I am a water-sports lover… and no, holi doesn’t make it to the top 10!
Whether water-sport or not, holi is quite a spoilsport for us “rigidly stay away from anything to do with grisly slimy color” types, and hence, here’s a quaint little acquaintance with one of our most unquaint of festivals.
Ladies and gentlemen, lo and behold, holi’s around the corner again!
It begins days earlier than the event itself …while you’re walking half dazed, lost in dreams about the boss’s new secretary, a well aimed water filled pointer hits your medulla (for the discerning ,the rear part of the brain)
It causes in all humans reactions ranging from the submissive to the dismissive…to where you think it must be the secretary’s father.
Then you realize it’s your landlord’s brat and you grin stupidly, because you very well can’t drown the kid amongst other things which you have been scheming and planning for decades. You also give a further grin towards pa gargoyle …the kid’s father and your landlord; as to the effect…haa what a keen sense of humor the thing has inherited.
A very interesting aspect of the above incident I noted in 99.99% of the cases I surveyed, … albeit very safely from the upper balcony with pa goyle, is that the head on being hit with the balloon, goes ahead, while the body stays put in place .
The hand then immediately reaches out to survey the spot (with great interest in round circular motions) and suddenly realization dawns on Einstein and he/she looks at the brat with unprintable thoughts until it meets the eyes of pa goyle in which case it goes thru the same motions as described above…
Some further observations of mine during the actual carrying out of the process ….
The Holier than thou attitude
This involves amidst great efforts …to prove thou hast played with the most colors. Looks on the face may range from that of fait accompli to the look you had when you had your masters summa cum laude from Harvard .
The main objective so to speak is to have the most color and candor on your face either by intentionally begging or deliberately emptying a few packets in the nearby gully when no ones around.
All done a look of self importance to top it makes you a demi-god indeed
Holy is as holi does
This involves with great planning, bringing types like me out of the house, stupid grins included, which of course doesn’t involve great planning.
A couple of rings on the door bell would usually do the trick, and faith in humanity ever high, I open the door only to be greeted by a whack on the face with various states of matter as in liquid colors, solid colors, semisolid colors etc
Everything gets experimented on me and the world is my canvas, quite …literally so.
Then the sudden feeling of helplessness combined with that familiar wet feeling all around.
If it wasn’t bad enough, Mrs. Aurora and Mrs. Bhojwani...precariously balancing their huge selves on their legs envelop me with about a ton of special edition gulal (the kind that doesn’t rub off after repeated baths).
This of course is with little acts of kindness by junior and pa goyle where I get rubbed in more color...and soon the familiar feeling that the ordeal is finally over that there is hope in life after all …a bit of relief until next holi that is.
Adding color ...to the proceedings so to speak are the famous Raymond colors. For the uninformed they are fabric colors, rather dyes, so no amount of soaking and washing and bathing can get them off you till about a week passes by…
This causes an interesting phenomena the next day at office when u may enter in various hues and shades ,looking shadier than usual I guess.
You may go green red or purple in embarrassment depending on the color scheme used on you when you meet your Brit CEO in that general bodied meeting where the expats are surprised to see the sheer number of colorful Indians… no boundaries of color indeed.
On one such occasion I was mistaken for the local form of entertainment, instead of the auditor, while another jap yelled “Smurf!”.
But of course there are lots of dangers apart from the aforementioned, like the bhang made by Mrs. Goyle, which of course you can’t refuse.
And it causing amongst other things a mixed feeling of euphoria, stupid grin included, wherein you may pilot airships to unexplored lands.
After which of course it may feel like Mrs. aurora was sitting on your head….
But I guess going into those will call for another article. Meanwhile I do wish I had a holiday, nay a holi – day, without the holi spirit, and where it wasn’t the holy writ to get me wet, where there are no brats , no landlords , where I could dry as a cat , enjoy my holiday…
Now, that is some colorful thinking indeed …
The atmosphere thick with anticipation with a million poised eyes, a moment frozen in time... nothing stirs… ears attuned over the millennia, a superior race battle hardened by time awaits the signal, the distinct piercing sound that will set forth the motion… fluid, practiced and honed with time, no mercy when it comes to the kill, a million trained dark eyes watching, waiting for the stirrings on the track…
Set apart are the few rookies, nervous and afraid, the new born gazelles, a bleak future in the chain of survival, not experienced, yet they await with the hope of the damned, mimicking those experienced for a glimmer of a chance for success, not knowing what awaits them...a dark uncertain future…
The air is dry and hot...typically like the African savannah, stirrings amongst them like the sway of the wild African grasslands. A restless energy runs through, getting pumped up by the moment for you never know when Armageddon strikes, or where... being a rookie is not good, it’s really very very bad indeed.
