Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turkey, here I come.

Last week I watched The Beach on my computer just to get holiday-charged. Halfway through the movie, I took a nap just to wake up to Leonardo DiCaprio. What a brilliant idea!

I’m off to Turkey this week and I couldn’t be more excited.

My travel buddies on this trip are: 
My Scratch Map
Aku – the one who can’t be trusted with passports, money, the camera or directions but still is the best person to travel with. She taught me her mantra of reciting affirmations over popping pills and it isn’t all rubbish.

My mom – the one who changes her accent depending on which country she’s in. Currently in a state of total excitement about experiencing Turkey’s culinary delights.

And my grandmom – who starts every sentence these days with ‘Call Turkey and ask them’ (when she says Turkey, she probably means the Embassy) and generally ends her sentence with ‘What’s their famous drink?’ She also spends an hour every evening at home in her walking shoes readying herself for all the walking she’s about to do on the trip.

I guess with family along my lifelong fantasy of meeting Ethan Hawke on a train and falling in love while spending a day with him somewhere in Europe isn’t coming true.

But, I just can’t wait to leave this phallicesque city that we lovingly call Bombay with my medium sized valise and a sense of adventure. All the way to Istanbul. It takes me back to the days when I played Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? I think that’s the reason why I have always been good at geography.

I have been going crazy for the past few weeks on Yes, that’s how I start planning my holidays. I either buy the book or go online day after day reading up about fun things to experience while on holiday.

On this holiday I plan on doing a couple of things. During the process of booking our hotels I came across a hotel called Cartoon hotel. Yes, seriously that’s what it’s called. The hotel looked average-normal but the website sort of freaked me out with it’s Mickey Mouse look.

I first had us booked at Romance Hotel which after a point started sounding a bit shady to me, even after reading the great reviews on So I switched to another hotel from where we are to be eating breakfast on the rooftop while taking in the breathtaking view of Istanbul.

I wish Istanbul was still called Constantinople. I would’ve loved just saying it over and over again. 
I’m going to Constantinople. I’m going to Constantinople. 

From Istanbul we’re going to Cappadocia which is full of caves. Yabba-dabba-doo!

Wine & Cheese
Basically I plan on bumming around in what I call my bum shorts which I described to a friend as being smaller than my face. I am not sure if I was even exaggerating. I love being half naked Neha on holiday. Though I don’t know if that’s advisable in Turkey that too during Ramadan.

But I plan on dressing up everyday and looking as swellegant as ever.

Warming myself in the sunlight while holding a drink with a parasol in it.

Eating olives even though I’m not a fan but just cause I’m in Turkey. 

Or maybe I’ll eat a turkey, just to be ironic.

Timeout Magazine, Mumbai.
I’m not so sure about eating anything else (especially after reading a restaurant review in Timeout Mumbai). 

Sleeping like a shrimp.

Maybe going for a Turkish bath, if it isn’t too weird.

Seeing the Blue Mosque.

And the dancing dervishes which my friend, Shivani described as being a fancier version of khwaja mere khwaja (from Jodha Akbar).

And maybe even a hot air balloon ride.

Shopping? Umm. Let’s see. Don’t really have the space for even a handkerchief in my cupboard at the moment. What does one buy in Turkey? An ottoman?

There’s still a lot I seem to be missing out on like a Trojan horse, an ancient city and hot springs. But, unfortunately no time for that. Wish my travels were as unending as a mobius strip (I recently saw a wedding ring shaped like one – how brilliant).

Anyway still a lot to figure out. Like do I need an adaptor for Turkey?
I should get started with the packing. Not quite sure about how I’m going to make it for such an early morning flight. I guess I’ll have to treat it like the Football World Cup. I actually went to sleep and put an alarm and woke up in the middle of the night to catch the end but it kept going into overtime and I just couldn’t do it. But, I think the in-flight entertainment is quite an incentive to be up that early in the a.m. I just hope Turkish Airlines gives you your own screen.

But, I can’t wait to go. Only when I come back my car won’t be there anymore. Sold it today. I went driving all around Bandra all morning just so I don't feel so bad. That took care of about half of my sorrows. The spinach and scamorza pizza took care of the rest of it. 
I said my goodbye pretty much the way I have ended a conversation with a boyfriend or with God - Bye, Love you
We’ve been through so much together. 

