Saturday, June 25, 2016

Musings from my Facebook page

Jobs on the wall
June 25: Restaurant guards, babysitters, office boys and girls, bike riders, part-time and full-time workers...and while you're looking up these jobs, you can find someone to file your tax returns and fix your phones at a decent rate.

Meanwhile, the Met has issued a July 26-like storm warning over the next 48 hours, which usually means clear skies and bright sunshine and kite-flying, and dance and cheer... as soon as the rains let up.

Monsoon philharmonic orchestra

© Prashant C. Trikannad
June 22: The sky over Elphinstone-Parel in central Bombay at 7.30 am, hours after the Hindu god of thunder, Indra, led his Norse and Greek counterparts, Thor and Zeus, in the great Indian monsoon philharmonic orchestra. The inaugural concert was held in open air and was a sight and sound to behold. It was spectacular. But people were not impressed. Most had gone to bed at 3 after a heady night of revelry with Whatsapp.

Age loves a good yarn

June 22: At what stage of life are you when you hurriedly look at the time on your phone, forget it the moment you walk away, and go back to check again; when you turn the page of a book only to go to the previous page to see where you were; when you go to the grocer and buy everything but the one thing you were supposed to; when you log out of Gmail, come back after a while, and forget the password... Now if I can remember all of that then I guess there is nothing wrong with me. Or is there? I think I'll wear one of De Bono's "colourful" hats. Just in case I'm losing it. Now where did I leave them? Moral of the story: write down everything. Age loves a good yarn.

Copy desk or coffee desk?


June 21: This eye-catching news report, which appeared in an inside page of this morning's Times of India, should have been on front page, second lead or at least anchor. I guess, the copy desk—once the sanctum sanctorum of a newspaper office—is now only a coffee desk.

The dawn of thunder
June 21: 4.15 am — lightning and thunder woke me up and not my alarm. Watched rain dance and silver streaks in the pre-dawn sky. First day, first show. Back to earth station. Water-logged roads, crowded buses and reluctant autorickshaws, crawling and cancelled trains, a resilient and tolerant race. How bad will it be? Hopefully, not too bad. I'm hoping to hitch a ride to work with the Silver Surfer. Welcome, Mumbai Monsoon!

Songs we grew up with

June 19: Behind every father there's a wonderful mother. Bet you haven't listened to Scottish singer Neil Reid's famous solo "Mother of Mine," 1971, in a long time. It's one of several songs I grew up listening to but didn't know who sang. These were songs that brought the family together, in a melody of love and happiness.

What's in the egg basket?

June 18: I have no idea who's laying the eggs but at Rs.60 a dozen, almost a dollar, they are freakin' expensive. And it's summer too. Egg prices usually come down in summertime. Hen-flation! I suppose it's a good thing—the price and not the yolk is keeping my cholesterol in check. While you decide what to do when the "iddawalla"—or "andawalla" if you like—rings your doorbell, you might want to check out my review of Lee Child's Killing Floor on my other blog. Incidentally, eggs without yolk is like a pair of oxen without the yoke. The white of an egg tastes insipid no matter what you garnish it with, pepper, chilli, cheese or ketchup ("sauce" in India). Do you like egg white? Don’t forget to read my review.

Hell on wheels

© Prashant C. Trikannad
June 16: This is how an empty suburban train looks at 7.35 am. An hour from now the broad aisle that you see will have disappeared and only the red lines indicating first class will be visible. I took this picture from Platform 2 looking through to Platforms 1, 6 & 7 at Andheri station, a western suburb in north Bombay. Doesn't look like hell on wheels, does it? Let the hour pass and the place will be teeming with humanoids. I, Robot had an early start.

Eureka moments with books

June 14: I have had "eureka" moments with several of my books and comics. I found them in the unlikeliest of places, on broken footpaths in bylanes and hole-in-the-wall raddiwallahs, or scrap dealers. For example, I discovered a treasure of twenty secondhand Indrajal Comics at an old papermart in a suburban area I seldom visit. Then, a few years ago, I found two rare and near-mint editions of Sudden, the western series by Oliver Strange, in a bargain sale at Home for the Aged behind my house. I can scan any place for priceless books in a jiffy. I can actually sniff them out. If only reading were as easy and instinctive.

