Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Pet Peeves

This is a updated list of my pet peeves.

1. Bandhs or strikes in Calcutta.
2. Women who nag.
3. Oily Indian food being passed off as "authentic" Indian cooking.
4. People who pretend that mobile connections are bad to hang up. In these days and times, this excuse just does not make it.
5. Vendors who make false claims in proposals.
6. Airline security checks while travelling on any American airline. I am always singled out for a strip search. Is it my boobs? Do I look shifty eyed? Do I look like a terrorist? WHAT? Now, I automatically start loosening my pumps and am astounded when the security people tell me it is not needed.
7. Emotionally needy people.
8. Indian techies who sponge free booze like there's no tomorrow.
9. Chapped skin.
10. Dirty bed linen.


There are very few electronic gadgets I fall in love with. One is an ipod and the other is a blackberry. I was going to buy an ipod, but I had to buy a TV because my old portable colour television did not have an input for the DVD plugs and now the ipod will have to wait until the next July. Sigh! However I am plotting and scheming to get a blackberry from work. Heh! I know I am evil, but these babies are just too cute for words.

Shoe-of-the-day Day 3

Work shoes again. Mules that I really love wearing. They are comfortable and go with every outfit I have. I can wear anything and it looks good with this pair. One of my favourites and I wear them more than any shoes I own.

Random Access Memory

I have a love-hate relationship with my family. Mostly I love them, but some of them annoy me immensely. However it is possible to love anoyances, or so I have realised. I was reading 'the opposite of fate' by 'Amy Tan' and I came to this passage in which Tan described an exchange with her parents. It sounded familiar. I could swap the names with mine and my parents and it was the conversation I have had with my parents while I was a kid. It went this way:
Father: "Plumpie"
Me: "What?"
Father: "Why are you so disrespectful? Do you have to question whatever I have to say?"

The correct response to my parents calling me by name was to say, "Coming Daddy or Mommy dearest!"

When I spoke with my mother later in the evening, I told her that all Asian parents were alike. She had no clue what I was talking about and I didnt want to educate her. While I was a kid, I thought my parents were very strict. Now I know for a fact that both of them were drama queens really.

For example, my mother (Like Tan's) is a fatalist. When I was a kid, and she had to educate me about washing my hands before a meal, she would not say that, "Its to kill all germs," or whatever regular mommies say. She would instead show me the most disgusting picture of earthworms or snakes and tell me, "If you don't wash your hands, you will have worms of this sort in your tummy and they will eat you up from inside." I often remained wide awake at night picturing worms crawling all around my tummy the days I forgot to wash properly. For years afterwards I washed my hands like a person possessed before and after eating. I still harbour a dread of worms and maggots thanks to Mommy dearest. I reminded Mom about this few days back and Mom laughed gleefully and said, "That was a brainwave of mine, wasn't it?"

Thursday, November 25, 2004

White and strappy

These ones are uncomfortable but make me feel nice. Paired it with black trousers and a white shirt. I rolled up my trousers to take this so that my fat calves could be seen. Hehehe...

Stepping in my shoes?

Yesterday's shoes....

Nine-west. I'm still not rich enough for manolos I'm afraid. Still this pair is good for one whole working day.

The wonders of sleep

I slept for 9 hours last night after 10 days of sleeping for 3 hours only, which is why I cold not upload my shoe-pics yesterday. Heh!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Fresh Beginnings

The shoe-of-the-day project will now be resumed since I now have a proper camera and I know how to use it properly. Heh!

Ten Roses

I bought this print in New York. I thought it was cute. If Shu Leu wasn't so damn expensive, I would've bought this painting!

A view of my own

I was an awful show-off in school. I read a lot, often useless trivia and would flash my useless knowledge and be the bane of most teachers, I am sure. I also liked birds. So, it was but natural that when given an essay to describe a visit to a wildlife sanctuary, I should list down 29 bird species. My interest in birds however continued beyond the trivial, and I can still identify about 40 species.

Few months back, I went to an art exhibition and lost my heart to these paintings and bought them. I'm not a good photographer and probably havent done justice to them. Still...

This is what I should actually be doing...

Welcome to my reading pile...

I have just managed to set my flash setting on my digital camera. This blog will now be a part picture blog!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Why oh Why..

...Are men from the UK so whiny? I love their accents and the way they can party (read: outdrink an elephant and hold a real conversation rather than talking about themselves), the way they can laugh at themselves and the fact that they don't ask me dumb questions about India. Every Englishman worth his salt knows about India and Indian customs. However, men from the UK can really, really whine.