The experienced eyes scan the horizon, the tell tale signs are there on board... the sun glimmers mercilessly on the long snaking lines, glinting harshly…the eyes of the predator see it all, years of evolution having burned the timeless knowledge of the event in them, their muscles get tense and await with anticipation, know with experience, the adrenalin begins to pump … the time is near.
The deed is to be done
Survival depends on it
The less experienced sense the preparation in the predatory eyes… they see them getting ready. .they sharpen their wares and get ready, for this is life... you don’t run, you face it, and succeed at that.
An eerie voice rents the air, announcing it may be time.
A million ears hook up to it.
The ball has been set in motion.
There’s no looking back now.
The predatory instinct takes over, the gait is tense and ready. The time for the kill has come… other’s sense the change...like the warbler’s warning cry tearing the air when the lions begin their hunt, the hunters are ready and about.
Except here it’s a million strong.
A large million eyed one with a few experienced hands, reflexes taut, their ears pick up the sound, the unmistakable tell tale sound
Its time to act
The atmosphere is now hot, mercilessly hot, a million lungs breathe in unison
Waiting for the moment... Many know they will not succeed. But it’s their destiny .They cannot fail and bring disgrace. They know they have to, for they have to be there on time ….to meet their destiny.
The huge collection of souls moves in a singular fluid movement towards the orifice.
A million minds churning out a billion possible lines of collective and individual action.
Comrades saying their last good byes to each other.
Silent nods of the eye convey their thoughts, its now or never..
They know they might meet them on the other side. .if they make it…..
Or not at all
Thereby hangs a uncertain, unknown future
You never know
The sounds are louder now
You can hear the vibrations afoot, the breathing harsher
The object nearer
The time for action coming
They poise with bated breath
The prey moves in and the hunters are ready for the kill, they have to do what they have to, survival of the fittest
Natures rules...no sympathy for the weak and the inexperienced and the young
Battle hardened faces await …waiting for the moment
Friends and foe forgotten…animal emotions and traits subdued for a millennia come gushing a forth
Their adrenalins pumping.
The prey near, within reach.
There’s a mad rush a collective swoop
Many are overwhelmed by the huge mass that pushes thru
Obscuring and carrying the weaker amongst them. Like the powerful river and the helpless gnu…still instinct drives them towards their destiny their goal, their future, it’s what is to be done…
They have no control
The superior ones lead the front, pushing, hitting, and battling their way thru, only one objective mercilessly burnt into their collective consciousness.
They parry, they heave, they attack, and they rush forth carrying the unfortunate helpless along. The crowds of millions sheared by a single swashbuckling movement of the predator making way tearing through the collective, a silk sheet being torn apart…
There’s the point of no return.
Yes they have made it to the tip of the frightening mass searing their way thru, ancient battle cries renting the air, their experienced arms a blur of motion …all this to get ahead to the prey.
Dust on the horizon a million souls in a battle that commences every other millennia and now enacted a thousand times a day.
Yes I have made it to the window seat in the Thane starting local.....
I used to wear cotton shirts…wonderful, light, comfortable cotton shirts from
binny`s but now all I have is itchy sweaty polyester shirts…and here’s why.
A Polyester businessman was down on his fortunes because customers preferred
cotton shirts for the Indian summer instead of his itchy scratchy polyester thingies.
So what does he do, run a market survey to find what’s wrong with his business?
Naah, that’s not an Indian thing to do and so he consults the usual plethora of baba’s, sadhu’s , (and just to be politically correct, sadhvi’s) and a few other saints well martyred in the past on how to improve his business and comes to the conclusion that his business is a failure because… his house is not properly laid out according to ancient architectural principles of Feng Shui !
Poof, the next step is a nearby ancient architecture “sciences” consultant who may recommend changing the person in question’s entire range of “subjects”…as in changing the houses geography (changing the true north to south...this doesn’t mean asking your south Indian neighbors to move into your house and vice versa), changing the history (modify your past tax records), mathematics (pay architecture “master” in multiples of Rs.1000 only), physics ( place the chair on the ceiling), chemistry amongst people (ask secretary to wear short skirts only), biology ( 3 legged turtles and neon fish in tanks), English (spout ancient architecture phrases like Ying and Yang), Chinese (Ying and Yang are Chinese words apparently), etc…
Having gone thru shady looking charts and other shadier characters the business man finally comes upon the conclusion to get ancient sciences in the picture and change his business according to the Master plan or is it “Masters Plan”?
