Sunday, July 29, 2007


I am a day late into this post.

I promised Ms. Rowling a post the day she was done with hers. She is, presumably. I just finished reading the last HP last night.

I have read all the Harry Potters. For a person residing in the shell of exclusive taste in almost everything, thats quite a bit. But I made her a promise, in my mind, not in person, to comment once she wrote that last one. My thoughts... and at Smokerings, thats all that counts.

I latched onto the entire HP thing a little late, towards the end of the year that the first one was published, on a long train ride from Jamshedpur to Ernakulam, a four day train ride. And I found it engaging.

Honestly speaking, out of the seven, 1, 4 and now 7 make a good reading. Really. The first one was obviously good, which is why everyone sat up and took notice, including cynics like me. Yes, even back then. The concept was brilliant. That there might exist a world, which we were unaware of, that we were Muggles, while the smart ones were called Wizards. And that they had a world where the dishes could be done with a flick of a wand.

And then there was the fourth one, pacy, interesting with a real purpose.

And finally the last one, which I bought only by way of an obligation, but turned out to a fascinating read nevertheless.

But I have a problem with the series. It has nothing to do with its popularity. I think it paints too nice a picture of life. No, I know its not that easy, there's that grey in the book, that entire bit about He who must not be named. The Slytherins, etc. The entire good against bad story. But alas life isn't that nice. In life there is no sorting hat to begin with to tell you, who is nice (Hufflepuff), who is intelligent (Ravenclaw), who is brave (Gryffindor) and who is evil (Slytherin). Because in life, everyone is a bit of everything.

I see people and I find that in everyone, there is something so exquisite, that you just have to watch and wonder. This is a lot coming from a misanthrope like me. But then in most people there are weaknesses too, there are flaws. What shows up first is a function of how you approach a person. If unfortunately, the flaws surface much earlier than the pearls, and I realize thats what life is all about- you've gotta give people time.That they're not around to put up an act for you, to showcase their jewels for you. That with time it all shows up- who is nice, who is intelligent, who is brave, and who is wicked. Not who actually ... what- what is nice, what is intelligent, what is brave, and what is wicked. That it all resides, in measures, inside all of us. And if you haven't figured it in someone yet, just give it time.

Time, there's so little of it nowadays. I don't have it. There are so many people who don't have it for me, they write me off, and I'm OK. They'll probably come around. But I wish in life there was a Sorting Hat, something you could conclusively use to say whose right and who's not your type.

I own all the Harry Potters, and the only other author I can say that about is Vikram Seth. but then probably I can't borrow one from anyone I know. I can't.

Too much on my mind right now. More later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
This little wild bouquet
~ Democracy, Leonard Cohen

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Delayed by Design

I actually waited eight hours so that Anuja could be crowned the Queen of the Universe.

So here is my post on my personal 8 idiosyncrasies.

1. At home I wash my hands every time I touch something. It is somewhat of an obsession, and something I just can't keep myself from doing. At work however I can live the entire day without washing hands, unless I go to, you know where. However, I do end up using a lot of hand tissues at work.

2. I walk bare feet at work. On the entire trading floor. I even have a pair of beach slippers which I use to go to the loo. But being fussy about clean feet I also make sure the flooring gets shampooed regularly.

3. My hair grows faster on the back of my head than on the front. Being intolerant of hair over my neck I almost always end up getting a haircut prematurely, often with disastrous results.

4. I hate using any handkerchief for more than a month- because they start looking lumpy after a wash.

5. I end up having some 50 windows open on my comp by end of work day. I think I am bad at closing things, so once open, it stays that way. And oh, I don't shut down my comp for months.

6. I do not have a credit card... not a personal one at least. Used to long back, lost them, and never really tried to get one afterwards. The one I do have, the office one for my expense account, I never claim, which is messier.

7. I am hugely superstitious. Hugely. I believe that professional success, especially in my line of work, is mostly a function of luck. So the jinxed Mont Blanc is not taken to meetings, the faded blue shirt which botches of antique tea stains (which D calls pochha shirt), is worn on a day when I might be doing a largish trade, or need Lady Luck's assistance to ease out some ass whipping day. Many other things.