I will miss you.

This trip couldn’t have happened at a better time. 
Holiday = antidepressant. 
Can’t wait to get going. Hoping to have one of those A ha moments on life plans.

Goodbye Bombay. Goodbye Car.

Before I go I would like to end this post with a quote by the Sufi poet, Rumi 
(who coincidentally happens to be from Turkey).
Quote by Rumi. Postcard by me.
It doesn’t exactly make sense here but it sounded so sweet.
Just so you know where to meet me once I’m back. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eat Drink Travel

by Lissy Elle
I’ve started reading a book after ages. I’m not much of a reader. At all actually. I am more of a magazine – internet article person. 

I picked up Eat Pray Love a while ago. Have had my head stuck in the book eversince. I have just completed the Eat section. This section is basically about the author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s time spent in Italy after her messy divorce. Learning Italian in Italy, making friends (one is actually called Luca Spaghetti), and traveling. Love the writing. Love the honesty. Love Italy even more.

I had traveled to Italy in October 2006.
In those days I didn’t blog but, I had something called a notebook with me luckily. I wrote pointless observations which amused me from time to time.

Here it is

Italian things I remember

Aku’s accent – I think the Italians have something to learn from her.
Anytime we were lost she'd run to the tabacchi - a word she loved saying.
Ultimately I started calling her that. While she started calling me gelati for very obvious reasons.
4 scoops of gelato a day like it was medicine I couldn’t do without.
Words we'd lagow our accent for - tabacchi, ciao bella, stazione, laterano (whatever that was). And Capella Sistina which by the way took forever to get to and when we finally did reach it we chose to go get a sandwich first.
Michelangelo - a man I'd leave everything for in a heartbeat.
Leonardo - artist and scientist. Aku thinks I could be the next one just cause I understood directions well.
Lunch and dinner = Panini.
People not understanding Rome but understanding what Roma is. Thank God we knew Florence was Firenze and Venice was Venezia.
Alessandro palace.
Our hostel. Alessandro Palace. We were on the 4th floor. I looked like a female version of he-man after carrying my bag up there.
It had a nice bar downstairs. Aku had too much wine which she obviously dropped. 
Roommates - Alini the talkative Brazilian on whom the wine was dropped,
Karen and Hansen - the nice American couple who were super amused when they saw how an American charger worked on our ‘Indian’ phone.
Pauline who we very lovingly called khadoosShee from Taiwan. Aku imitates her so well that my tummy hurts when I laugh.
1 more chinki (politically incorrect I know) who was Japanese I guess cause I heard some moshi moshi and one European who didnt believe in flushing the toilet.
Uscita = Exit. It was a good thing we understood that.
Taking the wrong train on the first day and getting lost somewhere in Rome. Never saw the Leonardo Express thanks to Aku.
Long tiring walks,
Beautiful weather,
Me = map for Aku.
Eating orgasmic gelati. Seriously.
Throwing coins into the Trevi fountain and making a wish.
Bangladeshis selling rubbish on the streets and acting like Indians and spoling our name.
Shady staring Italian men.
Italian buttcracks. Thanks to lowrise jeans.
Not bathing everyday. I know. I can be sick on holiday.
Missing TV a little. But not really.
Talking our code language - Marathi. So pathetic. Couldn’t understand each other half the time.
Funny signs outside stores.
Cute Italian boys. Smiling in my mind but thinking will they rob us??
Ticketless traveling
Florence hostel. Archi Rossi. Amazing breakfast. Beds were a little hospitalish. Ugly graffiti but free internet and cheap water.
On the way to Pisa seeing "Before Sunrise" happening on the train. If you don’t understand that please watch the movie. So we followed them everywhere cause we were planning to make a movie on them after we got back. The girl finally ditched the guy and the guy ended up being from our hostel and later asked me - Weren’t u in Pisa today? and I was like yaaa (looking surprised that he was there too). I can be quite an actress screaming where’s my Ethan all day in Pisa.
Black guys (politically incorrect?) in the flea market trying to sell us stuff saying made in India. Hmmm. So am I.
Train conductor guy thinking we’re kids and giving us directions a hundred times.
Bus driver chatting on his cellphone and making people wear seatbelts.
Fake Louis Vuittons being sold everywhere by black guys (or do I have to say African Italian?) and Bangladeshis.
Michelangelo’s David - Undoubtedly the best thing I saw on the trip. Nice arse. Just kidding.
Pieta – wow!
Botticelli - also wow but not as wow as Mike.
No swimsuits at the Sistine Chapel.
Sistine Chapel - still cant believe how it must’ve been done. I paint one assignment and have a back problem. And can’t do without my Deep Relief.
The Pope at Vatican City.
