Sunday, April 22, 2012

No Misses, Only Hits

Huffing and puffing, I reached the cinema. Just in time for the movie. The plan was to watch Vicky Donor at 8.30pm at Ilford (with my gang from 144 Ilford) and I started at 8.08pm from home after dropping the plan twice in my mind. I was acting lazy after the evening coffee and slowly getting inclined towards dropping out. And suddenly, after checking the reviews online and chatting with an old friend, I lunged out of the room, left aside the half cut potatoes (for my dinner), quickly changed into my jeans, pulled the coat out, put the scarf on and ran outside. The few steps of my so-called journey to the cinema included a bus ride, a sprint through the Stratford Centre, racing up the steps of Stratford Station platform no. 8 for an 8-minute train ride to Ilford, post which another sprint through the high street towards Cineworld. 

Like I said, huffing and puffing I reached the cinema and bought myself a ticket. I also bought myself a small coke and waited for the 144 gang to arrive. A few had arrived I later realized and were holding onto some extra seats for us, a few more were on their way. The movie was to begin in another couple of minutes! 

As I settled into my seat, I was overjoyed - know why? So far, I have never ever missed the beginning of any movie in my life that I have gone to the cinemas to watch! Never. Never ever. Somehow, it has been a record sort of and I must admit I felt quite pleased with myself. I still am!

Do you remember the scene from Jab We Met that introduces Kareena Kapoor (character Geet) for the first time, while she tries to catch the running train? She gets all her luggage in first, a fellow-passenger and the coolie try hard to help her! She finally gets in and says, in typical Punjabi-Hindi, "pata hai kya, aaj tak life mein ek train nahi chhooti meri. Thank you Babaji, mera record tootne se bacha liya." (translation: "you know what, I have never missed catching a train in my life. Thank you God, you helped maintain my record!"). I felt exactly like that when the lady at the counter gave the movie ticket into my hand. I was in time, with a valid ticket and there were still a good few minutes for the movie to start! I wish someone captured my relief and excitement in a frame too! 

Ah, about the movie I watched: Vicky Donor. The one thing that remains with you after the movie is over, quite unexpectedly, is the word 'Sperm' and probably Annu Kapoor's wiggling fingers as a symbolic gesture for the word. The movie is probably one of the best comedies Bollywood has churned out, after ages. I don't remember the last time I watched a Hindi comedy where I have laughed (the genuine laughter! not the one you laugh after watching cartoons like Housefull etc!) for every 3rd frame during the whole time. The characters are quite unique in themselves, esp the mothers. The faces are fresh, the dialogues good, and performances genuinely heartfelt. I enjoyed my time thoroughly and I would say it's definitely worth the time and money.

Time For Yourself

I thought it's good to post about what I think can be a good idea to spend your time on, on lazy weekends. Because, these are few of the things that I did today, and considering I feel quite chirpy and cheerful now, these can be my recommendations to the readers of this blog.  

Read a cheerful happy book like one of these (or any other) at a coffee shop:

Watch TBBT's snippets on Youtube, esp the one on Friendship Algorithm!

And if none of those work, 
Just sit by the bedroom window and stare:


It is important to spend a slice of time, at least every week, to do an activity that you like. I often go for walks, in the big beautiful parks here and reflect on my life, think about my friends and family, think about my work and every tiny detail attached to my life. Some bring a smile, some pour out a longing, and some leave behind a restless feeling; but in a nut shell the quiet time that I do spend, just sitting by myself, helps distill out the unnecessary clutter I collect on my way and helps me put the shine back on.

I have read Eat Pray Love a couple of times and I enjoy revisiting Liz's journey to finding herself through food and loneliness in Italy, chaos and companionship in India, and love and longing in Bali - the book does what it's supposed to do best - make me think! I have watched the film on the book Julie & Julia, and my stomach jumps with joy when I look at all those delicious food being shown, written and spoken about in the movie and in the way that every character becomes secondary to the food in every single frame! The Big Bang Theory is the latest entry into the many things I love watching online these days, they are hilarious, they are nerdy and we love them all; watching snippet after snippet only reminds me of geeky friends I have; and if nothing of the above works for me at any point in time, I enjoy sitting with a coffee mug by my bedroom window and staring into the stillness of life outside and after a while my own mind begins to resonate the stillness.

We all have our ways to spend the leisure time we get, and as long as we remember to not while it away in boredom, I think we will be able to keep in touch with our inner self.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


So I love going to the Whitecross street market to get my lunch during work. It's a long distance from my office, but I enjoy the walk; it's probably one reason why I go - to take a nice 20min walk just before lunch. The market kicks off at noon and there are various stalls carrying all types of food, possibly from all the parts of the world. Click here to see the place!

The parts of the world that interest me, however, are only that of Italy and India. Dishes served in these two stalls are rich in variety even when it comes to vegetarians, are rich in flavour, and in my opinion, offer good value for money too. The reason for my inclination towards the Indian stalls is quite obvious but the Italian stall attracts me more for the fact that I believe I'd never learn to cook these dishes at home and so I gorge as much as I can when I have the chance.

So this weekend, when I went to do my grocery shopping at Morrisons, I decided to get some of the bottled sauces to try my amateur hand at these Italian pastas. I bought the tomato & Mediterranean vegetables sauce, and tomato & chilli sauce; picked up two packets of Penne Rigate and Spirali each from the neatly stacked large shelves and was feeling quite Italian already! I prepared Spicy Arrabbiata for lunch on Sunday and complimented it with some toast and butter as sides, and without sounding too boastful of my cooking skills, I think it tasted quite like the box of arrabbiata I get from the Italian stall at Whitecross. I couldn't believe it until a few spoonfuls and then I had sort of a eureka moment sitting in my kitchen - I could cook Italian food! And then it occurred to me, how suddenly had the Italian food come within my reach! In a fleeting moment though, the Italian stall lost its charm. I felt like a master who had just tamed a ferocious tiger...

