December 31, 2007

Movie Review - Taare Zameen Pe

A long overdue review of the movie Taare Zameen Pe. I had heard the amazing reviews before hubby dragged me to the theater. Me, am not a sensitive soul and a senti movie with a message, in my opinion, is something one should watch on DVD and fast forward when the sappy stuff gets too much to digest. But then, am saddled (or should I say, that I have saddled myself) with a guy who loves to watch such movies, on DVD or the silver screen. Ah, well. Shouldn't complain.

Ok, focus, the movie. Great, in one word. The performances are uniformly good and the boy (Darsheel Safary) and Amir Khan exceptional. It is all the reviews say and more. And am sure you have been bombarded with reviews talking of how great the movie is and what the storyline is and what the performances are. So, am going to write about that part very briefly and elaborate on the various messages (other than the 'every child is special' one) that the movie tries to convey.

The movie storyline is a simple one but the execution is great. Amir Khan manages to avoid falling into most of the pits that make Bollywood inspirational movies preachy, repetitive, emotionally-overloaded, corny and tear-fests. Not all, but most. And the result is a movie that tugs at your heartstrings and still manages to get the message across. It is a great story about a dyslexic boy and how his own family is unable to understand him and how salvation arrives in the guise of an art teacher who himself is a dyslexic but has overcome his affliction and sees a bit of himself in the kid. You have a small number of characters the family of the four - mom, dad, two sons, the younger of whom is dyslexic, the teachers who try to teach the boy and Amir Khan(who comes in after the interval). Most of the characters are beautifully etched while others (mostly the teachers) are caricatures. The unconditional love of the mother and her confusion and hurt at being unable to help her son is convincingly emoted by Tisca Chopra. The father who is unable to understand, and more importantly doesn't want to understand, his son who fails almost every subject is the most realistic character in the movie and is, thankfully, devoid of clich├ęd stereotyping. Plus, the movie stops short of being judgmental. The father, mother and teachers are not shown to be the villains but just plain ignorant. The brother of the Ishaan is a character whom I loved. A straight-A kid who excels at sports, the brother is also shown to be very close to his brother and also defends him and is encouraging of his smallest painting. Amir Khan as the teacher who wears his emotions and tears on his sleeve (or eyes) and is the compassionate savior who strives to makes sure that the kid is accepted by his family as he himself never was, is brilliant. But the best performance and character is that of Ishaan Awasthy. The kid who is unable to understand why he is the way he is and soon becomes ashamed of it is played with admirable aplomb and confidence by Darsheel. The movie, I am sure, required humongous research and enormous effort, as is evinced by the length of the credits at the end of the movie.

The two scenes that I loved in the movie, both in the second half, involve Amir Khan trying to tell the parents what their troubled kid needs. In the sequence where Amir Khan breaks the news to the parents that their kid is dyslexic but a very gifted painter, the father blusters "woh kya fayde ka hai?" ("what is the use of that?"), upon which Amir Khan goes on about the rat race that every kid is put through and the mould that all kids are expected to fit into that I am sure you must have caught in the ads. The reactions of the parents are simply brilliant in this scene. Later in the movie, the father - who thinks he has come to terms with his kid's problem and tries to regain some semblance of stature in the eyes of the teacher - is shaken to the core when Amir Khan very calmly, succinctly with barely restrained derision, rips his beliefs into shreds by telling him in a Marc Anthony-ish way what caring really means. I think that was one scene where we can all take notes. Yes, we all have known the effects and side-effects of the reality of the rat-race that is life today. The movie drives home the point very beautifully that at the same instant we are pushing our kids to prepare them for this life ahead, we too are subscribing - blindly - to the very concept of rat race ourselves, daily. That we forget to question our actions, and our motivations behind them, in our day-to-day life. When we dismiss the craft homework, or the paintings with a smile and a 'very nice' line but spend hours on explaining how important it is to excel and give your 100 percent. Do we think that, maybe if I consider the painting or the craft a part of study and praise it as it should be I would be instilling more confidence in my kid than any number of 24/25 could? No, we subconsciously think of our office hours, and how hard we work and how we wouldn't have been there if our parents in turn hadn't driven us to achieve perfection. How would our kid fare in such a world with not-so-perfect percentages? Are we thinking of their emotional needs? Do we put ourselves in their position and wonder if we would have liked to be told what we are telling them now? Or more importantly, if it really would help them? And, finally, if being perfect is really the be-all and end-all of success and life. The movie asks you at every point, what happens when you aren't perfect? Still trying to find the answer. Was wondering, how I would react if I was in Mrs.Awasthy's situation. Now that I have moved onto the gabby mode, I think that its time I stop before you zap into a catatonic state. The movie wasn't preachy or this stretched out so I shouldn't be either. Will leave you with one last thought (come on, you have made it this far, am sure you can read a couple of lines more). What is lacking in us that we blindly strive for attaining perfection, both in ourselves and our family? What drives us to drive our kids to be perfect? Like Amir Khan says in the movie, if you like to drive someone to become what you want them to, why not breed horses?
Over and out.

