Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Bhaag.. Bhaag.. Monday Blues

Watched Delhi Belly. I saw it on a typical Monday evening (7:35pm show). There is nothing more uplifting than chucking work at 6pm DOT on a Monday & heading out for a movie. It's perfect antidote to drive away those dreary Monday blues. What's more, it's easy on the wallet as well. The weekday shows are priced couple of dollars cheaper than the weekend shows & also the crowd is much much less.

Jade Cinema is the lone single screen theater which plays Hindi movies in Singapore. My office is just few blocks away from Jade. After a quick lunch at Subway, I had plenty of time to kill.. so I sneaked out to Jade & booked 2 tickets. The lady at the booking counter politely asked - "Any children ??". I blushed a shade of pink & replied "Not yet !". My coyness didn't impress her any bit. She looked annoyed and raised her voice to tell me in no uncertain terms - "(Bose D.K. !!) the movie is rated R18. Kids not allowed". I realized my folly and quickly reassured her that the tickets are meant for 2 responsible and rapidly aging adults.

It's evening now, I meet my wife & we head for a relaxing early dinner at Mumbai Cafe Xpress. This Indian restaurant is located smack in middle of the Central Business District area. On a weekday, at 6:30 pm it is practically empty. No! make that, it is completely empty. Throughbred desi's never eat dinner until it's well past 9pm. As a proof to this peculiar trait, there is not a single soul in sight. We are their first and only customers for the evening. We get to pick and choose our seats. But good well mannered middle-class folks that we are, we decide to sit at a cramped table for 2 instead of hogging the 4/6 seater tables. Dinner menu is : Bhel Puri , Schezwan Fried Rice & Iced Lemon tea. We eat to strains of "Dil boley Shickdoom ShickDoom" played on the 3/4 wall mounted TV's . The theme of decor is "Bollywood" . The walls are adorned with framed posters of blockbuster movies like "Kaalia", "Swades", "Murder" et al, with a huge blowup of Aishwarya Rai gazing menacingly down at the diners. The walls are painted garish purple. The chairs are garish purple and the menu card (yes, you guessed it right) is garish purple. The kitschy ambiance is perfect to get us in the mood for Bollywood kitsch, that's soon to follow.

Dinner done with, we head to the theater. Much to our surprise, we discover that it's packed to the rafters. Seems like the Monday blues phenomenon has well & truly developed into a full blown pandemic !

Soon the lights go out & the screen lights up. The movie credits fade in with some moody shots of inanimate objects inside a room :

- a spluttering rusty tap
- unwashed dishes
- grimy Chinese takeaway menu stuck next to the phone
- posters of half naked ladies adorning dusty walls

In short : general filth fills up the screen.

With the mood thus set, we get to witness a "first of it's kind" shot in commercial Hindi cinema - A butt crack shot !

Sorry, no other ways to describe it, but just that ! The camera lingers for a few leisurely frames on an unkempt manly butt.

Cut to reality.. Jade theatre..

Right on cue, upon seeing the butt filling up the screen, a lady sitting in row behind us says to her hubby "Kitnaa natural dikhaa rahey hein na sabkuch ?".

Well truth be told, things can't get any more natural than a man's butt cleavage creeping out of boxers while being fast asleep! Till then I had not warmed up to the movie. I was dreading for yet another Hindi comedy movie where the audience and I laugh out of sync. But that one succinct observation from the lady set the mood, it tuned me to the laugh track that everyone was laughing to. From that moment on the rest of the movie was a blast.

So dear wise lady in the back row - Thank You. Thank you for making Delhi Belly doubly enjoyable. Cut.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dreams Interrupted

It's Sept 2008. I am in Shanghai for a short 1 week official trip. My visit coincides with the annual staff dinner for our China operations. I get pulled in for the dinner at a quirky Japanese restaurant (Kimono adorning hostesses, et al). As luck would have it, I get seated across an excitable young girl with an omnipresent smile & a mischievous twinkle (or perhaps naive mixed optimism) in her eyes.

We had got acquainted just couple of hours before (in office). In fact, she had introduced herself to me when our paths crossed across the office bulletin board. I was the odd man out, what with being the only Indian in a predominantly Chinese workforce. Perhaps that piqued her curiosity which made her to walk up to me & say "Hi, I am Luna Z". She wondered if I had joined newly ? & in the same breath she eagerly told me that it was her 2nd week in the job. She was still studying (or rather was waiting for her graduation results) & had joined as a trainee (that explained her enthusiasm alright). Introductions over, we split only to find our self seated across each other later in the evening.

