Thursday, July 31, 2008

जब कभी भी सुनोगे गीत मेरे...

It’s the death anniversary of Mohd Rafi and Jhankaar on World Space is having a Rafi special. Predominantly 70s though, all the Rishi Kapoor numbers, which are fun enough but not, for me, the real Rafi. Give me the 60s any day.

When I was young, the radio and Hindi film music were obsessions. I’d lock myself in the room, sit in front of the transistor in attitudes of meditation, rocking in appreciation. On Sundays, Radio Ceylon had specials. I remember one hour-long information-packed slot where episode by episode, they went through the body of Hindi film music, year-wise – taking us through the hits, supplying nuggets of trivia. I took notes as if I was going to be examined on the subject. Eventually, the heat of my interest abated and regrettably, the facts have fallen away through the chinks in memory.

One July 31 many years ago, I was looking forward to a day full of Rafi. I had cleared the decks, and there was nothing to keep me from staying unhealthily glued to the radio. Except disaster. I turned the knobs and the transistor went dead. I was near tears; perhaps I did cry. My father took me out to Secunderabad’s Clock Tower area and bought me a new one. Shweta tells me now that she was shocked at such indulgence – my parents were not the sort to give in to every whim. I think now that they were very wise, able to distinguish between unreasonable demands and what was very important to the child.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The rut we're in

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Aashiana dhoondta hai

Two weeks into the new city now. It has been easier and more difficult than I thought. I call home twice a day, which is normal. I miss my mother, but that was expected. I hate being out of 50km radius from her. She complains I hardly speak to her when I’m home, but I simply hate not being able to.

Delhi is fine. I have been moving hither and thither, have seen two movies, gone to several of its beguiling markets, eaten out few times and met some really nice people. I like it. The metro construction renders the roads cramped and everyone leans on their horns, but what the hey.

Finding a house – a good one – seems extraordinarily difficult. Everyone who has house-hunted in Delhi assures me it is a task of gargantuan proportions. There seems to be a pattern. At first, there is an allocated budget and a certain insouciance; you will even imagine fondly that you will spread the word and something appropriate will turn up, thus making it unnecessary to cough up the one month’s rent the broker will demand. Reality check: no one around you has an aunt or friend who magically has a house that needs a good caring tenant. However, there are several property agents. On my second day at it, I opened an Excel sheet with columns for names, numbers, speciality areas and current status.

Then you begin. You are shown the most appalling houses in various stages of disrepair, in several kinds of bad taste. Up staircases so dark you navigate solely by touch and instinct. Down alleys where you hold up your trousers daintily, picking your way through vegetable (and other) waste. Or you find houses of which only one aspect is extremely right. There is both frustration now and hope. You tell yourself: if I could find such a happy location as I found with House A, accompanied by the nice woodwork in House B and the un-hole-like kitchen in House C, we would be set. Easier said, my friends. There seem to several such houses as you rattle through various enclaves, glancing about longingly, but none available to rent for the price you have in mind. So you inch up a little, and then a little, till you are considering some entirely ridiculous sums of money. This is where we are at.

Even then, the house eludes you, I am told, till you are quite on the threshold of despair and about to give up, give in and beg to be let into the Good Samaritans’ Shelter. When you are on your knees, the House will appear. Insha’allah.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Due North

This blog, dear readers, such as it is, will now go out of Delhi. Seeking a change from the sameness, I have sought employment in the capital and have moved here this week.

If you're making noises of disbelief, your reactions will match many I have met. I must, of course, have been responsible for the wide-spread impression that I was a well-rooted Hyderabadi institution, who would grow to a venerable age here, eventually being pointed out to visitors of the city on their first tour of it. Look! Sheetal Vyas, over there, doddering on the sidewalk! We don't know very much about her, but she has been here forever.

Seriously though, it is a wrench. I do do love Hyderabad and leaving is a betrayal. It is really, because my rationale was that it was becoming so unbearable to live in, that I might as well live in another bigger unbearable city as not.

So you find me in Delhi, hefting five bags and looking for a place to stay. So, dear, kind people, if you should hear of a nice two bedroom apartment in South Delhi or even a spacious two room set (as they call them here), please do let me know – my email is on the profile (I think!).

Friday, July 04, 2008

It's every Williams for themselves

It may not be great tennis, but what a story this year's women's final is!

"We have known them as child prodigies, we have known them as youthful champions, we have known them as supreme champions at their absolute peak. And now they are giving us something new: they are giving us longevity. If things go on much longer, people will start to love them. Perhaps we should start," Simon Barnes writes in The Times.
The whole piece is here.