Monthly Archives: January 2006

Republic day

Instead of a “Khadi kurta clad, clicking pictures getting pictures clicked in Parliament street”, Republic day, this year saw me in a “non khadi, non parliament street wandering, clicking pictures all by myself” role. Here are the pictures of the Lotus temple aka Bahai temple – one of the prominent landmarks in Delhi today.


Shireen looked into his blue eyes from her expressive ones. They looked like limpid pools of water, reflecting everything that came to her mind. Presently, they expressed satisfaction and subtly enquired about the same from him. She had slept with umpteen number of customers but this one was special. He somehow gave her respect. Didn’t treat her like a whore, like all others. True, that was her livelihood but still, wasn’t she human too? Or did they expect that a wad of notes ensured that the female there would somehow become a robot, cater to all whims and random fantasies, but not expect any pleasure in return, never decline any “order” however disgusting it may be? This man, somehow, made her forget her loneliness. He genuinely felt compassion *and* passion for her. She didn’t like giving a blow job and after noticing her hesitating, he never forced her for it. He had no idea, how much respect he had earned in Shireen’s eyes, just by not forcing her for something she didn’t want to do. If only her entire life had been like that. Her own. Her thought process was interrupted.. “I love you”, he whispered. Shireen could hardly believe her ears. It sounded like a symphony. “Me??”, she asked. “You do?”, the doubt was expressed with an underline. Almost instantly, she was afraid he would change his mind, although she loved him too. But she had spoken too soon. Suddenly she felt him hitting her. She felt sorry for having expressed her disbelief for something she could only have been thankful for. And then he was no longer there. It was amma, jolting her awake. A customer was waiting. Her “services” were required. He wanted the “moghul” routine, which involved dressing up like a “daasi” and feeding the “emperor” some grapes, coquettishly teasing him with the fruit, seducing him all the while. And the guy who had just claimed love for her? It had all been a dream. As always, she had been using the power of dreams to get what she desired.


This is the first “tag” I have ever been a part of. As a rule, I do not participate whenever I get tagged. But this one was “different”, since it involved some “creative writing”. I am not tagging anyone further. Anyone who likes the idea can try it. The rules are:
1. Write a 100-to-200-word entry using the following words: I, me, blow job, grapes, random, power, loneliness, water, robot and blue;
2. Use these words once and only once; and of course
3. The entry should make sense.

Atul, hope you like this attempt, though I couldn’t help dramatising it a bit :).

A date with Mr. Frost

No, no, not Robert. Not David. The one that hell froze over. This is good. New “never-before-witnessed-in-one’s-life” geographical phenomena are taking place. I was attending a sangeet ceremony in a farmhouse when the “historical event” of 0 degree (ok 0.2 = 0 for all practical purposes) temperature in Delhi took place. Whether it was the effect of the number of bloody mary’s I had downed or the low wind chill factor, it definitely didn’t feel like freezing point. Or it could be that I was still distracted by the exemplary display of talent one sees on a typical talent hunt show today. The ceremony had properly choreographed dance performances, complete with the stage, lighting, smoke, projector screen et al! Both the girls side and guys side appeared to have descended from the bollywood dance gharanas of the K3G generation.

As I was leaving, I saw the grass absolutely frozen. But perhaps that sight had become all too familiar in Finland and I ignored it out of habit. Only the next morning I was informed by my dad that the temperatures had touched a new low. For some reason ppl imagine 0 degrees to be extremely cold and unimaginable. But it’s not so (having experienced it out of India so far). Nowadays the minimum temperature of Helsinki and Delhi are practically the same (at night). But the wind chill factor is what makes it different. At least the sun’s rays here are at an angle where they emit some heat, unlike the faux sunny day appearance around Arctic circle areas, which is more meant to dazzle you than warm you. After November rain (in Finland), December Dhundh, January frost, I am waiting for a date with Miss snow sometime soon, even though in coming years. Doesn’t look like that day is very far off.

