Notes From My Bombay Trip

June 21, 2010
  • My Jet Airways Citbank Card finally came of some use and I used miles accumulated since 2007 to get myself a return ticket to Bombay where I attended the NiTyaGu wedding. Regrettably, Airport Development Fees and Congestion Charges cannot be paid for by miles.
  • When introducting Konnect, Jet Airways seems to have forgotten to make provision for it in the frequent flier program. It takes as many miles to redeem a full-service ticket as a Konnect ticket. Naturally I booked full-service tickets.
  • Having a full fare ticket allowed me to finally enter the Jet Airways lounge at Chennai. Alas, the lounge has no wifi, is slightly dirty, and while I was there had not only hyperactive kids but a Malaysian couple who fought over the guy tying his shoe instead of listening to the girl. The guy then made the girl cry. Am I the only person who notices these bizarre domestic disputes?
  • Having a full-fare ticket also meant I got to watch 30 Rock on the inflight entertainment system (Nishit D and PGK, please note). Also, two episodes of Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai.
  • Apropos of inflight entertainment systems, now that K Maran has taken over Spice Jet and is going to rename it Sun Airways, will it start offering Sun TV as inflight entertainment? If this is too expensive for a low cost carrier, will it just play Kalaignar’s poetry on the PA system? Will Azhagiri now buy Go Air in retaliation? These are burning questions.
  • Bloomberg UTV has hoardings up all over Mumbai claiming to be blunt, and sharp. It is clearly the Schroedinger’s cat of Indian broadcasting. That means that if anybody actually watches it, it will collapse.
  • Speaking of hoardings, I did not see a single hoarding or OOH banner that referred to the football world cup while in Bombay. I fear its obsession with Indian celebrities is now crowding out everything else.
  • The banana lassi at Theobroma is awesome.
  • Theobroma is now offering to courier its brownies anywhere in India. Unfortunately payment can be made only at Mumbai. This makes it useful as a gifting option where the gifter is in Mumbai, but is pretty useless if you’re in Kanchipuram and want to order. This week I shall call the Colaba outlet and ask if they’ll take payment by EFT.
  • Kodhi made me (and others) watch the 90210 season two finale. This led to consequences that are too scandalous to discuss outside a W-File. Unfortunately, I am not going to start writing the next W-File until at least July.
  • The grub at the Rajdhani in Oberoi Mall was seriously good. In fact, the khichdi, kadi, and jalebis were themselves worth the price of the whole thali.
  • I met PGK at the reception. Like Sreesanth, he is a personable young man. Unlike Sreesanth, he is not Mallu.
  • TamBrahm weddings are like ERP implementations.
  • Sambhar in Chembur continues to rock.
  • My Jet Airways Citibank Card also came in useful at Mumbai airport, where I got complimentary access to the lounge, which didn’t even care what my ticket was. Unfortunately, the lounge is only marginally less noisy than the public seating area, so I shifted there. Oh sigh.
  • A lounge that banned children would be quite excellent. To fend of accusations of elitism and child-hatred from mommybloggers, it could accomplish this by serving alcohol and barring entry to anybody less than 18 years old. I am still not sure how it could get rid of other annoying guests, like the ones who loudlly discuss compensation schemes on their blackberries. Tchah.
  • The wifi in Mumbai airport was down and didn’t start working until it was almost boarding time. I will have to add the appropriate tags to this post later, when I get home. Also, the wifi is only free for ten minutes. Oh sigh.


