Friday, May 28, 2010

Ja Ja Ja Kabootar Ja Ja Ja

I blame Maine Piyar Kiya and Suraj Barjatya...the Roadside Romeos might have long retired the Salman Khan caps but two decades to the day when Bhagyashree wore THAT poofy dress to the party, we are still quoting the Larka Larki Kabhi Dost Nahee Hosaktey lines exchanged towards the end of the party. The movie introduced to the Indian film industry two "fresh new faces...nayey chehrey" . Drum Roll. Bhagyashree and one pigeon (Salman Khan had already appeared in a sidey bratty brother role in Biwi Ho Tau Aisi). Thus pigeons all over started flocking to Bombay for that one chance in the industry. Masakali in Delhi-6 just repeated that craze. And now I suspect a hapless Pakistani pigeon has done a Nasir Sultan, flying across the LOC with dreams in his eyes to be part of Bollywood history. Read the rest of the story here:

They say the pigeon has a mobile number stamped on it and was most probably carrying a message. I can bet that if they do find the note (or call the number) it is Raju from Sialkot hoping to make Franship with you Bhagyashree (the woman just refuses to age).

Loverboy Pigeon has been the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal week. I usually keep to myself on May 28th and Gman prefers to give me a wide berth lest I bite his head off. Yaum Takbeer has that effect on me. However, May 28 2010 kind of raised the bar to all previous depressing anniversaries. It is difficult to watch live coverage of terrorist acts considering the coverage has morphed into a macabre spectator sport. It is compounded when you hear the anchor being very careful that the religious spaces are not referred to as mosques. I could feel the bile rising in my throat when I heard the asinine protestations of our parliamentarians lamenting why the terrorists had to choose THIS day, a day of national pride, when the world recognized our " country's greatness " (sub text: and ruining all the cake cutting for us).

And I ask Why Not?

We are all aware how May 1998 was a time when all the paranoia about the Other, fanaticism, hostility and militaristic values were given societal, religious and state sanction in Pakistan and India. In Pakistan you had the religious elite passing edicts that CTBT was against the injunctions of the Holy Quran particularly Surah Anfal:Verse 60. A generation grew up believing that following a policy of restraint and dialogue is being spineless (at this stage I am not getting into a feminist critique of the language employed at the time which has led to " masculine" values being valorized). In the past six decades we have also been taught to deride the Ahmedis with the Ahmedi-Zionist-USA-RAW nexus being blamed for most of our woes. So why are we surprised if the anniversary celebrations of an Act of Violence is 'celebrated' so? Frankly I for one am seems a natural progression of the path we decided to take twelve years ago.

What will surprise me (and Im hoping to God that I am) if certain Pakistanis step out and protest this act. They have been very eager to go out on the streets when silly social networking groups bait them. Please make my day and I swear next May 28th I will be out flying the green and white and baking a Happy Yaum Takbeer cake.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Samandar May Naha Kay Aur Bheeeee

If there were any doubts that perhaps I have not been losing my edge (regarding being a " laid back " mom), the events of the last week reinforced my fears. For a while I had been battling Arhaan's boycott of the bath tub (he would only agree to a sponge bath or sitting with his feet dangling in the sink at best--which is kind of difficult as you have to remember he is no longer four months old), so when Gman suggested we accompany him for a work thing in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar, I jumped at the idea of Water Aversion Therapy Bay of Bengal Style.
Arhaan took one look at the water and kind of told himself Damn, yeh log tau nehla kar chorheyngey (these guys wont rest till I take a bath.
Cox's Bazaar could be quite pretty if they had just let it be...but the rapid urbanization and invasion of Pankaj Udhas ghazals and really bad 80s songs (Im talking Agar Tum Na Hotey and Terey Mere Beech May Kaisa Hai Yeh Bandan Anjaaaaanaaa)is going to make it a never ending nightmare on the longest beach.

Arhaan, thank the water gods, recovered from his fear of water. He is kind of getting used to his Trojan Horse in he does get out of Dhaka but sadly has to pay for it. He got treated to the Grand European Experience but had to have meningoccal shots in Berlin (they were not available in Dhaka).

