Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The bonding over a steaming cup of tea...

I have always seen people bond over a smoke and a drink, but for me, a steaming cup of tea works wonders...

But if you think, its as simple as it sounds, you are mistaken. The tea has to be made the right way, my way, probably the only way, is what i would say.

The right way is to heat the water and just as it starts to boil, add tea leaves and take the pan off the heat. This ensures that oxygen is not boiled out of the water, ensuring the oxygenation of the tannin in the tea leaves, which comes about by brewing it (of course off the heat) for about 5 minutes and voila....

One wrong step and it all becomes a royal mess, that I would prefer to throw down the drain.

Now coming to the element of bonding over tea, or dare I say the right kind of tea, just happens. In Neeti's and my family, it is the trigger - its like a war cry to say "chai ho jaye", and the anticipation of a conquest over the cup of tea begins. This invariably happens every night after dinner, providing the right trigger to stay up a while and talk about the happenings of the day.

I still remember the day my folks and I visited Neeti's place for the first time before our marriage. After an hour or so, when we moved out, the first thing I told my folks was that I loved their tea!!! And my folks nodded in agreement, laying the foundation for our marriage.

Mauritius, where we had gone for our honeymoon, is known for its boutique vanilla teas. Our resort had nothing but vanilla flavoured tea all over. And both of us had to struggle with the Creole and French speaking staff just to get a few tea bags of Assam tea. Wherever we go now, one of the standard gifts we usually get for our families are tea gift packs.

Tea has taken to several extremes. On weekends, when we are out in the market and Neeti starts checking out some nick-knacks, I can barely control my patience for half an hour after which extreme boredom sets in, and I am forced to let out the war cry of "Chai ho jaye"!!! And Neeti, like a fellow "drinking partner" gets so tempted that she winds up within the next 15-20 minutes, after which we either head home or to the nearest Barista or Cafe Coffee Day.

One such hangout for us used to be the Cocos outlet at Lokhandwala market. It charmed us with the quality of its tea and its colourful ambiance. But as real estate markets had their way, high rents forced them to move out. And old does indeed make way for the new.... we have now started patronising Coffee World with a similar zeal.

And just as I want to write more, I hear Neeti making the war cry of "chai ho jaye" - it's time to go...

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

Puzzled am I,
When I wonder “Who am I?”

Am I the lonesome warrior,
Battling the mighty army ….
The army of time, fate and luck?

Or the ship,
On the stormy seas….
Being tossed up and down with the waves?

Am I the mind?
Or am I the Soul?

Am I more than mere existence?

Or am I mere existence?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Enduring memories

As years have gone by, there have been moments in my life that remain vivid and crystal clear as they had actually been...

These are those moments that always bring a smile to my face, a sudden rush of blood through the veins, moments that I would love re-live each day of the rest of my life.

The aroma of ginger cookies and bread, freshly baked by Mom ..... Papa teaching me how ride a bicycle .... Receiving a hand made birthday card from Neelima .... Anticipation of a birthday gift the night before ..... The first peep into the glowing cockpit 0f the Hawker Siddeley 748 during a flight that night in 1984 - a sudden excitement and thrill .... My granny cracking jokes (I know she'll be looking down from Heaven and smiling now) ..... Having the first phone call with Neeti that eventful Dushera day in 2004 - the conversation that went on and on, blossoming into this rocking relationship ..... Our first date, at PVR Saket and Ansal Plaza on January 29, 2005 and the first time Neeti and I held hands crossing the Outer Circle at Connaught Place in February 2005 ..... The endless debates with mine and Neeti's folks over freshly brewed Assam tea .... The stupid "bakar bakar" with Supratik about birds of steel and ..... what? (don't ask!!!) ;)

These moments are the first of their own kind, which can be relived only in memories, the best part of life is that this list will grow bigger and richer, as time goes by...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Terror attacks - the day after....

It is indeed tough getting back to the routine after a lazy and fun filled weekend.

