July 16, 2009

Bombai nagariya....

It has been a unique experience living in Mumbai (not that I am moving out, yet). It just struck me today that a lot of things that used to strike me as weird or convoluted actually make sense to me and some I can even relate to. Blame it on the dichotomy that living in Mumbai is. So, I compiled a list. Care to add to this?

Prior to Mumbai I never:
  • felt the need for a locker in office. I fought to get one once I joined here. You do need a place to stash your just-in-case clothes for a sleepover at someone’s in the event of a riot/flood/rain/train strike/what-have-yous.
  • wore flip-flops/sturdy shoes to office only to switch into my heels the minute I opened my locker. One twisted ankle and dozens of ladies scoring my feet with their heels have made me give up my heels on my way to and fro from office. That and the state of my both feet and high heels after a week of daily abuse on Mumbai streets and trains.
  • understood the dark portends of 'too much rain'.
  • realized how lucky I was to have two days off as the weekend.
  • knew the existence and, indeed, the need of weekend getaways.
  • realized how easy it is to take for granted the impromptu meet-ups with friends - you know, the 'hello-are-you-doing-nothing-right-now-too-?-then-lets-meet-up kind. It makes such a difference when say, friend lives in Mulund, you in Andheri and the place that you both really check out is in South Bombay.
  • felt like a tiny, insignificant spec in the mind-boggling human mass that inhabits the earth.
  • understood the grit it takes to wake up every morning, make the 2 hour commute to work, slog, commute back home in 2 hours, eat, watch telly for half an hour, sleep and get up to do this ad infinitum all the while fighting for a toehold on the train that takes you to the tiny box that you call office and back.
  • lived in a city that is so awake all the time! Bangalore was a snooze fest. Pune was awesome but nowadays is only marginally better than Bangalore. In Mumbai, however, I don't get weirded out traveling alone even at 11. There are traffic jams here at 11 at night, for God's sake!
  • understood the true meaning of customer service. Pune has its siestas, Bangalore its I-don't-need-your-business-but-since-you-are-in-my-shop-what-the-heck-ness, and Mumbai its home-delivery boys even for a humble kiraana shop which is open till 10. Even the fruit and vegetable vendors shut shop only after 11. I realize this is due the late hours the residents have to keep, but, seriously!!
  • seen class differences blur like they do in Mumbai when it pours.
  • seen total strangers bond over cheap baubles or an irate commuter like they do on Mumbai local trains.
  • understood what a difference it makes to take a local train 3 minutes later than the usual one.
  • realized how the mounds of garbage and filth that one passes by everyday, slowly become invisible.
  • could comprehend how the can't-afford-to-stop-to-get-involved attitude lasts most of the year and suddenly transitions into helping hands during the monsoon.
  • sympathized with Bombayites who complained that they found other cities boring. Am hoping that this 'boring/itchy' phase lasts only a short time when I move out of here.
  • realized that people actually meant it when they said they were jealous of my one person cubicle. Ironically, I still have a one person cubicle. Yep, in Mumbai.
  • could come to terms with how anyone could justify that changing trains, taking the foot-over (train tracks) bridges and catching the bus on the run is exercise.
  • realized that when they claim to love of Mumbai in spite of everything they do/face, Mumbaikars mean it.

PS: My dream city (the city I want to settle down in) still remains Pune. It’s the city where I spent the first few heady years after college. Sigh. But, won’t embellish on Pune in this post; this one is about Mumbai.

Pic source.

July 15, 2009

Lifestyle change?

