Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I never tire of the excitement that goes into the preparation of travel. My most cherished dream of course would be to pack off with hubby and kid at a moment's notice, but alas! living in the world that we do today, visas are a mind numbing procedure that we simply have to live with.

Having travelled to over 43 cities in 13 countries across the world, I am often asked to name my favourite place and the reasons for it being my favourite. I must admit it is a really hard question to answer as every city we have visited is really special to us! We have chosen every destination with a great deal of care, some because of their popularity, some for having read so much about and some because we simply had to see!!!
How can I even begin to rate kayaking into bat caves in Phuket or walking from Bondi to Bronte in Sydney? Should I mention my first glimpse of the Niagara falls or describe the Monalisa at the Louvre in Paris ?How does one express the beauty of the Sistine Chapel and the immortal works of Michel Angelo at the Vatican or for that matter the stark beauty of Jaisalmer's desert? Should I try to describe a moonlit dinner that we had on the terrace of Jodhpur's 400 year old fort? Why not try and talk about the lunch we had right opposite the Colosseum in Rome?What a backdrop that was! That's what I would call "lunching with a view"!

But finally, if I really had to put down my favourites on paper it would definitely be :-

I fell in love with Venice after reading the "Brunetti " series by Donna Leon and of course the legendary exploits of the most famous lover in history "Casanova" whose many adventures were set in medieval Venice.

I longed to be a part of the secretive and decadent world of Venice with its wonderful and sinful carnivals and masked balls, its magnificent churches and its Piazzas, bridges and palaces.
I could not for the world of me visualize having to step out of the door and onto a boat to go from place A to place B!

Navin and I set out for Venice by train from the famous Milan Centrale Stazione. As the ICE thundered towards Venice, I was gripped by an unexplainable excitement. Would Venice be as thrilling as I expected it to be or would I be disappointed?

As we alighted at the St. Lucia station and stepped out of the railway station, there stood Venice shimmering gently in the fierce Italian sun!!

We were awed by the spectacle of this eternal and magical city with the gentle waves of the Adriatic Sea lapping at her gracious feet.

It was almost surreal as we hopped on to a Vaporetti and glided along the Grand Canal towards St.Marco Piazza (St Marks Square).

Thomas, our gondola boatman told us stories of love, escapades and people's reaction when they first come to Venice as he expertly navigated narrow canals.
The gondoliers with their distinctive striped black and white shirts in their lavishly decorated gondolas, make a splendid foil for this lovely city.

An ambulance boat and a police boat sped past us. It was just like any other city except that instead of roads you had water!

We passed centuries old buildings, Churches, Castellos and Pallazzos; their window sills bursting with summer flowers.
They have been lovingly restored and turned into many splendid hotels or museums now.
But what had these old, once grand homes witnessed before? If those walls could speak, I am sure they would tell us tales of how the early Venetians must have lived, partied, schemed, loved, laughed and cried!

We explored just a part of the grand canal and its lovely alleys, over and under quaint bridges.

We had lunch at a beautiful restaurant with sweeping views of the magnificent "Santa Maria della Salute". It was the tastiest macaroni and fettucine that I had ever eaten!

Venice showed us her best side of course! But she is also just as secretive as her past denizens. She has still managed to keep some of her best secrets under wraps.

As we explored Venice by foot, hopping off and on at each Vaporetti stop; gazing down the Grand Canal from the famous Rialto bridge, it soon dawned on us as to why this city was so unique and why it has often been described as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man".

Everything you see in Venice makes you exclaim, Mama Mia!!!

There is something extremely exciting and paradoxically soothing when faced with miles upon endless miles of an ever changing and mysterious ocean. Was this how those early voyagers felt when they first set sail on the high seas to look for new lands?

A tiny speck of land in the Indian ocean, just off the coast of Africa, the beaches in Mauritius are beautiful with spectacular white sand and pristine emerald green water all around it.

We were stunned by the sheer beauty of this little island nation. You can cover this small nation from north to south and east to west in about 2 hours and is endowed with so much by Mother Nature. Small is indeed beautiful!

