Monday, 25 March 2013


Love story. Historical romance. 

How about Novel About The Futility Of War instead? 

The first time I read Gone with the Wind, I was awed. Melted into a mushy puddle, even. Who could resist the charms of Scarlett, or the suave and dashing Rhett Butler? Not that I can even today, some multiple (in the range of 19) reads later. But with every read - and the passing years - it's come to mean so much more than just a romance that had infinite appeal to my (then) teenage self. It's like an onion, really - intricate, complex layers that you peel away each time, discovering something new along the way.

What starts off as a genteel romance is suddenly catapulted into an entirely different league altogether, and is symbolic of so much more. Note that I'm not siding/ opposing anyone here; it's just my understanding of a wonderful book. Neither am I going to get into should-we-fight-wars or why-can't-we-live-as-one or anything of the sort. There is always an opposite to everything, so I guess in some twisted, warped way, war is the way that is chosen(?) to counter peace.

I'm now at the post-war Reconstruction bit, and what Scarlett realises is so true - the war may have ended, but their troubles have just begun.  A battle, be it of any kind, leaves scars, most of which fade only over a long time - if at all they do. The energy one would have spent to safeguard themselves during the war is now expended towards rebuilding the tattered remains of life after. It's an uphill struggle, with pitfalls all along the way, and it's the survival of the fittest. These scars and the aftermath of war are felt for generations to come, in some way or the other.

As for the romance, that too changes. From schoolgirl to mature, Scarlett's relationships undergo a paradigm shift. From fun to calculated to deep and meaningful - the various shades are there for you to see, should you choose to.

I'm not sure there's any other book that I enjoy as much, each time I open it up. Back to reading, and possibly more observations as I go along...

Saturday, 23 March 2013


... Again.

The lurid rainbow is back again, as...well, ever. And deelish (of course).

This one reminds me of the Cookie Monster. And I lurve the Cookie Monster. All it needs are the googly eyes. And maybe a cookie.


Do you recall the time when to get people to use online services, merchants used to dangle plump, tempting carrots? Yes, free gifts included! (Refer previous post for detailed rant.)

Our phone service provider dutifully gave us a discount (of a negligible amount) - but it was a discount all the same. Why? On paying your bills on time and via the Internet. Worked for me. With or without the discount, really, but oh the convenience!

It's now the same word that's made it to My List of Irksome Things (and People). Especially when it has fee tagged to it.

So if I go book a movie ticket online, I'm shelling out an additional amount - a percentage of the ticket cost - towards convenience fee. Note that:
- Low to no cost involved for the theatre in terms of having people man ticketing counters
- Low infrastructure cost (no fancy counters/ signboards/ thingummies)
- The time people spend queuing up to buy tickets, they probably now spend at the food counters
- That translates to more revenue - because if you book online, you get food combos (which are not free, are they?)

I see theatres singing their way conveniently to the bank. As for me, yes, I didn't have to make a trip out to book my tickets. And yes, I didn't have to stand in line. But then, doesn't it work both ways? If it's oh-so-convenient for all concerned, split the goodies, I say!

Until then, is anyone headed to book tickets anyway, and can get mine too?

PS: Related airline rant coming up shortly.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Have never understood this one. Maybe it's just me, but could you help?

See, if I had to pay for it (the gift), it wouldn't be a gift in the first place, would it? And hence the 'free' is redundant. I know there are more such oxymorons out there, but this one somehow irks me a fair bit. One reason is, it's always visible - electronics stores that have sales! discounts! free gifts! Clothes that scream the same - buy one and get the other at half price. (And also a free gift.)

Which by the way, most of the time happens to be something entirely useless or even if it can be deemed useful (by a verrrrry long stretch of the imagination), it's not for me. 

What, for example, will I do with a tiny plastic box that is non-food grade? Okay, so maybe it can be used to store say, um, play doh, or odd buttons or maybe a stray piece of jewellery. Hmm. But then for that, said box needs to be of a reasonable size! The play doh itself (in a single colour) can occupy a box three times the size. Hmph. As for jewellery, it's not me. On that, whenever I remind the significant other just how much he saves by not having to buy me serious jewellery/ trinkets, he just doesn't see it the way I do. Apparently, the books and wardrobe upgrades cost a small fortune. But I digress.

The other things I've gotten often enough at grocery stores are sachets of soup and ketchup. The soup will always be tomato (ugh), the ketchup some shady brand(?) that I'm not even sure is ketchup. Could be plain pumpkin paste with food colour for all I know.

The worst that I can remember is this one soap (I forget which) that offered a diamond pendant with some zillions of cakes. I mean, really! Diamonds? On soap? Who were they kidding? Paste stones, most likely. Am not sure any amount of soaps (that cost well under a dollar each) can stare confidently in the face of even the teeniest diamond.

Conclusion: There is no such thing as a free gift, and if someone promises you that there is, it's time to turn right round and head off in the opposite direction. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Or a book. Or two. Um, maybe three. Or more. And a similar amount of movies.

The day just can't get more perfect, the day an delivery comes in!


While the title of this post may be generic, I guess I could amend it to say 'Why I Dislike Most Reality Shows'. Not sure how true that would be, though, seeing the sort of programming there is of the genre on Indian telly today. I'll tear apart discuss a cookery show here for example.

The show in question is the local version of an Australian cooking show, but that's where any similarity ends. I'm personally a huge fan of the Aussie version - stood in line to have cookbooks signed by the hosts at the risk of losing my iPad/ limbs/ life, that's how much I like/ revere them - but this one, um, NEVER. Here's why:

In the previous seasons, an actor was the host. While I have nothing against the said actor (some of his films have been entertaining), my grouse is against the concept of a non-chef (is that even a word? but you know what I mean...) hosting a food show. Food = Chef. Foodie is welcome, but does not sub for a chef. Acting chops do not sub for lamb chops. Capiche?