So finally our polyester shirt businessman architectures his way around and carries on business from the terrace while living and bathing on the veranda.
And here’s a big but.
His business changes and there come the fortunes!
But how is that? It all starts in a small way.
Apparently the businessman’s wholesale customers visit his place of business and see the architechturised renovated uninhabitable office... Oh my god they say!
The bloke must be doing really well to hire those big ancient science master types!
Look at all the thousand rupee fishes and the specially crafted several thousand rupeed Buddha!
Business must be good for this guy… maybe other wholesalers are stocking up on polyester shirts too! And giving him good business at that!
Maybe he’s earning a lot!
Lets all stock up polyester shirts in hordes goes the clarion cry!
Immediately what follows is sheer demand for the poly thingies… with wholesaler after wholesaler buying them up so he doesn’t lose out on competition.
The businessman’s business flourishes like never before
This builds up
Others see how successful the businessman has become and start redoing their house plans.
Many others, unfortunate as it may seem for our skin, startup polyester shirt selling businesses.
A rather sad and itchy fall out, you may agree.
The logical conclusion of this stocking up is that it has to be offloaded somewhere
Soon all shops are replacing good ol’ wearable cotton shirts with tons of polyester shirts of all colors, all shapes, all sizes and all itches…from purple flowery patterned to bold striped orange ones.
We are in business yes siree.
The polyester shirt businessman is making money in hordes since there’s only demand for polyester shirts! It’s all because of “ancient science” he says... I was down on my luck till I changed the house plan he proclaims from his terrace office.
Soon “ancient science” is all the more popular…his master becomes an internationally certified master…look how he changed the poly guys fortunes!
Soon people of all types are changing their house layouts with polka dotted fishes in the aquarium to physically challenged three legged turtles …not to forget the cheerful laughing Buddha…he certainly helps some people laugh all the way to the bank…mostly the guys who make them!
Wind chimes are a big hit too! Wind chimes are placed in every room entrance. Apparently running face forward into wind chimes simply beats stubbing your toes on table corners when trying to find the bathroom in the night.
The household and neighborhood brats can hit the chimes with aluminum antenna rods just to make much needed noise on weekends when you’re trying to take a nap.
And third, dangling tacky looking dolphins apparently adds to the décor.
Soon it’s a revolution and everyone’s changing their house plans in a blaze of glory...
Next to potholes the hands up in air horizontally challenged laughing Buddha guys are the most visible thing on footpaths considering the sheer numbers being hawked there.
Meanwhile people like me searching for a wearable alternative end up buying these Chinese torture polyester shirts in droves simply because;
1. Its festival time and I haven’t brought something to cover myself up.
2. There are no cotton shirts available since all the wholesalers only have polyester shirts… after all “market mein wahi chalta hai”! So the retailers also stock them up and as demand increases more polyester shirts are ordered for.
3. My wife thinks Mr. Khanna next door looks lovely with his purple checked sweat stained polyester thingy.
And so the inevitable cycle starts. Everyone from your watchman to your MD scratch their armpits in unison and sweat it out in India’s hot humid weather in polyester shirts.
Lou Bega would agree. I have a polyester shirted friend everywhere….
Then some MBA educated idiot comes into the country and prices pure cotton shirts at 800 bucks claiming they’re premium products… I wonder what we wore since childhood.
Soon I have to buy one single cotton shirt of a premium brand at half my salary….
Damn the ancient sciences guy
The gargoyle who makes the poly shirts is now apparently a billionaire.
All thanks to “ancient sciences”
Am sweaty itchy and very much poly shirted
Still itching……………… for revenge that is……
Why? because all the guys reviewing the phone were just reviewers, not actual users of the phone , and believe me, making a phone a part of your life is much different than just reviewing it. (sort of like going for a date compared to a live in relationship!)
So why the Sony Ericsson P1i ?
Because it just does whatever its made out to. No fuss, no bloated big displays, just a quiet efficient guy who maintains his cool no matter what you throw at him.
That's courtesy the 256 MB flash ROM and 128 MB RAM.
(this PC am using to write this blog runs windows XP on 192 mb RAM. And yes, it runs fast , but more on those tweaks later )
Which is equal to the HTC TyTN II , another phone I really like, except the tytn is quite large.