We drove through tropical rain forests, peeked down at a volcanic crater, sped across the ocean in a heart thumping speed boat and then walked on the rocky sea bed wearing huge oxygen helmets with 20 kg stones wrapped around our waists. It was pure magic.

It was a life changing experience as we snorkeled for the first time ever in the warm azure waters of the Indian Ocean.

As we soared high up in the blue sky on a para sail from the fabulous Ille Aux Cerf we fell irrevocably in love with this little calm and peaceful island!

If there is a paradise to be found on mother Earth, then this was it.

Johnson famously remarked that "A Man who is tired of London, is tired of life itself". Surely he must have been exaggerating I told myself.

As we swooped down to London's Heathtrow airport, I could see the river Thames, slowly meandering its way through the heart of the city. There below us lay, this vast legendary metropolis , almost twinkling in the late afternoon sunshine!

I was slowly captivated.

This is a city that simply oozes history at every street corner and yet lends itself so effortlessly to the modern century.

As we stood at the famous Paddington train station, waiting to hop onto the famous "London Tube" I could almost see in my mind's eye, members of the Ton in carriages driven by 2 pair horses; elegant beauties in pale pastel gowns with their parasols and reticules; stiff necked men in top hats clothed in breeches and elaborately styled cravats!
I blinked and instead saw people from various parts of the globe calling this City home. How wonderful!

When we walked in Hyde Park on an early, crisp and lovely summer's day I could imagine what it was like for those regency bucks fashionably driving their curricle's around Hyde park and Serpentine Avenue.

We explored the famed West Minister Abbey, saw the coronation wooden "throne" and tried to memorize the names of some of the great monarchs of the former British Empire buried there.

I slowly read through the epitaphs at the poets corner. The poets Shelley, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Keats, Byron........all immortalized here!

The "Beef Eaters" narrated frightening tales of intrigue, deceit and treachery at the Tower of London. We stopped and gazed upon the "Traitors Gate" and tried to imagine the plight of all those unfortunate enough to have passed through them. 2 queens and innumerable noblemen had been beheaded at this Tower. It also houses the Crown jewels and it saddened me to see the Kohinoor diamond sitting in London instead of in my land to which it rightfully belonged.

We calmed our nerves with a lovely tea of piping hot scones and fresh strawberry jam.

We toured inside the Buckingham Palace, watched the rather tame "Change of Guards" outside and soared above the city on the London Eye.

We finished another day in London with a ferry boat down the Thames as the Big Ben and Houses of Parliament kept a benevolent eye on us.

Admiral Lord Nelson looked down upon us almost imperiously from his high perch at Trafalgar Square and the dome of St Paul's Cathedral gleamed in the pale sunshine as we stepped inside to view Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece.

As we ducked and weaved through the crowds of milling locals and tourists, hopped into "tubes" and red buses and the celebrated London "Black Cab", we realized that we would never be able to see all that London had to offer in just one visit.

I had first visited London when I was 5 years old and through my child's eyes, it felt cold, forbidding and chillingly grey.
As an adult, London showed me that she was just like a fine wine, getting better as she got older :)
Could it be that Johnson probably got it right? I sure think so!

4)Karlsruhe (in the state of Baden-Wurttenberg, Germany)

This is a small sleepy town of no great consequence, except of course to those fortunate enough to be born in it and is located near the French-German border.

Its only claim to fame is that the Supreme Court of Germany is located here. Unlike the other great cities and towns of the world, it does not have anything of great value to recommend itself to a tourist. That's why I am so enamored by this place!

It is a quite, quaint German town with a great deal of character. It lends itself remarkably well to the German way of methodical living.

Quite roads, cobbled pathways, several cafes, the charming central square with the mandatory church tower and clock and of course an alarming lack of traffic.

Not to forget the fresh air.

One can just wander around without any great expectations that one usually has of cities and towns around the world and experience living life in a picture post card :)

Its almost perfect.

5)Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland always fascinated me because of its history, Nessie the monster and of course for being the birthplace of the world famous Scotch whiskey.

It equals Jerusalem in blood being shed through the ages. I had often heard that the beautiful desolate landscape was at odds with its violent past!

