Monday, 12 December 2011

28 things in 14 days

                                    Isa’s Japan Trip List

1.   Watch life pass you by in the busy city of Tokyo.
2.   Chill with Laputa’s Robot at the Studio Ghibli Museum.
3.   Nod at the Great Buddha in Kamakura.
4.   See Mt Fuji covered in snow from Hakkone.
5.   Eat a kuro-tamago (or black egg) from Owakudani and add 7yrs to your life.
6.   Bow-clap-join hands at Nikko shrines.
7.   Omikuji or Fortune check.
8.   Spot a Geisha in Kyoto.
9.   Catch the Yamayaki festival in Nara on 14th Jan.
10. Osaka?
11. Pay respect to the Atomic Bomb victims at the Hiroshima Peace Park.
12. See the big Torii (gate) in the sea at Miyajima.
13. Pick your sushi at a Kaiten Zushi (conveyor belt sushi).
14. Eat sashimi – raw fish!
15. Sigh at Mochi Cream at Narita Airport.
16. Eat the best cherry cheesecake in the world from Little Mermaid!
17. Snack on eda mame – the healthiest snack on the planet!
18. Gorge on onegiri!
19. Karaoke all night long!
20. Pose and Pout for Purikura (or Print Club).
21. Onsen Ofuro chareji i.e. challenge.
22. Have a Frapuccino at Starbucks Shibuya overseeing the busiest intersection in the world.
23. Write a Haiku at Ryoan-ji in Kyoto.
24. Take a picture with Minnie in a Kimono at Tokyo Disneyland.
25. Window Shop at Ginza.
26. Play the Taiko Drums.
27. Isowatari or walk on stones set in water at Kiyosumi Teien garden.
28. Pet the world’s most famous dog – Hachiko – at Shibuya Station.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Blue Mug Blew Me Away?

Yesterday, I went to see the play, The Blue Mug, directed by Atul Kumar, starring Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Sheeba Chadha, Munish Bhardwaj, and Shipra Singh. The play was about the capricious and fickle nature of memory.

The ordinary blue-coloured mug gifted to one attaches cherished memories and happy associations as it becomes a part of one’s lived reality. But over time, as it becomes special, it also gets chipped, the handle breaks, but one still holds onto it tight, having endowed it with significance and reverence, one fights those who wish to throw the special thing away. The mug becomes a symbol of memory’s tenacious hold on one’s life, just as one holds on to memory, in a viciously cyclical way. And when that memory is lost, one’s self is lost. That is one of the points the play was trying to make, as I see it.

I liked the play in most parts. I had problems with it, but I still think it was one of the better ones I have seen in the recent past. I didn’t think it was such a laughter-riot, it was funny in parts, but not ROFL at all! The humour was dark and disturbing, which was lost on most people in the crowd who were awful wannabes who came because they got to see famous actors live.. It is the illiterate masses who enjoy cuss words being said out loud in theatres (film or otherwise), not sensible thinking, intellectual human beings. It is children who enjoy clown jokes, not adults. The only legitimate laughter was the small child’s sitting a little ahead of me, who could not have had the maturity to understand the play’s serious undertones.

I know the audience's response is vital to an artist, especially when the economics of the production of art comes into play, but darn! shouldn’t it be the right sort of response? Most people would have gone home thinking it was lots of fun, “made me laugh so hard”! When the whole point of it is the silence which follows when the laughter stops.

Nonetheless, the acting was superb, and script wasn’t bad at all. The best character was definitely Ranvir’s Joginder – the lost soul whose memory is stuck in 1983. And my favourite scene has to be the chaotic walkabout wherein actors recounted, in fragments, past events – old and recent – including a self-reflexive account of the play itself. Also good was the childhood games pantomime by Vinay and Sheeba. My least like scenes were the “tweak” scene and the one I got a decent photograph of, shown below:

Most of the actors in this photograph have the same expression Vatsun probably had throughout the play, sitting next to me! We all agreed that the worst scenes were all of the wannabe modernist/absurdist/existential kinds. The most genuine were Joginder and shrink at the two ends of the stage, in the midst of a counselling session.

It may not have been the best play I have ever seen, but wasn't the worst one either! I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Down the Hostel Memory Lane

I went back to the hostel today. After many years it seems. I think the last time I went there was to meet Aruna. And she left India more than a year ago. So by calculation, I have not been there for nearly quarter to two years! It isn't a lot, but it feels like an era!

I went there to help one of my dad's Japanese student move in. She got the room exactly above the last room I was in, which is also the same room I first selected but decided not to take! 

I showed her around and told her about the ways some things are done. Like how to give your clothes for washing, or where to iron your clothes, where to register complaints, etc. I also took her across the street to show the main shops in Indra Vihar - especially Sardarji's shop. He recognised me and greeted me so kindly, even gave a discount on the juices we bought. And all the guard bhaiyas are the same and were happy to see me. The Laundry lady also greeted kindly. Even the rollie-pollie South Indian mess uncle was still there!! He is the cutest person on the planet and he automatically gave me a samosa that came with the tea without charging me for it! His Hindi has improved substantially, but I think, like before, he will still hand you something else in place of the thing you asked him for! 

