Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ramon's city... Pari!

Day 3,4 and 5 in geneva were dedictaed to the conference i was there to attend. And i could hardly run eloquent in the love the people there any more than i have already done, so after my stint in geneva (which was pleasant and awesome), i headed towards paris, very happily having save 140 francs from my original stash of money.

The wonder began in switzerland itself. On the way, i saw scenery apt to be, in todays language, the perfect screensaver... First came the snow covered bushes, then the christmas trees and then gradually, the hills and the bridges joining them! I was so strongly reminded of harry potter and the journey that the hogwarts train takes that for a moment, it really felt like i was going there. It was picturesque. The snow was glistening, like thousands of women had lost their earrings together here! It was brilliant.

I entered paris, again scared and apprehensive like i was on the first day in geneva, because every time i mentioned how good the people there were, they would say, 'but be careful in paris, it's not the same'. I went straight to the information center in gare de lyon, which is very conveniently located, and asked for directions to my hostel which were promptly provided.

It was time for the ticket now. The machine took coins only. So, i decided to buy something from a Coffee shop. The change i had now got me a ticket, and i boarded a train. A very lovely lady, previously an airhostess and now a therapist, welcomed me to paris with her smile and a chat about india and shri aurobindo. In the end, she even gave me her email id and number, just incase i have any trouble in paris. Such wonderful people.

I reached my hostel, and byt the time i went to sleep, i had made plans with another lone traveller Nicholas, from Colombia to walk to the eiffel tower the next day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Je t'aime Geneva, Day 2

The day started with butterflies in my stomach. I was in my hostel dorm, tucked into a very comfortable bed after a very relaxing sleep of 12 hours (which, mind you, happened after a half an hour long bath in a hot tub). But i had to live up to the expectations of this trip! I was in Europe! How can i lie heren bed when lying in bed is basically what i do every other ordinary day of my life! But this is not an ordinary trip! I was alone and free to explore the world, and how scary can a people who pass benign smiles as strangers be, or a city that has EVERY road marked and named so properly that I am sure the google map makers had no troubles in finding their ways around.

With that thought i mind i picked up the ipad and typed an awesome place where one can get the best information about the city and places to visit, and realised after fiddling on google maps, that the office of geneva tourism was a two minute walk from my hotel, and that every saturday (which happened to be today) there is a walking tour for tourists for 10 francs. Oh good! I thought, a good way to get a hang of the town and look at a few places! I got up, took a quick shower and was getting ready when the girl on top of my bunk bed invited me to join her group of friends going to visit the Geneva lake! I had already seen the polite, beautiful people of Geneva, but turns out, it brings out the best in everyone. This one, Ma'ka from Georgia had heard that i was alone, and wanted to make me feel better. I thanked her profusely, but told her i should go with the tour as that means i could cover most of the spots before my conference began (did i mention i am here for a conference?). 

I walked out with a skip in my walk and reached the tourism office. There, i was helped by another beautiful woam who told me that the tour had already left, and since they had no policy of taking money from someone new, she couldn't let me venture out on my own, looking for the group as i had suggested, and take the fees for the tour as well! So, instead, she took out a map of the city, circled all the places the tour takes and drew me the route that would get me back to my hostel. I was set for the day!

I came back to the hostel to pick up some extra money as i had realised that 100 francs isnt going to be enough if i got lost and wanted to take a taxi back home. In the hostel, i met another dorm mate, alone and unhappy coz a friend had just backed out of her weekend plan of visiting the city! Voila! I had a partner to walk around with! I invited her to come along, gave her another map feomthe tourism office and we set rolling!

We covered the geneva lake, the beautiful scenery and gardens near it, the pallette clock museum, the national monument, the flower clock, the cathedral of st. Peter, numerous big and small churches on the way and ofcourse the old town. It was beautiful. At the lake, i basked in the winter sun and thought about how water inspires a certain calmness in me, someone one would usually compare with a stormy sea, someone i myself would compare with a stormy sea. The clock museum merely reminded me of the obsession of humans with time, measuring it immaculately, and how so many thing depended on it. Isn't it wonderous that of of all the truths known to mankind there is one absolute one, that time doesn't come back?  The cathedral of st. Peter was magnificent. Beautiful and daunting, i was reminded of the various ways in which religion can be scary. The view from the towers was awesome, ofcourse and i can totally tell why the hunchback of notre dame would love staying here (although he didn't and i hated that movie for its stupid conventional ending). The old town was so charming that i remembered my own village, where people called out to each other from their kitchen windows and where wives would find time to chat with each other amidst their daily work. There were people cooking in front of their houses, and selling cake and coffee to anyone who would buy. The whiffs of fresh out of the oven croissants that i had, simply made my day.

