November 22, 2016

8 things I've learned from 8 years in Mumbai

1. Run..
.. the standard chartered Mumbai half marathon. Training for a half isn't too time consuming and the run itself is worth it. You'll catch the breeze on the sealink, watch Milind and the Kenyans lope past you, grab 5 stars and orange segments from the Peddar Road crowd, get a medal and a foot massage at the end.

2. Don't run
.. For a train, traffic light or bus. Running to catch the first two could kill you. And this might be my middle aged cynicism at work- but buses will not stop for you, run you ever so shrewdly.

3. Start up
Create something yourself. Start a lake cleanup, get your society to segregate garbage or start helping the maids and security guards to open bank accounts and get insured.. It might seem like your efforts aren't making a dent in the mountainous problems of mumbai, but like the garbage people throw into the sea- come the monsoon, it'll wash back onto Mumbai's shores.
Seriously, do something garbage- related.

4. Marine drive, kala ghoda, Colaba, chowpatty..
Are all visited during your first bewildering month in the city. After that, you'll find a suburban place for all the sobo food, and monuments can always be revisited when friends from the US want to show their kids the sights and sounds of "real" Mumbai.

5. Friendly neighbourhood
Your college buddies may be in Mumbai, but if they're several suburbs away and on a different train line- you're going to see them never. Make friends in the neighbourhood, join a local area fb or whats app group, take part in the building dandiya, attend the society AGM... You won't make friends at the AGM, but you'll find out about enmities, frustration, hunger for power and maybe even see a few angry-but-genteel punches and hair-tugs.

6. Signed, sealed and delivered
If it's a commodity or service that can be provided at home, you will get it in Mumbai. You will get so used to the efficiency, that you will pout and sulk when a single contractor delays his work.

7. Don't let it rain on your parade
Mumbai's extreme weather is the monsoon. Since it's mainly a car and public transport city, everyone uses umbrellas, unlike Pune, where we all had wind cheaters to protect us while on our two wheelers. Buy yourself a small foldy umbrella that's useless in a July downpour. You will inevitably lose it in the first week. Then go and get yourself a lovely big umbrella that fits your nuclear family and dog under it. Most of Mumbai then proceeds to buy "jelly shoes"- those colourful rubbery slip ons from Thailand that won't get spoiled in the rain- though they will slosh all kinds of water and lepto-ridden slush onto your feet. Be smarter than that- search for a pair of rain boots and stride proudly through the puddles.

8. Leave
After 8 years, pack a bag - and get the incredibly efficient movers to wrap, pack and box everything else- and move out. You'll realise how dependant you were on maids, caterers, drivers, car washers, delivery services, contractors.. and everyone else that comes to your doorstep- usually when you're napping- to do all your work for you. Move to a smaller town, enjoy cooking, gardening, hanging your own laundry in the sun- no pulleys in sight- and for the first time since your childhood, learn to clean your own..
Methi. Clean your own methi. What did you think I was going to say? We're spoilt in Mumbai, but it's not that bad!

May 30, 2013

Since 2011..

.. I have bought a house, changed jobs and had a baby.
What else is there to do while waiting for the third part of the Ibis trilogy?

I've read the first 2 books of the game of thrones and the mind boggles at what I'll do while waiting for g r r Martin to finish the series

January 01, 2013

Editor wanted

Item One The venerable folk at BEST decided to provide a public information system to allow users to track bus timings. It allows commuters to receive SMSs on bus locations. The site's imaginative title:

Item Two Promotional ads for the new Sallu movie characterize Inspector Chulbul Pandey as
"bad ass".

All that work in the gym and then they insult his glutes?

If the marketing department meant badass, defined as a tough, aggressive, uncooperative person.. ..that I agree with

November 19, 2012

A quiz

NaBloPoMo it is! After such a long gap, it's extraordinarily difficult to get back into blobbing mode. Especially on a daily basis. Even though I started 2 weeks late. So a daily blobber I will be. Here's a quiz for crime fiction fans, answers tomorrow:

1. This detective's sidekick was reported to have a shoulder injury from a "jezail bullet" during a battle in Afghanistan. Later in the series, he mentions a thigh injury, also from a jezail bullet. Who is the unfortunate detective with the traveling bullet wound?

2. Two comically clumsy detectives who look identical, yet could not be related

3. HRF Keating, a British author wrote a detective series about a Bombay CID inspector. His first book was made into a Merchant Ivory film. Another of his books was set in Goregaon- Powai areas. Name the detective

4. In a Danish book later made into a movie, this female detective relies on her understanding of snow and ice to solve the mystery behind the death of her neighbour, an Inuit boy.

5. Agatha Christie's created a character said to resemble Christie herself- Ariadne Oliver. Oliver wrote detective stories starring a vegetarian detective who she disliked and wished she could finish off. Name the detective and the country he's from

6. A celebrated film director wrote a series on a detective Pradosh C. Mitter. Name the director/ author and the popular name for the detective

7. Next- name the female detective who is a Crimean war veteran and owns a dodo called Pickwick.

8. A short, stumpy detective, who's crime-solving ability is coloured by his Catholicism.

9. A titled, cricket-playing, whimsical gentleman detective.

10. A NY city police detective 3,000 years in the future solves mysteries on Earth and other planets. The detective's sidekick is governed by the Three Laws of Robotics. Name the detectives and the author

11. A holistic detective who investigates the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things", may be psychic, and runs up huge expense accounts

12. Elegant Effendi the miniaturist painter is murdered in the Ottaman Empire. Name the author.

Well obviously you can google these if you want.

November 18, 2012

Funerals of septa and octagenarians from natural causes I have known

What did I learn in 2006- don't go to work, or you'll have to walk home. What did I learn in 2012: always keep ice cream at home. You never know when you are going to have a tooth extracted, be put on an icecream diet and find all the shops shut for 36 hours.

July 14, 2011

Barb Wire

No, I don’t mean the movie that is basically Casablanca in a dystopian future, with Pam Anderson as Bogart.

I mean the real thing- in all its pointy glory.

My worst barb wire memory involves a bicycle. There I was, learning to cycle on a leafy University campus. I rode downhill, and felt confident enough to negotiate a sharp turn. At the crucial moment, I froze and couldn't turn or brake. As I went hand-first-to-avoid-going-face-first into a fluffy hedge, I expected it to gently break my fall, in a planty sort of way. But the university campus that I was cycling in had decided to put barb wire inside the hedge, just for fun to lacerate the tongues of passing cows.

You can imagine the result- the cycle was in two pieces, joined tenuously by the brake cables. My right palm was in similar shape. I was rushed home and taken to the nearest doctor. On a Sunday evening, that was a piles clinic. (You probably didn’t imagine that part.) They were kind enough to clean the wound and point us in the direction of a less-specialized, and less piley doctor. Who happened to be one that believed that doctors over-prescribe, and the body has natural healing process that will holistically self-heal. So no stitches for me. At the end of a week, when the bandages were removed, I found I had an angry scar along my palm. This led to two outcomes- the first was that in the years to come, I found that a sharp tap on the scar led to a shooting pain along my right hand. And second- throughout my childhood I could never claim that I had stitches. (This was an important talking point for children in the 90s).

Last week, Johhny Hoogerland reminded me of my accident. (He was hit by a car seconds before this, while cycling at high speed).

Pic source: Yahoo

In conclusion- barb wire bad. Stop hiding it in hedges. Stop using it to hem in pastures. Just stop using it. And don't call me babe.