Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Crazyness

So this is Christmas, what have you done? I had a fun festivus of eating, drinking and general merry-making with friends. And watched a brilliant Penelope Cruz in Volver and a pretty funny Rahul Bose in Pyar ke Side Effects. But being the holidays, my family has once again provided some priceless hilarity to the occasion.
Somebody suggested putting in a matrimonial ad in the Times of India for my eligible brother who is visiting India. But apparently my parents forgot when the ad was supposed to come out and as Ma likes to pointedly say: “We’ve stopped looking at the classifieds or putting ads there… what’s the point?” So what is the likelihood that my uncle sitting in Lucknow – who already has 2 sons married/committed to someone – scanning the classifieds instead? Probably killing time checking out the grooms for his lovely niece(s)? Fair enough. But what is the probability of Lucknow Uncleji coming across the same bloody ad about my brother and not recognizing it as my brother’s? Highly unlikely. He calls up my dad and says this could be a probable match for your daughter. That's right... yours truly, y'all. Dad diligently takes down the details and tells mum – you know where this is going, right? In the meantime, charitable well-wishing uncle does not hear from dad for a few days. Hmm, wonder WHY… the family tree is still shaking in laughter.. haw haw haw!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Putting Out Kitchen Fires

My roommate and i were looking forward to a mellow Sat. evening enjoying her boyfriend's gourmet cooking. We sipped wine and traded gossip as he diligently carved out bell peppers. M and i were on the far side of the house when he yelled at her to come. She lazily replied: "yaaa coming." he yelled again: "come NOW.. it's kind of an emergency." i didn't like the tone so i went along, too. there, in the kitchen oven was a fire burning and it wasn't about to cook our food. he had set it to 400 degrees and started smelling something weird and when he opened the oven, there were flames dancing around. As he used the fire extinguisher, smoke and the yellow powdery stuff enveloped us. I decided to call 911. It was my first 911 call and I tried to be calm but when the guy told me to "get out of there now" i was pretty freaked out. we ran out of the house and within minutes there were 3 fire trucks racing down the street. I tried calling my landlord next but got his answering machine.
The firefighters went running in with hoses and a smoke blower. A ladder went up somewhere. My roomie was nervously asking if we should tell the pros it was an electric fire. I nervously giggled in my tweety bird slippers (it was the only pair i could slip into quickly) and her friend nervously lit up a cigarette. was this an appropriate time to light another fire? Meanwhile, some neighbors had come out and i told them what happened. I looked at a couple from next door - they seemed vaguely familiar - but shook my head and thought it was a bad time to socialize. Soon, one of the firefighters called us upstairs and said the fire could have been caused due to leftover grease. I went back down and said hi to Angie and Jake, whom i had met at my former roommate's wedding last year. Surreal, but true.
Back at home, the kitchen was a mess and the oven is still out of commission. The landlord has promised to get us a new one but till then microwave meals will have to do! I also have a newfound respect for firefighters but i have to admit, there is a reason why they have so many sexual innuendos associated with them :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Never Forget

The Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished today in 1992. The mosque was built by Babur in the 16th century, India's first Mughal emperor. So Hindu fascists led by the saffron singing Bharatiya Janata Party came out to destroy the mosque since it was alleged that the mosque was built over a temple to commerate the birthplace of Lord Ram.
I was only 16 but i remember feeling sad, angry and deeply secular. The newspaper pictures showed rubble and what promised to be utter chaos in the days ahead. And what followed was one of the bloodiest communal warfares in recent Indian history.
First, there was a Muslim backlash and then a Hindu backlash resulting in the Bombay Riots. Around 1,000 people killed before a commission was appointed to investigate who did what to whom when and where. It was found that the right-wing Shiv Sena party incited the riots but till date none of the commission's recommendations have been acted on or implemented.
That's secular, democratic, 21st century, call center, multiplexes, so-sexycool-yaar, dosa and tikka loving, nuke dealing, IT revolutionary India for you!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's Fun to Stay at the Y...

This year I am not waiting till Jan. 1 to make the resolutions. The most consistent one I make is not to make any. And the most consistent one I also make is to make an effort to exercise more frequently. That resolution sticks for a while – hmm, 2 months – before whimpering out like a scared puppy.
So on Dec. 1, I finally joined the YMCA. I was partly inspired by my roommate who is very disciplined about her running schedule and also because it would be good to have someone to go with. The Y in DC sits in the heart of downtown and has lots of cool facilities spread over 7 floors. I was especially excited about the Olympic-size swimming pool and the racquetball courts. However, Friday was not a good day to join because the women’s locker room was a real stink joint. The smell of sweaty socks was simply overpowering but I held my breath through it. Then there are the showers. I haven’t used a communal shower in ages and I think there is some sort of unwritten locker room rule: if you’re naked, look up and if you’re not, look down. I also thought the older naked women had to be German because they seemed to be the most uninhibited about letting it all hang out. It’s not as if there weren’t any towels available, people!
Finally as I was about to leave, one of the "happy smiley staff members" asked me to write a postcard note for a U.S. soldier in Iraq. The Y sends these notes to soldiers during the holidays and as she forced this on me, I really had to think about this one – why should I, an Indian, write a note to an American soldier in a country where a conflict seemed totally unwarranted. But I was going to reach out to another person in the end so I wrote: "Have a cheerful holiday and come back home safe."
As for the work out, that was really good. I felt great and hopefully I can break the resolution jinx for the new year this year.