Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Four years of blogging

My blog has completed its fourth year and embarking on its fifth.
The thought behind writing this blog was to chronicle the events from my life. There have been many instances, especially in the beginning, where I missed on writing about many special and beautiful moments of life.
Huge gaps in posts can be attributed to the hectic work schedules. The implication, by default, is that frequent posts mean less work at office :)
I didn't plan a theme for my blog as I had conceived this blog as an open diary. And life doesn't have a theme, does it? Apart from the very private moments which are too precious to be shared, I have chronicled many important happenings of my life for the last four years. Maybe a kind of narcissism; a wish to live on through my writings.
Since my last blog anniversary, the number of comments have increased (manageable number so far...would feel guilty if not replied to) I have more page visits. Page visits from across the globe. It feels awesome that there are people who read the thoughts and feelings expressed in my blog and relate to them. My thanks to all such people who have given my blog their time.
My personal friends and friends acquired through my blog have been encouraging me to write a book. I am truly thankful for their faith in me but the prospect of setting on such a mammoth task daunts me. Blogs are so much easier to write. A maximum of thousand words for those posts which I am passionate about or a shorter post for quickly putting my thoughts across. But maybe one day...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I wish

I wish I had this magic switch which when turned on every night, puts me to sleep within an hour of going to bed and automatically wakes me up after 8 hours. How refreshing such sleep would be!  :)

Monday, February 20, 2012


Happened to revisit Ijaazat (1987--Naseeruddin, Rekha, Anuradha Patel). Is there any dispute that this awesome movie made in my younger days finds no match since then? Where are those beautiful heroines, the powerhouse performances, the ethereal music(RD), the soulful lyrics(Gulzar) and most important, the rivetting screenplay?

In its place what we have are size 0-figures (need to examine very very closely to ascertain the gender), plastic faces and robotic expressions whose 'dancing' is nothing but jerking and shimmying in crazy convulsions to some loud loud beats; the movies--a vapid succession of fast food junk tailor-made to pander to those male actors' super massive egos and the story? must be mad to expect something as sane as that in this weird scenario!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When you lose sleep...

over a book...
It happened to me after many years. Sat up two consecutive nights to complete "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. I know it sounds crazy and I am up feeling groggy but was it worth it!
For all my friends who have made my head swell with their belief that there is a book in me waiting to be written, I have to say 'no way!' I cannot hold a candle to the most brilliant story telling I have experienced with this book. I cheated through a few pages, so eager was I to know what's going to happen next but then gave up and went back to my reading as I realized I wouldn't be able to sleep with this breath-taking narration waiting to happen. If it wasn't for the inevitability of the daily chores, I might have completed the book in one go.
Yes, it is again an Afghan war story from Hosseini. If 'The Kite Runner' is told through the eyes of a boy and a man, this story is told through the eyes of a girl and a woman. It is a story of a strange alliance between two women from diverse backgrounds, Laila, an educated girl and Mariam, an illegitimate girl from a lower social order, both forced to marry the same man who is much older than the ages of the two women put together. The story tells about the atrocities of the war and the results of Talibanization. Heart-wrenching to read through the tales of killing, mutilation, hanging, whipping. And... a woman's plight amidst all this.
To quote the author, “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”

It's absolutely astounding to read that a man can be so sadistic and thrash, kick, whip, pummel, disfigure and hurt his wives so much. The wife is allowed to go out only when her husband accompanies her. Therefore, Laila, his younger wife  is at her husband's mercy who is not interested in visiting the daughter in the orphanage where she is abandoned due to scarcity of food at home. The son is, of course, at home. When Laila dares step out alone to visit her daughter, she is brutally whipped by the Taliban. Despite this, she goes to visit her daughter wearing three coats so that the whippings don't hurt as much. 

Despite all that's happening inside and outside home, the women exhibit extraordinary courage and resilience and fight the system to emerge victorious in their own way. 

