Friday, November 24, 2006


Landing at N.T.Ramarao airport I was a little apprehensive. My first time in Hyderabad. Had just got off my first ever flight (yes & yes I am 24…so?!). I know this is nothing eventful for the frequent flier whose Flying Miles register goes ding everyday. But for a novice it was an experience of a lifetime.

An early morning flight saw me getting up at 3.30 in the morning. Reached the domestic airport at 5. Checked in, had a coffee, waited for 16 years and finally it was time to go. Stepping on to the aircraft, I am greeted by an airhostess. A very cheerful “GOOD MORNING”. So cheerful that I started doubting the genuineness of the greeting. Nobody in their right mind can be that happy at 5.30 in the morning. Anyway, I let it go. I went and found my seat & deposited myself in my seat. AN AISLE SEAT!!! Yeah I know, I also know you know what I mean. It had been only two minutes and I was taking in my surroundings, admiring the back of the seat in front of me, perusing the very entertaining emergency manual, when a shadow loomed over me. I looked up to discover a 6 feet male smiling at me in a very sinister manner. Immediately I realized he had some hidden reason for smiling at me. Why, you ask me, did I suspect him and his beatific smile? My reason I have already given you. It was bloody 5.30 in the morning. How does anybody be so cruel as to wish people good morning or even smile at them.

HA! I know I had caught him. He knew I knew. The smile was gone and the real reason finally came out. “Please excuse me” he threatened, “the window seat and the seat next to you is mine” he concluded. Hmmm…a ruse to get me out of my comfortable aisle seat I deduced. Then his wife joined him. I was outnumbered. I had to give in so I got up grudgingly. They had some logistical problems but they finally managed to shove themselves in and ultimately I was allowed to gracefully plonk my ass on my seat.

And so started my adventure. 15 minutes later everyone was settled. The maniac next to me started snoring peacefully. His wife asked for ear plugs and resigned herself to admiring the wings and the beautiful engine. A couple and their children in the seat behind me settled into a very entertaining game of “crying-barfing-crying-pacifying”.
And then started the announcements. The guy on the address system hissed & lisped his way through an already confusing set of instructions and after finishing it in Hindi, he went on to show his oratory prowess in English. That done, the captain came online. THE CAPTAIN…Indiana Jones, Sean Connery and that man from “Gods must be Crazy” rolled into one. He enlightened us mere mortals on the temperature outside, the air-pressure inside, the wing span of the BOENG 737-800, the fuel capacity, max speed, year of manufacture and then concluded by informing us that the said aircraft is the one we are residing in and that it will take off from Runway No. 14 in ten – “Fiften” minutes. PIN DROP SILENCE prevailed. Not a word (or a snore). We were in awe of this enigmatic Captain. Anyway, so he finally meanders the plane to the runway (14). Everything and everyone in position. And then the burst of speed and we are on our way.

The aircraft reaches the intended height, stabilizes and the warning “deploy seat-belts” sign goes off. I immediately jump up to visit the loo. Anyway I get back to my AISLE seat and my left elbow is obligingly smashed to pulp by the over-polite stewardess. I glare at her, she gives me a saccharine sweet smile, a miniature bottle of water, a credit card enrolment form and coolly walks away. The rest of the flight was uneventful except when we hit turbulence. This was thanks to a middle aged gent at the back of the plane who had gorged on gujju farsans for breakfast. The gaseous cloud spread its deathly tentacles in the cabin…oxygen masks deployed… “deploy seat belt” sign on…fifteen minutes of prayer and everything is back to normal. High fives all around. HURRAY!

Finally its time to land. ALREADY?!? I enquire and as if he sensed it, the captain informs me from inside his cockpit that we are 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Everyone seems to be pleased by this piece of information. So even I plaster my face with a smile and flash it to everyone who cared to look in my direction so that they don’t think of me as a novice, a debutante. Frankly, I was very disappointed. I thought the daredevil captain will do a few 360 degree turns, a free fall and a steep ascend. But no, no show.