The land of the celebrated poet Robert Burns, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, bagpipes, kilts & of course the tragic Queen Mary of Scots who was unfortunate enough to make an enemy of England's most celebrated monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

We took the National Express East coast train from London's Kings Cross station to Edinburgh up north. We passed through some spectacular English scenery as we sped past and arrived late evening at the historic Waverly station.

Ah! The Auld Reekie as Edinburgh is cheekily known by its inhabitants!

On a clear, chilly morning we walked the Royal Mile and stood on the ramparts of the mighty Edinburgh castle and as we gazed at the city that lay before us, we began to understand why so much blood was shed for this ancient yet timeless city.

We listened to tales of massacre and bloody battles as we drove through the fabled highlands and trawled the black waters of Loch Ness looking for Nessie the monster as the brooding Urquhart castle ruins looked on.

Glencoe (sometimes known as Glen Coe) is a glacial valley in the Lochaber region of Scotland and is one of its most beautiful valleys. Its special character lies not only in the beautiful scenery but also in its tragic past (the Massacre of Glencoe). As we looked up at the three grim and desolate peaks, we couldn't but help shudder at the tragedy these peaks had witnessed!

We drove to Pentcaitland looking for the famous Glenkinchie distillery, home to some of Scotland's famous single malt whiskeys.

We got lost in the East Lothians looking for Tantallon and Dirleton Castles. We were glad that we got lost. It helped us discover lovely small villages and remote cottages hugging the craggy coastline.

The utter beauty of these Scottish lands had us captivated as we covered mile after mile of desolate country side in our little hired car.

It was indeed true of all that I had heard about Edinburgh and the wild untamed beauty of Scotland. It simply takes your breath away!

Travel to us is never about the best shopping bargains, glitzy malls or glittering brand stores. It is about culture, history, people and the food. We always eat the local cuisine of that region and try to live like the locals do even if it is for just a few days.

Every city, town or region that we have visited have told us their own tales. Tales about the past, the present and the future. The people have always welcomed us with a great deal of warmth while evincing a keen interest in our land.

We have never felt ashamed to be an unabashed tourist taking in everything that is thrown at us.

We love being impressed with the world and find beauty in all it holds. It can be ancient cities, valleys, oceans, gardens or even buses and trains.

Travel has opened our eyes and exposed us to a whole new world that constantly amazes, astonishes and most importantly - OPENS our minds :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Desiderata & Compensation

Whenever I feel like I need a bit of inspiration or a bit of solace, I always turn to two of my most favourite authors. (If such an expression exists;)

P.G. Wodehouse and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

PGW never fails to bring out a laugh; no matter how many times I read his books. I have been reading his books ever since I was 13 years old. I am yet to tire of Lord Emsworth, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster,The Hon. Galahad and all the denizens that inhabit the world of Wodehouse.

When my soul needs a bit of sustenance, I turn to Ralph Waldo Emerson. His brilliant essay on 'Compensation' can still move me no matter how many times I read it. I quote here just a couple of the many paragraphs :-

"The dice of God are always loaded. The world looks like a multiplication-table, or a mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself. Take what figure you will, its exact value, nor more nor less, still returns to you. Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears. If you see smoke, there must be fire. If you see a hand or a limb, you know that the trunk to which it belongs is there behind."

"The same dualism underlies the nature and condition of man. Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath its sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something. If riches increase, they are increased that use them. If the gatherer gathers too much, nature takes out of the man what she puts into his chest; swells the estate, but kills the owner. Nature hates monopolies and exceptions."

And in his essay called "Spiritual Laws" he says - "In like manner, our moral nature is vitiated by any interference of our will. People represent virtue as a struggle, and take to themselves great airs upon their attainments, and the question is everywhere vexed, when a noble nature is commended, whether the man is not better who strives with temptation. But there is no merit in the matter. Either God is there, or he is not there."