College. With little pocket money. Trying to stretch it to cover petrol, outings, food, dates, birthday gifts, movies, accessories, CDs and more. And trying to save some of it. Money seemed so important back then. Used to hand it out miserly.
Working now. Earning. Trying to stretch it to cover rent, petrol, groceries, shopping bills, credit card bills, insurance payments, beauty parlor payments, movies, Internet costs, maid costs... blah blah. And THEN trying to save some. Money is still important. Its just that now, I spend it like water. Lifestyle change? More like a mindset change.
Does it suddenly hit you, on some days, the enormous change that time has wrought on your spending habits? For me, its when I visit my mom or my in-laws. They still live like they used to - spending wisely. Somehow, between college and now, I have gone from spending miserly to lavishly without stopping for a second at wisely. Have decided to find out where it is, and stay there.
The problem, of course, is the return journey to miserly. Its uphill, you know! So when you are not concentrating hard (like when your concentration breaks coz you just spotted those Aldo or Charles and Keith heels at half off or a Mango or Van Heusen sale), you just sort of lose grip and slide back to lavishly . Still trying to find wisely. Do let me know if and how you found it, especially if you are living there.

July 14, 2009

The Indian TV reality arena

Take a look at this. Originality - where art thou?

Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao - I'm a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here!
Rakhi Ka Svayamvar - Who wants to marry a millionaire
Sach ka saamna - Moment of truth
Dance India Dance - So you think you can dance
Indian Idol - Pop Idol/American Idol
Bigg boss - Big Brother
Biggest Loser Jeetega - The Biggest Loser
Jhalak Dikhlaja - Dancing with the stars
India's got talent - America's got talent
Kaun Banega Crorepati - Who wants to be a Millionaire?
Bakra - Candid Camera, Punk’d
Khulja Sim Sim - Let's make a deal
Kismey Kitnaa Hain Dum - Night fever
Fear Factor
Kya Aap Paancchvi Pass Se Tez Hain - Are you smarter than a 5th grader?
Kam Ya Zyaada - More or Less
Naya Roop Nayi Zindagi - Extreme Makeover
Poker Face - Poker Face
Deal Ya No Deal - Deal or No Deal.
Mastermind India - Mastermind

Don't get me started on the Sa Re Ga Ma, Roadies, Nach Baliye, Laughter challenge wannabes (I loved these three, btw). At one point there were as many as 3 variations each of the Nach Baliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge formats airing. I have already posted about the Doordarshan days, so will not get into that.
Is it just me, or there is nothing fresh and Indian on the reality scene? I know it is easier to bank on the tried and tested show formats from other parts of the world, but seriously, is there a paucity of new ideas or all the ideas exhausted (ya, right. that would be the end of the world).
I would rather watch Survivor, Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, Project Runway and Top Chef - and sometimes even Beauty and the Geek - than any of the current crop of Indian ones. I think only the most offensive, controversial and voyeuristic ones have been copied/remade. Oh, and lets not get into the discussion of IF reality is entertaining - it most certainly is. In all kinds of way: fun, sleazy, voyeuristic etc. That is not my point.
Wouldn't you like to see a desi version of The Amazing Race or While You Were Out or Guide to Style? But going by the trend, I guess we should expect something more on the lines of Temptation Island.
What do you guys say? Any super, original (I hate this overused, over-abused word in this context) ideas for a fun new show?

Btw, did I miss any (or get any wrong) in the list above?

July 13, 2009

Tea Centre, Churchgate

Three awesome weekends in a row.. How often does that happen?

Me and S discovered the Tea Centre near Churchgate recently. We used to walk past it when it was undergoing renovations and the tea-lover that I am, I used to sigh and say that once it opens, I am going to be spending a lot of time there. The reviews on burrp! were all positive too as were Gaurav, Lulu and the knife. Woke up a couple of weekend ago and decided that the weather was too beautiful, and me too lazy, to make breakfast and off we went to Tea Centre.
The incredible variety of teas on offer made choosing what to get, time-consuming - so decided to get the three we really wanted to taste. S stuck to Indian for breakfast and had the poha and upma, which were both good. My masala omlet, however, done more in Spanish style than Indian, lacked masala(!). The teas were superior though. The Banana Caramel and Hot Buttered Apple ones are liquid desserts - novel and lovely!!

Do try the scones - served with cream and jam - they are dry, crumbly and surprisingly filling. The best part about this place is that everything is freshly made (except the bread of course). So, the scones take anything around 15 minutes to turn up.
The service is slow, the ambiance has a old-club feel and the bells to summon the waiters are quaint.
I liked the place, and have fallen in love with the teas on offer here.


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