Saw the Pope at Vatican City on a Wednesday. Very exciting but 2 minutes later we didn’t know what to do besides staring cause we couldn’t understand a word he was saying.
Little restaurant opposite our hostel called Marios. It had a waiter who didn’t understand English too well but was loudly singing What’s going on by 3 non blondes.
Finding Zara in Florence - our mission.
Idiotic guy in one shop thinking I shoplifted when the damn machine beeps for everyone. Firstly I wouldn’t steal and secondly there was nothing worth stealing.
Aku and her affirmations.
Me snoring. I have a slight problem I think. Especially after a drink. Best of luck to our roommates.
Bus ticket seller who kept taking his picture on his phone and showing us.
Made it to Venice with so much confusion.
Aku taking bad photos. Not everyone is as good as me I guess.
American ladies talking to us like we’re Chinese (bad way of saying we don’t understand English) saying "aaask for tiiickettts". Felt like saying Americans aren’t the only people who speak English. And then u get the "Oh! you speak good English" thing. And I’m like "yea that’s cause we also study in English".
Eating so much meat and cheese and icecream. But pigs in Europe are tastier for sure.
People drinking soda water. Why???? Just drink regular water.
Shady hostel in Venice &
me eating breakfast outside.
Our hostel in Venice – B&B Rota. Sooo shady on the outside. Like super dooper shady. But nice inside. Missed our weird roommates but enjoyed privacy for a change.
Eating most meals while walking.
Venetian gelato – disappointing!
Fighting with Aku about who carries the bags but then getting out of the station, seeing Venice and forgetting everything.
Italian windows.
Watching couples being silly but feeling a little jealous.
Watching old couples being lovey dovey and wondering whether they got married after 60 or does it really last that long?
Every lingerie shop has only sexy lingerie.
Walking so much in Venice. Couldn’t feel my legs. And nearly could have cried at one point.
Left Italy. Took a flight out. Hate sitting in one place so long. Felt like dancing but felt like all I could do once I got up would be the robot dance but u know how much I love it.
Said my final goodbye to Italy. Ciao ciao. Will miss u always.
Barcelona was beautiful but a different kind of beautiful. Loved it.
But think Italy was better.
Will miss my gelato the most. Icecream in Spain is just not the same.
Our poser waiter.
Barcelona hostel - called Barcelona 4 fun. Not really. Atleast not while carrying bags up 3 floors. While leaving we threw our bags down the stairs. We were done carrying bags by then. Even after hardly carrying anything.
Gaudi - Just amazing. But, not as good as Mikey.
Drinking Sangria. Aku obviously dropping something right after.
Eating Tapas like we've never seen food before.
Asking our waiter to take our photo. Instead he kept posing for us.
One of the FCB players. Still don't know
who he is.
Going to FCB. Not a football fan but still thinking wow.
Their changing room stinks. Like dirty socks. Saw some players. Obviously didn’t know who they were but still took photos being serious tourists.
Zara Zara Zara everywhere. I was hoping not to see another one. Just so I don’t feel guilty about not entering.
Getting fed up of shopping quite fast and hoping not to find my size in things that I liked.
Fighting with Aku in Park Guell. I’ll never forget that. Quite funny.
We bought their CD.
Cooking in our hostel kitchen. Cause it was cheap. Very. Made spaghetti and threw some cheese over it. Which was quite tasteless.
Bye bye Spain.
Then off to London - my favourite place. No holiday is complete without it.
A little cold but not unbearable. Love it love it.
Went to the Tate Modern. They had this installation of slides. I was dying to go but chickened out. It’s like a tube like slide from the 5th floor.
Ate and drank plenty. Watched a musical.
After a few drinks - Aku losing everything in her bag. Funny.
Guy trying to sell us things made from salts from the Dead Sea. After some moisturising I said tata. But he was a good salesman. Kept talking about where all he’s travelled in India. And Aku and I get conned too easily. But the mudpack he sold us was truly magical.
Meeting lots of friends. London ones and Bombay ones. Lots of fun.
Going ice-skating. I don’t think I could suck at anything more than that. I held onto the sidebars the entire time. And when a couple was having a romantic conversation while leaning against the bars I just skated by by holding onto them while apologising. Very weird. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
Eating toast and nutella everyday for breakfast.
Craving Chinese food.
Last day. Running to buy frankfurters at Marks. But they don’t make them anymore. What the hell. I could’ve cried.
Stocking up on my Vanilla body spray and ballet shoes. Life without them wouldn’t be right.
Leaving London. That was when I think I had tears. I didn’t want to go
back at all. Why cant I be on holiday forever? Whyyy? Whyyyyy??