I met this man at the conference who had a run of bad luck while travelling. He lost one of his four suitcases (who in their right mind travels with four suitcases on business? Even I, with my shoe fetishes carried only two suitcases and a handbag), food ran out at whichever reception he went to and his calls were not understood by the Japanese lady at the reception desk. I would whine too if I were him, but they way he whined was amazing. He just went on and on and on. I marvelled at his whining technique and then before it got out of hand made good my escape, only to meet another of my friend from the UK who also started whining about the food that ran out. Then I sighted my German friend who too faced a food shortage. I thought that I'd have to hear another bout of whining, but no, Jurgen (sorry no umlauts here) said, "I hear they have food at the bar upstairs, want to join me for a bite?"

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dealing with Americanisms

My accent is Indian and when I say Indian it means we pronounce things the British way. A Bag is not a "bayg" to us, it is "Baag". We eat "Biscuits" with tea and not cookies. Our cars run on "petrol" and not "gas". I always ask for my "Bill" after I finish my meal at a restaurant. English was taught to me by my parents first and then at a missionary school started by the British. So, is it a wonder I speak the way I do? I always have to do a mental check in my head when speaking with Americans. I am comfortable with anyone from the UK. They speak my language and they do not use "like", "awesome" and "really" after every sentence. However I find that most people who learn English from the excessive watching of Hollywood movies speak the American way and I occassionally find someone from Portugal now living in Macau saying "bayg" and "awesome". Its a funny world these days.

Remembering a taste of the sea

The best part about my travelling is the good food I eat and get to eat. Not to say good food is not available in Calcutta, it is, but mostly good Indian or Asian food. I am however nuts about sea-food. I love the sea-food platters one gets all over Europe (or so it seems) and my favourite meal for all times now is a seafood platter (snails, oysters, prawns, mussels, everything), crusty baguettes or any fresh whole grain bread with non-salted butter. Mmmmmm.... This with a riesling or if the occassion is even faintly joyous, with champagne.

The last time I had this was in Luxembourg of all places. This was followed by grilled fish and salad and a coffee and cake in a old french bakery that was the most darling place I have ever seen (The coffee and cake and not the meal in the bakery). Photos will follow maybe later. I asked the owner if he had any Luxembourg speciality and he crustily told me, "Madame, this is an old french bakery." I love the french, really. The world needs crusty traditionalists and the way they cook is non-pareil. Heh. I am nothing if not selfish when it comes to food.

Me the genius

In the past few months, I have learnt how to:
1. Use my digital camera and download pictures on my laptop.
2. Program my DVD player and new TV.
3. Send, use and the funda behind digital signatures.
4. Draft contracts and 'terms of use'
5. Keep my 4 year old nephew always entertained and non-bored for one whole half-day.
6. Keep my credit card history in tip-top condition.
7. Pump petrol in my car.
8. Finally program that damn elliptical trainer in my gym.

I never thought in my wildest dreams I could do nos. 1 and 2.

A typical social evening in Calcutta and the celebrities that are the flavour of the month

Any typical upmarket social event in Calcutta goes this way... There are a handful of event managers and each of them have a fairly typical guest list. Every upmarket event managers' list contains the American Consul General and his wife (more on the wife later); the "actors" (my disgust at the word being used to describe both women and men who act should be evident, if not, I shall mention it ad nauseum) June Maliah (A popular Bengali TV artiste - heh, what did you expect anyway?), Konkona Sen Sharma (Aparna Sen's daughter) and/ or any of the Sens (Moon moon or the moonlets otherwise named Raima and Riya); any visiting "actor" from Bombay (These days it is Sanjay Dutt); The artists Suvaprasanna (I wonder when he paints, considering the amount of time he spends at society dos), Wasim Kapoor or Bulbul Sharma (when she is in town); Russi Mody (if it has anything at all to do with any corporate); the designer brigade consisting of Kiran Uttam Ghosh, the Monapali sisters or one of the younger set; the VPs (or whatever corporate nomenclature is assigned to them) of Citibank, HSBC and/ or ICICI; the mandatory tea crowd; the mandatory shippies; (Calcutta would not be Calcutta without the shippies and the teawallahs); the mandatory Tata crowd; Oindrilla Dutt (Who is always present everywhere like the cheshire cat and dressed like a christmas tree ALWAYS); Bikram Ghosh (never the tabla player and always the tabla percussionist) and his newly wedded wife Jaya Seal ("The actor"); the mandatory gallery owners (More often than not Spandan's Renu Roy); the mandatory travel facilitators (snerk!) and last but not the least our dear gajra-sari-choodis wearing mami Usha Uthup.