December 21, 2007

Adieu to Pune - I

Have been in Pune on and off for the last 5 years and have enjoyed this city so much that it tops my list as the 'want to live here' city. But, wifely (is there such a word?) duty calls to Mumbai. So, decided to write about my most fav spots and places in Pune, you know in a kind of closure attempt. And, hopefully, as a guide to anyone who cares to find and read this ;)

I don't think all the Pune darshan is going to fit into one post, so here is the first part- and going to cover two delightful loves (obsessions?) of mine: the shopping scene and restaurants here.

Pune is a haven for any foodie worth his salt. You can find almost every cuisine to satiate your craving. Whats more, with the city growing by leaps and bounds into a metro, there are great restaurants mushrooming all over town.


Italian:

  • La Pizzeria/Little Italy, Bund Garden - The one thing I love about them is that the food tastes the same in all their branches I have been to: Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore. The ambience is great and the food is just amazing. My favorite.
  • La Dolce Vita, Bund Garden - Has a kind of relaxed cafe feel to it. Love the food.
  • Curves, Koregaon Park - Has a small selection of Italian dishes on eclectic menu. Almost everything in this restaurant is curved, even the cutlery. The ambience is better than the food.
  • The Ship, Kalyaninagar - Offers a selection of Italian dishes on its multi-cuisine menu. Great decor and the bar is one of the most impressive one I have seen in Pune. I recommend.
  • Casanova, Kalyaninagar - Great ambience, but I found the food a tad insipid.
  • Polka Dots, Kalyaninagar - An outdoor cafe of sorts, their eclectic menu include some Italian dishes. I simply love this place. I recommend.


Chinese:

  • Mainland China, Bund Garden - THE place to go to for great Chinese food. Used to love their honey noodles with ice-cream till they re-invented their menu.
  • Chinese Room, Camp - Good food, decent ambience.


Indian:

  • Koyla, Koregaon Park/FC Road - Hyderabadi cuisine with a nawabi decor to match. The FC Road one has limited seating and is pretty cramped. Food is great and they serve the best shahi tukra that I have tasted yet.
  • Sigri, Bund Garden - Has both a la carte and buffet options and outdoor and indoor seating. The outdoor seating overlooks the river and is pretty cool at night. The food is good and the portions sizeable and the decor is great.
  • Horn Ok Please, FC Road - Its like a theme restaurant - all dhaba style with truck graffiti and all-out Punjabi food. I have this thing for theme restaurants with really imaginative ideas. Their menu, ambience and food make a great package. Try the tandoori paneer. Warning: Long waiting lines during the weekends.


