Friday, December 29, 2006

The little girl grows up......

It was just yesterday, it would seem, that I was in, what passed for a garden, outside, our four-apartment building. The lake opposite our building , although struggling under the weight of the daily intake of construction silt, retained its illusory green top, which was actually the terribly undesirable water hyacinth, propagating itself with a vengeance.

Evening breezes appeared to add to the charm of a slightly cool early february evening, as a gaggle of small children, excitedly blabbering, turned the corner, gifts clutched anxiously in their hands, secretly wishing it was their own turn to recieve them....

They were welcomed at the house by the impatient birthday child, who couldnt really wait to get started with the games. But first there was the photograph in the garden. The garden was full of rocks, ensuring a teetering child every few square feet; and so they stood, innocent faces glinting in the setting sun, holding on to each other for balance, nudging each other , trying to act grown up, sort of trying to ignore indulgent grandparents asking them to "smile", "look up", "move to the left" and assorted stuff.

And all the while, there was this girl , who stood firmly next to the birthday boy, ensuring that several layers of her multilayered frock wafted in the breeze, giving a blooming effect - just what she wanted.

She was a special childhood friend. She and the birthday boy were less than a month apart in age. Both their mothers worked. (Fathers of course worked, but thats the default; we dont mention that). Whats more, when these two were not at school, they both attended the same creche, where they had the kind of status airlines confer upon their "gold card members". At a fairly young age, both these kids learnt to talk like older people, often amusing those around them , with their unique interpretation and lack of finesse in talking about sensitive topics like bride-groom searches , as they observed the going ons around them.

The boy's birthday plans were avidly discussed by them; she was around when the birthday cake was being iced by the boy's mother, who pretended not to notice, when these two "accidentally" got chocolate icing on their fingers. She even had a special dress for her friend's birthday. She described it in great geometric detail to his parents, till the father of the boy actually ventured to see it on D-day, and brought a beaming smile to the little girl's face by exclaimng that she was wearing 3-3 skirts ! She , of course, revelled , in what she thought was the supreme ignorance of father types, about girls fashions..... 3 skirts indeed.

And one day the boy had one of those illnesses which all parents think is a nuisance and all children think, is a great opportunity , to bunk school and read comics. The little girl's mother was a doctor, and she layed own the ground rules . Rest, medicines, good nutrition. While the little boy busied himself scratching here and there, swallowing medicines, making faces, trying to sleep, and eating what his worried mother offered , his great friend, collected all her comic books together, (current hot sellers on railway stations) with outrageous names and titles, and sent word through her mother, that she knew what the little boy needed were these books. They got you better faster. Her mother was a doctor, but they did not teach this is in medical college......

The boy spent several hours reading, barely able to control his mirth , cracking up at the antics of various cartoon types, as he lay in his bed, taking the mandatory "rest", at an age where human brownian motion was really the norm.

By and by the littlle girl grew up, went to college. In an age where going to engineering school was the most treaded path, she decided to get non-technical. But mathematical. Elders advised otherwise. Peer pressure. Arguments. Tears, Fights. And she won. She enjoyed college, the fests, the new friends, , but she still remained the little girl at heart.

One of her neighbours was another little strong minded girl, who actually needed to learn subtraction (with carry , if you please), but actually thought swimming was a better way of spending time. The age difference between the two was more than ten years. But one day, found the little girl at the older girl's place, sitting with her to learn the tricks of the trade for doing subtraction (with carry), with one eye on the going ons in the kitchen, and one nostril inhaling wonderful aromas. And the older one succeeded . The session ended with some great refreshments, details of which were carried home by the little girl, with great relish and licking of lips. The younger one, today, is probably a sworn enemy of calculus, and geometry, but "subtraction with carry " is what maths is all about :-)

The boy and the girl both went their different ways, learning different things. The girl did her post graduation, and went out into the world. A lot of her contemporaries left India, to learn from new jobs in new cultures, in new languages. But she knew what she wanted. She bided her time. Travelled. Thought of taking some exams, in case further studies appeared as an option on the horizon.