I get off the plane in disappointment and a set mind to go and give some advice on “Inflight Entertainment” to the aviation minister. I am mulling over the draft of the letter when I observe a man standing at the reception with a placard proudly proclaiming “S-U-D-H-A-N-S-H-U” Shukla. Hmmmm. This is the 114th time these guys (Pragati Offset Pvt. Ltd.) have misspelled my name. I decide to avenge this slight. I walk up to the man, confide that I am the criminal whose “WANTED” poster he is carrying and in return I ask him to introduce himself, his post and his permanent account number. He says his name is “Jehangir”, then informs me that the rest of the questions do not apply to him. From then on I start calling him “Yehangir”. He seems unfazed, delighted actually. He thinks it is a very “cool” twist to his name. I can imagine him standing at a corner “chai-walla” and being introduced by his cronies to a newcomer as “Yehangir Jehangir, pathfinder & light bearer of Pragati Offset Pvt. Ltd.” We move on to concretize our friendship by having breakfast together at “KAMAT Hotel” The breakfast consisted of 3 idlis, 1 wada, 3 cups of sambhar, 2 cups of coconut chutney, 2 cups of garlic chutney, 1 tea, 1 coffee & 1 visit to the loo (mine). And finally I am deposited by him at the offices of Messrs. Pragati Offset Pvt. Ltd. I spend three and a half hours “working” and then am free to run amok in HYDERABAD.

Hail a rickshaw and divert it to “Char Minar”. Am a little disappointed by the structure. Photographs paint a very flattering picture of the monument. Anyway, I find my way up and into the monument. The guards there are very interested in why I am sitting on top of CHAR MINAR and scribbling in a book when I can behave like a normal visitor and write on the walls. I tell the interviewer that it’s not my kind of literature. It’s pretty emotional I tell him. The guard gives me a look he usually reserves for “out of town-ers” and correctly informs me that I am from BOMBAY. I smile my assertion and he smiles back. I smile some more (it’s OK….it’s 12.30 now). Emboldened, he confesses that he too is originally from the BOMBAY. From then on I am treated like a king by Mr.Pratap Singh and his guardian brothers. They shoo away anybody who surrounds me threatening to give a few pointers on creative writing or the kids who come pointing at my book attracted by the “JETIX”, “DISNEY” and “POWER RANGERS” images on it. But within half an hour it becomes pretty much like a circus, so the star performer decides to leave and go have some Biryani & Kebabs.

I get down the pipe I came up through. I hold on to the walls for dear life. People in front of me do the same. But the moron behind me decides I am a better support incase he falls. So after holding on to the ultra clean walls he goes on to wipe it clean on my white shirt. I come out looking like a poor, harassed human coming out of a Delhi Transport Corporation bus. Never mind I tell myself. Hail another rickshaw and ask the guy to take me to a Biryani place.

After lunch I decide I need some history lessons. So “SALAR JUNG” Museum is my destination. Named after “Salar Jung III” the place is beautiful. Portraits of all the Hyderabadi Nizams, an English text book belonging to SALAR JUNG III himself to an ivory horse carriage are just a few things on display. 3 things that caught my attention and my fancy are:

1. An 11th century wood sculpture depicting Radha&Krishna on a swing under a tree.

2. The nizams clay fighters who had unique features of the real soldiers belonging to his personal troop.

3. An Italian sculpture called “Veiled Rebecca” by G.B.Benzoni made in 1876.

I waited for a few minutes (longer) in front of Ms.Rebecca, waiting for her to unveil herself, but being the snob that she is she did not oblige. So I took myself somewhere else. But frankly speaking she was beautiful…BEAUTIFUL…very lifelike.Besides the museum had the usual exhibits: furniture, weapons of war, textile, cutlery (sic), paintings etc.

The NIZAMS Jewellery:
I walked out of the Museum and visited the “Nizams Jewellery” exhibition. I was plain lucky to catch it in Hyderabad. It is usually displayed in Delhi. Mannn!!! Those jewels and the jewellery are so amaaazzzzziiinngggg! The best by a long way was the “Imperial (Jacob) Diamond”. This huge stone, 118 carats (I think, when uncut 300+ carats). Besides I read the entire history of all the Hyderabadi Nizams and forgot it the moment I stepped out of the building. One thing that I remember though is the amount of money the Indian Central Government paid the Nizam for the entire collection of 173 pieces. A whopping, STAGGERING 250 crores. Whoa!!! was my reaction and they say it was undervalued. OK!!! If u insist! Enough, I say, I am getting out of this place.