Other Cuisines/Multicuisine:

  • German Bakery, Koregaon Park- A famous land mark. Frequented most by nearby Osho Ashram's disciples, the place serves a great variety of omelets, pastries, pancakes, cakes and don't forget to order a hot cup of masala chai. A bit on the steeper side though. The seating is a Spartan cafe style affair.
  • Arthur’s Theme, Koregaon Park- Offers mainly French cuisine and the food is great. Has a small selection of wines to choose from as well. Both indoor as well as outdoor seating. Warning: Long waiting lines on the weekends, so reserve a table in advance and bring your plastic along.
  • Bounty Sizzlers, Kalyaninagar - A really great place for sizzlers. They have a great selection to choose from and have different portion options too. Offers beer, wine, great flavored sodas and its very different iced coffee. Very informal seating. I have a grouse because of the low ceiling and cramped seating, but can't keep away from the great food.
  • Yana Sizzlers, FC Road/Adlabs Kalyaninagar - Okie dokie food, great advertising.
  • Polka Dots, Kalyaninagar/Aundh - Owned by an ex-Taj chef, this place offers Italian, Mexican, Indian, Thai and assorted dishes like Fish and Chips. Do save some tummy-space for dessert - all of their desserts are amazing, sinful!!! My favorite restaurant: French fries, pastas, enchiladas, nachos, dal makhni, desserts - manna from heaven!!
  • The Ship, Kalyaninagar - An interesting menu of Greek, Italian and other cuisines. You can find a great ratatouille, pastas, and a good wine selection to go along with it. Do book your table in advance. Great ambience, it is decorated like a ship with sails and lifebuoys and all. Really nice place to chill out after work.
  • Flag's, Next to Inox, Camp - A great place, cuisines from all around the world. The portions are filling and the food, delicious. The service is great and prompt. The ambience is relaxed and great. They even called back next day to enquire about the dining experience. Choose from the extensive spirits menu or order their mocktails. I loved the food here. I had the moussaka and it was heavenly.
  • High Spirits Cafe, Koregaon Park - In one word, disappointing. Not worth the hype. I don't know if it was one of their off days or their kitchen is not meant to dish out more than one main course at a time, but our food arrived cold and when we sent it back they said that they would have to reheat it one dish at a time as they didn't have enough micorwaves to nuke them. Seriously! They have an exhaustive spirits menu with everything from mojitos to martinis on offer. Strictly for spirited people looking for a 'high spirits' night without food. Oh, the decor and ambience is great. They have a nice wilderness-type garden with interesting secluded little nooks and tables. What a waste!
  • 11 East Street Cafe, East Street, Camp - The ambience is really cool, open but without an A/C. The intention was to recreate a British street cafe, literally, and they have done it and how!! They even have a double decker bus at the entrance that doubles up as a waiting area and a dessert station - the kids just love it. They have created faux shop windows and entrances to keep up with the street-cafe ambience, complete with a fountain-square, plants, street lamps and street names (like oxford street). This cafe also boasts of a hookah bar sort of thing on the first floor and an exclusive vegetarian joint at the back of the cafe is going to added soon. Now, the food. Excellant food, my only grouch was the service. Most of the staff was just running around and everything looked a tad chaotic. Then again, its a new restaurant, hardly a month old so I think things will be better soon. The food though is excellant and they have a great dessert selection as well. Everything we ordered was great. Try the English ratatouille and the amazing Irish coffee mousse.


Cafes:

  • Mocha, Koregaon Park/Senapati Bapat Road - Great ambience, good music, great crowd, and amazing desserts to go along with your favorite cup of java. Also a great selection of pita sandwiches, brushchettas etc.
  • The usual chains of Cafe Coffee Days and Baristas abound and are great to hangout at.