8. I don't like being tagged. Being tagged expects me to write a funny post. Which I am absolutely incapable of. Cynical, yes, funny, no.

Original Tag Rules
1) Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2) People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3) At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
4) If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will have to acknowledge TO as the King of the Universe

Problem: I do not know 8 people. So I tag no one!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

No Point Crying

"Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Monday, July 16, 2007


Night In Jiangning

A glass of tea; the moon;
The frogs croak in the weeds.
A bat wriggles down across
Gold disk to silver reeds.
The distant light of lamps.
The whirr of winnowing grain.
The peace of loneliness.
The scent of imminent rain.

Vikram Seth. All You Who Sleep Tonight.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It is said that if you only read one page of Spanish in your life, make sure it was written by Neruda. Not entirely true, but for now this line is perfect:

"The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same."

Tonight I Can Write, Pablo Neruda.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Guardian's 1,000 films to see before you die,,2108487,00.html

I've seen 165, including some I wouldn't regret not seeing before I died. Anyway, good fun.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Homecoming

She stood in the doorway, every night around this time. Night had not yet fallen, neither could it be called daylight. Little girls hurried back, while their brothers, a bit less concerned, dragged their cricket bats home, as though a day’s work had been finished in the fields. She had none to call her own, she sighed. Just some memories.

She remembered that once there had been a few, two actually. Her daughter, now a doctor far away in America, would scamper home, and dive straight into her books. While her son, that little devil, dragged himself home, only to watch the most useless program on Doordardshan. She remembered how he wouldn’t drink his milk, had a terrible memory for tables, and homework, and an immaculate one for the TV schedule. Impeccable.

Now, he too was gone. Gone to faraway Tokyo. She didn’t understand what he did for a living, but her husband kept mentioning something called an investment bank. She kept his visiting card in her bedside drawer. It said “Vice President”, and on the reverse was a scribble which apparently meant the same in Japanese, he had said. It made her feel kind of important. It had been so much easier to tell all the relatives what he did when he worked as an engineer in the nearby car factory. Everyone knew what an engineer does, and everyone saw the cars he made.

She realized that her children had turned out exactly as she wanted. Daughter doctor, son engineer, once. Daughter married with a baby, son, married, once. But they hardly ever came home.

She remembered the one time she had gone visiting her daughter in America. After the initial euphoria had died down, she realized that this was not a big city. Not even close. Nothing compared to her Delhi. Or Calcutta where she had lived a long time back. She realized that small towns were all the same, whether in America or India. Even then, there was no way of getting from point A to B, unless she walked. In fact there was neither point A nor B. Just her daughter’s house. And when she did go for those long walks, she got stares from passers by. Probably it was her saree. Or perhaps, as her daughter told her later, that nobody walked on the streets in Wisconsin. She remembered how irate her husband had been on seeing her son-in-law’s well stocked bar. And what a difficult time she had keeping him quiet.

She remembered the time she had gone visiting her son when he was in Bombay. How detached he seemed from them. There was no connection, nothing. He came home most evenings, not drunk, but with alcohol on his breath. Client meetings he said. His work hours were treacherous, and on weekends, if he was home, he slept. He had no time for them. No time. They cut their trip short, and never went back. And then news arrived that he had married. They wondered why they hadn’t been told of it before. Then when they were ready to go and visit him, to mend fences, they were informed that she had gone away, for very long. She never came back. He too went away to Tokyo. Alone. Briefly, quietly, stopping over at home. Recently, he started coming again, on work, but rarely, briefly. There apparently was a lot of interest in India suddenly, he told his father.

She felt a tug at her saree, and saw two children- a boy and a girl, probably aged no more than five or six. They had freckled faces and runny noses, which probably had been carelessly rubbed on their sweater sleeves. The boy dragged a cricket bat. The girl, carried a school bag. She knew them well. They belonged to the neighbour’s servant. She knew what they wanted. They had been coming every day for the last six months. She went into her son’s room, and pulled out a little racing car card. It said Pinnfarina Quattro- a fine green coloured sports car, 2100cc, 1974. She had been dreading this day. The card was the last one.