Outside one more rickshaw is hailed, and I find myself being driven to the “Golconda Fort”. Reach the place after traveling for half an hour. It’s around 6 in the evening and the sun is about to set. The whole place is glowing in the twilight. I decide I will go around the place on my own. But ofcourse that is a wrong decision, so I have to come groveling back to the “guide” who I asked to bugger off fifteen minutes ago. He is gracious enough to show me around the place. In the entire fort, the most interesting place is a passage where even the slightest of sound is amplified so Mr. King sitting in his room can hear who is coming into his concubines chambers and also so he can eavesdrop on anybody bitching about him. Weirdo!

So that was the last place I saw in HYDERABAD. I am told that there is much more to be seen. True, but I had only a few hours in the city and I realized that the best thing to do was to be a proper tourist and let the locals guide you around. This way I was able to meet quite a few interesting/weird people, not to mention the other “out of town”ers who want to know where you are from and then want to speak to you in the MARATHI (in my case) just to form a connection.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Boat on a River

was listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds...

Himalayan Trek

Khushkalyan Peaks, Garhwal-Himalayas

Base Camp, Garhwal-Himalayas

campsite, Stage 2, Khushkalyan, Garhwal-Himalayas


I am the Sun, the main actor...and i dont like it :) (by the expression on me face)

Thats meeeeee... :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Of "Babies", "Babas" and "Ghodas"

Bollywood - The Indian Film Industry. The largest in the world, with an output of over 800 movies a year. Where the only thing copied is the rhyme of its beloved name to Hollywood. Everything else is pure inspiration.
Where more than the kitch and gaudy costumes, it is the sound that will take you by surprise. You just need to be near a Bollywood shoot to understand.
The voices of more than a hundred people talking in different languages, and different dialects within those languages. The sibilance of the carpenters saw on wood. The “mike check - mike check - 1 2 3 - wooofphhh” of the sound engineers speaking & breathing into the mic. The multi-lingual abuses of the Light-wallas putting up the lights.
Where among all the confusion is the hilarity of the unique and onomotopoeic names given to every essential item, things, practises and people. Where “lighting-dada” (Light guys) will climb a “GHODA” ( horse, a wooden ladder) to adjust the “Baby” so that there is no reflection on the table on the set. Most probably it was “Camera-dada” (cameraman) who asked him to climb the GHODA. But “camera-dada” is still irritated because the “lighting-dadas” have dirtied the set and so he requests the “setting-dada” (set fabricators) to clean it, while “sound-dada” wires “baba” (the male lead) or “baby” (the female lead).

Saturday, August 19, 2006


one of my very few colour sketches...usually prefer a normal pencil. Was sitting and doin nothing. There was a box of chalk-crayons and my hand in front of is the result.

Had finished reading Salman Rushdie's " Shalimar-the clown" and had this image of a Kashmiri woman in my head. Dont know if the sketch looks like a kashmiri woman...i dont even know what their basic features are or what kind of clothes they wear, did not do any research on them...just sat down and drew this. After i finished this, I named it the "The Blue Valley" for some reason...

ah...the BEST bus of Bombay...mumbaichi parivahan illustration done for a book i was designing(along with other designers, thru Design Intervention for Tara Ultimo) on Bombay.
The process was too painfull and long for some reason...but i quite like the end result.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I shall write...

This blog is for all those who love the spoken language, the written word and those who are too modest or too self-deprecating to write or put their thoughts down, and also to those who just cant find or make the time to write.
Whether you like what I say in the following few lines or not, this is how I feel about the subject...enjoy it if you can...

I hold beautiful thoughts in my mind,
their body; clear as a mirror, green as a perennial forest and pregnant with human feelings,
my thoughts embracing my personality,
procreating and producing the rules which I lay down for my future.
The fetters that I try to break, the heights that I try to reach,
It will be a long time before I reach the summit,
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."

I hold the beautiful world in my eyes,
I walk the the various revealing paths strewn all over,
accepting all the miracles I come across, headed towards my destination,
it will be a long time before I finish my journey.
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."

I hold a beautiful soul in my body,
it is breathing, throbbing with life, oblivious to its own immortality.
It will take time for it to understand the double crossing nature of its companion,
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."

I follow the upbeat rhythm of life,
dancing to its tune, flowing through its crests and troughs.
It will take time for me to loose the beat,
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."