Must visit places/Hangouts:

  • Durga, Near MIT College, Kothrud - A hangout for most MITians and indeed most students living in and around Kothrud and Karvenagar, its a meeting place for outstation students as well as being a traffic menace as the place is on a main road with no parking and youngsters converging in hordes: standing, sitting on bikes (where they are served as well). Try the bhurji pav, missal pav, and never never forget to try the cold coffee which comes at an astounding 8 rupees and is the better than any cold coffee served at any fancy cafe. Fond memories and canteen like atmosphere pull people to this place.
  • Good Luck Cafe, FC Road - One of the few Irani cafes still surviving and dishing out the same delicious fare and same ambience. Try the bun maska for breakfast with a cup of their chai or a stomach-filling bun omelet. Non-veggie people can try their bheja fry. They have a huge menu, lots of regulars and it is a great place for an early breakfast with your newspaper before the traffic hits FC Road. I loved this place and was a regular for the bun omelets or bun butter jam and caramel custard.
  • Joshi wadewale, all around Pune/Bal Gandharv, JM Road - THE place to get the perfect wada pav. Second only to Mumbai's Fountain wada pav.
  • Chaitanya, FC Road - A mess of sorts, this place is jam-packed at meal times. All kinds of parathas and paneer preparations served with plain parathas under 30 bucks. Our friends (guys, obviously) used to have paratha eating marathons - you know the how-many-aloo-parathas-can-you-down-and-keep-them-down kind of dares. Rich parathas, fruit custards, lassi, and a boisterous crowd.
  • Vaishali, FC Road - Don't ever visit FC Road without dropping by. This landmark place is famous for its clean kitchen (you can walk into the kitchen if you have any doubt), great food, and the ever present waiting. Don't be surprised to see tables reserved at the breakfast hour, they have been reserved since years - senior citizens out for a walk at the Fergusson college ground gather here for a spot of tea and steaming idlis or sandwiches. Its great to watch them and so is watching people in jogging and gymming gear climb out of cars to have breakfast here. Mainly south Indian fare, the place also offers sandwiches, chaat and juices. Do sample the famous SPDP - Sev Potato Dahi Puri.
  • Sandwich stalls, Koregaon Park - Come evening and hawkers put up stalls on North Main for some of the most scrumptious, and weirdest, sandwiches I have ever had. Try the Bombay masala, mixed veg or club sandwich if you are not in the adventurous mood. Or else try the chocolate sandwich. Yup, a chocolate sandwich.
  • Marzorin, MG Road, Camp - Another landmark and a great place to hang out. Try any of the shakes, juices, cakes, rolls; they are all good. I love the length of balcony overlooking MG Road - great place to chill after shopping ;)


Honorable mentions (places I haven't been to but have heard about) Malaka Spice, Squisito, Cinnamon Spice, Ebony, High Spirits Cafe. Oh, there are more, I am sure, that have slipped through my sievish memory. Will keep adding to this list whenever I remember any. Wow, all this talk about food and slogging away documenting and trying to recollect and I have worked up an appetite. Next part, shopping and getaways. Till then, eat, drink and please don’t drive. :)

December 13, 2007

Shifting pains

What do you do when you are shifting base to a city that you had promised yourself you would never move to? Look at the side benefits, of course. Mango, Aldo, Lokhandwala Market, Morgan, Moshe's, holidays-in-anticipation-of-the-deluge. Yup, am bribing myself (or is it brainwashing?) with a visit to each every month. Moving from Pune to the City of Dreams! Mumbai Ahoy!!

Spent a lot of my summer or winter holidays in Mumbai and my childhood memories include an amazing library near my relatives' place, shopping at Linking Road, scrounging second-hand book shops in CST, wada-pavs near Fountain and of course, the ever present press of humanity. Hazy recollections of the muggy days and the local trains. Its funny, till college never had the mental block against the rush and madness of local trains. Now, the most convinient way to get to work seems tiring; would prefer to sit in an air-conditioned car in chaotic traffic.

