My Brother: Di! I have hung my stocking on the bedpost. Where is yours?
Me: Mine is on the handle of the bathroom door!
This was a conversation we had every Christmas. My brother and I. It was a ritual actually. And we always had it when mom was in the vicinity. We were young and quite stupid but we weren’t stupid enough to believe that Santa would manifest out of the clouds, come riding on his sleigh, slip down our chimney (something that our house didn’t even possess) and place delightful little things in our stockings. We knew it was mom who played Santa each year. We just knew it.
Every year we would jump out of our beds and grab our stockings which were always filled with gifts of our choice- chocolates, candies, Barbie dolls, G I Joe figures and what not. One Christmas morning we found that our stockings were empty. Crestfallen and a little miffed we went down to the kitchen and started nibbling on aaloo parathas. “What happened?”, asked mom. “Santa didn’t give us presents this year”, mumbled my brother, trying to keep his tears from rolling down. “Aww… When the gifts are very big he places them under the pillow. Just go and check”, said mom as she winked at us. No sooner did she say that than we ran towards our bedroom and hurled the pillows to the other end of the room. And there they were, two large boxes packed in red and golden wrapping paper.
Christmas eve was always spent decorating a giant pine tree which stood gloriously in our courtyard. Dad is extremely fond plants; actually his love for plants borders on insanity. Needless to say that a pine tree was procured promptly and placed in our courtyard when we asked for it. Its glistening leaves covered with twinkling lights, cotton-wool snow flakes and tiny match-box presents looked so enchanting that we couldn’t take our eyes off it.
My younger brother would dress up as Santa albeit a tiny and skinny one and distribute sweets in our colony. Grandpa would set up a small bonfire and we would spend the evening eating cake, sipping on piping hot tomato soup and playing dumb charades and antakshari.
We have stopped doing it now. Perhaps the entire exercise has become a tad too childish for our liking. Or may be we just don’t have the time. But Christmas still brings out the child in me. Yesterday when we stopped at the signal I saw a peddler selling Santa caps and I couldn’t stop myself from buying one. As we moved ahead the Christmas decorations on the shops and malls flashed by and the childhood memories came trickling back. The tune of “Rudolf, the red nosed rein-deer” started playing in the mind and I chuckled. I guess no matter how old you become, the charm of Christmas always remains.
The traffic is moving at a reasonably good pace and you are sitting in the bus, thanking God for the millionth time for the mercy he has bestowed upon you today- giving you the opportunity to sit on one of those cushiony little things. You look at a person standing in the aisle, sandwiched between two others, exchanging sweat, perfume and what not. The sight grosses you out and you squirm in disgust. The person turns towards you and kick starts a telepathic conversation. You know he is cursing you and you turn your gaze away.
The driver speeds up and before you know it the bus begins to sway past all the puny cars and autorickshas like a Batmobile. They seem like insignificant worms crawling on the road. You watch their owners drive them in fear. “Ha… You might own a shining Merc, pal. But no one can beat the King of the Road.” Gripped with a sense of complacency you sit back and relax.
Suddenly Batman decides to come to a halt when the traffic lights turn red and the bus, racing at a whooping 70km/hr stops in a matter of seconds. You are thrown forward; your head hits the seat in front of you. You suspect a minor crack in your skull and perhaps a broken spine as well but you beam from ear to ear. The sheer bliss of sitting comfortably on a seat is indemnifying.
Your eyes fall on the traffic around you. While the car drivers push their vehicles in any nook and corner they find empty a few bikers, probably the descendants of Einstein, think a little out of the box. They haul their bikes on the footpath, flash an impish grin at the car drivers and zoom away. “The pedestrians can go to hell”, you think, “It’s high time the humans learnt how to fly.”
The traffic light turns green and a deafening noise pervades the surrounding. The honking game begins. The rules are pretty simple. If the vehicle in front of you stays put for a few millisecond you honk and you honk so loud that the entire humanity turns deaf for a a moment or two. Fearing permanent damage, you cover your ears with your hands.
The bus lurches forward and halts at your stop. You get off in the hope of catching a breath of fresh air. But Batman decides to bid adieu by blowing a puff of hot, toxic gases straight into your face. “Didn’t I get a facial done yesterday?”, you think as you walk towards your office. “Well, they say that activated carbon is good for the skin. Why waste seventy bucks on a stupid Ponds facewash when one can get this carbon free of cost.”
You walk briskly towards your workstation. After all, your grumpy boss is waiting for you in his cubicle and the power point presentation is still battling its way towards completion. But you smile. “After braving the Bangalore traffic I can surely handle my boss”, you think.