Cutting sharply through my thoughts was my washing machine making loud noises of rinsing and spinning my clothes. I darted out of the kitchen and into my bedroom, to quickly get dressed for my evening ahead. Idly sitting in the tube later on, my thoughts sprang back into my mind as if trying to finish some unfinished business! I thought about how the dishes at the Italian stall suddenly seemed captured within realm of my own kitchen. And my mind was quickly drawing up an analogy with Life itself.

Wouldn't you agree with me when I say a task, or a material object, or even a personality attracts more interest and curiosity when we think it/they are unattainable? Money, fame, all big fat luxury items, our favorite celebrities and their lifestyles, etc. - just all of them carry a certain aura, charm and a mystery that makes them seem so special and unreachable. We all desire for each of these - to earn money, to be successful (which is only a relative term anyway), to own some hi-tech or fashionable luxury item, to meet our favorite personality - but once we get these things, what really happens? The luxury item becomes a showpiece that you overtime forget to even brag about; money stays in your bank and you enjoy spending it but are no longer under the aura it carried in your mind until you earned it all, and you look at the picture you got taken with your favorite star and bask in it, if only momentarily! None of this is against the human psyche. This is how we are. This is how I am. Only that this time, the Italian stall was at the losing end of the game.

But I have come to believe, with the limited knowledge that I possess, there is one thing we all desire for, and yet never grow tired of after achieving/experiencing it - happiness. There is no one definition to happiness, and each one of us has her/his own for this 9-letter word, but no matter how difficult the path to achieving this feeling might be I am absolutely sure at no point in time do we begin to set it aside as an attained wealth/commodity - like I perhaps did with the Italian stalls. To vouch for my rather homo-sapiens-behaviour, I tried out the 'I-can-possibly-never-get-anything-interesting-veggie-there-thus-unreachable' Japanese place Habibi that my team often visits to get lunch from and after tasting the Vegetable Curry & Rice I wondered why I avoided this place all this while. And voila! I now have another object of desire.

Such is Life, and it is only nice to have these tiny realizations between awesome morsels of food that I put into my mouth, making every bite rich and wholesome.

Monday, April 02, 2012

At 144, Ilford

We all have a few crazy people as friends. Don't we? And whether we like to admit it or not, the fact is we tend to enjoy their company the most, most often. Reasons for which are not difficult to fathom - craziness brings out the child in us and it feels good to get in touch with the innocence in us every once in a while.  

I have a few such crazy friends and I am quite proud of them being that way! But I realised this weekend that I have now the privilege of making that list a bit bigger, and all thanks to the new Flesh-n-Blood at Ilford. These men live their vibrant lives in 144 CityView Centreway apartments, and indulge majorly in two activities: Cooking awesome Indian food, and Ironing their washed semi-dried clothes. And that is precisely the reason they are crazy; and you will gradually know as you reach the end of this post why I call them my crazy friends.

144 is the hub of all activities and enthusiasm for me, although the inmates often like to enjoy deep slumbers even on a sunny weekend afternoon. So what if they are living in London where sunshine is a luxury, as Indians they like to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon sleeping cozily tucked inside their quilts! That is all. No more arguments taken.

However, they leave no stone unturned the moment I arrive - in pulling my leg and making me eat. I sometimes wonder if I end up a few inches taller and fatter with the amount of leg-pulling I undergo and with the amount of food I consume in the few hours that I spend here. And, that is one more indication of how all these people have slowly walked up the ladder of friendship. Every subsequent visit to 144 has turned out to be longer than the previous one in the last three months. A few hours turned into half a day, an evening turned into a full blown overnight-stay; and now almost all my weekend was spent at 144! There is more laughter, more fun, more pampering, more indulgence, more music, (will be) more wine, and a lottt more food! Being an all-guys household I do not understand how all those mouth-watering yumm-looking dishes are doled out every single night! Well, as long as they keep 'em coming, I don't mind to be very honest.

Carefully avoiding all of the personal details of my new friends at Ilford, I'd only say:
AN is a disciplinarian who loves to pamper and pull my leg both with the characteristic straight face that he leaves you confounded often and quite effortlessly so; HRS is an obsessive neat-freak who likes to iron out creases not only on his bed-time clothes but also in everyone's mind who steps into his home - creases of shyness, and hesitation! Poo is the ever-green Mr. Speed of the entire lot - always running about the house with a thousand things on his mind and a few of those thoughts that pour out from the sides only leave behind pearls of laughter! RK is a dad, probably the oldest among the group but when you see him trying to fiddle around a dirty bag to help choose which shoe-polish to use - the liquid one which is quicker but not good for the shoes or the cream polish which is time-taking but better for the shoes - he reminds you of a cute paranoid school going kid who's busily readying himself for another Monday morning. And the funniest and warmest of 'em all is JD. He is a bundle of jokes and funny remarks of which all of us are equal targets and you wouldn't realise when the target has been moved and who's eventually laughing at who!

And all of this happens at 144 amidst cooking and ironing. Irrespective of what movies are playing on TV, which songs we are listening to, and who's coming in and going out - the fun revolves around preparing evening tea, making chappatis, readying the curries and daals; and ironing every single piece of clothig that you can possibly lay your hands on!

So not only do we all end up having a lot of fun, we also end up coming across so utterly crazy and happy, in our own unique ways! And that is all friendships are about.