It was time. Half a million honey buns, packs of instant noodles and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches later, my taste buds had given up and my stomach was threatening to quit. I sat there, my eyes switching between the clock and the recipe book, knowing that it was only a matter of time till the grumbling down below started. That recipe book was a parting gift from a hopeless mother, and by now it had gathered as much dust as a book of chemistry in a childrens' museum.
The kitchen till then was more of a room meant more for storage than for cooking. Something that had made it so alien a place, that when a friend came around asking for salt, I promptly handed him a jar of sugar. Which, by the way, he promptly used for his "spicy" fried rice recipe. We still argue about who is the greater genius between us. So it was only a matter of time then, till I decided to venture into it for what the room was meant for. Trouble is, I did not have a good feeling about it. That feeling you get when the thought of knowing something is going to go wrong is bashing up the thought of hoping it won't.
What followed was an endless discussion with the roommate about what is make-able. The list was not too long after we narrowed down our options, mostly on the basis of not being able to identify the ingredients.
"Ofcourse!" we sighed in unison as the book opened up to a recipe of the potato curry, probably the easiest thing there is to make. There we were, two fully grown guys, massive on appetite..clueless about cooking and hungry as if we hadn't had so much as a snack bar for years, all ready for battle. And battle we did. Jars flying off the shelf, clouds of powdered spices and vegetables being cut as if maniacs are having a go at them. At the end of it all, we stood in a place that seemed ravaged by a small storm. And what we had on the stove was nothing that remotely resembled potato curry.
"Umm..Smells nice!? We can call it tomato curry with potatoes and onions?".A trying-to-be cheerful me.
"OR! We can call it it tomato-curry-with-potatoes-and-onions-only-you-will-have!" shot back by friend before stomping off to his room. I could hear him a tear open a honey bun pack and chomp on it furiously. His face was that of a desperate man who had thought he found an oasis in a desert, but only learnt later that it was a mirage..
So as I enjoyed that dinner in sweet solace, I had one thing firmly decided in mind: Learn how to cook and be good at it. And although it was far from smooth sailing, full of more solitary dinners and new not-so-perfect "inventions", I can now safely say that I am not half as bad a cook that I was then. I can't say it is my favourite thing but I do enjoy it at times. After I moved and got a job, I actually started watching that food channel they have on telly. I can't imagine being a part of those cook-master-in-your-face-shouting shows though. A year ago, I would have probably faced his wrath by being tied to a rotating overhead fan.
So anyway, what starts like a nightmare doesn't always end like one. All's well that ends well isn't it? Experimenting in the kitchen has taken a whole new meaning now. It does not mean "Try cooking". Rather, it means "Try cooking something differently".
And when you have that odd bad day in the office,a pack of instant noodles awaits!
So it's been a while since I have written again. Out of ideas? Nope. Short of time? Yep. But that's not an excuse when a certain someone has "tagged" you to answer questions about yourself and warned you that if you don't, you will probably end up inside a can of smoked tuna. This person is very dangerous, especially when a few pints down. So here goes:
1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
"Damn..Can't see!ALL THIS MIST!" (I only have a mirror in my bathroom)
2. How much cash do you have in your wallet right now?
A 2 dollar bill (seriously, very genuine) and a 50 rupee note :)
3. What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR?
4. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?
OoH! Unknown number. Dang telemarketers!!
5. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?
Paper Planes - MIA
6. What are you wearing right now?
Jeans and a Tee
7. Do you label yourself?
What am I a store item?
8. Name the brand of the shoes you currently own?
I'm not into brands. Those Look-I'm-so-sporty-light-I-can-be-called-feather and I'm-more-fashionable-than-you brands are not my thing. I like the If-I-kick-you-with-this-you-will-be-horizontal-forever brand though.
9.Bright or Dark Room?
Bright. Interesting question. Answer would have been different two days ago but I ran into walls in a dark room on three separate occasions and my face did not enjoy that.
10. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?
I think I answered this already! If I remember correctly, I said she was nice. Nice person, yes.
11. What does your watch look like?
I'm a big watch-loser. I almost drove my dad to bankruptcy buying new watches and losing them. So now I use my cellphone. My watch looks like my cellphone.
12. What were you doing at midnight last night?
Planet of the apes! I was the ape leader leading the ape army. I remember because my assisstant said "Sir, it's midnight! Time for a midnight banana snack!"..hm! I think it was a dream.
13. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?
"Pay your cellphone bill by this date or you will incur such a huge fee that you'd rather bury yourself" or something on those lines from my network provider.