What does it do.
Most of my mail is answered by the time I reach office and that gets me time to get working on the priority tasks of the day.
Its simple, non fussy and to the point, exactly as I like it.
Plus you can synchronise and backup phone book thru blue tooth with your laptop or home PC via USB
I love using the P1i camera on it for these moments . Its a 3.2 MP camera
which takes some really beautiful pics once you re comfortable with it.
The one thing Sony has to make a commitment to is to ensure that the button colors do not fade away after a year or so of use.
Especially the camera button color tends to fade off a bit after prolonged use.
Get some aluminium buttons Sony!
Its operating system is UIQ 3, and since its sonys proprietary platform, the biggest advantage is NO VIRUSES or malware!
No kidding, there are no known baddies for this platform plus it almost never crashes!
Its one of the most stable OS in the industry and having used PDA phones before, I know how it feels when the damn thing crashes in middle of a phone call or while takinng
some important note.
This baby's solid and stable as a rock, unless you decide to install cracked programs and silly programs you find on the net.
Heres how to remove memory card on P1i
Dont worry, its attached well elastically.
Onceremoved, insert/ remove memory card.
More info here - "the secret guide to handling the P1i
Password - P1i
(dont use winrar , use only winzip or powerarchiver to open!)
(this post will be updated constantly as and when I get time and make new observations)
Feel free to post in your comments and questions.
Living in mumbai and looking for some peace and quiet...
I stumbled upon the verandah in the forest in matheran.
And its exactly what its name says...a quiet,
grand verandah...reminiscent of the
British bungalows of early 19th century...
In peak summer, when the whole of mumbai and beyond is rushing to matheran in a pointless point seeing frenzy...this was a welcome respite and more...
After being greeted with a refreshing lemon ginger drink (highly recommended ), on arrival at the verandah...I took some time to soak in the colonial era
furniture...something I had childhood memories of at my grandmothers place..
The old style chairs and the marble topped tables...the wrought iron chairs in the garden...and the old world cupboards with globular door knobs...all crept up from the crevices of my memory.
I suddenly realised how I had forgotten the days in the eighties when we slept lulled to the sound of the fan in the summers..after a busy day of playing outside...
Funny how even ACs do not provide the same
level of calm nowadays.
The rooms had huge ceilings, which gave me my much needed space,
the bed was a four poster especially relevant for the couples ;)
Neat, cool & clean.
Ours was named Peerbhoy,
each room is named after a Parsi gentleman.
The osciallting cinni fan from the 60s with its typical sound....
made me feel like we were right back in time.
The lemon ginger neem soaps and toiletries only further strengthened the
association of neem ginger with the place..
After a refreshing bath, we had a really lovely lunch as the long trot
up to the place on some moody unstable horsies had really made us hungry.
The lunch is on the verandah...overlooking the mini forest...
Id highly recommend the mutton gravy dishes there...subtly spiced, very soft and super yumm. They take a lot of care in preparing the menu and you can tell each item is prepared with a lot of tender care...(more info here )
The biggest factor that will bring us back to the place is service..
Understated, quick and caring service, from the manager, who used to quietly put
on the fans above us as we lounged on the lovely chairs,
to the waiters...who appeared as if by magic when your
chapatis or toasts finished, to offer some more.
What it gave a traveller is space...own space to lie back, reflect and get in tune with life..and what better way than on a hammock...under a canopy...slowly being lulled to sleep by a cool breeze.
Our demands like buttermilk - chaas (watered down yogurt with subtle Indian spices) for dinner, were met with a smile and quick service.
The main room of the bungalow is stunning, with its painted glass windows, the huge cathedral like high celings and old world charm.
The other factor was relaxation...nothing formal...lounge around in your favorite old shorts and an old tee, reading away or looking on at the trees swaying in the breeze.
Also helped me indulge in my tam bram fixation of licking my fingers after having some yumm thayir chadam (curd rice), Id recommend u have curd rice with the mutton gravy served at lunch, yumm is the word.
As you walk around the place, you realise why the place is different...because its the exact way in which the early Britishers lived in the early 1900s
If you ever plan on visiting India...you can experience how the early English men "braved" the famous Indian summers.
Although this bungalow was owned by the Dubashes, furniture for the most part is (almost) the same since the time the place was built in the early 1900s.
I can easily guess why its a hit with the current day embassy people, who prefer to spend most of their quiet weekends in this Sylvan retreat.