Men and sentiment

June 12: Not long ago, a friend and I were talking about old Hindi films set in Bombay in the 70s & 80s, our growing up years. We discussed several films and finally homed in on two that both of us instantly felt nostalgic and wistful about—noted director Basu Chatterjee's Chhoti Si Baat and Rajnigandha starring Amol Palekar and Vidya Sinha (above). I get goosebumps every time I watch scenes from these and other romantic films from that era, including Chhatterjee's Baton Baton Mein and Khatta Meetha. What we remembered most about these films were the clean and empty roads of Bombay, some very memorable songs, and the abundance of simplicity. Looking back now, I feel like I'm in another place and time—not one I particularly like. Just what is it with men and sentiment?

One Across, Four Down

June 12: Suburban train travails—to each his own and all that. With the disclaimer out of the way, how can Temple Run, Angry Birds, and Candy Crush be a substitute for the good old crossword, or even Sudoku for that matter (I have a genetic hatred of numbers)? I can't imagine any mobile game offering the satisfaction that a beautiful cryptic crossword does. Yes, a crossword CAN be beautiful. It's such a gratifying diversion. There is a sense of elation when you crack a particularly tough but intelligent clue or set a 15-word anagram on its feet. You do a mental fist pump—"Yes!" I don't see myself doing that every time I twist, skid, turn, and jump my way through Temple Run. It has no instructive value. In fact, it's not even a game—it's an app! Up comes the disclaimer: Like I said, to each his own. I don't want to "cross-swords" with anyone.

Happiness, a synonym for family

© Prashant C. Trikannad
June 11: Here's a cliché to "rain in" the weekend. "The rains are here...finally!" Most people have nice things to say about the rains except when they have to take a crowded train to work. I like this quote by Kate Winslet: "One thing I love about being back is English rain. Looking out of the window now, it's raining, and the sky is dark; I love it. To me, those are reassuringly English things. I love it when it rains." It reminds me of the time my children were in school. There was something wonderful and reassuring about being at home with the family on a dark and rainy Saturday evening, knowing that next day was a holiday for everyone. The four of us watched the rains, snacked, and had fun. Happiness is a good synonym for family. Few things make you happier.

Autorickshaws, Mumbai's FI

June 10: I take an autorickshaw to the station every morning. As I near the station I instruct the rider, "Turn right" and he promptly veers to the left. This happens at least once a week. So now I lean forward and whisper into his right ear in the hope he'll get a sense of direction. Sometimes he jumps when I do that. Kidding. Maybe, it's the rear-view mirror: my right is his left. I hold on tight because most autowallahs ride as if they are competing in the Andheri F1. We have one for every suburb. Fortunately, the stretch to the station is less than 3 km and I usually emerge shaken but unscathed. From there it's a train, a bus, and a pair of legs to the office. In the evening, I take a bus home from the station partly because it's safer and I like to watch the driver towering in his seat bullying puny autos off the road. Bombay's famous red buses are Hulks on wheels.

A start to the day

June 9: Reading in the 7.35—a few pages each of a crime-mystery on my tab, an espionage-thriller on my phone, and a bestselling fiction of a paper book. A start to the day with someone else's imagination.

Alien giraffe

© Prashant C. Trikannad
June 2: This is what happens when a giraffe sticks his neck out in 34C—he's cooked. Maybe he's from outer space, a War of the Worlds type of alien giraffe. What is he doing outside Andheri station at 7.20 in the evening? Oh god, he's coming this way. Run!

Driving my way to a good story

May 27: Things to write this weekend: A newspaper article, short story, blog posts, spiritual newsletter, a nonfiction work, and a piece for LinkedIn. I know I can't do all that if I drive myself around like this.

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