So what I learnt is
I can eat a lot, drink a lot.
I can walk a lot, talk a lot.
I can go without doing laundry for about a month.
I can sleep a lot, fight a lot, be a mess.
Be on holiday forever.
And I’m a genius.

by Mia Cabana & Oliver Scott.
That was my trip to Italy in a nutshell.

Came back to India just like Elizabeth Gilbert did but not to meditate. Not really my style. And don’t think I’m off to Indonesia anytime soon and finding love either.

However, I am off to Turkey this week.

Hoping to finish my book before the movie releases in India so for the first time in my life I can make an honest comparison though I don’t know if I really care.

Here’s a cool recipe of lasagna cupcakes.

Bouna Giornata!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Sunday

It’s a very happy Sunday for me. More on that later.

Last night I went to The Comedy Store with some friends. I was all ready to wear this dress with cats all over it. Aku told me I was just asking for trouble. So just went in my ‘forever-backup’ outfit of tights and a top.

It was a fun night. And a fun show. After 2 appletinis I don’t think I could’ve cared about cat-related jokes.

Do I buy such clothes because I’m an animal lover? I'm not a leopard print wearing girl for sure. But I just love this dress.

I am not the extreme fight for animal rights kind of person but I do love animals. I got loads of proof on my phone. This is just some of it. 

Have a look

Meet Keisha – the laziest but kindest dog.
So peaceful, you may think she’s been meditating all her life. Well, she is actually on a permanent vacation.
Or she’s just busy enjoying the good life in Shimla.

This is Mitoo. I’ve never actually met her but she sounds like a person. A bit intimidating.

And Arthur. Who comes by my window while I eat breakfast. And flies away after his daily dose of gossip.

And George – the friendly neighbourhood snail. I saw him a week ago at Turner Road. I’m guessing he’s still there.

<-- A reason to go find him again.

Meet Tina, Mina and Rina. Enjoying their weekly kitty party.


And Caesar and Cleopatra looking beautiful as always. They make it look so effortless.

And when they don't behave themselves, I serve them to my friends.

Just kidding. Not to worry. Just a distant cousin.

And Nemo, and Dora and nemo’s stunt doubles (Nemo I, Nemo II & Nemo III)

Again, a great meal!
For umm...Gerard.


And this is Tiger, my sweet dog in Gorai. Confused about his identity that he spends his days doing Yoga for peace and relaxation.

Stockings by Les Queues de Sardines
Would I be going overboard with the animal love if I got these?

Disclaimer: All names and characters in this blog are fictitious and bear no resemblance to any animal living or dead.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Who Me? Yes you. Couldn’t be. Then Who?

Aku doing a handstand
It’s that time again when I take the lid off my head and let my thoughts flow freely.  I have this weird idea that maybe I need to let go of some thoughts to make room for some new ones. How much information can my big brain actually hold? But then again humans are said to use about 10 percent of their brain so maybe what I imagine to be a cluttered big city like Bombay probably constitutes only one-tenth of my brain, the rest of it being something like the Amalfi coast.

I’ve had so many thoughts going upside down in my head. That could also be because I usually entered my living room doing a cartwheel as a child. Now only Aku runs the circus. 