August 8, 2009

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now
My house in Bombay is in the centre of action with a children’s garden, wedding hall and some popular south Indian restaurants in the neighbourhood. Unsurprisingly, for a city that never sleeps, there is never any time when there is no traffic and no noise. Even at 1 am I could walk down 20 steps to find the road side pau bhaji wala and juice centres; all doing roaring business and buzzing with people, energy and activity. Dadar station is the closest “fast” station on the western line to my house. There would be very few places in the world as crowded and chaotic as Dadar station. People visiting Bombay for the first time tend to get overwhelmed at the sight of the crowds running like their life depends on the last local; particularly at the big stations like Churchgate, VT, Dadar, etc. For Bombaites it’s a way of life – we know it no other way. Most of us have taken the last train home and also spent times painting the town red till 6 am such that we reach home when the doodhwala arrives.
So when I got to Shanghai and realized I could live on either side of the river – Puxi, which in energy and spirit reminds me of Bombay or Pudong, which is the quieter commercial and residential area; i surprised myself by choosing to live in Pudong. Not because I wanted to be close to work (as I travel 45 mins to work one way) but because I wanted to experience what one rarely gets in Bombay – SOLITUDE! I live in an area called Jinqiao which seems completely surreal to me – my building apartment stands in the middle of long alleys with trees on both sides; shops are so in descript one would barely notice them and though there are lot of people who live here, one never gets to see them. There is a Carrefour and community centre at a 10 minute walking distance – this place is frequented by people of so many different nationalities – it seems like a complete melting pot where the world has come together. It’s a congregation of a different kind and seems quite unreal.
A friend from Puxi recently visited me and she was so shocked at the tranquillity and stillness of the surroundings. She asked me how come I don’t feel scared living alone in such a quiet area. That’s when I realized that though initially the solitude had seemed very new to me; I had come to embrace it and like it in more ways than one. There are no screeching, honking, music blasting cars here. I have neighbours but never feel their presence. Of course there is no shaadi ka band bajaa which I am so used to (since I have a marriage hall right next to my house back home). The only time I remember hearing sound in my surroundings was when the Chinese New Year was being celebrated with fireworks. Otherwise the serenity and calmness is lovely – it’s quite something to be able to hear the sound of rain with no other sounds to dilute the effect. I wish I could walk into my balcony and have a sea or beach view – what I have instead is an artificial lake and villas for a view. This quietude has had amazing effect on me; making me reflect, introspect and even change a lot. I am getting so used to this that today when I speak to family and friends back home and can hear the loud traffic in the back ground, I find that disturbing enough for me to tell them to speak to me when they are in a quieter place. Truly such peace and quiet is difficult (and expensive) to get in Bombay – and that makes me value this even more!

Kunal Kohli and the Missing Umbrella

June 16, 2008

Kunal Kohli must be struck down upon with great vengeance.

Not because Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic mixes Hindi, Urdu and English words into the title. I actually approve of that.

Not because it’s a ripoff of Mary Poppins. After all, you can’t expect better from a man who’s already ripped off When Harry Met Sally and The Truth About Cats and Dogs.

Not even because the sardar kid in the movie looks like an aspiring suicide bomber in the posters. Yes, looking at his surly gaze can put you off lunch, but I suppose it’s not really his fault or even Kohli’s.

No, the reason Kunal Kohli must be viciously and brutally attacked is that in the process of ripping of Mary Poppins, he has replaced the nanny’s magic umbrella with a magic bicycle. This is nothing but a slap in the face of the good, decent, lower to middle-middle class folks in Mumbai for whom an umbrella is their only defence in the monsoons – unlike poncy git filmmakers with chauffeur driven cars.

A violent assault on Kunal Kohli represents the highest form of class warfare. To the barricades, comrades!

Reaving and Slaying

March 24, 2008

While in Calcutta, I went for a litquiz with Aishwarya and Pradipta. Despite four self-overrules in the prelims, we qualified; and despite a Bong-funda heavy first half, we ended up winning the quiz. I think the margin of victory was at least three questions, and probably four or more. Apparently, it’ll be reported in the Telegraph’s equivalent of Bangalore Times and stuff.

Pradipta informs me that this is the first time in years that anyone has ever beaten the runners-up (a team called the Inmaniacs), and that this will therefore cause ripples of shock and awe across the Calcutta quizzing circuit (such as it is). This was of course prophesied long ago by davenchit:

The Jin in the time of Genghis Khan were noted for their many defensive walls- rotting, all but useless against true foes, these were symptoms of inner decay. The infrastructure of Calcutta resembles that of the Jin- reflections of past glory. Reckless drinkers, weakened by the Irish influence, they are ripe for conquest. Securing this key littoral will complete the preparation for the final assault: Bangalore.

Indeed, the shock that is currently reverberating through the cul-de-sacs of the City of Dretful Night is comparable to the
wounds North India suffered after the initial Turkic and Persian invasions, the crippling blows to society faced by Great Britain after the Viking raids, and the sack of Rome by Attila the Hun. A mere raid has exposed the society’s decay and corruption; annihilation and conquest cannot be long away. Soon, Bombay and Bangalore’s quizzers will overrun Calcutta, grabbing pole positions in every quiz that takes place, crushing the locals, and hearing the lamentations of their women and children. The old order of sleazy pubs and Ambassadors shall be shattered, as new watering holes and real taxis spring up to serve the needs of Calcutta’s new masters. The Pax Quizzica shall return Kolkata (faugh!) to the state which it was always meant to be: Calcutta for the Marwaris!