But this only child of her parents found her calling away from her city. She moved to a city about 1000 kilometres away. She enjoyed her job, her life with her roommates, the joy of handling her own problems, tears and all. All the while she remained very connected to the maternal house, through the electronic umbilicus. Everytime she came on a visit home, she looked up and contacted all the friends, including the little boy's folks, although the little boy, not being little any more, was now working and hardly ever home. And they appreciated how well she was doing and how well she had adjusted to her new life. And she made sure, that she looked up her "subtraction (with carry)" student, who was now a teenager, and very much into Warli painting. Sure enough, a day before she left, the younger girl was etching stuff on a white t-shirt , something for the older one to wear, sure to garner comments from her friends . Well , one of a kind t-shirt, did you say? More like one-of-a kind friend. She gave her plain tshirt to the younger kid to paint on, and took it with her when she left.

Today the little girl, who explained the flounces on the layers of her frock , on the boy's birthday, stands on the threshhold of a new life. She excelled at her job. Kudos rained forth. Some part of them sprinkled over to her family, who basked in the satisfaction of their only child settling down well in life.

And then she met him. At work. She was great at her job. He was great at spotting excellence. And all the while, she remained this young, confident, simple, fun loving, but duty conscious, generous hearted girl. It wasnt all fairy tales and fun. There was some suspense. Parents met. Dates were fixed.

We dont see her that often now. Her world has shifted south. But as she readies her self, wrapping herself in the gilt-edged paithanees and kanjivarams and adorning herself, with the shining precious metal, I still hark back, to the day they all stood in the garden for a photograph at the birthday party, and someone yelled "Smile !", and they they all posed, thrilled to bits , and smiled.

She is still smiling. At the guy standing next to her. And just like she smoothed the frills on the layers of her frock 19 years ago, she now , confidently, adjusts her saree pallav, the pleats, falling gracefully , shimmering in the light. And he , in his suit, stands proudly next to her.

Someone will be taking photos. And videos. And the two will be smiling and doing namaskars and greeting everyone. And we will all be there, if not physically then in spirit. And in case you hear someone shouting and saying "Smile !", Its probably Someone Up There smiling down at them, through a cascade of blessings....

With all our blessings too.....

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Chewing gum for the eyes in cricket times...

TV is chewing gum for the eyes.
Frank Lloyd Wright

If there is one item that has changed life, per se, it's television. And television and computers have spawned a jungle of statistics.

Observe the excitement over Shane Warne's
700tth wicket. Why seven hunderd, sort of in between ? After all, we always talk about 100 runs or a century; Tendulkar achieving the milestone of 10,000 runs. No one ever heard of anyone celebrating anything 700, 7000 or say, 300,

Shane Warne announces he is retiring at the end of this series, and immediately a hype is built up . Anything-99 is always a suspenseful situation. So television types went ballistic over 700 wickets, tributes poured in from Cricket Australia, folks rushed to get tickets for the Sydney Test. Poor Glenn Mcgrath got pulled along in the wake, till he had to issue a denial later. Inexplicably, he then shortly, anounces his retirement at the end of the 2007 World Cup.

Television demands drama.

Every twitch hovering about your lips and every tear descending from your eyes is recorded for posterity. Sledging, hitherto restricted to the pitch, suffers, due to the presence of microphones near the stumps, And gnarling bowlers have spawned an entire generation of lip readers, who can tell what kind of words are being exchanged by adversaries. Your gait, as you return to the pavillion is scrutinised and analysed, till you feel like just lying down on the grass right there, alone with your thoughts, after a flying career .

Cricket they say, is a gentlemens'game. That was probably true till the operative adjective was "gentle".

Whoever heard of , say, Bapu Nadkarni, exulting over a wicket, pumping his arms, shaking his fist and twirling the ball while doing aeroplane like action runs on the field ? Prasanna and Chandrashekhar often endeavured to hold up the tail of the batting side; so does Sreesanth. Notwithstanding the fact that I grew up listeneing to radio commentary of cricket matches due to the non existence of TV, I dont ever recall anyone ever reporting on Prasanna et al dancing down the wicket , concluding with a bharat natyam /breakdance mudra at the end of it all, to the complete consternation of the bowler.....
Dramatics certainly existed. Gilchrist and Nari Contractor are proof enough. One ended his career.