The older (more mature?) me found a different Mumbai. I discovered the joys of Lokhandwala market, Phoenix mall, the smaller shops on Hill Road, great restaurants, Atria and Inorbit malls and more second-hand book shops. That last thing never
changed. The one thing I love about Mumbai is the sheer number of these second-hand book shops (that also double up as libraries) and the humongous collection these shops have - I mean, for a small shop round the corner, most of them are pretty
impressively stocked. Couldn't find any libraries like these in a 5 km radius from home in Bangalore.

During my first and only stay in Mumbai, 4 months long, I discovered that I couldn't make the most out of the 'end of season' sales in Mumbai. The city is choc-a-bloc full of actors and models who I think live for these sales. So here I am, after a hard day's work, fighting tooth and nail to reach the stores before closing time and what do I find?? The clothes that I fall in love with are not available in my size!! In Bangalore, my office was in the central business district, which meant that
Commercial Street was only a kilometer away, so was MG Road and Bangalore Central and Garuda mall. Even if I nipped in on the second day of any sale, I could always walk away with whatever I fell in love with - without having to elbow people out of
the way to get to the piece before someone snatched it. Lesson learnt and solution
decided. Keep track of upcoming sales and call in sick on the first day of the sale and shop till I drop (or the plastic maxes out).

So, house hunting right now. Its a terribly tedious thing to do, as my hubby's list of must-have list (you know, what should be round-the-corner) and my list clubbed together make one that makes my compulsive-lister-heart go pitty-pat. Its a long
process: first clubbing the lists, then ranking each entry - which, I must say, is the most time-consuming and fun part of it all - and then finally getting a house that satisfies at least 70% of the requirements. Here's a sample of the list of the
features deemed essential in the vicinity of the house- I am not even going to enumerate the stuff we want in the house. (In order of ranking) Supermarket, gym, proximity to the highway (eastern or western), proximity to office-both his
and mine, covered car parking, multiplex, restaurants, blah blah blah. Easy for you to snigger at, but wait and listen to the words of wisdom. Waiting in a 30 minute queue for parking at a supermarket or a multiplex (every weekend, in our case) is not a situation that engenders hilarity. Gym, well, don't you have enough incentive to cut gym without adding a commute to and fro to it? Restaurants: for the occassional day(s) that I don't feel like going into the kitchen or braving traffic enroute to South Mumbai - even though great food awaits at the end of the ardous journey.

The last time I lived in Mumbai, I was putting up with my uncle who had this amazing flat off Link Road in Andheri and I must say it satisfied every single requirement on the list. Those 3 days in July this year when Mumbai was almost shut down due to
rains, we were having a blast at either of three multiplexes nearby (all on Link Road about 3 min by car and 7 min walk) which, obviously, were empty. Heavenly. Add Mainland China, Little Italy, Kailash Parbat, Red Box, and about a dozen other
restaurants and Nature's basket (a Godrej supermarket) and you have a to-die-for neighbourhood. Lokhandwala market - about 3 kms away. Ecstasy!! Wouldn't it be nice to live there now??? If my thoughtless uncle hadn't pulled up stakes to join his family in Bangalore, I wouldn't have had any qualms moving to Mumbai (Hey, I can be selfish now, am moving to mean Mumbai).

Being a positive, optimistic person, I can say that it can only get better than my last stay there - I arrived in Mumbai in time for the dreaded monsoons and it didn't disappoint any! I guess, it can't get any worse- should I say that or am I jinxing it?

December 10, 2007

Weighty matters

Dekha hai pehli baar, gaadi pe unt savaar...

My first 'fishpond', and it pretty much sums up most my formative years, right till graduation. I was your average gawky gal, all long legs and arms and clumsy and awkward. A bag of skin and bones move gracefully? Scientifically possible? Nah!! Being called 'Lady Amitabh Bachhan' when walking down the street, or nicknames like 'Lambu'? Every girl's dream!! To add to my misery, till 9th standard, I was one of the tallest students in my class - the only guys who outstrapped me had a good 2-3 years' headstart on all of us.