Fiery streaks fill the sky with light.
Plates full of sweet and savoury delights.
Rangoli made near the door
And twinkling bulbs which you adore
In the breeze oil diyas flicker
Status updates on Facebook and Twitter
Loud crackers that go bang and boom
Incense sticks give out their holy fume.
As Lakshmi blesses you and your loved ones
With health and prosperity in the times to come.
Category: General Fiction
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
With new talent shows popping up like mushrooms on different TV channels and thousands of contestants waiting patiently in lines that extend upto several kilometres, we all know that today’s youth is deeply fascinated by the thought of making a career in one of the performing arts. In her debut novel Live From London Parinda Joshi introduces us to one such character, Nishi Gupta, who is an aspiring singer and is struggling to make it big in the music industry.
Nishi Gupta, a 21 years old girl who lives in London and has big dreams of becoming a singing sensation suddenly finds herself on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent where she messes up her performance and receives harsh reactions from the judges. After the fiasco a devastated Nishi, who is unable to cope with the humiliation she had to face on TV, is determined to leave her mark in the music industry and starts interning at Hues, a record label company. She hopes that her new job would help her build contacts in the music world which would foster her dreams of becoming a rockstar. At Hues she happens to me meet Nick Navjot Chapman, a half Indian, half Canadian singer who oozes charm and is totally irresistible. Soon Nishi and Nick become an “item” and Nishi gets the break she had always wanted, a chance to sing in Nick’s debut album. At this point Nishi is confident that she is all set to become the next big thing in Britain’s music industry. However, fate has something else lined up for her and all of a sudden Nishi lands up in India, trying to get accustomed to a life which is entirely different from the one which she had in London. With this sudden turn of events Nishi finds herself struggling to keep her dream alive.
The book is set against the backdrop of the British music industry and is neatly divided into two parts, the former dealing with Nishi’s life in London and the latter, her struggle in India although second part is limited to the last fifty pages of the book. The choice of the words is simple and the sentence construction is lucid and easy to follow.
The novel is targeted at the urban youth, especially girls in their late teens and early twenties who are obsessed with rock-bands, pop stars, metrosexual hunks and a glamorous lifestyle.
To her credit the author has built upon the character of Nishi Gupta really well. Being in my early twenties I could easily relate to it. Nishi is smart, sassy, confident and defiant. She lives with her parents in London and craves for independence and privacy just like most 21 years old girls do. Her dream to make it big in the performing arts is also understandable.
I looked like any other young woman in college in London with heavily layered razor cut, dyed with three different colours- copper auburn and a hint of blonde. It was the kind of funky look everyone was sporting and I was no different.
We also get to meet Nishi’s friends Sarah, Riya, Zac and Arjun each of whom is stylish and delightfully quirky. Nishi’s parents are the stereotypical Indian parents- nagging and overprotective.
Another aspect of the book which impressed me was the author’s attempt to give us an insight into the British Music Industry which forms an integral part of the book.
The UK music scene is quite different from the US. The Pink Floyds and the Deep Purples had once taken the country by storm with ever increasingly progressive elements like obtuse lyrics. Then came Punk rock with their loud and rebellious lyrics which spawned Goth, alternative rock and many more sub genres.
The individual situations, on the other hand, were not well elaborated. At various places in the book I felt that paragraphs lacked completeness. The transition from one scene to another seemed a bit abrupt.
The ease with which Nishi grabs an internship at a record label company is incredible given the fact that she is a newbie and has no prior experience. Her relationship with Nick is also a little rushed. Detailed description of events could have rectified these minor flaws.
I personally feel that the book has a good storyline. Had the author not wrapped up the novel in a hurry and paid more attention to details the book would have been quite gripping.
Nevertheless, the book is enjoyable and makes for a light and pleasant one time read. If you are apprehensive about getting bored on your next train journey you might consider taking this book along with you.
To know more about the author log on to www.parindajoshi.com
2. Share 7 things about you.
3. Spread the love and honour.
4. Award and contact 7 recently discovered bloggers.
Firstly I would like to thank both of you for kicking me in my bums and forcing me to think about myself. My life is in a rut these days and what can be better than a little bit of introspection to make it more meaningful. Secondly, I am a little shy to write such posts. Both of you have given me a wonderful opportunity to share my likes and dislikes with the other bloggers. :-)
1. I am one of the biggest foodie I know and a rather finicky one at that. I prefer staying hungry to eating tasteless food. Quantity wise my food intake is very modest but I love going to different restaurants and trying different cuisines. I have a very hard time maintaining my waistline because of this.
