Tuesday, July 24, 2007


HP is over. Long live HP!! I finished reading book 7 with a sense of relief, sadness and slight confusion. I couldn’t believe JK had written such an amazingly fast-paced finale and ended it with such an overdose of nostalgia. But I suppose some of us Muggles will be senti fools for the wizarding world for quite a while... otherwise the book is deserving of all the hype and if you’re not a HP fan then too bad. It’s like if you were around in the 60s and never heard of the Beatles. How could you not read Potter?? But it is evident there are enough Potterheads everywhere. I saw at least three heads buried inside the book at the Metro this morning. And there were a few more heads when I went out to grab a bite last night. Of course I felt like shouting, “I know what happens in the end!” but that would be bloody unfair, right. You feel such a kinship with Potterheads… no matter where you’re from or what you look like, you have that one thing in common… like being part of Dumbledore’s Army of Resistance… It all started 10 years ago when the Asian Age gang in Bombay became Potterheads… I read the first three books at home, on the train and even at work… basically whenever and wherever I got a chance! Then, it was time for the post-mortem. Endless theories and arguments over why, what, when things would happen to who and You-Know-Who. As the novels became more violent with near-Nazi undertones, it became apparent why the series had got a grip on us. In spite of the fantasy and the spells and the charms, there was always something everyone could relate to… friendship, love, betrayal were just the obvious themes. But JK’s greatest feat has been to expose everyone from a 70-yr-old literary critic to a fourth grader to bigotry, death and loss. It’s never too young to know and never too old to be reminded of those themes.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pub Crawling

As part of Japanese style team-building exercises, the whole lot of us from work went bowling to Lucky Strike. This was maybe my third or fourth time bowling in my entire life so I didn’t feel all that lucky. However, with an open bar I was hoping that my strike rate would improve in proportion to the number of beers I was guzzling down. By the time we finished our practice round and got around to playing an actual tournament with 3 teams, it was time to test my skills of speed and accuracy in relation to my sense of gravity. My team came in a respectable second place, plus I managed not to score the lowest and provided a dramatic finish towards the end of the game: I got my lucky strike! People, welcome the new bowling protégé.
It was almost 4 in the afternoon, nobody was planning on going back to work, so what to do next? Proceed to next watering hole. Fado was the Irish pub down the street with the requisite Guinness on tap and some shady contractors in Hawaiian shirts. But our table was soon haunted by Al, a random guy in a wife beater and ponytail. “Are you from Greece?” he moseyed over to ask me. “Err, yeah, sure,” I said. “How about you?” he asked another colleague. “Oh, I’m from the Seychelles Islands,” she said. “Where is that?” he wanted to know. “Google it. Just Google it,” she said. In the end, Al preferred the attention of another gentleman and got a bit too friendly. "Al kissed me on the cheek at least 7 times," he said.
Our next watering hole was La Tasca where the sangrias flowed just as easily as the beer. It was here that I realized I was on a slow, but irrevocable track, to the land of intoxicated suspension. This is also where some of us finally bonded – alcohol has that affect – and it was surprising to find kindered spirits (pun intended) where one would normally think none existed… By the time we moved to our third watering hole at Zatinya, there was no doubt that the remaining troopers had become a solid team. Mission accomplished. Coming to work the next morning was a whole new story.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's Over Already!

Back in 1982 when I lived in the former Soviet Union, state sponsored television had nothing to offer for a 7-year-old like me. Except for two things: the 8 p.m. cartoon and Wimbledon. So out of sheer curiosity, boredom and fascination I religiously watched my tennis with a side of strawberries and ice cream. The tradition has continued and even though the fortnight is over, I promised some "loyal" readers my two cents about it…
So can I just say this was the best Men’s Final I’ve seen since the 86 or 87 Becker-Lendl final??? Besides an amazing match and all the records it has made, I think am officially falling for Nadal… although the tears from Fed obviously made me melt. As one of my gay friends put it: "I wouldn’t kick either of them out of bed, although I’d prefer to put Federer’s face on Nadal’s body."
And why, oh why, does Fed have to be so gracious in victory and defeat? What a sportsman. Sigh.

Friday, July 06, 2007

White Only, Please

July is here which means I should start sweating about turning a year older next month. But who cares about a number when other symptoms of ageing are more obvious. Stress is doing a number on me and it’s showing, my friends. Grey hair has started sprouting in all directions and when I went to a “wear white only” party recently, I was pretty sure I was wearing it from head to umm, let’s see, below the waist. I could blame it all on genes (dad’s side has a healthy crop) but that would be too easy. Instead, I will go to the mirror and search frantically for some new ones… like waiting for the birth of amphibians waiting to attack in short, sporadic moments. There’s one! And another one! Ooh, I think this is a pretty long one there. At last count, there were about six strands. Maybe I will get my hair coloured the next time I get a haircut. But I don’t see a big deal in keeping it au natural because technically speaking, white is also a colour, right?

Monday, July 02, 2007

One Year Later...

Last Saturday while Princes William and Harry put together a concert for their mother’s 10th death anniversary with Duran Duran, P.Diddy and other stars in attendance, my cousins and I put together something small, but equally significant, to celebrate the life of our cousin brother Raj, who passed away last year before he turned 32. Behind his one-bedroom apt. on Chestnut St. in Philadelphia was an open alley. There, in front of a few dumpsters and next to a shuttered establishment was McGillan’s, the oldest Irish pub in town started in 1860. Raj would frequent it often with his friends on hundreds of occasions. “It was our place,” as one friend told me. Some of us wondered if it would be right to commiserate in a place which helped him in his downfall – but in the end, it was about being at a place where he made some happy memories with his friends. And so we remembered him: we watched his childhood videos, drank Guinness, ate chicken kababs, laughed out loud, danced all night and sang to Bon Jovi, Chris Isaak (he once played “Somebody’s Cryin’” 30 times on a loop) and U2 (Bono was his God). I’m sure he was with us cheering us on.