Taking the train to office, unlike any other day, today I felt a sense of fear in the fellow passengers' behaviour and body language - perhaps we all were thinking whether after Bangalore and Ahmedabad, were we the next?

But then who cares? And life goes on...

Are we so weak as a country that we can't fish out, weed out and eliminate such elements? And we call ourselves the next superpower! It is one thing to be powerful and it is altogether another thing to be perceived as powerful. And in today's world, perceptions matter more than substance.

Fact of the matter is that India is perceived as a weak state. And weak we will stay if we don't act. And the government better forget about human rights for a moment, forget about public opinion for a while - it better take action against terror and prove that as a country, we are not taken lightly, anymore.

But again by evening, the train commuters were back to their usual boisterous self. I wonder whether that is a sign of helplessness that little can be done or is a sign of getting on with life and work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Of paranoia and a dying culture

We finally did make it to South Bombay, despite or inspite of the downpour. The roads a- a full 35 km of them right from Lokhandwala till Fort were all empty -- it was really surprising to see this given the fact that weekends are when our city folk venture out for shopping, recreation, etc.

Was this because of the rain? Is the never say die attitude of our fellow city dwellers giving way to paranoia that they'll get caught in another"26/7-like" deluge?

Or is it the double digit inflation, which is forcing us all to stay indoors in an attempt to curb expenses? I wonder...

Despite the decay in the city, south Bombay still retains its old world charm, perhaps like it always has... I wonder again. It is indeed a visual treat to drive along the Marine Drive promenade, with mighty waves almost kissing the cars. And the colonial buildings of Fort, which I hope will be conserved for the future generations to see.

Talking of decay in city, I am told by friends who have grown-up here that Irani cafes were an institution for many years. but as I read these institutions are dying out for various reasons - lack of interest in the younger generation, etc. etc.

Neeti and I went to one such Irani cafe - nothing beats "bhurji pao", "bun maska" and steaming hot tea as you watch the rain pouring outside. As we get carried into a reverie, we realise, we have to drive back home another 35 kms in this downpour, before the flooding starts.... yes the paranoia is there!

Rain rain go away.....

What a day it is..... wow!!! Its been raining here in Bombay since night, or say since yesterday for all practical purposes.
And it looks beautiful outside the window. But the best part is that we don't have to venture out of home, get wet, get water splashed on you on the road, get stuck in a traffic jam on the road, wade through water....
Indeed it seems, the monsoon is the best time to be in Bombay. Everything is so cool, green and full of life. In fact, my better half, Neeti, who happens to be a hardcore Delhiite, did tell me a couple of days back that she had got used to Bombay weather that it would be difficult to adjust to extremes of the north.
But is monsoon all that fun in Bombay if you have to venture out? Perhaps not.... I still remember the grand deluge of "26/7" or July 26, 2005. Spent the whole night in office. The road outside had turned into a river. People were scared. And the next morning when I left for home with colleagues, the devastation was to be seen to be be believed. Loss of life and property has been well spoken about.
Even today, people shudder when they talk of that day - an all pervasive fear. Even continuous rain for two hours is enough to send the city into a spin.
Have we learnt lessons from "26/7"? Perhaps not...
The little said about the administration the better.
What can we do? Eminent citizens like Alque Padamsee go on TV to talk of how the monsoons were in the 1940s. But what have they done beyond that.
Compare this with Delhi - that city changed due to intervention of the courts - PILs filed by eminent citizens forced the city and state administration to shut up, sit up, listen and do. And today Delhi is a much pleasanter place to live in - the quality of life is so far better than Bombay.
So what does the common man like you and me do? Enough of getting saluted for keeping the "Spirit of Mumbai" alsive. Let's cut the crap. Perhaps, we should group together and initiate action ourselves, as collective action is more powerful than individual action.
As for me, Neeti and I just laid to rest a plan of driving down to Fort, for the fear of getting caught up in the mess!
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