I hear the cosmic queries of the divine,
questioning our motives, our aims and the very purpose of our existence.
It will take time for her to understand our nature,
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."

I scale the receding mountains of time,
trying to race it, before life flies by.
It will take time for me to see the other side of reality,
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."

I hold the beautiful secret of 'cipher',
its existence as obvious as the non-existing defination of its reality.
It will take time for us to realize, 'its the origin of all'
"Till then I shall write, write for the sake of writing."


Bombay, apparently is the worlds "rudest" city. Really? How do you know? I know because a few people from Readers-Digest are saying so. They conducted a survey, on etiquette and placed Bombay and its people 3rd from the bottom. NO ETIQUETTE, NO MANNERS, UNCOUTH, RUDE & DISPASSIONATE. That is, we do not follow the same rules on etiquette & manners in INDIA as they do in the place where RD originally hails from. I am told, in Bombay, no one (or hardly anyone) will care to help you if you happen to drop your books, papers or your bag. No one (or hardly anyone) opens the door for a lady to pass. Not the shopkeeper nor the person shopping, will say "THANKYOU" to each other after the business is done. HOW RUDE?!
Well, the shopkeeper, who most probably is from the local grocery store, is also most probably illiterate or at the most semi-literate. He will not know that he is supposed to say "Thankyou" or "Shukriya"(urdu) or "Dhanyavad"(hindi), if he is to be termed POLITE. But most probably, this shopkeeper, who has been around for a few decades (in the area), has watched some of his/her customers grow up, will most definitely, after the INDIAN custom/trend/fashion, ask the shopper how he is doing, or how his mother, father, sister, wife, daughter, son, grand-daughter, grand-son, in-laws etc. are doing, are they healthy? Are they married (yet), dead, afflicted, happy, content? I say "HOW RUDE?" again. Hasn't this shopkeeper heard of something called "Privacy"?
Now the shopper, depressed after not being thanked for shopping, is in all probability an Indian, a Bombayite. He does not have the TIME for social niceties. He is most probably worrying about himself, how his mother, father, sister, wife, daughter, son, grand-daughter, grand-son, in-laws etc. are doing? Whether they are healthy, dead, afflicted, happy, content?
Frankly speaking, in a city like BOMBAY, where people dont have the TIME (nor the energy, if i may add) to articulate their well-mannered intentions, a nod of the head or a smile is more than enough and more than necessary.
Now on the subject of "lack of willingness to help people in need", amply illustrated by the fact that nobody (in Bombay) came forward to help the person (doing the survey for Readers Digest) whose papers/books/bag had fallen down. RIGHT.
When I read this, the first thing that came to my mind was what happened on 26th July 2005. A tuesday, a cloud-burst above Bombay, record rainfall, the highest ever anywhere in INDIA. And the city came to a stand-still(according to many newspapers)...HARDLY.
Millions of people on the road, walking from wherever they were, covering the entire lenght of Bombay (approx 36 km) to reach a safe place, to reach home. I was one among these millions. Now along the way, there were people, many (and all Bombayites), standing in trecherous, chest-deep waters and distributing packets of biscuits, food, bottles of drinking water and other essentials to those walking back home, to those who they harldy knew. There were women standing at building gates and (politely) asking unknown people (mostly women, but i think that is understandable) if they wanted to use the loo in their houses. Local boys (most of them hooligans on a normal day) formed human-chains around a dangerous area so that others do not walk into them.
There are many more such examples that will tell you about Bombay and its people and the heart that they carry. But alas its not a survey, a hard cold statistical fact like the Readers Digest "information".
Bombayites as a rule are practical people. Practical, private and fun-loving. We will work hard, mind our own business and then we will enjoy the fruits of our labour. We will party, dance, watch movies, take our families out for dinner etc etc. But while we are doing that, please dont ask us to insult the able-bodied, spirited, beautiful and proud women of Bombay, by asking us to open doors for them.

Monday, June 19, 2006

oriental inspiration and copy-cat thinking

am reading "The lady & the monk" by Pico Iyer and the following are a few lines that came to me...never been to Japan...and this is just an attempt in words to describe the image that i have of the place, in my head...

Oh you golden feathered country,
the dazzling plumage that you will shed.
Born from the flames of the burning sun,
Oh you phoenix of the August.