Somehow, one cannot imagine the Nawab of Pataudi whipping of his shirt and twirling it from the pavillion balcony, and Gundappa Vishwanath was more comfortable exchanging cool smiles with the bowler, while whipping the ball regularly beyond the ropes.

We never knew the length of a batsman's hai and frankly, it never mattered to us whether he even HAD hair. And here we have M. S. Dhoni, celebrating his arrival on the cricket scene , so to speak, with a drastic coloring of his hair, appearing immediately in motorcycle commercials, where he compares his milk drinking with the vehicles gas guzzling..... (actually he is shown to lose out. I wish someone thought of using him for a "drink milk" commercial, hopefully , free)

And then there is this thing about the sunscreen stuff they plaster on.

By and large, sun strength on the subcontinent has remain unchanged over, say the last 50 years. The indian skin, I like to think has some built in protection native to our natural habitat. Unlike white skin, with its absence of melanin, we do not tend to suffer from serious tanning issues.

Television, has proven to be a fertile ground for multinational sports cosmetics comapnies, who hitherto spied only on teams from colder, western countries. So you see Sehwag splattered with the white stuff on his face and around his lips, Zaheer Khan, manages to improve on his ferocious looks at the batsmen, as he takes his final bowling leap, his mouth surrounded by a border of the white stuff, glaing at the batsman. Muttering through the white stuff is even better.

They all lookalike, were it not for their one -day match colours.

Strangely though, except for matches held in India, and possibly Pakistan, most of the time there is very little audience watching these histrionics. The game is being played , not for the people, but for TV audiences. Where Cricket Control Boards rake in the Moolah selling the TV rights.

When the TV cameras pan across the stadium, giving their commentators a breather, one sees empty stands, clean green hillock like outfields, devoid of spectators. And all the while, a dumbstruck captive TV audience inhales and exhales tension with every ball bowled by Sreesanth, Munaf, Irfan and company, and every cut,glance and swipe, reverse or otherwise exhibited by a Tendulkar or Dravid. Traffic actually reduces on the main thouroughfares of Mumbai, and you can actually get place to sit in buses and trains.

And while we are on records and staistics, why not go back to the days, when radio commentary was still an idea in someones head.

It may have occurred to some that Warnes 700 wickets will shine only till someone else comes up with 703 or something. The upper limit is adjustible. With the amount of cricket being played today, thanks to TV sponsorships, its a matter of time before the norm will be 20,000 runs and 1000 wickets, all upwardly adjustable.

So we need to go back to when Teat Cricekt first began. Between England and Australia. I am sure there werent hundreds of guys compiling statistics then, but some performances get remembered....

Charles Bannerman of Australia set a number of records in the first England Australia Test.. He faced the first ball in test cricket, scored the first run, the first four and the first century. He scored 165 not out in Australia’s 245 all out. Of all the records he set in that match one record still holds – his 165 constituted 67.34% of Australia’s total (245) – the highest percentage by a batsman in a completed test innings.

Charles Bannerman scored the first test century. Billy Murdoch, who played for both Australia and England scored the first test double century (he also hit the first ever six in test cricket). Andy Sandham of England scored the first triple century (in what was his last test match), and Brian Lara has scored the only quadruple century.

And since we began with Shane Warne, it is only fitting that we end with some other bowlers with records of some other types.

Who is the worst bowler in test cricket? It is Rawl Lewis of the West Indies whose three match test career saw a bowling average of 318 (the worst in test history) at a strike rate of 585. However, Roger Wijesuriya of Sri Lanka has the worst strike rate of 586 - though he has a better average of 294!

TV, anyone ?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Undemocratic fashion.

Fashion : NOT (of the people, for the people, by the people)

There is actually something called FDCI. Fashion Design Council of India. If you insist on knowing the expansion.