Now I do realise that I have been very lax about my Europe diaries so just this once I am going to use the 'crutch' of bullet points style notes. Think of it as a trailor for the forthcoming film. I can no longer sit down at the computer
what with the power cuts and an adorable toddler putting the pitter back in the pitter patter of tiny feet (I can watch him walk like a slovenly drunk all day long)
And some time this week I also promise to respond to all the comments .

So after Berlin (where the sun came out the day we were finally leaving) we arrived in:

1) Geneva: Geneva is basically the Mall Road of Europe, at one time or the other you will run into all the people you thought you had left in the plains. It also has a lot of shops for things you might not need, but you have to buy as you are so many miles above sea level. We thought we might feel a bit awkward there, considering we were dressed in bulky coats and woolies when EVERYONE knows the dress code in Switzerland is chiffon saris for women and cute sweaters tied around your shoulders for men. But we survived and none of the locals stared at us for being dressed so inappropriately. Switzerland is seriously beautiful and Im sure someone goes around mixing ingredient X which makes the snow shine whiter and the water look more turquoise. We took a day trip to Gstaad which other than being famous for the ski resorts is also now known as the site for Polanski's house arrest. Of course if its Polanski you speak about a great artist and a vindictive judicial system(Unmana writes about the moral quandry here) but if its Iqbal Kashmiri or the Gulshan Kumars of the world making a case for Babyji sey Fransheep we cry foul.

Pretty mountains, prettier lakes. And blasphemous moi. In moti shawls and NOT diaphonous chiffons in the Land of Yash Chopra.

2) Onwards to Barcelona. Barcelona has the unique privilege of being the one place our family of three has agreed on as being Totally Awesome. We are very Goldilocks this way, with our divergent tastes and needs but Barcelona had us smiling every second. We strolled the tourist magnet Las Ramblas where Arhaan shook hands with all the buskers. Even the scary ones.

Thats Columbus saying Woh Dekho Amreeka.

The first thing you have to remeber to say in this city is No Gaddi, Just Gaudi. This as the city is host to nearly a million Pakistanis. Half of them accost you at the arrivals lounge of the airport trying to get you to rent their cars. The other half park themselves at the city's eateries giving you (unwanted) advice about eating at a nice desi restaurant in the alley as yahan par sirf tourist log khaatey hain (only silly tourists eat here). Hmmmmph.

We marvelled at the genius of Gaudi and picnicked at Parc Guell. We were blown away like many before us by the sheer scale of Sagridia Familia (Gaudi is basically the Kamal Amrohi of architects...they must have started work on Sagridia Familia the same time as they planned making Pakeezah...Pakeezah was completed before Meena Kumari turned 72, but for Sagridia Familia picture abhee baaki hai dost).

3) Our last stops in Europe were Rome and Florence.

When in Rome Be Like the Romans (in this case sleep)
the statue that inspired Yeh Haath Dey Do Thakur

Lining up for 110 museums. And dying to say in our best baritone Hum jahaan khade hote hein, line wahin sey shuru hoti hai". The Line Starts Here, The Buck Ends (T)here!!

And one day your baby tells you no more maps.

4)There was also Singapore. One day I promise to discover more of the city than our Room With a View in Arcadia Road and lunches at Crystal Jade.

As you can see the Asian tiger fails to scare our Gulsher and in fact recieves a swipe from him (Aircel ko na batana)

Chalo thats all for this time, more later inshallah.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Kitabein Bahut Si Parhee Hongee Tum Ney

but what do you remember of the libraries hmmm?

For those who have been keeping tabs I had been waiting for most of March and April to get my library is a sign of the times that it takes ten minutes (or less!) to get a loyalty card at the local salon but ilm kay parvaney burn their wings circling the candle of learning and what not. At one stage I was willing myself to teach Arhaan how to read shampoo bottles.

Every weekend I would park myself in front of the babu at the library. He would patiently guide me through the proper office channels
Pehley they will have to send your membership money to the bank, I have to get information of it getting deposited in our account. The bank has to send me the receipt, which I will send to the High Commission, they have to do the Beri-fication for me (yikes! it was not me judge saheb), only then they will start the process of making the card

All this was forgotten when they finally had a card for me. Major blast from the past, as the bihari babu painstakingly wrote my details in his register, and set aside two (take that all other members!!) yes two pages in his register for me (Hamey Lagta Hai Aap are the reading writing types).
Oh the fretful whispers before they opened up a cupboard so I could take out a book, uff the agony of the librarian. After all kitabo ki shoba, the beauty of the book lies in it being locked up behind seven veils and ten cupboards.

