himachal transport bus that I had boarded in Chandigarh.
It was probably my state of complete confusion, the lost look on my face, of just the sheer desperation in trying to find an easy way to reach simla from chandigarh..that probably let Jitendra to encourage the conversation i'd first begun. Long story short, after wondering if we should take a cab for 1500 as opposed to a bus for 100 a passenger...the vote was clear. Now we were sitting on the second row behind the driver with the sign "you can do online BOKING" with us. As they say, if you stare at something long think its right...and i'm really beginning to wonder if the word booking has two o's..or is it indeed boking!?

The guy was as cool as they get. He was on his way to attend a course in simla he knew nothing about. He didn't know how many days it would last, or what it would teach him...he didn't even know where exactly it was in simla...what he knew though...that he was on his way! Adventurous... you bet!

After discussion finances and interesting ways to make money and sharing our ideas on entrepreneurship vs being an employee...our chat had strayed into the area of ghosts, god and of course personal experiences. My stories always get juicer with every narration. I expect that others embellish theirs as well.

Our man began telling me all about aghoras that are these tantrics who do strange things to break from the cycle and death and birth. Our chat continued despite men furiously digging their noses. Bumps that i feel now, but i didnt...then. And ofcourse even as we passed places called fagu and matiana (which i would ordinarily laugh at) and amusingly enough a place called nanni..when i was on my way to see my..naani ;)

It's easy to make friends of course.. through the course of this journey, we'd both trusted each other with our luggage and wandered off several times...and at the end of it all..really we were n no hurry to reach because the chat about Aghoras wasn't over. Well we did. And now i can't wait to pick up the book. I like the idea of travelling with a friend. The trick though..if you don't start your journey with one...make sure you at least finish with one.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Marry a Tree?!!

Unfortunately we're at that ripe age where our parents seem most excited about the proposition of getting rid of us. The Hindu tradition, out of sheer politeness, calls it marriage. While some of my friend's parents have managed to shoo their kids away to another home...some others...are relentlessly trying!

I was chatting with a dear old friend of mine..who's parents are hell bent on finding her a match. Ofcourse...they have to find a whole other set of parents who'll be willing to take a bride...who's already married...and to make matters a tree! She's Manglik ofcourse.

Yes, I know Aishwarya Rai comes to mind because she had to marry a peepal tree...before she became the Bachchan bahu. But isn't she Mrs Peepal first!!?

Here our some questions we came up this conversations about trees, peepal, people and ofcourse strange peepal people. 

1) Why a tree?

2) Why a peepal tree?

3) Does the marriage stand 'null and void' in law, if the tree is not peepal?

4) Who was the smart ass who said...any other tree is just not good enough!

5) Doesnt a peepal tree in Hindu philosophy denote a Saadhu..who is NOT SUPPOSED TO MARRY TO BEGIN WITH!

6) What happens if the tree you're marrying is already married to someone else?!

7) How come its always the girl who has gotta do this?

8) How come no other religion has mangliks.. or do they call it something else and marry people off to canisters, garbage cans, coconuts, sheep, crabs and toilet bowls?!

9) A marriage stands to be annulled if not consummated right...? Do they expect you to 'do it' with a tree while your human husband- to -be watches and waits his turn!!!!

10) I'm sure you have a question or two!!


Friday, January 2, 2009

New year hooplah!

Some tibetan food, some choco chip ice cream. A few hugs exchanged ...and it was new year already!

It seemed a trifle low key compared to the past few years of doing live links on new years eve.... but it wasn't bad. The lack of traffic, I liked. The lack of enthusiasm, I could've done without. 

I'm not sure what it is about a new year thats so easy to write off as "just another day" and yet so hard to really treat know, just another day!

All the cliches.... what-you-do-today-is-what-you-will-do-the-whole-year....for instance, I fall right into them..every year!
So, I don't fight with anyone on the 1st, I workout (fitness all year sounds good), I usually pray for a bit...and oh yes I always try and be happy (it is the new year afterall....yippie yay!)

I started my new year this time...waking up with three of my close friends. Quickly passing them all some breath spray. Going out for an uddipi breakfast...(we realised later that NONE of us had gone to the loo!) and the first "acitivity" we did in the new year was...hold your breath-  shopping. 

I was told there was some sort of handicrafts exhibition that was on at powai....and soon enough we were all driving there. Not that we needed anything really, but when has that ever stopped anyone from spending money on things you don't need, wont use!

Some bed spreads (now i know they're different from bed sheets!), a neti pot, some glass thingees, a lamp, some churan golis, cushion covers....when i finally got back home with all the bags...i really couldn't help but wonder...WHERE THE FUCK AM I GOING TO PUT ALL THIS STUFF!

Here's my question though..
am i going to spend the entire year.....
a) spending money?
b) doing things that are just giving me some sort of joy..
c) just breezing past a crowded bazaar (and im really going in for metaphor here!) and smile my way past people i meet and stop at the right one's who reeeally have something to offer