Its not terribly clear whether it is something set up by designers to "institutionalise" their profession, or whether it is something the government has set up , in a sort of semi interested way, (if such a thing is at all possible); but the person heading it right now, is a retired IAS (Indian Administratice Service) lady officer, with a huge amount of experience in handicrafts, tourism, and setting up of the National Institutes of Fashion Technology (NIFT) all over India.

For a couple of years now, newpapers get occasionally slavishly addicted to writing about the annual FDCI/Lakme fashion shows. There is always some fight going on between Mumbai and Delhi designers which is highlighted. Reams of paper are devoted to how some Page 3 types, are leaving everything they are doing, to fly urgently to the concerned metros, so they can sit in the first row (reserved, if you please), wearing, what my mother would have called "shameless" clothes, and an expression that would make people think they are listening to a debate on the nuclear CTBT. These same people, change into more strange outfits every so many hours; and why not? Even something as sensible as NDTV has a fawning correspondent reporting on the appearance of the various queen bees and king moths, and their clothes and drinks.

All this for what ?

There is this longish stage sort of jutting out into the audience. Every designer has his or her special music playing. The audience is seated at a strategically planned lower level, probably at the ankle level of the parading models. I dont know about the FDCI, but when I was in elementary school, this kind of thing during any Annual Day would have got the parents into an uprising and the principal would have been fired. Ok. Its only children. The audience is only parents. But sitting at that level, and by default looking up someones skirt, is simply not done.

This is, of course, a non-issue at the FDCI. We're globalising, and these faltu things dont bother us.

And so what do you say about a girl, walking across the stage at an angle of 120 degrees to the horizontal; several degrees of amazing freedom created by pencil thin stilletoes; Her dress actually resembles a giant bib, (see the picture above ) like my son used to wear, when he sat in the swing hung on the balcony door, to eat his porridge. Except he wore a t-shirt inside; its not clear whether she wears anything inside, or not.

Then there is this lady who walks on to the stage next, wearing what reminds me of my grand uncle's pajamas. Except she has combined them with what i would define as my grandmothers saree blouse with only one shoulder and NO back. What is totally miraculous is the pajamas are worn BELOW the hips. And there appears to be a diamond stuck on to the navel. No wonder the lady has to walk with so much simple harmonic motion of the hips just to allow the pajama to stay in place. If she stops, they may slide, and she may have, what is these super globalised days, we call a wardrobe malfunction; my mother would have said that someone deserved a tight slap.

Sometimes these models appear wearing what looks like a pure balloon inspired dress. You need , around you, an empty space of at least 3 feet on all sides . Some of these dresses have no shoulders. Some only have sleeves, but no shoulders. The thing to do is to come fashionably in covered with your teenage brothers school blazer . These days its called a "shrug". You come on to the stage, give disdainful looks to a section of the audience, twirl, there is a clash of cymbals, and you remove the shrug; look ma, no shoulders !

They dont even let the saree alone .

Without the FDCI/designers et al, India has had a variety of saree draping styles, traditionally enjoyed by the women , over several hundred years. There is the Kerala Half Saree, the typical Tamil Nadu nine yard draping, the Maharashtrian nine yard grace, the various ways a six yard saree is draped, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marwari and what have you. All these styles have evolved with the emancipation of women from that particular region. A way of draping when you maintain the housekeys (bengali), a way of draping in front of elders, a way of draping and tucking in when busy with some physical work, and a way of draping when feeling cold....

I remember from my childhood, two distinct ways the 9 yard saree was draped. One way was favoured by the more active ladies, who cycled to work, and were PT teachers in schools etc. The other method was patronised by those more homebound, with less strenuous lifestyles. There is a third style patented by the Koli women of Mumbai; a sensible, no nonsense style that allowed you to comfortably work in water and land, where you needed to rush here and there, picking fish from heaps, sortng, loading, travelling in a hurry to the market through crowded trains etc.