14. What’s a word that you say a lot?
15. Who told you he/she loved you last?(please exclude spouse , family, children)
Ape-women. Three of em. Yes ape army leaders are in demand on that planet.
16. Last furry thing you touched?
My...head? Fur = Hair so Hair = Fur methinks.
17. Favorite age you have been so far?
15-16. Tenth grade. Breaking voice. Confused souls. Multiple cases of mischief in class. Exasperated teachers. Laughs. Friends.
18. What was the last thing you said to someone?
19.The last song you listened to?
Learning to fly - Pink Floyd
20. Where did you live in 1987?
21. Are you jealous of anyone?
22. Is anyone jealous of you?
Yes. Assisstant leader ape-man.
23. Name three things that you have on you at all times?
Keys, phone, happy thoughts.
24. What’s your favorite town/city?
25. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?
This quiz is just too long and this question, I think, is irrelevant so I'm ignoring it.
26. Can you change the oil in a car?
27. Your first love/big crush: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?
My acoustic guitar, Rose. She is back home in Bombay, missing me :(
28. Does anything hurt on your body right now?
29.What is your current desktop picture?
Office laptop - Photo of the Gateway of India.
Personal laptop - Changes. Now its random parabolic images in blue. Bumble bees. Eiffel Tower. Golf Range.
30. Have you been burnt by love?
You're such a misnomer..
When more than half the time you land..
And less than half the time you hover..
You're the new fashion boat..
You used to give milk for tea..
Now you inspired the goatee..
I slip in the Coldplay CD in the player as my friend straps the seatbelt on and sighs
"What a weekend!..Back to the grind now..Time to go home!"
This instantly sparks questions in my mind, as the clouds gather in the afternoon skies : Where is home?
Ofcourse, the first place that comes to mind is the place that you were born..where you spent most of your formative years. The place where you learnt your ABCs. The place that has had a major influence in what you are today. Somewhere you get smiles and waves every street you go to. Made those eternal friendships that develop over a number of years. Where everything has a memory attached to it. That place you have roamed every corner of, alone or with friends. Where now your family waits anxiously to hear you voice over the phone, everyday. Somewhere you are showered with love and know you will be taken care of.
But then somewhere along this journey there are other places that shape your life up.
How about the place that took you away from it all? But at the same time, it actually set you onto the path you had wanted to be on. Where you learnt what it is to be independent and to struggle. Where you experienced living with friends, sharing a common thread of being away from your land. Somewhere that brought you close to someone in the family, a person you had hardly met before. The place that taught you to laugh even when you were broke or ill. Where complete strangers became close friends in a matter of months. A place that brings a smile on your face everytime you see the skyline reveal itself as you drive the highway curve.
Then there is a place which gives you that sense of achievement. Where you call people to, so they can visit you. Where your independence has taken a new meaning because you don't depend on anyone for monetary reasons. The place that defined the point where your family stopped taking care of you, and you started taking care of them. Where your newest friendships are, promising to be friends for a long time to come. You have responsibilities now. Where complete strangers helped you out when you were new, and made you feel you knew them all along. The place you go back to after every holiday.
Where is it?
"Home, home where I wanted to go" sings Chris Martin as the piano fades away..
Something that inspires invention.
Something that makes Edison or Ford your idols.
Something that makes you ask why we can bring things to life but not people.
Something that inclines you musically.
Something that makes you want to listen to your favourite Rehman or Floyd song.
Something that makes you wonder if you can play that song using that table in front of you as percussion.
Something that makes you nostalgic.
Something that makes you want to have mom's food and cling on to dad on your way to school.
Something that makes you wonder if there are He-man or Dekh Bhai Dekh episodes on Youtube.
Something that makes you happy.
Something that makes you laugh out loud.
Something that makes you wonder if we as kids used little spoons, do Chinese kids use toothpicks?
Something that makes you want to give.
Something that tells you about the kids in Darfur and cringe.
Something that enables you to improve your vocab and feed hungry people at the same time (www.freerice.com)
..And so..I think..
A trip back home always floods me with memories..comparisons..
5 things that I never want to change..and haven't
-- Overflowing local trains always with room for more.
-- Friendships and relationships.
-- People on the streets, people on trees, people in the gardens, people in shops, people in the gym, people at the movies, people at the beach, people in temples, people in churches, people in mosques
-- Doctor's bills for less than the price of an American meal.
-- Fifteen samosas for less than two dollars.
Joy in the littlest of things..
5 things that I wish would have changed..but haven't
-- Road sense which makes a simple commute no less adventurous than the world's most dangerous rollercoaster ride.