Her first reaction was "It's you, AGAIN!". The very fact that I am a vegetarian tickled her fancy to no end. All through the evening, she kept piling meat based stuff on her platter & each time she would ask me.. "You can't even eat this ?" "So sad.. It's so tasty you know" "Are you sure ?". She felt genuinely sad that I had to limit myself to eating salads, corn , mushrooms & few samplings of tempura. She told me that she was an avid traveller. But being a student, most of her travels were limited within China. In a wistful manner she said she dreamt of travelling overseas, with India & Europe being her dream destination. In the same breath she asked me what are my dreams ? The ever so honest guy that I am, I told her in a matter-of-fact tone - "I am not a dreamer. I don't have any dreams or grand plans in life" .

She seemed genuinely concerned & crest-fallen upon hearing my rather dour outlook towards life. On seeing her stricken face, I regretted not coming up with some fake dreams just to make her feel nice or at least not to come across as a morose pessimistic guy. I rarely get singled out for conversations by young girls. And yet here I was, in intimate conversation with a single girl in a foreign land and I am making no attempts whatsoever to leave a positive imprint about myself.

Anyways, the conversation soon veered to the places to visit while I was in Shanghai. She briefed me on the must-see places. The evening ended soon. Needless to say, it was her conversation & pleasant company which left a lasting impression on me more than the Japanese food or the restaurant ambiance.

True to her words, next day she handed me a hand written note on which she had dutifully written down places to visit (in English - for me , in Mandarin - for Cabbies). The 1 week tour ended & I was back in Sg. We continued to be in touch through AOL. On many a mornings, she was the first person to greet me, as soon as I logged in at my workplace. During some of our recent conversation, she had voiced her frustration on not being able to speedup the steps leading to marriage with her BF (college sweetheart) . Now that she & her BF had settled jobs, she was keen on taking the next logical step. The BF on the otherhand wanted to follow the current trend of marrying after crossing 30. He wanted to cling to his single life a bit longer.

Things started to look up in early December 2009, she mentioned that her parents were coming to Shanghai to visit her BF's parents. The proverbial "meet the parents" anxiety had gripped her. This was a significant step, it seemed that finally things were falling in place with the BF relenting & the parents agreeing to meet. As the year end approached , I got caught up with the year-end closing rush in our office & I didn't get chance to check what transpired at the parents meet.

The new year dawned, and last week I got a mail from our HR based in Shanghai, with the subject line "Passing away of Luna Z" . Knowing the penchant for weird usage of English language by our Chinese counterparts, I thought maybe this is another such case where the writer means something (in Mandarin) & writes something else (in English). I started reading the mail casually. With each successive line I felt a cold wave sweeping across my heart. It was mail informing that Luna Z was found dead from gas poisoning in her apartment over the weekend. Her 2 flatmates also died tragically along with her. A quick google search confirmed that accidental deaths from gas poisoning is commonplace during harsh cold winters in China.

A young life nipped in the bud just when she was on the verge of realizing a long cherished dream. Knowing her, I wouldn't be surprised that she must have been busy conjuring more dreams in her sleep, when death interrupted her cruelly & swiftly. Rest in peace Luna & never stop dreaming.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


"Only in relationship can you know yourself, not in abstraction & certainly not in isolation" - J Krishnamurti

Where : Bugis, Singapore
When : 25th Jul 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

City Without A Horizon

So Biju lay on his mattress and watched the movement of the sun through the grate on the row of buildings opposite. From every angle that you looked at this city without a horizon, you saw more buildings going up like jungle creepers, starved for light, holding a perpetual half darkness congealed at the bottom, the day shafting through the maze, slivering into apartments at precise and fleeting times, a cuprous segment visiting between 10 & 12 perhaps, or between 10 & 10:45, between 2:30 & 3:45. As in places of poverty where luxury is rented out, shared, and passed along from neighbor to neighbor, its time of arrival was noted and anticipated by cats, plants, elderly people who might sit with it briefly across their knees. But this light was too brief for real succor and it seemed more the visitation of a beautiful memory than the real thing.

- extract from "The Inheritance Of Loss" , Kiran Desai

Where : Suntec City, Singapore
When : 25th April 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009


"These walls are funny. First you hate 'em. After long enuff , you depend on them. That's - instutionalized. "

- Frank Darabont, "The Shawshank Redemption"

Where : An overbridge across Pan Island Expressway, Singapore
When : 18th April 2009