I’m always figuring out my purpose in life and sometimes wonder how I am what I am.
Am I this particular version of Neha Kamath cause I grew up in the 80’s? Luckily I was too young for shoulder pads back then. Which makes me wonder – Can you be too young for shoulder pads? But I loved the 80s. The time when we got excited about the monsoons just cause it was time to let our little paper boats sail through the puddles. It was such a happy time. Everything seemed so acceptable back then. Even Calvin Harris agrees.

To clear up the confusion in my life I have decided to document everything.

Keep a diary.

Make it more meaningful? maybe.

Be more dramatic and tattoo my favourite memories and get to tell my story on Miami ink.

OR I could save myself some pain and a lot of commitment and make a pop-up book of my life. Or a pop–up video.

OR just be lazy and write this blog.

Today I get amazed at how a 5 yr old can work a DVD player or write an email.
I guess my generation can do quick typing without looking at the keyboard. Just like a pianist with the piano.

Another talent of mine that I just discovered is that I can sing a phone number. I know the exact tone each number makes and can sing any number. I may sound like a robot but it’s so cool.
How I am going to make a career out of that I do not know.

Here are the things I planned on doing but then decided not to. To be a
  • Doctor – maybe cause I was inspired by Doogie Howser.
  • Art teacher – I always loved art.
  • Engineer – My dad was one. But I also remember thinking it was something like being a mechanic or fixing train engines.
  • Machiwali – to be Aku’s assistant.
  • Hairstylist – Aku’s assistant again.
  • Dancer – to be flexible at 90.
  • Iceskater / gymnast – looked fun on TV.
  • Nude model – so I could sleep while at work (this dream lasted 5 seconds).
  • Sculptor – seemed like a cool job. Or maybe I was inspired by the movie Ghost.
  • Hotel reviewer – so I could talk about the fluffiness of pillows at work.
  • Film critic – so I could watch every movie. I pretty much do the job anyway.
  • Food critic – something I know I’d be good at since I’m a fuss pot.
  • Karate champ – so I could grow up to be Mr. Miyagi.
  • Origami master – cause I heart origami.
  • Greeting card maker – cause I’m like a greeting card. Polite on the outside. Sometimes something unexpected on the inside.
  • Musician – why not?
  • Travel guide writer – I take sightseeing very seriously.
  • To own a chocolate empire – so I could eat chocolate all day.

None of these plans seem to be materializing into anything.
I am an ordinary girl in a not so ordinary world.
I don’t cycle or recycle.
Is that a comprehensive enough description? Who knows?!
I’m confused and choose not to go with the flow at this point in my life.
If I did I’d be a clone of those oh-so-perfect girls with their pompadours and waterproof makeup standing akimbo as if always ready for a high fashion magazine photoshoot. Their clothes never crease and they never have food stuck in their teeth. How? 
Well, that’s one of life’s unanswered questions.

I’ve decided to take life by the horns. Take a few risks. It’s time.

I can only describe it as a pencil sharpened at both ends.
A bit dangerous. But if one doesn’t work I’ll just try the other side.

If this was an interview (not seriously) and I was asked – Where do you see yourself in the future? I’d say -
  • Meet the love of my life. We’ll have the movie kind of ridiculous love. He’ll care when I talk about which version of Coldplay’s Talk I prefer.
  • We’ll have a fun wedding where everyone will sit on white chiavari chairs. I hate how Indian weddings never have those.
  • We’ll travel through romanchak Italy on a Vespa.
  • Move into a house – something like what Tom Hanks had in the movie Big.
  • We’ll cook together every Sunday alternating between making jam and cookies with special shapes.
  • I’ll be a stylish pregnant lady. And no I won’t wear the Indian lady pregnancy uniform – a cross between a muumuu and a nightgown.
  • Have kids the Momotaro way. Yes I am hoping they just pop out of peaches.
  • We’d all look like a set of perfectly crafted Russian dolls. One child named Matryoshka and one named Babushka.
  • All this while I am successfully working out of my own atelier (oh! how I love the sound of that word).
  • We’ll grow old together in a house outside the city. With a dog.
  • I’ll watch my husband read his newspaper while I smoke/eat a pack of phantoms and live happily ever after. (Note: Phantoms work well as a daytime lipstick and double as an evening snack to chew away your worries.)
  • And all through this a special soundtrack of my life composed by Hans Zimmer will be playing.

Am I expecting much? Not really.