At the end of the story, I was too numbed and had to make a great effort to bring my mind to focus on the mundane things of everyday life. I felt so insignificant and my wants so selfish. I have so much going for me and I agonize over trivial things. Tears overwhelmed me as I realized how the Afghan women have suffered through all this.
This story has an Afghanistan backdrop but war or no war, across the globe, across countries, cultures, social and economic status, we see droves of women live cowering like rats succumbing to sheer brutal physical strength day in and day out.

Some more quotes from the book: 
  •  "A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed, it won’t stretch to make room for you.”  
  • “A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated...”
  • "Marriage can wait, education cannot.” 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A young adult

Yes, that's me :)...after the kind of books that I have read in the last ten days and the movie I saw yesterday.

Well, the book I read last week was "PS, I love you." The novel, a debut, by Cecelia Ahern.
This 512 page book is about the pain of a young widow, Holly, whose husband Gerry dies at 30 and about how she copes with this grief. Holly discovers that Gerry had left ten letters for her, to be opened over a period of ten months after his death, one each month. Holly had been devastated and these letters give her the strength to get on in life.
While reading the novel, I had a feeling it was for a 21 year old girl and I was proved right as I found that it had indeed been written by a 21 year old. Though well written, it drags in places and, there are flaws in the plot which come due to insufficient experience of life.

Next, was the book "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer, again a debut novel, a 433 page science fiction which I had picked up from my nephew's desk. This book is about the romance between a human and a vampire. While reading it, I felt as though I was reading the Red dragon in the Enid Blyton series ( people from my age will remember, perhaps, that in the Enid Blyton series, we were supposed to progress from the Blue to Green and then the Red dragon series). Reading the book felt exactly as though I was reading the Red dragon series of the Enid Blyton books, aimed at a 17 year old.
It's another story that both these debutants found their place in the world of movies as well.

Well, coming to movies, happened to see 'Ekk main aur ekk tu" yesterday, again a first day show with no peek at a review. Expected something from the unusual pairing of Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan. (Reading a review would have been futile anyways as my most trusted critic, Rajeev Masand has been utterly biased to Kareena and gives his thumbs up to this one). Well, the story is about a 25 year old Imran and a 26 year Kareena. Bollywood has to have the lead pair stick to their 20s, you see. In most parts of the film though, the 32 year actress looks older than Imran who himself is 29 now. In the end of the movie, when she hugs him, she looks like his didi patting him saying 'there, there...don't worry things will be fine". We had a much more credible pairing (older woman-younger man) in  Ranbir Kapoor & Konkana in the movie, "Wake up Sid".
Karan Johar's movies have candy, heart-shaped balloons, flowers, pink ribbons and a plot. In this movie you have all the paraphernalia, without a plot!
While watching this movie, I felt it was aimed at the youngest of the young adults. The best audience for this film would be someone in the age group of Darsheel Safary. Surely, not more than a 1.5 (or a 2 for Imran's restrained acting) on 5 for this silly movie.

Well, that was my young-adult journey in the last ten days.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My 100-page book

I was in the womb
my book clutched in my hands
smiling and playing in that cozy world.
I came out to meet a bright April sun.
My book still clutched tight in my tiny fist.
The pages all white and beautiful.
The magic book of life
in which, I can only write and never erase.

Father plucked the book from my hand
saying I am too young to begin.
He wrote for me as I lay
smiling and trusting.
Write beautiful things, father
for I know not how to write yet.

I shyly put down a line
after the first five pages,
looked at father and smiled.
Father, see! I wrote my first line.

No! No! No!
He said.
You are too young to begin.
Let me do it for you.

But father, I know how to write,
please let me.
He crossed out the line written by me
and put down his own.
Please keep my book beautiful, father.
For, I want to be beautiful.

After twelve pages, mother wrote in my book too.
Two sets of incongruous writings in the book now,
several of mine struck through.
Father, see how shoddy the book looks!
Please let me write in my book, father.

No! No! No!
he said.
You are still too young to write.
Let me do it for you.