And finally, the one piece that I love the most is by Max Ehrmann calledDesiderata" (Latin for "desired things", plural of desideratum) which is an inspirational poem attaining happiness in life. Max Ehrmann first copyrighted it in 1927, but it was widely circulated in the 1960s without attribution to him.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Monday, February 23, 2009


One of my oldest friends, sent me a mail asking me to read some of her thoughts meant for her blog. She happened to be talking about legacies(amongst other things) that she would like to leave her son. They were various wonderful things listed there and as I read through them, I realised that I wanted to add one more item to that list.............one very important item that I would wish for my son to have.


Like the ones that I have had the privilege of having. Most of my friends have been my friends for almost 2 whole decades, maybe even more! And I can honestly tell you, I don't think my life and experiences would be any better without them.
And another thing that really did not astonish me was, how much her thoughts echoed mine. Was it any surprise considering that she has been a part of my life for almost forever?

We were never the ya-ya sisterhood kind of friends pledging friendship through eternity, nor did we wear friendship bands and dedicate songs on MTV and Youtube.
We have gently sailed the friendSHIP through teenage, college, careers, crushes, marriage, husbands, inlaws and now motherhood.

It never fails to bring a smile on my face when I think of all those things that we giggled at in highschool. The way we copied shamelessly from each other in term exams and monthly tests. The way we would pool all our pocketmoney to buy turkey eggs from the milk booth at the back of the school.
Our solemn discussions on romance (courtesy M&B that I would smuggle into class to read), love and sex.......... We loved to hang out with each other and would actually miss our little gang when we had holidays so much that we would write letters to each other on vacations and school holidays.

As time passed, we moved on in life, made new friends and somehow, magically, those new friends became new friends for the other members of the group. We attended each others weddings and had children ourselves.

There were phases when we wouldn't correspond or meet each other for years on end. Yet when we did, it was as if we were never apart. We could just pick up our lives and carry on a conversation as if time had never intervened.

And now, it feels so right to share our hopes, fears and dreams for our children with each other even though we all have wonderful spouses and families.

We are now swamped for time, juggle careers with families, worry about our finances and rarely have the time to just catch up and have a cup of coffee.

And yet, as we all march relentlessly to the tunes of father time, it only takes an email from any one of these girls to bring to life an old Carpenter's song.......'Its yesterday once more".

Smitha, Aruna, Shilpa, Rashmi, ........ as we all battle bulges, wrinkles, arthritis, middle age, finances, build homes and houses and guide our kids into adulthood and worry ourselves into our graves.............you guys have been that one rare and precious breed called FRIEND.

I only wish and pray, Manish can have friends like you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Secular India

I read an article written by Shashi Tharoor titled 'The triumph of Hindu resurgence would mark the end of India' , with great interest. I am an absolute fan of Shashi Tharoor and his writings. To me, somehow, he epitomises that rare breed called a Global Citizen. He truly understands global perspectives, by virtue no doubt, of his various postings with the UN, without trying too hard to either blend into the American society (he lives in New York most of the time) like our poor misguided NRIs or retaining his Indian passport and identity. But I somehow, fail to agree with his article.

As an ordinary citizen, a Hindu (I again don't understand what "practising" means) I fail to see why it is so important for political parties to bash up anything remotely Hindu. And why everybody, who is anybody worth his PR salt, should stand on a podium and shout and abuse Hindu and Hinduism. When I turn on the TV, I see an angry and self righteous Barkha Dutt trying to shout down a so called Hindu supporter (read BJP, VHP or Bajrang Dal) into agreeing that if he so much as raises a voice against the so called Secularist then he ought to be hanged. You find half baked young journalists screaming that the so called "Secular thread of Democracy" is being pulled apart by these so called Hindu zealots.

A muslim, may in India, which is supposed to be a democracy with the constitution being the rule of the land, apply the Shariat law whenever and wherever he choses to. He can use the name of religon to turn issues and events around to his convienence. And of course throw in the ocassional jihadi here and a SIMI fundamentalist there and you have a nice hotchpotch of religious fundamentalism. Ah ha! But we are not supposed to be targetting a particular religion or sect.............you see....he has a right to safeguard his religion and kill in the name of it. No questions asked. After all he is in just a minority of say 140 million and multiplying by the second. And if all fails, just proclaim that you have been marginalised and that not enough efforts have been made to bring you into the mainstream. That should shut those Hindus up for good! ha!