All in all, it's good i missed the tour. I explored on my own and it made me a firm believer that if you really want to see the world, you better do it alone!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Je t'aime Geneva...

I arrived in geneva yesterday, apprehensive and scared about the stay that was going to be one of the firsts in my life... Alone, all by myself. I had decided to take everything one step at a time when i boarded the flight 12 hours ago. Getting to dubai was step one, and then, was getting to geneva. Now, i had to take trains in a city i was never before, to get to a place i had never been to. Thousands of people do it, there are women travelling across the globe everyday... I told myself. Yet, there was this nagging fear that i couldn't let go of. 

I got out of the airport and decided to get hold of a map, something my father had taught me- you can't get lost with a map. I decided not to trust my gps enabled gadgets and go for the traditional map  instead. But before i could find one, i saw a few automatic ticket counters. Why not check them out, i thought, because as my travel loving father and all the years of visiting places in the country and abroad had taught me, it never hurts to ask someone. I asked a couple how i could get a ticket, and the first surprise in geneva awaited me. 

They were so nice! They described to me how to get there, which train i was supposed to take and even in their broken english, offered to pay for my ticket! I was dumbfounded! After my not so pleasant experience with people in Seoul, i was cautious about people outside my country, and specially, where any language other than english was spoken. But these two immediately made me feel welcome, and, well, for the want of a better word - un-alone.

I took the ticket, and walked towards a train standing on a platform. I aksed a uniformed guy if this train went to geneva central and he replied with a smile in his eyes, 'well i should hope so, otherwise i would be driving the wrong train!' Another human being, sigh! I was happy... I boarded the train and sat down with a nice looking lady. I had only one stop to go, and thinking that train culture here would be the same as the one in metros in delhi, where people don't talk to each other, i decided to look outside of the window, when this nice lady looked at me and said, you are a brave girl travelling alone!' And just like that, she started a conversation and before i got off, i had her card and an invitation to visit her studio as she was a photographer here. Are these people for real?

I got down at the geneva central station, and similarly, at least 5 people smiled at me, and helped me to locate my hostel where i had my reservations. Not once was i looked at in annoyance or even, with fear in their eyes (like in seoul) for i was a foreigner. The experience continued today everywhere i went. Every place, starting from the supermarket to the churches has people for whom the word amazing was invented, or maybe i am from a city so rude that these common courtesies seem like luxuries. Whatever it might be, t'aime.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bates Motel: A&E, Norman's Hope

The Bates Motel
10 PM

When Robert Bloch wrote the Psycho back in the 1950s, I am sure he didn't imagine the number of renditions his novel would have, and that it would continue to inspire quite a number of film-makers and others even into the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century.

We have all heard of Hitchcock's Psycho, some of us have been brave enough to see it, and the horror buffs even include it in the list of all time favorites. Psycho, and the positive reviews it has gathered over the years, rising to the status of a cult movie, indicate the steady rise of the macabre and the gradual niche that the horror genre has created in the minds of viewers. Maybe that explains why suddenly, every major channel in the world is hosting one horror (including gore, supernatural, aliens, time travel, zombies, slasher/serial killers) series or the other.

The Bates Motel on A&E is one such series. 
Now, Psycho is one of my favorite movies. I have hated all renditions of it so far, perpetually hated them. I have believed all my life that one must not remake originals, and that too classics. Perfection is achieved only once, and even if that perfection has flaws, the flaws over the years make it unique and, I don’t know how, better. Psycho and the horror it inspired in me, the very idea that someone’s mind could be so scrambled, someone could be so lonely as to get lost in their own heads, someone could have so many personalities hiding within, and someone can be bad and pitiful at the same time, was a revelation for me. After watching the movie, I was in a dilemma for a long time, do I pity Norman Bates, or do I hate him for being the victim of a society that views women as playthings? What do I do with this person who is how he is not because of himself, but because of a million things going wrong with his life, inadvertently?