It was a nightmare for my grandmother. 'Thin', 'scrawny' granddaughters?! Sacrilege!! So, my granny declared war. But none of her efforts- read shoving rich food down my throat- however, payed off. Actually they made matters worse for me, coz it started the phase of ghee-soaked dosas, chappatis and rich sweets. At that point of time, the subtle laws of nutrition escaped me, and I downed pretty much anything that was termed 'fattening'. But to no avail. My granny took it as a personal insult that her granddaughters looked like they were starved or deprived. So, the binge eating continued.

Then something wonderful happened. Degree college. Suddenly, I was popular, and the girls were envious of my weight - or the lack thereof. Overnight, the bane of my life, became my identity in college. I mean, I was the tall, 'slim' girl. 'Slim' !!
Finally!! 'Slim', not 'thin'. It was a shock. For almost an year, I didn't know what hit me. The two things I had been ashamed of since I was a kid, the things because of which I was teased mercilessly, and was one of the 'back-benchers' - those two things were now gaining me approval. My slouch slowly disappeared. Girls were coming up to me and asking how I kept myself 'in shape' and wanted diet tips. Diet tips?! From me? Well, the then-naive me, obviously told them the truth. But come on, who wants to hear about five-dosa-breakfasts and anything-goes diet when all they are hoping for is the miraculous, easy way to lose weight? What followed were tales of martyrdom, and monologues whose gist was that I had it easy. Some even went as far as calling me ungrateful and telling me how I 'lucky' was. At that point, I thought, well here are some of the gals whom I have envied and what were they doing: they were jealous of me!! Talk about a weird, screwed-up world. In all fairness, I guess most of what they said was in a haze brought on by low blood sugar caused, no doubt, by starvation diets and food-hallucinating minds. In retrospect, I should have ignored the comments, but then, that is the beauty of retrospect.
Anyway, confused at the new-found approval, I went through a phase in which I actually lost weight. I couldn't find a single soul who even wanted to understand that I was on the same situation as them - weight was the problem. But for them, I was the enemy!! Bitching about the fact that she is thin!! Imagine!! Who is she kidding?? She just wants to make us feel bad!!

Anyway, the whole weighty-thing required time to digest and adjust. I decided that all this obsessing with weight was a never-ending journey and really pointless. I started reading up on nutrition and moderated my food intake. Oh, some vices remain, like chocolate in any form, pastries, ice cream. Yum!! But I neither watch my weight nor diet. I wouldn't give anything to put on weight. I don't mind how I look, in fact, I love it.

The problem, I think, lies in our mind and not our bodies. I call it the 'obsessive perfection disorder'. And it goes to both extremes, shedding and putting on weight. In the race towards looking perfect. The adage of the grass being greener on the
other side, I think, comes into play every day into almost everything. I have finally made peace with my 'problem' and am satisfied with how I look but I wouldn't mind any change either; weightier or otherwise. For me, more weight or less, I
couldn't be more perfect.

December 1, 2007

Of good samaritans

Two issues to write and ruminate about. Went to watch the movie Aaja Nachle last night. Had been eagerly waiting to watch it.
Lotsa big banner movies are being made these days. Going the Hollywood way, what with SLB getting together with Sony Pictures for Saawariya and Yash Raj and Walt Disney coming up with Roadside Romeo, it looks like the audience is going to be bombarded with one mega-movie after another. The Diwali releases were certainly not worth the hype, wait or the watch. Saawariya was an 'art' film promoted as a commercial one and enjoyed only by the 'enlightened' few. Om Shanti Om was SRK on adrenaline made only for die-hard hedonistic SRK fans with no storyline or music. Hindi movies are now being promoted - and more importantly, watched - not for the story or anything, but for such things as amazing art design, 40+ year old superstar's new-found six-packs, 'it-has-close-to-5-F1-scenes', '31 movie stars in one movie', some star couple breaking up, blah blah blah. The audience used to use these excuses to watch movies but nowadays entire movies are promoted as the last movie in which two stars were a couple before they split up. I mean, come on! Yup, I watched both of them, unfortunately, what with being saddled with a hubby who considers it his moral responsibility to contribute in making sure every movie released, at least, breaks even. Ok, got sidetracked, more on these two movies and the craziness surrounding it in another post. It deserves its own post :)