We have the Christians at their missionary best, and I use this term loosely here, quitely going about India and converting hoardes of people in the guise of "missionary" work. Of course, let us not lose perspective that they indeed are doing termendous work. But it worries me that they also want to use the same good work as a guise to convert people to their religion. Why not just do the good work and leave it at that? Isn't the whole purpose of do-gooding lost if one attaches a motive to it? But let a Hindu point that out, and wham! Out come the screaming hoardes of "Secular" zealots.

When the bearded painter whathizname paints Hindu goddesses in the nude, and Hindus protest about the depiction of their gods and goddesses, our "Secularists" shout from the rooftops for freedom of expression. Would the same bearded whathizname dare to paint a portrait of his prophet? Why can he not exercise his freedom of expression? You can be positive that would never happen. After all, freedom of expression and secularism is only for the poor long suffering ignoramus of a Hindu.

Now pan to the most watched election in the world. The American presidential elections. When I listen to the presidential debates, I feel they are really talking about core issues that affect millions of ordinary citizens. Never mind if the Americans themselves feel the whole thing is a sham. I don't hear them talking about religious fundamentalism or pseudo-secularism. What a contrast from our land, where nothing else except religion exists. One can actually win elections by solely playing the "Secular" (also known as Hindu bashing) tag. One need not focus on anything of any importance what so ever. Just talk about religion, and whoa! there you are! At the helm of affairs.

When I switch on my news channel, I find "breaking news" about the health of Amitabh Bachchan, whose sole claim to greatness is romancing a few sleazy heroines and fighting a few cheesy goons on screen. If the channels need to break the monotony, they will bring in a debate, with our sour faced Barkha Dutt about Secularism and fundamentalism. La Dutt, will call people to her cosy studio, have a few obscure polls (how come I am never asked to poll?) give her own loud opinions and never let the panelists complete a sentence (always cutting people short by saying we are running out time). Throw in a few obscure Bengali communists (unknown even in Bengal), some poor bootlicker from the Congress (poor souls) and we have a winner! Democracy and Secularism is safe! la Dutt has saved modern India!

And we poor Hindus, already second class citizens in our own land, will labour on, regardless of rising prices, pollution, regular bomb blasts, floods, droughts, job losses and every other problem known to mankind. We will allow our "Secular" forces to try and subjugate us, convert us and take liberties with us.

And when we dare, when we actually dare to stand up and give back as good as we get, we will find articles like the one written by Shashi Tharoor. Talking about the end of India as we know it if there is a resurgence of Hinduism.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Well darlings,
I am back to blogging after a while. Each day has had its share of ups and downs and the customary dose of boredom. Of course the best thing is watching my son grow up. I can see different shades to his personality now and the emergence of that most important thing to mankind called an "Ego".
At 2 years and 2 months, Manish now expresses most of the human emotions that we adults have.
He has now learnt that he can charm almost everyone with a lop-sided smile and usually uses it with devastating effect to get himself out of a mischief. He also displays a sense of posessiveness for his mother's belongings and affections and an enviable hero-worship of his father, often clinging to him and following him around like a small faithful puppy.

He is an extremely sensitive child, quick to catch a frown or a smile and shows a lot of resemblence to my sister. She is the sensitive and emotional type.
He has my short temper and it doesn't take much to light that particular fuse.
He resembles his dad in caring, patience and understanding and has the methodical and perfectionist attitude of his paternal grandfather - a trait Manish also shares with my sister and as I watch him grow, I wonder at what kind of human being he will turn out to be.

Will he be the impatient-Gen X-always in a hurry type of guy? or will he be the stop- and- smell the flowers kind of guy? How will he cope with hardship and heart-break? Failure and success?

There are times when I feel inordinately proud of him and there are times when I feel truly scar ed for him. There are times when I want to strangle him and when I want to simply smother him with hugs and kisses and just hold him close forever - shielding him for everything this big bad world can throw at him. There are times when I want to show him the beauty that surrounds us - the flowers in the park, the rain, a butterfly, a bird or just 2 small puppies playing blissfully by the roadside.