2. I don’t remember when but long ago I was diagnosed with a rare form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Trust me. I can drive the people around me mad. Everything has to be in its proper place- the shampoo bottle which I always keep on the right hand side the shelf, my shoes which always go in the bottom most shelf of the rack, my hairpins which are always placed in a bag in the middle shelf of my wardrobe. Even if the files are not in appropriate folders in my laptop I miss out on a good night’s sleep. Nothing irks me more than people fidgeting with my stuff.
3. People often have to bear the brunt of my very erratic mood-swings, not something that I am proud of. I can be the best person you have ever known and also the worst. I try to be pleasant to everyone but when gripped with anger I often tend to say mean and spiteful things that hurt the people around me. However, never have I shied from saying sorry when I have owed someone a heart-felt apology.
4. I hate all kinds of animals- pets, the ones which are caged in the zoo or the ones which appear on cute little cards and ask you to smile and have a good day. Even the miniature dogs and cats which fit into tiny mugs and receive an ” Oh my God! Cho chweet” from all and sundry fail to amuse me. My house is strictly a no pet zone.
5. I love travelling and meeting new people. Pack me in a car, take me to a place I have never seen before and you’ll find me beaming from ear to ear.
6. If you ever hear a person talking incessantly about random stuff that doesn’t make much sense just look around. You might get a chance to meet me! I am a chatterbox by birth. I can go on and on. When not in a good mood I prefer to have some alone time.
7. I am a confused and indecisive soul. I just can’t make up my mind about the things I want. I was unable to settle on a name for this blog. I changed it once and I have a good time to change it again. My plans for my future alter every minute. Basically, I need to get a hold of myself.
So, those were seven thing about myself that I could think of. :-) :-)
And now I would like to spread the love and pass on the tag to seven other bloggers.
Ajay ( Until You Came)
Bikramjit (Me and My Random Thoughts)
Chatterbox (The Dialogue)
Deboshree (Saddi Dilli)
Pixie (MyTakeOnEverything )
Punam (Dreamz Forever)
Smita (Books Life and More)
I rise above the ground and start floating in the sky. The air is cool and crisp and the magnificent blue of the sky is spotted with stray clouds which are connected to each other by a colourful lace. I hop on to one of the clouds and feel the wind brushing against my cheeks. A few trees appear magically out of nowhere and the flowers on them fill the air with their scent. The birds start humming a soft tune which reverberates in the space around me. It’s delightful. I lie down on the cottony cloud and relax.
Suddenly a short and sharp sound comes crashing through the clouds. Ting Tong! I ignore it. It happens again. Ting Tong! I open my eyes and find myself in my bedroom, tucked inside my sinful blanket. The clock tells me that it’s seven o’clock in the morning. I try to gather my thoughts. “Hadn’t the Sleep Goddess sent her minions to guide me through the labyrinths of my subconscious?”, I ask myself. Yes. But as it turns out some wretched and insensitive human being has decided to sabotage my tour by ringing that goddamn bell.
With eyes heavily laden with sleep, a mind replete with incongruous thoughts and a mouth more than willing to dole out a collection of choicest expletives from the urban lexicon I amble across the room towards the main door. Argh! The peephole is inaccessible to me and the tiny stool purchased for the sole purpose of adding a few inches to my height on such occasions is nowhere to be seen. “Why can’t they place it a wee bit lower”, I mumble, “how hard is it for people to squat for a couple of seconds? Or why can’t they have two instead of one to cater to everyone’s needs”. I stand on my toes like a skilled ballerina. My right eye meets the peephole and I look into the corridor. It’s empty. A few newspapers and milk packets are lying on the floor but their takers are nowhere in sight. “Why would anyone do that? Ring the bell at seven o’clock in the morning and then disappear! What has this world come to! People! I tell you….” My train of thoughts comes to a halt. I find myself at a loss of words and realize that I am too sleepy to curse mankind for ruining my Saturday morning.
I walk groggily towards my room, tuck myself inside the sinful blanket and prepare myself to get lost in the lanes and bylanes of my subconscious once again. But the tour guides have vanished. Alas! They are probably bowing in servitude before the Sleep Goddess, taking orders to indulge another pampered little princess in some other part of the world.
I stare at the walls. The sunlight filtering through the peach coloured curtains lends a rosy tint to my room. However, the morning does not seem rosy anymore.