-- Indian news channels missing the point. Soaps which have no point.
-- Being able to wake up, brush, shower, eat lunch, wash plates, clean the room, do grocery and yell obscenities for six minutes all in the time it takes for a webpage to open.
-- Rickshaw wallahs being rude and denying senior citizens rides.
-- Men short enough to pick your pocket and tall enough to have their oily sweaty heads as close to your nose as possible in overcrowded buses.
And then ofcourse..there are bigger problems..
I know I have been awfully quiet lately. To be honest..I have been busy..sneezing (them dang pollens!)
In the meantime, however the mind has been actively thinking about the plight of the Indian farmers after I came across this video:
which tells us about exactly just that.
And then it obviously thinks about what can be done to help (as most of your minds will probably think after watching the video...the rest who don't should probably cut down on alcohol.)Wonders why the situation when the nation's once depended almost entirely on agriculture. Have the feeders been forgotten?
So it instructs me to "google" a few things up..talk to a few benevolent friends..and yes..there are organizations that help.
Also had a brilliant idea the other day. CRY has a fantastic website on which you can learn about their projects, volunteer, find their action centers and even donate. Why not make this blog a bit more useful then? Ofcourse, the blabber not only frees up my mind but also provides readers with some light-hearted reading. If you like what you read, just click away on those ads you see all around the articles (I know most of them have to do with hair given that the subject has been prime in a couple of articles..and most of them are useless..but they earn me money when you do that..and cost you only a split second.)The proceeds from that will go towards a CRY donation. You can also independently access this at:
There is an absurd but immense quote that springs to mind here.
"There is always some toothpaste left in the tube. Think about it." -- Bill Bryson
And last but not least, a video that I believe proves that everyone has a hidden talent which can work wonders, notwithstanding their looks or even confidence levels.
Paul Potts, winner of Britain's Got Talent, had Simon Cowell looking open mouthed with awe after his performance, after the judges exchanged those "snickering" looks after he walked up on stage.
Now if you will excuse me, my sinuses need serious attention..
"HUH?!?"..my eyebrows do a high jump off my eyes..giving me the look of the dumbest guy on earth. "Oh!..umm..Je ne parle pas Français, Je parle Anglais..Merci!"..I say, as if reading a line, without emotion, out of a piece of paper.
"Zu you wont zamthing tu it?"
This is followed by me mumbling those ever-"gentle"-but-so-hard-to-pronounce names of my choice from the menu..I might have insulted some deities of some godforsaken places in the process..but she gets my point.
I have been lucky enough to have traveled often..mostly through Paris.For people who know, just as a reminder, my dad works for the airlines and that gives me the pleasure to exploit his freebies in the form of airline tickets. It also makes me one of the very few "esteemed" travelers who can afford to say "Champs-Élysées??..I'm bored of it now!"..For those who didn't know..it's time to be jealous..(OK..enough of the bragging already!..It's your dad's hard work for God's sake!..Thank you God..and dad. Wait..Did I mention I get to travel Business Class?.. :P)
While all these trips have been amazing and cherished there is one thread of anguish that binds them all..my shameful incompetence in French. I used to be as helpless as a fish out of water.
Talking about fish..I once remember a time I disgraced myself by leading a man to the fish market..He was actually only looking for a drink (Boisson)..when the mathematical literate in me thought he actually wanted a filet for lunch (Poisson)..all leading to the conclusion that I was "un imbécile!!"...ofcourse..
But there is always light at the end of the tunnel..in this case it's Franglish. Owing to the globalisation and..erm..the openness of the conservative minds these days there is a new language that the French and the "bloody ignorant tourist"s can converse in. Fairly simple of course if you know those elementary French words like magnifique or Aujourd'hui.
So, for example, one beautiful morning we can say: "Bonjour! Aujourd'hui magnifique day..
Believe me it works. One time I was nearly sweating at the prospect of spending a couple of days at my French host's, who knew as much English as I know French. I believe Franglish took me through those days like a dinghy in a storm..and kept me from being thrown out or laughed at. The children still ask their dad when the "Monsieur de l'Inde" who could pick them up and turn them upside down will be back again.
So you think I am sitting back, glad this "compromise" between languages works? No way. It has always been a childhood aspiration of mine to be able to speak a language besides Hindi, Marathi, English and ermm..Swahili :P..so French it is..It is my resolution that I shall learn it..online lessons and what not! At least to show that mocking French gentleman!