Todays designers have no concept of Utility of dress. Precious stones are stitched on to whole sarees , which are instrinsically made longer in length, and thinner in texture. The sarees are wound several times (more than normal) before the paloo is flung over the shoulder. ( I cant see myself running to catch a bus in this. And I would discourage anyone trying to do that with so many precious stones attached) . Poor me; I still dont believe it when the salesman says its 6 yards, and make him measure it. I shudder at the lenghth I will need to measure here.

The other trick is to make it look as if no blouse is worn. This is achiieved by having straps on blouses. And then casually allowing your open hair to fall over it. Sort of a cross of Meena Kumari and Princess Diana. Sometimes, the purpose of the palloo is done away with altogether. How else will anyone see the pearl beadwork on the non trivial section of the blouse ? Models march across the stage holding their palloos widely away from their torso.

(Take a deep breath. Count up to 10. Temper under control). 20 years ago, someone would have thought she is in the process of removing the saree. No nice girls did that on stage. Today nice is a bad word.

Can you see youself going to work in your uncle's pajamas, and grandmother's saree blouse? Will a balloon dress put you at a superior advantage getting into bus no 392 going to Ghatkopar ? Will a thigh level frock combined with skin colored tights be ideal wear in Central railway second class ladies bogey? How do you feel about squeezing your way to the front of the bus (trying to get off) during the 7 pm rush hour, wearing a stomach skin displaying top on low rise jeans ? And do you dare to complain if you get advertantly or inadvertantly pinched in the process?

Is that off-the-shoulder dress going to be dangerous healthwise, given that you are standing in the doorway of a ladies compartment, half out of the door, and not likely to get a place to enter in till your station comes? Do you think the strategically placed slit at the back of your knee length skirt is a great aid for climbing into buses when several people behind you urge you to hurry up in cast the bus starts moving ? And why crib about the staring, observant person (in the seat next to where you stand, wearing your smart short top, displaying your considerable midriff) as you hang on to the oscillating overhead starps , on you way to college?

Somehow, in the effort at promoting originality, the individuality has been lost.

The question is who is all this for, and who is going to wear these clothes. And is this what we teach at the National Institutes of Fashion Technology?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rich men, poor cousins

Koneru Humpy :Chess Gold Pictured below .

All those people who exhibit traumatic reactions watching our guys getting out in cricket matches, have suddenly gone into slow motion action-replay , given whats happening in the first test today. There is an entire population of Sachin-disciples, age-no-bar, who look accusatively at folks, and defend Sachin's getting out in 50's, (in the 1st test vs SA) now that everyone else , in both teams ,is barely getting beyond 10's,20's and some, even single digits.

One doesnt hear a squeak from our esteeemed parliamentarians either; i suppose, throats become sore due to excess shouting, sometimes, about Greg Chapell, and sometimes about Ganguly. I dont remember hearing anything about cricekting ability, in either the election posters, or speeches , and I certainly did NOT elect my representative , so he could waste time on cricket, given that he could spend it more productively, supporting the 33% reservation for women Bill.

Should India win this test, telegrams and calls will go forth from folks in Delhi, planes will be diverted to Delhi, and parliamentarians who straddle sport and legislation with consummate ease will appear benignly smiling in photographs when the team poses with the PM.

And then there is this stunning silence post the Asian Games in Doha.

Our athletes run and jump their hearts out, and get medals. One of our runners, ran with a burn injury (scalding hot soup spilt during the previous day dinner) on her thigh. Koneru Humpy and two others get medals in Chess. The Womens Hockey team gets a medal, showing the Men's team how its done. Anju Bobby George leaps her best for a medal. Our Archers and shooters show that they are among the best medal winners. Even our rowers, all psyched up , are in contention for a medal. And who can forget Tennis ? Sania very much amongst the precious metal medals, and Mahesh and Leander pick up their doubles gold, and never mind that the lustre may appear slightly diminished by the petulant cribbing and fighting amongst the two. Harshavardhan Singh Rathore shows what tough army disciplined practice can produce in terms of medals.

Jaspal Rana shoots for 2 golds, and is nominated and is in contention for the Best Athlete of the Games award.