I guess in the age of document delivery, renewing books online and swiping cards I forget about a gentler time when you were only allowed two books and the librarian made the entries in his register. When I was leaving the librarian wheedled my card out of me, he was quite apprehensive that I might lose it and then the ensuing paperwork, oh the paperwork. Memorize the number please? he requests me. So I left the library with my precious two books and the card stayed behind in its own plastic pocket.
Pliss to look at dont touch me dont touch me dont touch me soniye warbled the library card.

The library has a charm of its own. I will explore someone's suggestion and stay back one afternoon with my laptop and write. Considering everything in the library is around the time the Iron Lady (its named after)imposed the emergency, there are few distractions.
Also no fifteen month old jumping at the keyboard.

And now in the biggest continuity leap ever (so I can start on my europe diaries)i take you to berlin in march, where I also managed to read a lot and write some. As I tried stringing a sentence there was no koel in the green mango tree crying for the rains , but I could look up from my book and see the snow softly settling down.

In an earlier post I did write about Arhaan's encounter with snow. Here is a picture of him, all contemplative sa in the German air.

One morning Arhaan took a break from watching BBC Weather and I from my books and we decided to visit the Berlin Zoo. does it bode well if the only good things I can tell you about the zoo is regarding the history of the place and a pretty nice aquarium? It could have been the gloomy weather or that I find animals prowling about in enclosures pretty pointless but I came back home very depressed. Arhaan quite liked the children's petting zoo, considering geese lived up to their silly goose moniker waddling about self-importantly making the space quite cheerful.
There were Shetland ponies who having never experienced a day's life hitched up to a tonga still had their pretty looks batting their eye lashes vainly. And the kid goats and lambs posed for the cameras, photo being their motto. Arhaan was in his element in the aquarium and was stalked by a very curious fish that wanted to be in all the videos (Ive put up a pic here, can you tell me what kind it is?)

Pliss make Franship With Me

Hello ji Im back

We did manage to have a family day out on our last day in Berlin. For any of you who worry about so little time so much to do I would advice a visit to the Parliament Building and walking up to the glass dome. A panoramic view to the city awaits you and the guided commentary introduces you to the history of the environs as well. Three hundred years in ten minutes is quite remarkable I would say. I was planning to spend some time at the Stasi archives ( I am still suffering a hangover from The Life Of Others ) but considering the testosterone quotient of the family excursion outnumbered me , I could only peer at What Lay Within from the window, sigh! Berlin if you recall was divided into various sectors post World War II and Arhaan had his photograph taken with all the checkpoint "guards" to the former sectors(You have to be THIS blonde and a chin carved of granite to be guarding the Soviet sector, says the puddle of drool).

So to sum up my ten days in Berlin.
Plus: Snow, books, writing and getting reunited with my beloved land of bread. The tale of Hansel and Gretel could never have been set in a place where they did not have a German baker. It takes true German grit, determination and discipline to work miracles with dough. Aah to walk into the breakfast room every morning and be greeted by an aroma of coffee and miles upon miles of all kind of bread.
theek hai at present there is none of the rye or a crumb of the pumperninkle but we have bengan aloo bhaji/pakoda and adrak chai as we read in the balcony, hmm.

Minus: the Berlin Zoo. And not exploring the Stasi museum.

No thankyou, we will just have the photograph this time

There was a particular church of the broken tooth (it does have a prettier name that I forget now. the church was bombed and the damaged spires gave it its unfortunate nick) that I wanted to take the two boys to but sadly it was closed for some renovation. Ten years ago I was sitting there lighting candles quite morose about "time passing by and what have I done lately" and considering now Im at the Deewar stage (aaj merey pass bungla hai, garhee hai ...and maa aur piyar bhee) I wanted to say thanks to Berlin key Jeejuss.

Until next time Auf Wiedersehen.