Bates Motel seems to help me find answers to this question. It's a prequel to the movie, seemingly. But there is one thing in the series that the movie didn't have- hope. And that's why, so far, I have loved it. With brilliant casting and brilliant acting by the two central protagonists, Norma and Norman (yes, the very names suggest the somehow incestuous-creepy-oh-don't-talk-about-it relationship between the mother and son), Bates Motel is good work. I know, hope doesn't rate very high in the requirements of a good horror/creepy fest of a series, but somehow, this little thing makes me happy about Bates Motel. Psycho was brilliant, no doubt about it, but in it, Norman was lost, forever.
In Bates Motel, we are taken in the journey of how he gets lost, and there is this terrible urge in me to stop whatever is happening with him. That's what creates the brilliance in the series.

I know, ultimately, as the season finale very simply showed, that Norman will be lost, and if it has to live up to the original source, he will have to be lost. But I can't help imagine a world where he won't be, and this helplessness, this terrible wishing upon wish for Norman's saving, is what makes this show worth watching.

I loved the tragedy in Bates Motel, I hope you do too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

song of the day 1

today, i start with my project 'song of the day'
every day, i will write about music that transcends everything, a song that strung a chord without a reason. maybe i will look for that reason, and maybe, that reason will lead me somewhere else.
there will be no boundaries of language, genre or performer.
i will listen to what my actions lead me to.

right now, my music is coming from a random guy, whistling down the street, a random tune i have never heard. yet it had strung a chord. it reminds me of times when i was free, with no other problem than having to wake up at 8 30 in the morning, in time for the 8 40 class. it reminds me of the corridors of my college hostel, where oblivious to the juniors lazing in their rooms and the seniors giving me the looks for my cheek, i would bang the door of my room open, shattering the serenity of a lazy january afternoor and walk out singing 'na na na naam tera mere, labo par aaya tha...', a cheesy hit number from the glorious 90s of Hindi cinema. the song had a beat that fitted perfectly with the pace i walked in, and it let me show up my high pitch too. and every time i sung it, i couldn't help but picture myself in the sexy yellow number raveena donned and akshay kumar drooled over. *sigh* good days...

so, thank you random guy with random tune on your lips... you reminded me of a time, a great time, when i had friends, when i was lazy, but not so lazy that i would forget the beauty of being luxuriously lazy, when everything was right with the world. maybe tomorrow, another song will remind me of something, for better or for worse.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

julie, julia and airtel

i was watching Julie & Julia today... something that inspired me to take up my long forgotten blog and prod it to see if it was still alive... i hoped that the come back would be an example of some brilliant word play or an example of some kind of awesomeness that only Barney Stinson is capable of... but heck no... Airtel wouldn't let me have that glory...

i was preparing to write something no short of a revelation when my brother called to ask for a recharge... well, my mother hardly gives him enough to get by, so the poor thing comes to me for the smaller evils... like phone recharge, or an occasional tattoo... he called me again today for another recharge, a mere 50 bucks. i geared up, opened the airtel website and punched in the numbers of my credit card and the pin in order to get the recharge done... when the stupid, too big for its boots, false promise making, irritating capitalist Airtel website refused to show me the last step of the process... i repeated the process 3 times to no avail...

i was about to blame the slow internet in the JNU campus when the realisation that Airtel had been duping me ever since the beginning of the month struck me-
1. i had done a 28 bucks ka recharge to reduce the call rates of my connection to 1p/sec, which not-surprisingly-considering-Airtel_had-been-doing-the-same-fucking-stupid-routine-forever didn't get activated. they took my money alright, but didn't get the service started,
2. it has become IMPOSSIBLE to talk to their customer care when you want to ask them what do I do about that,
3. they have started charging, fucking charging for the customer care calls, as if we are responsible for the trouble in our cells and we havce to pay if we want that solved
4. they have started i don't know what fucking stupid services on my phone like gyan darshan, first they say its free and then they start charging me money from the next month! i didn't bloody want that stupid service!
5. they randomly deduct my balance in the name of some airtel live service, which my phone being a 2001 model of nokia does NOT have! and when i tell them, they give me dates and stuff... bloody how do i access airtel when i don't even have the compatible screen!
6. they are just bandits who have kept their sms pack rates at an 88 when other services provide better packs

i imagined myself to be venturing forth on a new journey on my blog, a literary, intelligent, probably even an intellectual journey after i finished Julie and Julia... little did i know that neither of them had such deterrents when they began their lives best works...and I, sadly, do.