So what do the powers that be do? Our Parliamentarians have their fingers on their lips. The Sports officials, in a not so surprising display of INATTENTION to detail, inform Jaspal Rana that he IS declared the best athlete of the games; and start getting organised to rush him back to Doha. Only to find out that a Korean swimmer has beaten him to it. And never mind the mental trauma of the shooter.

Aisa hota hai.

(Kya hai, our sports persons are so used to careless handling of equipment, visa delays, arbitrary refusal of permissions, disgusting travel, boarding and lodging arrangements, and they should really be grovellingly grateful that they got to go anywhere at all.)

Our elected representatives discuss Greg Chapell in parliament; the Speaker actively participates. Please. The MP's are elected by us to REPRESENT us. I expect the MP from my region to take cognisance of those athletes that hail from his constituency, and try his best to help them when they are in need. I did not vote for my MP , so he can participate in a totally unqualified manner in deciding about coaches in sports.

What we need is a "sports constituency", just like they have a "graduates constituency". We need eminent senior sportspersons to be nominated/elected to such parliamentary posts. Just like the government has GoM (group of ministers) that work in a group for a specific project, we need to have these sports persons have a group that actively decides on allocation of sports resources.

How come we never hear about Anjali Bhagwat being nominated to Rajya Sabha? Has anyone ever thought that Prakash Padukone could be an asset in sports related decisions at the highest level? What is the rationale behind going ga-ga appointing actors and actresses to the Raya Sabha ?

Until then , be prepared to see a spectacle at the next Games, where the Indian contingent arrives with more officials than athletes; IOU's and quid-pro-quids are the order of the day ; I have often wondered at the proliferance of middle aged pot bellied people marching in, tugging their sports coats with one hand, and waving at the stadium with the other. They let some wellknown athlete function as the flag bearer; shows their benevolence , you know.

And forget about the runners who travel 4 ours everyday through supercrowded trains to train, swimmers who attend meets, get back to their hostels, and find that they need to pretend that the cold hard floor is really a comfortable bed at night; hockey players who end up drinking polluted infected water at their camps in our leading stadiums, as some guy who was supposed to repair the water tank, simply pretended to do so, and was paid for it on a priority basis; and never mind whose priority. Kabaddi players access first aid boxes , grandly labelled, only to realise that its not in their interest to get hurt; medicines are bought, but they never reach the first aid box.

Hmm. And the Indian Cricket team is really upset, because in the recent home series, against , I forget who, they were put up at a hotel with lesser stars than the visiting team hotel.......

Words fail.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Crazy hua re !

Riding back from Pune on a crisp November morning. The illusory suspension of the Volvo bus, belying the terrible condition of some parts of the Pune Mumbai expressway. Fresh after a non seasonal shower of rain, the sun intermittently flashing in through the loosely covered bus window, shining on to the pages of a book I am trying to read. Various cell phones ringing around me, giving me a sort of profile introduction to the owner.

Mustachioed neta types, whipping out their cell phones, just as "sare jahan se achcha" concludes the 'hindosa-tan hamara" part; then talking, out of habit , in lecture mode. Mother types, having bid farewell to a gaggle of relatives who earlier climbed into the bus to situate all the various bags, totally unconcerned about ringtones, speaking into their phones, giving their detailed locations, putting all wordly GIS's to shame.

Daily Pune Mumbai types, with ringtones that provide free advertisement for the latest senseless blockbusters. And then some folks, who think it is important that their ringtone is an exact replica of the chantings that are conducted during Maharashtraian wedding ceremonies: "tadaiva lagnam.... " etc, you get the feeling you are in a karyalaya , albeit, improperly dressed.

In this cacophony, we emerge from one of the biggest tunnels in the ghats and the bus radio sort of signs in with a vengeance putting all these cell phones to shame. There is this song that plays again and again and again.......

After a lot of listening , i figure out that the lady has something to say about "becoming crazy"; "Crazy kiya re" to be precise.

Grey cells , whatever is left of them, working furiously.