I was told by the managers how post monsoon everything was repainted and restored (and remember, you can only get supplies there on horseback, vehicles are not allowed in matheran! So everything required to run and refurbish the place was all brought on horseback!)
Children (and adults too ;) can have fun climbing the
little tree house, and having your tea there...away from it all, or simply
indulge in your own space.
All in all, excellent service, quiet solitude...and an old world charm...is what describes neemranas verandah in the forest.
And when I see the current trend of demolishing old structures to make way for new high rises, just taking a walk thru this painstakingly restored and well maintained bungalow is value for my money and peace for my soul.
We took the cheaper route of travelling by train till Neral station.
Only Karjat and Khopoli trains stop at Neral Stn.
So do check out the train timings in advance as the trains arrive only once an hour.
Cross over to the next platform, and ask people about
the taxi stand for going to Dasturi.
Charge is Rs.50 per person to Dasturi. the ride takes about half an hour.
Alternatively you can travel up to matheran station by the beautiful mini train, the ride takes 2 hours.
Once you reach Dasturi, you can take a horse (Rs.150 per person, do bargain!)
You can also call up and inform the neemrana people in advance, who can keep horses waiting for you at dasturi.
We didnt tell in advance and had to pay 200 rs per horse after a lot of bargaining.
You can also visit the various points in matheran which offer stunning views of the Deccan mountain plateaus and valleys.
You can visit the places on a hand pulled rickshaw or on moody horses, which are prone to sudden spurts of galloping on seeing other horses go by.
Hold on to your mares!
The Neemrana folk will arrange for all such point seeing activities.
Half of Gujarat, another half of maharashtra including my neighbours,
our street dogs, and the rest of the local populace were aldready
present in each of the points. (kidding)
This was peak summer season!
We ocaasionally glanced at a valley or a mountain range thru the hordes of uncles auntyjis in saris, who were more engrossed in having the bhelpuri than taking in the view.
You have the the option of some soul gazing at the nearby lords point,
which is just around the corner from the verandah, where the dusty red path,
typical to matheran, suddenly opens up and springs upon you a grand
panoramic view of mountains and valleys, reminding you with its quiet
simplicity that you are atop a mountain plateau after all.
The forests in Maharashtra have a typical old wood, eucalyptus kind of smell which I associate from childhood with the forests here...
Whereas the forests in coorg...are different...a more fresher pine deciduous smell (make sense of it if u can!)
While coming back from lords point we also got a chance to glance at
Gary Richardsons bungalow "keepsake"
Man youre a lucky guy, the house overlooks the valley with a stunning view.
After coming back to the verandah we walked about the place and I would recommend you see the before and after pictures of how the Verandah in the Forest
looked before being done over by the neemranas
( a typical Ramsay brothers bhoot bangla transformed to victorian elegance )
All in all, post verandah, mumbais life rankles a bit less...the world seems a lot more mellow, and as wodehouse would say, theres a lot more spirit and high ho as we go about the hum drums and nonsense of daily life.
Ah bien, this is the life.
I stumbled upon this unique home stay at a coffee estate in Coorg , India, named Honey Valley.
They named it ‘Honey Valley’ because they used to produce the largest output of honey in south Asia in the eighties & it’s situated in a valley between misty hills. (yes, it is as stunningly beautiful as it sounds)
What attracted me to the place was that they produce their own electricity from a stream using a small makeshift hydroelectric plant. Ive never seen this kind of effort to be self sustainable in any indian resort :)
They bring in potable water thru a 3 km pipe laid from a natural levee up in the mountains, and the gas used for cooking is methane from cow dung!
The rooms have hot water for baths by burning firewood collected in the forest thru an ingenious copper boiler system.
A maximum of 40 guests can be accommodated in the estate and all their needs are met by these self sustaining energy resources.
Plus they even grow almost all of their food ,fruits,vegetables and eggs and milk.
This was all in an effort to live as close with nature without leaving an impact on it and after seeing the movie inconvenient truth recently, it all started making a lot more sense.
Being a city bred guy from Mumbai, I discovered in one of my long chats with Mr. Suresh Chengappa, who runs the estate, how much of an ecological footprint we leave behind while living in cities. Leaving lights on in rooms when no ones around and an almost endless use of water without knowing its a precious resource.
Water table depletion will be one of the biggest problems India will face in the future.
Considering how pristine and beautiful the place looks, I hope honey valley becomes an example on how ecologically friendly estates and resorts can be run without putting pressure on our non renewable resources.