Gosh I miss that place! When going in, I told Yuki it feels like I am returning home. I wanted to be Yuki, I wanted to be the one shifting in, I wanted to stay the night there and not drive back to Dwarka. I came back home and thought, I should apply in DU for PhD and come to live in the hostel when I get in! I think I feel this way only because I want to have my own place. I need to move out!

Nonetheless, it was nice to see the hostel again. It was nice to see again the Library I was once incharge of, to rearrange the furniture in a room I once could have been lived in, to have evening tea in the mess again, and to meet again the people whose lives were lived in service of the girls in the hostel. It was also nice to have that good feeling in your heart when you meet someone who you have unknown ties with. (I met a girl and her mother from Mauritius who knew my Dad and had asked Yuki whether she was my dad's daughter yesterday after Yuki's interview!!) 

Apart from the new Sunday brunch thing and two new papaya trees there, almost everything else is the same.

(part of my old room)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

no longer at ease

"Why is life so tragic; so like a strip of pavement over an abyss. I look down; I feel giddy; I wonder how I am ever to walk to the end. But why do I feel like this? Now that I say it I don't feel it...Melancholy diminishes as I write. Why then don't I write it down oftener? Well, one's vanity forbids. I want to appear a success even to myself. Yet I don't get to the bottom of it. It's having no children, living away from friends, failing to write well, spending too much on food, growing old - I think too much of whys and wherefores: too much of myself. I don't like time to flap around me..."

Virginia Woolf had said it all many year ago. I could not have found a better echo to my lackluster voice. Using the backspace key more than what appears in font in front, I delete my words wondering if it will delete the pain I feel. Does it always have to be beautiful poetic words to say that I feel crappy. So that people will read it and go "Ah!" Does it have to be in verse so that people care? So that they listen, pay heed and stare? Heart sick and eyes filled up with blue, borrowed words for hollowed desires.

Stolen memories from TV sitcoms and dramas do not fill the emptiness of the day.

Friday, 24 June 2011

10 reasons to be excited for true blood season 4

1) Vampires and werewolves..
2) plus shapeshifters, fairies, maenads, and witches among other non-existing things
3) Blood n gore GALORE!
4) To hear bill go "sookie" once again!
5) Graphic sex!
6) Hunky Eric, Alcide and who knows if Quinn makes his appearance..
7) Jason gets supernatural
8) Cliched cliffhangers.
9) New music!
10) Fangs!

Sunday, 30 January 2011


I am an old man
with a white Dumbledore beard
who has come face to face
with his mortality today.

I did many deeds
and had a lot of fun
But now in my last hour
I am all alone.

Being accosted in public parks
by old fat men who have been closeted for years,
does not flatter me anymore.

Pointing to the thirty-something boy over there,
"Why is he not gay?" I ask.
Life is never straight!

The twisted roads I traveled on
stretch forth
but I
go not hence.

Stop this rambling – aimless, joyless
Put an end to it
Full stop.

My life like this sentence,
like this poem,
is soon over.

Only remember me for what I wrote
For an artist never dies.
Weep not, but laugh, for harm I never caused.
Although shock a few I did,
But that never killed anyone!

And shock I will
till the end of my days
with my written words.
So, be shocked with innocent eyes wide open

For I have always been like this.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

new year scare

My dad went into anaphylactic shock yesterday night. The Disprin he took to relieve his headache reacted badly. It wasn't expired, nor was it fake (presumably!) and he'd taken disprin many times before, as prescribed, diluted in water. Who knows what happened this time!

He gave us quite a scare. My mom and sis tried their best to somehow keep him conscious and rub him into wakefulness. I ran about calling our neighbour with whose help we got him to the hospital. While the ambulance was coming I frantically called our Doctor uncles who were unavailable for what seemed an eternity! When finally I connected, dad had become better. Uncle asked me to ask dad to show his tongue and confirm what date it was to make sure it wasn't related to the brain. Dad was able to do and answer correctly, so we all heaved a sigh of relief. We were all thinking that he might have suffered cardiac arrest and become paralysed.. It was a terror-filled ten minutes which was really a walk-up call.

I thought about all the times dad tried to tell us where the important papers and documents and assets were. And the time when he seriously sat and talked about how we needed to know what to do if something happened to him. And I thought how unprepared we were and would always be because he is the pillar of stability in our lives and we are so dependent on him for everything. In those ten minutes, I hope, my life has changed. I hope I have learned to be prepared. I hope I will have learned to be more worldly. Only time will tell what I have learned...

My dad is fine now, and I hope I will not have to re-learn this lesson for a long time in the future..

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

a great loss

One of my favourite teachers passed away this morning after having battled with cancer. She was always full of energy in class, and even though many a times she took the class in the afternoons when Delhi sun would make most run back home, we would stay on because Dr. Subbu was teaching Paradise Lost and we couldn't miss it for the world...