I am the girl who didn’t demand to wear shoulder pads in the 80’s.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy New Year India

This weekend was blah.

It all began with Friday the 13th which turned out to be quite uneventful in the bad luck department. Which  is probably good.

It was followed by Saturday the 14th which was spent in discovering Bandra's newest chocolate dessert place. Chocolate Affair is part of an Australian chain. Great service, kind people. But, the hot chocolate was not-so hot. I went there with high hopes and a beaming face and an imaginary golden ticket in my hand.
But, this was no Chocolate Factory for me. It didn't unbutton my blouse the way I had hoped for it to. By which I mean 'with extra calories'. I was all set to be killed with chocolate and ready to feel sick while walking out of the door but, this was not a satisfying experience. Desserts are not meant to be low-cal so if you're going to do it, do it right. 
Their hot chocolate was not even close to as good as the one I make. It somewhat reminded me of an over-sweetened Bournvita (which is one level better than Horlicks but still sucks) with its pale brown colour and no punch. Mine on the other hand is made by adding a few drops of milk to a cup of chocolate - as described by Aku. It may not be the healthiest drink but it will make you feel like there are firecrackers going off in your head for sure.

I went home disappointed. They were showing Gandhi on TV. This is when I realised its nearly Independence Day, Republic Day, Gandhi Jayanti or Martyr's Days. I find Gandhi to be a very depressing movie and have probably watched it entirely just once in my life. I've watched The Song of Bernedette more times. I guess I choose unexplained miracles over reality.

Then came Sunday the 15th of August. I woke up early for my tennis class as usual. Did my regular Mumbai Darshan from Bandra to Colaba. In the past few months I have seen everything from a marathon, cycling race, skating race to even a vintage car rally. And on this Sunday the streets were dead. There were no flags hung everywhere or loudspeakers playing patriotic songs. I ended up seeing more mosquito killing rackets than tricolour pinwheels being sold on the road. What happened to that Independence Day excitement? Was everyone angry that the national holiday fell on a Sunday this year? Were they busy planning out next years Independence Day long weekend trip? The only Happy Independence Day text messages I got were from friends replying to my text.

Trivia from Wikipedia
To be honest, I hated waking up on a holiday and going to school for flag hoisting as a kid just as much as I hate standing up for the National Anthem that is played in the theatre before a movie. I'm sure others feel this way too but are too scared to express themselves for the fear of being judged. Whatever it is, I just think its an inappropriate time to play the anthem. This way noone really cares or takes it seriously. Besides my grandmom.

There is a clear difference between what my grandmom and I feel for our country for the simple reason that she grew up in pre-independent India and I was born after independence. Yesterday I watched her get emotional with tears in her eyes talk about how innocent people lost their lives and how the whole Karma thing is bullshit and life is unfair. Everything she said was true. She spoke through experience and I just had to agree with her. She told me about how people went absolutely crazy celebrating for about 3 days till they were told to stop and get back to reality on the radio which to me sounds insane.

I feel like I have a fair amount of knowledge about India besides the fact that I just realised that we have 28 states and 7 union territories thanks to my dear friend - Google. I know. It's a shame. But, I have traveled around the country and learnt a lot, mostly on school camps. Been everywhere from Lakshadweep to Sikkim and still feel like I've seen nothing. I was watching Gordon's Great Escape (my new favourite show) last night and realised that. Living in Bombay, we feel like we know India but we've hardly seen anything. It maybe unfortunate that Gordon Ramsay, a Britisher, needed to show us this. I hated him in Hell's Kitchen and thought that he was the scum of the earth but after watching this show I have this newfound respect for the man. He really experienced India and filmed it so that we could also share the experience with him. And what better way to experience India than with food. I guess the British have done more for us than just giving us the railways and a couple of cool stone buildings. Though I have to admit, as a child I remember being very angry about them stealing the Kohinoor Diamond from us.

I'm over it now. Luckily. Or England would be in trouble.

People from other countries see India as the land of mystery. And elephants for some reason. We have come a long way from the backward country others imagine us to be.

Being Indian is a part of all of us. I don't know how to explain it. But, recently my friend Mallika paid me a compliment in the most Indian way possible. She was upset about something and said she felt like Khichdi and thanked me for being her Dahi. You'll only understand that if you're Indian.