screw you airtel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

inspiration II

when i openned my cupboard i had since i was 8,
in the smell of the old clothes folded with nepthalene balls since ages,
when i openned the windows of the room,
in the smell of the rain falling on the dust of the panes,
when i openned my books, no, ran my hands through them
in the smell of the flipping pages now yellowed with time,
when i openned the doors to walk through the rooms,
in the smell of the li'l moist walls and smile of the pictures they made,
when i openned my mouth to eat all that had been prepared in my honour
in the smell of the lemon, the bamboo shoot, the rice... the kitchen,
when i openned my arms and stood tiptoe on the roof
in all the river, the air, the roads, the soil and the grass that went in,
when i openned my heart to the sounds of them and more,
in all the invitations that cooed in my ear, in all the 'welcome backs' they said
when i openned my eyes to look at her sleeping with me engulfed
in the smell of her soap, her hair, her breath, her smiling sleep... in maa..
i found home... and i found inspiration...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

inspiration 1

when hope was lost
and faith astray
when life was dead
and death in light's hay
when the smiles were gone
and tears ruled
when blessings were empty
and curses drooled
with black clouds above
when the sky was dark
when graves had opened
where the lightning had struck
when the sun had set
on all civilizaton
i found you and
found inspiration

Thursday, April 22, 2010

i feel for both the soldiers...

Some days back, the Hindu reported the 'celebration' of the slaying of 76 CRPF soldiers in JNU. I read the piece and sat back staring at the ceiling for at least 15 minutes. i wondered, what is wrong with us? Us... not the JNU community, not the student community, not the men or the women... us, as in the human beings. why have we divided the world and shoved each of the halves forcefully behind a dividing line whose foundations run deeper in the psyche than in reality- the state and the people. where one wins, the other has to lose, there is no other way out... no peace for those who see this dividing line and want to bring it down. such people are termed 'neutral', 'devil's advocate' and sometimes even 'dead'. in these 15 minutes, i wondered- when did we evolve so much? so much that the thought of 'celebrating' the death of men on duty or even accusing someone of such an act became less hideous even in imagination than in reality? why do we forget that each man on duty has a family. and so does each of the naxalites, maoists or any of the insurgents fighting. are't they men on duty too? don't they have a cause too? why is their cause any lesser? or why is their death not 'shahadat'? aren't they both soldiers? am i wrong if i feel for both of them? when did we make our own personal Berlin's wall so high and mighty that we couldn't see or hear the pain of the thousands fighting everyday for something that is rightfully theirs- their land, their home, their wages, their families, the basic human right of security, tolerance and love, against people not very different from themselves? when and how did the barriers around our comfortable couches become so proof of the pain of the wife who's husband promised to come back for Bihu, only to be accompanied by his coffin? why have we become so numb that when we see her pain we refuse to see the one of the many in villages all over Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar where such stories happen every day? why is it so that we have to choose sides? why has human life so lost its meaning that it now belongs either to the 'state' or the 'people'? why can't i cry for the jawan who wrote in his diary about his undying love for his beloved and died the next day in a maoist attack and for the look in the eyes of the 14 year old girl who picks up the AK 47 to avenge her rape, murder of her father and the snatching of her family's land? why am i termed 'neutral' when i feel so strongly for both? doesn't life have any meaning? a meaning that transcends the barriers, the wall, the boundaries that us humans have created around it? and pray, tell me... when did death become a matter of celebration?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

hold me close...

Hold me Close

hold me close...
let me see that smile of yours
hold me close
let me hear your heart beat
hold me close
for i want you to say my name
hold me close
for i want it to stay the same

let the world pass by
let us stand like this
in this moment sealed with love
with passion standing guard
and the heavens our witnesses above

hold me near, hold me tight
promise me that you will stand by my side
when hope is lost and me astray
when time is gone and life array
when the sunshine is gone and cold wind blows
promise me love,
you will hold me close!