And then I won't heave a sigh of relief at leaving that country of romance..maybe I'll start blogging in French even!..But for now, as far as I can see, my next blog will be in Engalish for sure..Until then.."Au revoir!"
By the time you are done reading this you will probably think I hate my name..or atleast dislike it..and wonder why so. So that such a catastophe be avoided, I have to clarify that it is not so..I love my name..infact I think it's not just me who loves my name...it is surely loved by more than a million because it seems to be one of the most commonly used ones in our nation..Often I have heard a friend say: "You know I have this friend..whose name is also Saurabh by the way..who.."..There will always be another Saurabh in your life..
One of the things I have realised is how much I love it..especially after hearing it being massacred by the common American tongue..Call it out in a busy Mumbai street and no one will give you a second look..Unless ofcourse you are screaming it out on the top of your lungs and running faster than an average human being ( something of a scene when the prankster me used to love to do to friends and mess up their day)..But call it out here and you will get atleast ten pairs of (non-desi) eyes looking back at you with suspicion of abuse.
Then there is the aforementioned massacre..They are quite inventive I must say. For them I am : "Suraab , Surah , Suruba , Sauruub, Sohrbb"..and most times quite simply "YOU" as demonstrated by a colleague in a dialogue over phone that happened within a week of my first day at work:
"Hey Randy..Saurabh here..The tornado got pretty bad last night. Called in to make sure everyone at work is OK"
"Oh yes you bet. It did get bad..Thankfully everyone is fine..Who is this again?"
"This is Saurabh"
"Oh..It's YOU!..Yea Yea!..All's fine!..Thanks!"
It took Randy three weeks to get comfortable with my name. He takes it as an accomplishment when he gets it right directing people to the new guy's cubicle now. He even corrects them.
I keep thinking of new ways to make them get it right the first time they hear it. I can only get as close as "SAW-RUB"..."SORE -UB"..things I had written down on the little parchment they handed out to us before the degree convocation so that the announcer can get our names right. And yet..in that gathering of thousands of blessed souls..( I could also hear him snicker just as he took the parchment in his hand)..he messed it up..unconcerned..and moved on to the next..
I can't even cut it short..Like my friend Ramarathinam trims it conveniently to "Ram". Sometimes I think I should get an American name..like one of them Chinese guys..Sometimes..I just think maybe I'll learn to accept it's abuse or non-utterance..
I am at the salon..They have asked the customers to make entires of their names and arrival times...Half an hour goes by as my name draws closer..The lady checks the list..Her smile changes to a grimace and a puzzled look..She looks around...helpless...I give her my friendly, knowing smile..."That would be me..."
It was about half an hour until we landed in Memphis. I was visiting the city as a stranger..had never been here before..not even so much as passed through it.
"Did you know Memphis has one of the highest crime rates in the country??"..my new friend in the seat next to me was beaming..something to be proud of..she just got a point in this little battle we started between Mumbai and Memphis..It is a statement which makes your anxiety levels peak...especially when you are a few thousand feet above sea-level and on your way to a sea of people of which not a single one you know.."NEVER walk on the streets by yourself..muggings are so dang common!"...aaah!..bliss!...and realization that totally new levels of anxiety can be achieved!..Your only re-assurance is that you have been living in the heart(almost!) of Atlanta for a little over a year..
My ride arrives...a friendly face in a sporty Volkswagen EOS...PK(let's call him that until I get the rights to mention his name publicly..:P) is a twenty-something I was fortunate enough to get in touch with online..We start talking and by the time my motel arrives we are conversing in Bambaiyya hindi..as if we have known each other for quite sometime now..Apparently the motel owner knows him and had helped him out when he was in my shoes...a restless clueless stranger to a new town..Wait!I should probably rephrase that to "restless clueless desi"..it explains why there is abundant help in any place you visit in the US :)
Within a couple of days, I have moved into a new apartment. It's probably too crude yet to be called a home..given the lack of furniture and the holes in my pockets that make it impossible for me to gift it with some..But that will change after sometime..What makes this abode comfortable is the new friends I have made over the past week..About a dozen of them who are willing to help out..from the apartment complex..workplace..the motel or the cricket team..(Yea..believe it or not I was enrolled in the town's cricket team the weekend I got here..We owe a lot to cricket..the one common thread that binds desis together!..But more about that later maybe.)
So here I am..at the beginning of a new phase in my life..It's surely begun well and also got me thinking about how many new people I will meet..I sure look forward to that..because every person has a fascinating story behind them...A new one starts with every child born..So it's impossible to run out of them..and very much possible to listen to a new one everyday!