A typical event would start with plauditory speeches by an emcee who does not know a hors d'oeuvres from an entree or jazz from rock-n-roll. The emcee introduces the American consul-general (again!) and/ or the other "distinguished" guests and makes them give a speech. After that comes whatever the agenda of the event is and ALWAYS ends with Usha Uthup grabbing the mike and singing till the end of the evening with the harmonising effects being provided by the American consul General's wife. The singing ends with Usha and Lee Alison hugging and providing a photo opportunity for the city photographers. We like to party the Calcutta way. Heh!

Weekly ruminations

There is so much to write about being in Calcutta... The Mittal wedding that set new standards in tawdriness, the always interesting art exhibitions at this time of the year, the wine tasting event organized by Grover's, the slight nip in the air, Bombay film stars being in town for more than a month (I recognised one today despite working out in the same gym for two days in a row!), the arrival of the winter veggies in the market and the approaching Christmas. I will be in town for Christmas but out of it for the new year with my mom and sister!

I am looking forward to buying some new paintings in the next few months. My assignments this time have thankfully come back with higher scores than ever. I am exercising frequently and my weight is not going down, but miraculously I have lost 1 inch around my waist and dropped a size. So maybe I am "toning up" or something? My body will always remain a mystery to me and its downsizing/ upsizing will never make sense or so it seems.


For two days I have been working out with Sanjay Dutt and did not know it! Today, I got a good look at him and even smiled at him. Heh! Suddenly I really like my gym.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Doing all the right things... at the wrong time

I have pampered myself this past one month. I bought a bigger flat-screen TV (I had a 15 inches portable set uptil now) and a DVD player. The day I got it, my parents were visiting. My father switched my new TV on and pressed some programming buttons on the remote control and the remote control just would not work. The funny bit is that my four year old nephew was there too, but the damage was done by my dad. Anyway...

Yesterday night (2:00 a.m.), I opened all manuals and fixed the remote control. My father had accidentally put it into favourites mode. So, now I have a lovely TV, DVD player and lots of nice music at home. Now I plan to buy loads of CDs and have fun, fun, fun. At 3:00 am I was listening to my 4 month old unopened until yesterday night, Macy Gray CD, sipping tomato juice and reading a day old newspaper.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


My capacity to goof up and land in impossible situations is unsurpassed. Its not as if I am careless, its just that fate has conspired to show me up in the worst possible light most of the time.

I met this person at a meeting. We hit it off from the first "Hello!" Then I was invited to their firm in Germany. That is the good part. When I reached their offices it was all ok, save that I had this unsurmountable urge to visit the call of nature. Err... I just HAD to pee. So, I asked for the ladies room. I thought I had locked the door and was just starting to pee on the pot when the door suddenly opened and a woman walked half in. I yelled, "OHMIGOSH!" and the next few moments passed by in a blur. I locked the door again in panic and finished my business. I was red and flushed AND I had a meeting. Anyway, I composed myself and then I found I had locked myself in. They had to get the locksmith to get me out. Then I discovered that the woman (who walked into the bathroom) was my friend's secretary. I will never be able to speak with anyone from their firm without flushing or wishing myself dead.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Airtel - Rant

I have two cellphone numbers. I use one and my father uses the other one. My father and I do not stay in the same city. Anyhow. The number I use is a corporate number but my father's number is a personal number and I am responsible for paying the cell bills on time. My bill is received at my workplace address and my father's bill comes to my home address. So far so good. Fucking Airtel is the service provider both of us use.

Now, earlier this month I was travelling and when I returned there was no Airtel bill. Given the fact that my memory is the worst on this entire planet, it was but natural that I would forget all about my father's bill. Then, my parents told me a whole five days after I had been in town that Airtel had barred all outgoing calls on my Dad's number. I immediately called Airtel and asked them the bill amount and informed them that I had not received a bill from them. The phone monkey was polite and I was happy that everything was ok. Apparently not. I got the cheque dropped in (for a larger amount than the bill) and was happy that I had been a good and conscientious customer etc. etc. My good humour was short-lived.