I love my country. Its incredible, diverse, a place of hope and beautiful people.

Happy New Year India.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wonderwoman turns 82

The Prime Minister of India lives in my house.
She rushes off every morning to her office for urgent work.
Half an hour later I get bombarded with emails. Some are about the environment, some about health and most are jokes.
I sometimes wonder how India would survive as a country if she didn't forward these emails to me. Or that's what she makes it seem like.
This VVIP is actually my grandmother. And today is her 82nd birthday. 
There's definitely more than 82 great things she's done in her life. That's more than one per yr. I'm so so so far from it.
She's one of those people who can actually write a book filled with stories of her travels and all the interesting people she met, things she did and people she charmed.
She was born in 1928. That seems like ages ago. Maybe cause it is.

When she was 2 months old she traveled with her mother from Mangalore to Karachi by boat. Yes, boat. When she was older she even traveled to South America more than once (luckily this time by plane), met Pele and even came on their local TV channel and one of the Indians visiting their country. I know. This nearly seems made up. She was a travel agent most of her life that led to all these cool happenings.

She studied in Bombay. Was very enthusiatic about anything and everything. She was a badminton star and a theatre star too. And I can imagine that the boys were crazy about her. She played Portia in Shakespeare's 'the Merchant of Venice' in her college days. I know this sounds like I'm showing off my grandmom but think about doing this in India in the 1940s.
She was in the Home Guards which is an organisation that helped the Police but doesn't exist today. She obviously was the leader in the Repulic Day parade and even got the President's Gold Medal. And so everytime there were riots you may have seen my grandmom going through the streets in an open air jeep. Just to maintain peace and harmony in the land. That's all. No biggie.

Now do you get my blog title?

Being born before Independence makes her one of those really patriotic people. I consider myself patriotic at times I guess but this is something very different. While I wonder where to keep my popcorn when I'm made to stand up for the National Anthem before a movie, she's the one standing up straight and singing loudly.  She also insists on saying Namaste everytime the ladies at Aroma Thai Foot Spa greet us with a Sawadika. But that's probably cause she actually can't hear them whisper in their broken English. I have tried training her to know what sentence to expect when instead of trying to understand them. There are 5 basic sentences you need to watch out for.
- Sawadika
- What oil would you like?
- Is the pressure ok?
- Would you like a hot towel for your face?
- Would you like some lemongrass tea?
If only she had paid attention to my pre-massage training.

She doesn't look 82 at all and loves showing off about it. The secret to her youthful looks is yoga and that she moisturises everyday which has made her skin as soft as mulmul. I'm not even sure about what mulmul is but it sounds like something soft enough to compare her skin to.

Being the oldest of 7 children made her very responsible. Ok that's her version of it. She was like Hitler when we were kids. She made us have spinach soup every evening so much so that I coloured the inside of one of my utensils from my steel kitchen set with a green crayon. Cause obviously everyone has a separate bowl just for spinach soup. This magic green soup gave me and Aku energy for dance, art, music, gymnastics, swimming (8 times a wk) and loads of other stuff all planned out by her. We were obviously given other incentives like jalebi after art class and donuts after dance class too. Smart lady! Luring children with sweets.

She is one of those people you can't miss in a crowd. A true charmer, entertainer and storyteller.
She cut her hair short when society actually frowned upon it in India. She got a scholarship and studied in Germany for a year, which is why we say Gute Nacht to each other every night. She traveled all over the world and would get cool gadgets for the kitchen and cool 2 piece swimsuits for us to wear as kids. I was like a baby Sarah Jessica Parker. Ok, not quite.

Couple of things you may not know about her
Her food can be called The Food of the Gods
She calls H1N1 heenee &
She is Shah Rukh Khan's biggest fan

She is known to end most of her sentences with 
That's life!
Maro Goli or
Vagera Vagera

She is the lady in the next car giving you gaalis while you drive. Clearly learning driving with her sitting next to you is not a good idea.

But, you've got to love this woman.

All we have in common is our love for all the good/wrong things 
- wine
- icecream
- chocolate
- cheese
(though our order of preference is completely the opposite)

But she is undoubtedly the coolest grandmom I know.
Happy Birthday Aai.
I am so excited about eating cake :)
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