Glory be to Krishna 7

During my stay in Helsinki, I went to the ISKCON temple there, on a particular weekend. I was in for a surprise (which comes later). Before reaching the temple, I got accosted by a man who told me that he was from Zambia, the immigration office was closed and he, his wife and kid (in pram) had not eaten and needed money. Had I been in India, I would have not even reacted to the story (leave alone believing it) and just walked off. But being in Helsinki, where ppl don’t even know what crime is and what theft is, I did as a Finn would. I took out all change I had (little more than 2€) and gave it to him. I got some god-bless-you’s and I considered it as my good deed for the day before going to the temple. After walking a little further, I checked to see if that guy was ‘duping’ someone else or rather asking someone else for something. I couldn’t see him, so gave him the benefit of doubt.
The ISKCON temple
Before this time, I had never been to the temple earlier. I had a rough idea of the location, but then in Helsinki, temples dont “look like” temples. It’s a regular apartment in which ppl have established an ISKCON temple. There’s nothing fancy or remotely religious about it. The architecture is not lavish as a temple’s but as normal as a typical apartments’. There is absolutely no indication whatsoever, unlike the multiple inescapable ones in India, that a house in there, houses a temple. There’re no prasad walas, no phool walas, no stalls to collect ones footwear, no street kids eyeing the prasad and of course absolutely NO crowd and NOT a sound. You look for it, the way you would look for any other apartment in Helsinki – by referring to an address and a map. You announce your arrival by ringing a door bell and talking on the intercom. I must add, while referring to a map in Helsinki or even other European countries, one needs to keep in mind the fact that odd numbers are on one side of the street and even ones are on another. A lot of ppl get confused about where the number in between disappeared. This is something many foreigners don’t realise even after having stayed there for months. Of course in India, you rarely have any numbers or addresses for a temple. They are just known by word of mouth according to the devotion of the local population.This temple has a special pooja on Sundays and a feast (langar) after that. This is enough for us desis in desperate search of Indian food. So on this particular weekend, I set out looking for the temple at Ruoholahdenkatu 24 D 3rd floor, Helsinki. I expected things to be quite different, but the only way to realise how different they are, is to actually experience them. As I entered the temple, I saw extremely fair, slim, blonde ppl dressed in orange robes. Now that is quite a contrast to a typical pundit we see at temples. If nothing else, at least the hair colour is different. Seeing blonde “bodis” around me really amused me. The next was the speech. They were of course talking in Finnish or English and whatever little Hindi was uttered, sounded like a foreign language.Lord Krishna The bhajans were accompanied by music which either made them sound like a rock band performance or christian ballads! There were lots of female devotees too. They were wearing sarees! Though, they were clad in sarees their modern outlook was evident too. Almost all of them had worn a tanktop or a t-shirt instead of a blouse. The 1 or 2 who had worn an actual saree blouse, had chosen a total mismatch in colour probably because of the understandable dearth of blouses in their wardrobe. For a lot of them the petticoat was not just peeping out from under the saree, but also raising a full eyebrow! The quality of the sarees was nothing great. They certainly looked like they had been bought from a roadside shop in Janpath. Add to it trendy makeup, pierced eyebrows and navels, tatoos on the back or arm or anywhere else, and you have an idea of what the female devotees looked like. At least we didnt have any funny coloured hair ones. Even small little girls maybe 5-6 years in age, were dressed in similar “sarees”. All the devotees had a tikka on their forehead which is pretty unlike a tikka I had ever seen earlier in India. This tikka doesnt stay on the middle of the forehead. Instead it looks like it slipped under and starts from just above the bridge of the nose and goes down till the middle of the nasal bone! But that’s probably the way ISKCON devotees put a tikka. (Nothing Finnish about it). All the Finnish devotees had adopted Indian names like “Prasad”, “Radha Swami” etc. which was again quite amusing.
The aarti started at 4pm and proceeded till 5:30pm, during which there was something similar to a “hi-tech pravachan”. The priest used a laptop, projecting some pictures of temples or holy abodes in India. He also recorded the “pravachan” through an mp3 player. In all the sessions that I attended later, it was very interesting to hear about Lord Krishna from a foreigner point of view. One thing was clear. This was no serious spiritual talk or a do’s/dont’s list. It was more of a narration of fables which were somehow extremely spChant and sway with Hare Rama Hare Krishnaicy in nature rather than holy, probably because Lord Krishna is a “fun” god. He had all the naughtiness a child could possibly have. He flirted with the gopis. He enjoyed with this friends. He even stole butter. This probably lends a certain affability to the God rather than him appearing inaccessible, with a larger than life “please-me-if-you-can” image. At the end of the “pravachan” would be a lot of song and dance. All devotees would raise their arms up towards the sky and chant “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” and sway with the rhythm. The atmosphere gets really charged up. In the end one would put in some donation in the “daan paatra”, obviously in foreign currency and get down to eating an Indian meal which tastes quite quite (this isnt a typo) different.
On Janmashtami, the temple organised a proper Pooja, with contributions from a lot of the Indian, Nepali and Finnish population. A proper “ranga rang karyakram” was arranged, where a skit with a baby Lord Krishna was enacted out. Only the baby looked a little African with that curly hair and Yashodha was blonde. After the usual pravachan, chant, dance, meal session, the devotees went out into the streets as a procession. They carried with them a couple of photos of Lord Krishna, and chanted the “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna” chant. I have never seen such a thing, even in India. Or maybe I wasn’t looking. Irrespective of whether one finds it hohum or Soham, one certainly would agree with the way the priest there chants. “Glory be to Krishna”.