Now, these events took place few days back and I had got the cheque dropped on a holiday. The day I dropped my cheque, I called Airtel and gave them the cheque details. The collection agency that Airtel uses was apparently not informed about this development and for the past two days called up my father and threatened him. Dad called me up and asked me if I had dropped the cheque or not and was distressed by the fact that he could be hounded out of home and hearth for not paying an Airtel bill worth some INR 500.00. I called up Airtel to be met by an extremely pert miss who made lame excuses about the collection agency being assholes and that really got my goat. Now, I would like suggestions on how one can really screw airtel. I have a good mind of registering for ihateairtel.com and creating a spoofed porno website. Idea got from HERE. However, because of professional reasons I can't do that. Maybe I could fund such an effort? Eh? I would much appreciate any evil ideas.

Oh! I forgot to mention that when I spoke with pert miss and informed her that the delay was in part due to the fact that I had not received my bill, the airhead tells me, "That was because the courier found the door locked and the bill was returned." I asked her why the courier couldnt slip it in my letterbox or give it to my landlord. I was told because apparently the Airtel bills are SO important that they need to be delivered in person only. I am astounded by this logic and policy. What will the assholes come up with next?

Commotion everywhere

Varsha darling has finally resurfaced. Thank God! This blog was missing its daily dose of sarcasm, witty rejoinders and biting repartee. Heh! Now don't you dare go silent, sweetie!

Sunday, November 14, 2004


I was a very popular person today. That always surprizes me.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Roller coasters

The conferences I go to are both informative and fun. We party hard and I guess it is well-deserved, most of us have no lives at work. I used to think its only me, then I met my friends and over bordeaux, kirin and corona (don't ask!) we all whinged over how we have practically no lives. Anyhow, the best part was the part where we are taken on tours. In Japan, we were taken around to well, places and a very cool amusement park. I was looking forward to some rides and I got what I wanted. I went twice on the roller-coasters and twice on the water coasters. Whew! What I would give for another ride right now...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Wintertraum and punch

My last day in Germany, I walked out of the hotel to stretch my legs after finishing my packing. I walked to the centre of the square and heard an organ playing and tiny fairy lights twinkling in the distance. I walked to the lights and found a tiny fair arranged around a skating rink with artificial snow. I stood watching people skate by and the fairy lights and people around me. Most people were hanging out after work and were relaxed and in no hurry. It was cold, nippy but not the kinds that is unbearable and I was snug in my coat and scarf. I noticed people sipping something hot in dark blue mugs and I could smell a sweetish, cinnamon aroma that seemed to be emanating from the steaming mugs. Walking over to the stall that was selling the drink, I went and asked what it was and the rosy-cheeked lady told me it was punch. I had some with rum in it and was soon enveloped in the same spicy, punchy smell. After that, I had curry wurst (after ages), potato salad and some indifferent paella. Tummy filled, punch mug collected as souvenier, I walked back to the hotel, into the bar and had an interesting cocktail that the bartender recommended. The ending to the day was good, even though the beginning was not.

Diwali at casa plumpernickel

This year I celebrate Diwali all on my own. The reason being that we had a holiday the day before Diwali and not on Diwali day itself (which is today) because in Bengal, Kali Puja is celebrated and not Diwali and that is always a day ahead Diwali. So yesterday, I went Diwali shopping. I went and chose new drapes (beige and rust) and ordered the tailoring, got new bedspreads and cushion covers, few clothes and diyas and candles for the house. Yesterday evening, I worked out in the gym for over an hour, showered and went home, lit my candles in diyas and enjoyed my lit up apartment. I felt peaceful and calm and I managed to finish 4 inches off my reading pile. Today too, I plan to light up my castle and read. I am not getting any diwali sweets simply because I don't expect anybody and I have lost major weight and don't want to put it back on. If anyone does come by, they get after-eights and watermelon coolers. Heh! I miss the folks during festivals normally but this time, to be honest I'm happy at home. I'm done with the diwali greetings and exchanging gifts etc. and today I can just laze around and read.

I want what she's having

The most hilarious incident in my European trip - Our German associate takes us out to lunch and tells us politely, "I have ordered vegetarian food for you." I wonder how he would have felt if he had seen me polishing off a seafood platter - snails, winkels et al, the night before. The matter remains that when I ordered the platter I was told by the maitre'd, "Madame, it is all RAW." In truth, I did feel somewhat ashamed at not leaving even one tiny snail on the platter. The polite creature that I am, I smiled and enjoyed my gnocchi in all its potato goodness, but I'd rather have had the pork medallions every one else was having.

Nice or what?

Its good to be home and in my bed, finally. I was in Japan and Germany. Japan was a very new experience and it was nice to return to Germany. I only wish I have more time during my work visits to actually see the places I visit. Still, I managed pretty well. Detailed trip reports in next posts.