And my book of life had father's and mother's lines.
As those lines got more frequent,
mine got more sporadic.

After twenty pages,
father said, I could write.
I eagerly picked up my pen to start.
I want to write my book in a beautiful hand, father. 
But, my pen wobbles over the deep furrows
made by your writings in the previous pages!

As I turn each page eagerly
hoping to find a page free of these deep grooves,
I see that every page I turn has your imprint.
I am not able to write in my book, father.

Written by and copyrighted to vsubha

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Air-Conditioners: the Voltas experience

It is that time of the year when we, of the middle class, run to buy the Air Conditioners hoping to be able to cash in on an off-season discount.
Well, we had done the same the last year at this time, buying two ACs, one for self and one for son's room.
After a diligent research for a month, my son assured me that  the best product is a 1.5 ton Whirlpool Master Mind. We have a Whirlpool refrigerator which has been working silently and efficiently for the last 7 years 
Despite these two factors in favor of a Whirlpool product, I went for the 1.5 ton Voltas Vertis saying that it is a known product; it has been around for the longest period known; it is recommended by people who have been using it for years etc...
I guess these are signs of my growing old when I rely on the safety net of 'tested' rather than the 'unknown and untested'
Now came the ordeal of having them mounted. 
Be prepared for a lot of noise, dust and dirt for at least 5 hours and the cleaning that you are left with at the end of the work. There is dust everywhere. So I covered the beds, my desktop everything with a dust cloth before the work commenced. We had two sets of mechanics representing each of these companies and also two sources of noises of drilling emanating from two different rooms. Also if you aren't careful, they will leave the drilled holes agape.You need ensure that they seal those holes.
We barely managed to have food amidst all the noise and dust. At the end of the day when they left, I simply collapsed on my bed feeling drained from all that noise, clutter and chaos.
This is not the end of the story. In less than two months of use, in the middle of the night I woke up to a tremendous noise. Heart beating wildly, I started looking for the source of the noise and realized that the noise was emanating from the AC. Startled and fearful, I switched off the AC first and went out to the balcony to examine the reason. I found nothing in the darkness. The next day we found that one of the wings of the fan had broken and hence the noise.

The one-winged fan

What we found when it was opened

The damage done by the broken wings of the fan

Broken into smithereens
In the peak of summer (in May 2011), sweltering for lack of an AC, I sought a quick resolution to the complaint. We had first called the show room where we bought the AC. They connected us to the service center.  They sent some mechanics home who asked me for the service certificate. I didn't know that when the people had earlier come to mount the AC, we were supposed to collect a service certificate for the work done. They refused to repair the AC without the service certificate. We then called the Voltas show room in Hyderabad. The next day, they sent the mechanics with a fan which looked all rusty and dirty like it has been used for years. Fortunately, they found that the fan didn't fit in this AC. They went back and again there was no response. I again called and this time escalated the matter to their supervisor/manager. The third day they returned with a new fan of the right fit.

The new fan

I have no clue of the quality of the new fan...again a piece of plastic.
Now that the guarantee has expired, if I lose the fan again in two months, I do not know how much the replacement will cost me.
The Whirlpool in my son's room purrs on silently.
The Voltas in my room makes the noise of a tractor so much so that one of the guests in our house could hear it in the next room and was unable to sleep because of it.
Better be safe than sorry. You decide what you want to buy.
After Sales Free Service:
Just happened to view this in a mouthshut review. Wish I had seen it earlier.  The guy who wrote that review did not tell how the service was done. Let me tell about that as well. Two guys came home and first asked for the now-famous service certificate. I had it ready this time. Now they asked for a cloth. I wasn't prepared and searching for a dirt-free old cloth took time. In almost the time taken to search for a rag, the service was done! They dusted the indoor unit and cleaned the filter. The filter is nothing but a sieve. I could have easily removed, washed and replaced it. Mugs of water were poured on the outer unit and wiped. All this took less than ten minutes. So it is better not to waste your time waiting for these guys to turn up. You can clean it better yourself.