It's strange how just yesterday while reading the conclusion of Two Lives by Vikram Seth, I was thinking of her... how I never was able to visit her in the hospital, and I was regretting not having been more courageous to do so... In the book, Seth mentioned a visit to a friend whose illness and hospitalization isolated her from her friends.. I know Subbu was not isolated, but that doesn't mean that I needn't have made the effort to visit. I feel guilty, and now I will live with this regret that I wasn't strong enough to face her in the hospital...

Once I met her in Hindu, when she had recovered enough to rejoin, and my eyes had welled up right there in front of her as she boldly talked about the cancer while readjusting her wig. Now, this last image of her brings a smile to my face, it was so typical of her and of me, that it borders on the ironic. At that time, of course, I had to do all I could to stop from sobbing in front of her... I am never strong in the face of another's pain... I was a fool... and it proves my point that the gift of true empathy is also a curse.

This news of her death shatters me... not only because of the regrets, but because she meant so much. I knew when the cancer re-emerged that her chances of battling through would be greatly diminished. But I still wanted her to be cured. It is really sad. She was one of the best teachers in the world. She not only taught the text in a way that you understand it and remember it, but she also made us engage with it in a personal way that makes literature so relevant and crucial to human beings. Not many teachers can do this, and I hope one day I will be the kind of teacher she was...

What a loss to Hindu College and to all who knew her...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Restart? Refresh? Renew?

I need to clean up this blog... there are many useless posts on it. And I need to have a new start... Am BORED to death with it...  So I am setting a DATE - the Autumnal Equinox - 22nd September 2000 - when all old useless posts will fall like yellow leaves... NET is on the 27th of June... So, can't do anything till then... See you later, folks!

Saturday, 30 January 2010


It has been a while since I wrote on this blog. Its not that I have had nothing to write.... believe me, I have had plenty of things to write about in the past two months. It's just that I was:
  1. very busy. December 2009 was the busiest month of my life it seems. Can't recall another time when I was this busy. Juggling the three places of work was not easy.
  2. very lazy. when I did have some time to rest I was too lazy to get up and write. I would end up catching up on lost sleep instead.
  3. very cold. January was so cold! I already posted the blue nails evidence on FB, so you know how terrible it was for me. And typing or using the Computer made it worse, because the internet connection is in the coldest room of the house. Want to get WiFi but have been 1. too busy, 2. too lazy and 3. too cold to get it.
But, I did do some exciting and fun things while I was so busy, lazy and cold too. I shall tell yopu about those soon. Just wait for it!


Monday, 2 November 2009

Becoming or not Becoming? That is the Question

We wish to explore the details of an author’s life, digging into the letters written to friends and family, reading the intimate details within their journal and delving into the secrets of their personal life, thinking that it may provide further explanations for what that author has penned in his/her work, that it would highlight some subtle reference or unearth some hidden meanings and uncover subtexts in the writings which would somehow heighten the experience of reading and analysis. When all we really want through it is to know is the love-exploits of these classic authors. This invasion of privacy we do in the name of historical authenticity or deep research is enjoyable and yet disturbing.

I felt this deeply while watching Becoming Jane. The intrusions into the life of Jane Austen were almost disconcerting. The underlying hints of sexuality and not so subtle sexual politics while vastly amusing on one base level, caused a bit of a dilemma in me. Is it right to intrude in someone’s life this way, why not let the author in peace in their grave. Their immorality is based on the continuation of their memories and their works. People die a second death when the people who knew them also die, or so said Gabriel Garcia Marquez quoting his grandmother. By passing on the knowledge through the literary canon, we never let authors die, for we cannot do so. It would be a grievous sin against literature. Yet, what is the limit? Where do we stop? Must one make films on their lives, which will always only be a version of truth of reality? Must we mar their memory with our insights? With even thorough research and detailed presentation, we can never know what really came to pass. Is it enough to say that this is only ‘based’ on their life? That it is an ‘adaptation’?

There will always be an idiot who will foolishly think that the version he saw was real.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Vipin begins where Tanvi ends..

Tanvi, one of my hostel friends got married to Vipin on Monday. It was a very beautiful church ceremony. The bride looked gorgeous, as you can see in the pictures, and she looked completely natural, as if this was meant to be what she was born to do! I have always been to weddings where the bride was either too demure and shy or just bogged down by everything going on about her looking hassled and frustrated with the weight of makeup and outfit... Tanvi was so natural that it was even more wonderful to see her married.

Meeting the guests at the door, taking blessings and greetings..

Clicking pictures with friends and family..

Last minute dressing up for the Ladies Sangeet the day before the wedding (helpers: Mausi, Maid of Honour, and friend)

The Bride and Groom at the Ladies Sangeet

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


today I mark the change of my blog title. no longer the M.Phil. Chronicles, these are my thoughts and memories, in my Pensieve...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

I felt it today. The crispness in the air that tells you that seasons are changing.. that the festive spirit is near at hand. I don't know if it is the smoke from fire-crackers or its just the shorter days which lend a smell and a feel to the air. I look forward to Diwali more than any other festival and since it comes around the time of my birthday, it seems as if the year is coming full circle. There is that sense of rounding-up, conclusion, closure. It is a bit depressing, since I always associate my birthday with death somehow. Strangely, it is still one of my favourite times of the year!!