Driving me desi

After living an international life with one hell of a transport system and not driving one’s own vehicle for five and a half months, one tends to have doubts about one’s adaptability with respect to the commuting back home. The only culture shock I had on getting back to India was – the way people were driving. But one gotta do, what one gotta do, since there are no other alternatives. It was with much apprehension that I decided to get into the hot seat (after being used to that being the navigator seat in Finland). I had not forgotten driving per se, but all the aggression was absolutely gone. I had suddenly turned into a very tame (read timid in Delhi driving parlance) driver for some reason. People overtaking me from every possible gap left between a divider and a road and honking away to glory as if they were the band wallahs in a baraat, had absolutely no effect on me including that of irritation. I still drove at my speed (within speed limit), in my lane, giving way only when it was right to do so. Everyone rushing away to some destination, strangely didn’t leave me with a me-too-hurry-too complex. I had even forgotten the oh-so-delhi habit of flashing the lights while driving. “Wow”, I thought, “what all can change with a change in lifestyle”, especially since earlier, I was probably exactly the way others were now.

But this dream was too good to last. Very soon, I came across some hoodlums driving with both indicators on, opening doors “mid-flight”, behaving like they were in a spaceship and as if they would trample upon the mere earthlings who happened to crawl unknowingly in their way. As if this extra terrestrial behaviour wasn’t enough, they even had some weird stares and gestures to add to that whole drama-company effect (one only requires to be female for evoking that). That did it. Any self respecting Bhartiya nari would have chatao-ed them some “dhool” and that is exactly what I did by zooming ahead and leaving them with some “dhool mitti” on their face. With that came the end of my barely achieved gajgamini gait in the driving world. Sigh. Life isn’t a rat race. It’s a car race.

For some reason, there are much bigger vehicles on the road now than the predominantly smaller ones earlier. Where did all the Innovas and the Taveras suddenly emerge from, in this “bhainsa” avatar of the car world? Even if they were seating 10 Amir Khan’s inside, they don’t give my mousy Maruti a run for its money. Did I say it was a car race? It’s a rat race, alright. With my rat scurrying faster than the “bhainsa” could even snort. On the very first day of keeping my eyes on the road and hands upon the wheel, I came across four splattered dogs, somewhat as I had expected (though four was quite alarming). I don’t think they were on a mass suicide drive. It must be those driving the bhainsa in cowboy ishtyle, barely able to see the ground beneath their hooves.

Within some days, I realised that the traffic situation had worsened so much in the areas that I frequented, that driving rules have changed altogether. Driving was merely a ‘closing-in-on-the-2-nanometer-gap-left-by-someone-else’ game now. And you had to be superfast at it to reduce that 2.5 hour commute by a nanosecond. Getting stuck in a traffic jam is as frequent as coughing (don’t forget that pollution which has made Delhi the asthma capital) now. Forget the handicaps of a sedentary lifestyle, my feet get more exercise than they can handle; with a clutch-brake routine at the rate of 10/sec. And unfortunately a real life traffic jam isn’t even half as fun as a reel life one, where the heroine can at least get out and flirt with a dashing dude on the top of the car or something. And all those FM channels that specialise in featuring ads, need a lesson or two on what is called “airing-a-MUSIC-program”. Sigh..Delhi driving is driving me desi alright.