Someone or the other has always gone crazy over someone else in Hindi movies. Thats the soul of the whole thing. And over the years , we have had some very hummable music from some great musicians, dedicated to these events. There have been gardens, waterfalls, Himalayas, the Ganges, Europe, Asia, Australia and more, all as a backdrop to some great songs. Every hero-heroine had their typical style, hugely enjoyed and imitated .

Seems to me that in the so called progress towards globalised smartness, all the charm of these things is totally lost. Hardly any melody; even less facial expressions. but a HUGE amount of physical drill, as I percieve.

Earlier movies had forays into gardens, smelling the flowers, palloos getting stuck in the thorns, slippages in the snow, shivering in the ice, rocking boats in the water with excitement, and leaning/sleeping/sitting over a piano to get your so called point across.... WHAT a varety !

There is, now, the heroine, dressed in clothes that a cheer leader would baulk at , hinting at budgets running out while purchasing fabric, performing some kind of aerobic stuff, combined with certain acrobatic manoevres along with the leading man, (and a cast of hundreds behind her), that would scandalise a prospective mother-in-law as well as a professor of anatomy. And I have always wondered if the heroines mother knew where her daughter was, and what she was up to.

The lesser the clothes , the more the degrees of freedom, the lesser the atoms of wisdom.

And she continues to 'exercise' saying "crazy kia re " ?

Unlike in my childhood, youngsters today emulate such heroes and heroines, be it in their clothes, accessories, language, and attitudes. Vast amounts are spent on such dance shootings in movies, and folks even fly to various countries to do that. ( maybe I am a real fool that i havent managed to visit , even the bank in the neighbourhood, for some necessary work due to some household reason). Dhoom skirts and Krish masks are marketed in a frenzy, and some guys go laughing all the way to the bank.

Maybe life has changed.

I can just see my household helper bai, having bought a new TV after months of saving, rolling pin in one hand, bucket in the other, hitching up her nine yard saree, breaking into a 'ago bai, dhoom" dance to express her joy. Or the guy who comes to sweep our building staircase, ecstatic over acquiring the family's first cell phone, trying to convince his neighbour to give him a speedy ride on his motorcycle, complete with leaping over dividers, standing pillion, whizzing past girls at bus stops and what have you, all the while singing "crazy kia re". (All the while, his brother who tries to call him gets a "this number is not available; please try later" message, and becomes an ardent admire of the Hutch lady).

Maybe the old Bhajiwala, who now has to contend with an increasing monkey population where I live, will try and work out ( pun intended) how to save his merchandise from a family of monkeys, in the form of some acrobatic steps, waving a lauki (bottle gourd) in one hand, Karela (bitter gourd) in the other, after having lobbed a cabbage at the father monkey.... and maybe it will be the monkeys who will have the last word, shaking their heads, scratching their stomachs, grinning and baring their teeth , all to the tune of 'crazy kia re" .

I know. The bus has just reached Chembur, and I need to to get off.

As usual the rickshawallahs crowd the bus steps, blocking the exit for me. There are shouts of Mulund ! Mulund !, Bahndup! , Hiranandani! and Powai....! The last guy, gets the nod, and he hurries my bag to his ricksha, me rushing behind, traditionally suspicious of someone hurrying with MY baggage. I get in, he starts the 3 wheeler with a flourish of his electronic ignition.

I settle in, trying to rearrange stuff , turning to see if I can put some of my stuff in the rack behind the seat.

There is no rack. just two immense speakers.

And just as I sigh, and lean back, bag in my lap, there is a burst of music, nay cacophony, and she bursts forth, accompanied by some real traffic, buses, taxis, swirling in clouds of diesel fumes, and hungry petrol smells, all the whiile, oblivious to all, singing , what else, but "crazy kia re".....

I agree. Maybe i should start singing "Crazy Hua re...!".

As a song where the only actions are , (a) a neck extension to see if the signal has changed, (b) a glare at the adjoining vehicle (where the biker thinks he is in dhoom 2), and (c) a wave of the hand to two eunuchs ( who insist on precting dire things for me if I dont open my purse), I am sure my song will be a HIT.

Maybe the rickshawalla can do some drill at the red lights.