So that's been rectified this new season, for what it's worth. There are cooks now. You bringing out the bubbly, hoping I'm gonna wrap up this post? Nu-uh, not gonna happen, so plod on!

What's not changed is the melodrama. If it's a food show, shouldn't the focus be:
a. Food
b. Food
c. Food
d. On helping contestants (winners and non-winners alike) move ahead on their foodie dream path
e. On sounding and looking like a food show

What we have instead is a scary concoction of tears, sob stories and some more tears. And oh, by the way there's some food, off and on. Possibly for relief from all the crying, I dunno. 

The episode I shuddered my way through earlier this week had a contestant from rural India sobbing and gasping his way through a story about how he runs a roadside stall and has borrowed money till the cows come home to make it to the auditions. With a lot of cooing and murmuring from the judges, the man in question is awarded the coveted apron, which he almost collapses receiving. He then proceeds to touch each of the judges' feet. I mean c'mon, is this a family tear-jerker or what? Of course, there's suitable Hindi film music that's playing in the background.

Scenario 2: Ridiculously chirpy (read: sounded senile) lady from one of the metros, who giggled and twirled and chirped her way through her audition. Said something about how she's always on her toes, running behind her kids, spouse and in-laws. Twittered and simpered for additional (barf) effect. Do you think she didn't get the apron? Really? Hah!

Clearly, it's not about the food. It's all about the masala, the tears, the gut-wrenching stories, the poor underdog. WHERE IS THE FOOD??

I could go on... and on. Just that it's sorta sickening to. Besides, thinking about it only replays each ridiculous piece of nothing in my head, and that's unspeakable trauma I really can't bear.

My point is, stick to the  international format. If you can't for whatever (inane) reason(s), don't sully the original by attempting to pass off whatever it is you've come up with. I continue to remain a fan of the Aussie series, and the way that one goes, I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. I'd go back and buy the same books and stand in that same I'm-a-groupie-at-a-rock-concert queue just for that same scrawl across the pages. Rinse repeat.

So if you counter-argue that local flavour works, then fine. But DO NOT call it what you do. Call it the Remixed Version That Has Nothing To Do With The Original, thank you very much.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Belated, of course, but then that's just me. When is it that I've shared holiday pictures just as I've returned? God forbid I try uploading photos while on vacation itself. Gasp!

So - *drum rolls* - here is a gorgeous rainbow over Cairns, Australia, taken in November 2012. Thankfully, such dreamy images don't come with an expiry date.


When you sign up on a social networking site, isn't 'social' the operative word?

I don't seem to understand all the brouhaha about privacy settings - who can see which picture, who else can comment on stuff updated, and how the neighbour's dog also adds his own two woofs to the 'likes'. The thing is, somewhere (in those reams of fine digital print that we didn't bother to read at sign up) in the race to mark our presence on these platforms, we do wave goodbye to some amount of privacy.

Sure, I wouldn't want my photograph flashing on say a dating site or *shudder* worse, but having said that, does it really matter if a friend of a friend knows where I was on vacay, soaking up the sun? Yes? Then here's a suggestion - maybe an online web album, with almost obsessive privacy settings is more the deal. That way, you share the link with just the people you want, and you're good to go. No random stranger (a.k.a. friend of a friend of a friend of a friend tagged) is poking pins into voodoo dolls, green with envy that you were in the Bahamas while s/he was at work, at that extremely stimulating (not) desk job.

Speaking for myself, I do use privacy settings, yes. But no, I don't have a coronary just because a photo was liked/ commented on/ shared by someone in my 'friend list'. The thing is, it was put up knowingly, right, with my being aware of that very possibility? So.

No? Still doesn't appeal? Then maybe it's time to pull out scented notepaper, pen and postage stamps. Stay in touch, the extinct good old fashioned way. Carrier pigeons need a job too.

Monday, 11 March 2013


So I'm happily browsing my way through my account on a popular social networking site over coffee this morning, oohing and aahing over some gorgeous pictures of marine life a cousin's captured, mentally transporting myself on an exotic Bali/ Maldives/ Fiji vacation. Happiness, marred by a another set of pictures that almost made me spill my coffee. Now that would've been a bad thing, huh? Precious coffee lost over what? Politics, I tell you. Meh.

Those disturbing images? Politicians. Those captions and rants? Political. Honestly, why on social networking? Don't understand why the We Love So-and-So Party and We Couldn't Care Less About So-and-So Politician groups/ pages abound, really. My perception of social networking must be warped, clearly, because all I use it for is to connect with friends and family the world over (albeit impersonal, but that's another story to tell). So why politics?

Sometimes, I marvel at those of us who can stay apolitical? unpolitical? through all the news and coverage that happens. But really, it does irk (and I'm being polite) me no end to see all those almost maniac articles and posts praising X and defiling Y. It's a tough job, not taking sides and being a happy fence sitter with a  coffee and reading only the funnies in the papers (okay, horoscopes too), without reacting to any of the garbage that is generously doled out on a daily basis.

Why the apathy? Why the dislike for politics? Well, personally, I think there's enough gore going around without adding further stress. Haven't seen many civil discussions over a drink or a meal that didn't turn into (sometimes ugly) arguments about A versus B. Call it escapist if you like, but I'm not one for the discussion.

Excuse me while I go brew another cuppa. Manna, this.