Ok, so watched Madhuri sashay back into every body's hearts yesterday. Call me illogical, but this was the movie I was waiting for this 'festive season'. ('Festive season' as the trade pundits put it; as if watching movies is an integral part of any festive season or is it that as it is festive season, read bakshish season, we should consider tipping the movie industry by watching a movie as a bakshish??)

Concentrate, concentrate. Okay, Madhuri. Well, since I was a kid, I used to secretly love her for her vivacious smile and graceful dance moves - she could, and can still, dance Indian classical, fusion and western dance forms with equal aplomb and grace. I actually idolised her coz she was one of the few Indian actors ever who could carry off Indian and western looks, characters and act convincingly without any trademark simpering mannerisms.
Overall, the movie didn't leave behind a 'wow' feeling. But it wasn't bad either. Logical (which is saying a lot in Hindi film industry), great music, amazing choreography, great acting and endearing characters. I guess, one of the reasons it left me a tad cold was because I couldn't identify with any of the characters - on any level whatsoever. And the story of the town's favorite gossip-fodder turning into the good samaritan (yup, Madhuri does the good thing by rescuing a defunct dance theatre from demolition and thus manages to save the town from death by boredom) was a bit far-fetched. I am guessing this movie will be more appreciated in the smaller towns than by the multiplex crowd.
The performances are superb though. The ensemble cast of Konkana Sen Sharma, Irfan Khan, Raghuveer Yadav, Vinay Pathak, Kunal Kapoor do their job and how! But the belle of the ball truly is Madhuri. She emotes, smiles, dances her way into your heart and wows you throughout the movie. A must watch for all Madhuri fans and dance lovers as well. I heard someone saying that 'she is looking her age'. Methinks, if any woman could have Madhuri's figure, her skin, her joie de vivre and her dancing grace, she wouldn't mind a couple of comments about her age.

Our good samaritan: Our house sits on a major road which is currently being spruced up into a concrete eight-laner. Traffic jams are routine since work started about 10 months ago. Yesterday evening though, we were caught in the worst of it - when we were leaving to catch the movie, and were already late, and were the ones who had the tickets for our friends too. Didn't get past our housing complex main gate. Had to ditch the car and try and hail a rick, which considering that there was a traffic jam on the other side, there was a paucity of. A Maruti pulled alongside and asked if we wanted to hitch a ride. I was struck dumb. Seriously, was I hallucinating or was this an angel? When I was a kid, someone gave me the first three installments of the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise and I was touched and had started saying and leaving I-love-you notes for my mom and sis. But to actually offer other people - nah, strangers- help? Especially when they don't ask it? Novelty! Oh, letting someone overtake me or easing up on the horn coz the guy up ahead is your grandfather's age is one thing, but this!! There we were in his car talking away and the 'i know's and 'exactly's were flying around. Icing on the cake, the guy was a treat to talk to for the next 10 minutes! When in the middle of the ride he found out that we were on our way to a movie, he took a 1km detour to drop us off at the theatre. A self-confessed movie buff and (from his talk) has an eclectic taste in books, Gautam catapulted me back to the Chicken-soup-for-the-soul-naive years. We decided that we liked the novel feeling and were getting pretty jaded if we considered the whole incident 'weird'. Plus, the sappy smiles and the surprised look he caused were infectious too. We have decided to pass the smile along, two or maybe three times over. So, yes, the next time when someone in front of you pays for your car parking ticket, just pass the smile along.

Quotes

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