Thats when I realise, its not just Manish, learning from the world around him. Its his parents too.
After all - isnt a Child the Father of Man?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We, the people......

S M Krishna has been cleared by her royal highness Sonia Gandhi, to return to Karnataka politics.

Gasp! Do you mean to say that Krishna will now sacrifice himself for the greater good of us poor Kannadigas(Kannadigas?In Karnataka? where? how many?) and get back the Chief Minister's chair? Will he come back again to ruin Bangalore some more? Or will Double-cross Deve Gowda (as he is now affectionately called) ruin the apple cart? He is after all the Mannina maga!! Will Desperate Yeddy get the CM gaddi? eh?

I have often wondered who these so called "people" are, that the politicians claim to serve. "The people have spoken!" thunders Narendra Modi in Gujarat. 'The people will speak', whines poor Yedurappa in Karnataka. 'The people, who we, have so loyally served' will vote us back to power claims S M Krishna.

Who are these people? Is it you? is it me? or is it our neighbour Geethamma?

My barometer for political conciousness is our very own Gowri. The help at my mother's house. She has been with us for the past 18-19 years and is a veteran in battling life and its varied problems. Personal, social, political....you name it, she has fought it. She only knows that, come elections, she will get a couple of blankets and maybe this time a colour TV set. She doesnt even know who will give her these gifts. But some one surely will, is the only sure thing in this game.

Pity, she does not know the name of a single politician..........yet, it is she and her ilk, who decides our collective fates.

When Benazir Bhutto triumphantly lost her life to an assasin's bullets (or was it a bomb?...oh well...it doesn't matter to Mushy baby ....shouldn't matter to us) in neighbouring Pakistan, everybody suddenly rose to make her sound like a martyr. 'There will always be a Bhutto in Pakistan,' she had thundered from her safe haven in Dubai & later England. Why? Who asked for it? Did you?.......uh uh....not me......the poor people of Pakistan, oops sorry the PPP has been left orphaned..........but don't worry, that worthy heir, Bilawal will come back and save you poor souls, if that is, you Poor Pakis, can stop him from scampering back to Oxford with his gun toting, millions of pounds costing security men.........!!!!

Who needs a Bhutto or a Gandhi? Why make insatiable greed sound like great sacrifice? What exactly have they saved Pakistan or India from? Nothing seems to have changed. Their egos, personal coffers and media attention probably got bigger I suppose. Other than that, I see no improvement.

If at all, India has shown any progress in the recent past, it is probably inspite of the great Gandhis. Not because of the Gandhis. The poor Paki's can't even claim this small miniscule development.

Sigh! Politics! So simple, yet so complex.

Coming back to our very own Gowdas, Vokkaligas and Lingayats and their personal fiefdoms. Who will spearhead the utter ruin of Bangalore? Who will bleed the coffers dry? Who will ensure more mindless sanctions of software companies and industrial townships in the only city worthy of mention in Karnataka...good ol' Bangalore? Not to mention flyovers, grade seperators, helicopter bays.........????

Questions! Questions! Questions!

Why am I looking forward to the elections? Or for that matter, a new CM or government?

Firstly, a great deal of entertainment for free.... as our politicians fight over party seats, cabinet berths, power sharing etc etc etc. Juicy fights, betrayals, back stabbing.........these guys can put Hollywood and their striking writers shame!!! bah! (Not to mention Ekta Kapoor and her ghastly serials)I can also save money by not going to the movies. Why pay for entertainment when I can watch a news channel at home? for half the cost? eh?

Knowledge of all great numerologists, vaastu experts and astrologers - as each politician worth his salt, consults these godmen about name changes, dates for swearing in and such other important matters. These godmen can lead you to nirvana. What more can one ask for in this life? Spiritual upliftment and ultimately NIRVANA!!!

I love travelling and as these netas head out to all the temples and dargahs, chruches (they are secular netas after all arent they?) to conduct poojas, vratas, homas etc etc for their heroic victories in these election battles, I get to know of places that I have never heard of!!

My husband is in the automobile components manufacturing business. The netas will immediately order the latest cars for their convoys and escorts. Hundreds of cars - cost no bar(after all taxpayers money right?). More cars sold. More need for automobile components. My hubby's business grows.....ah! the good life! My son's future is secure!

Damn it! She was right! Begum Bhutto was right! We need the Ghandhis, Bhuttos and the Kennedys. And the Gowdas!

We, the people......don't know a good thing when we see it !!! Tsk!...tsk!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

All things foreign!

It is accepted that we Indians lack civic sense, have absolutely no road manners, atrocious and belligerent driving skills or the lack of it, pollution, over crowding, chaos, nothing working.......ok....ok.......yes! yes! ....we all know our pitfalls and faults. And at the bottom of this pile lies our stadiums and sports facilities. What facilities? Do we have a stadium anywhere in India worth mentioning? You may well ask!

"Things are so well organised" says the aunty who has gone on innumerable "foreign jaunts". "So civilised" says the cousin from those hallowed foreign shores.

After every cricket match, one hears of the lack of public toilets, infrastructure, poor management of the crowds and everything else that can be criticised.

So now, let me enlighten you about how a sporting event is conducted in those hallowed "foreign lands".

We had the privilege of attending a Formula 1 grand prix race in Monza, Italy. Now Formula 1 is the richest sport in the world earning billions of dollars from sponserships, television rights, merchandise and not to mention cash paying spectators.

We were all excited and logged onto the Formula 1 website to book our race tickets. Goody goody goody! All straightforward so far, we chose the seats we wanted, had a mild heart attack at the cost of each ticket - (converted into Indian rupees it practically felt like daylight robbery). We had been warned that the Italians were thugs of the first water, after all they were the originators of the Mafia weren't they? So we craftily asked my brother in law in Germany to make the payment in Euros and that we would repay him in rupees here in India. Who knows what tricks the Italians may get upto with our Indian credit card! The tickets would be delivered by courier to him in Germany.

2 months down the line and we still hadn't heard about a thing. We assumed that they would do their own thing and didn't pursue the matter much. Sure enough, the tickets were sent to Germany at the end of the third month. But how long did it take? 3 long months! But ssshhh........they have a method. Foreign after all! remember?

So now, we started our preparations in earnest for our travel. Got our airline and hotels booked and visas were obtained. We again refered to the Monza race website and tried to get details on how to reach the autodrome from downtown Milan, where we were based. They had various options of transport - trains, buses and of course cars.

We assumed that things would work like clock work, after all we were going to a "foreign event", weren't we?

Imagine our plight in Monza. Nobody spoke English for starters - fair enough - we have travelled enough in Europe to understand that they are very fanatical about language and will speak their native tongue no matter where and how.

No information anywhere about those blasted trains that should get you to the autodrome . We luckily stumbled across some Finnish fans (Supporting Raikonnen who is from Finland) racing towards a train in Milan Centrale. We ran with them and hopped on to that train. It could have gone to Paris for all we knew.

Once we reached the autodrome, nobody told us there was a 5 kms (yes! 5 kms from the train station) to reach our stands!!!! No information was given anywhere about that! You can imagine the plight of 2 overweight, out of shape individuals faced with the prospect of a 5km trek in the hot Italian sun!!! good lord!

None of the stewards knew where our stand was or how far it was. Again no one spoke English. They just stood around stylishly (the famous Italian style my friends) and talked on their cell phones. We panted and wheezed our way to the stands after almost an hour and a half of trekking.

Those seats were just concrete steps on which we all just plonked ourselves on. The toilets were miles away. But we did get to see the race and enjoy it.

Now we had to start the 5 km trek back all over again to get to the train station (we learnt that there were no buses to this event - which means the info on the official website was a lie!!!).

Toilets were now all completely dirty. Almost the whole crowd was now drunk. Rubbish cans overflowing with beer cans and food packets. Drunk people using trees to answer the call of nature.

Yes my friends! peeing on the road! And after an endless walk, we were all crammed into trains for our journey back to Milan ala Mumbai ishtyle!

Who said such things happened only in India! And what made it all so funny? We paid 310 Euros per ticket!!!!!

Now when somebody mentions all those ills in a stadium - I can only smirk and think of Monza!