Monday, February 27, 2012


So I have always looked younger than my age. Sadly, I also BEHAVE much younger than my age. Every time someone told me, “Please show your ID card” or “Which college do you go to?”, I have secretly taken it as a compliment. But the truth is it takes a LOT of artificial effort to look “naturally young”. Especially now that I am almost over the hill, it almost makes me paranoid. I am not someone who can ‘age gracefully’; that’s just a polite way of saying, ‘I give up’. But I am also not someone who can starve herself to death or maintain poker straight hair. So like most things in life, I am stuck in the middle, sticking out like a sore thumb.

Through the week, I stay away from junk food or try to go jogging every morning at some godforsaken hour, but by Friday night, I am so depressed that I binge on all the sinful delicacies that cross my way…

I have tried experimenting with my hair but each time I have come back to the safe option, after massive hairfall or fashion disasters…

While I have moved on from the hideous orange track pants in college, I still can’t carry off the ‘dignified, classy yet sensuous look’ that comes so easily to women in the business papers…

And don’t even get me started on shoes. I have always admired Carrie each time she RUNS into the arms of Mr. Big in her six-inch stilettoes. Inspired, I bought myself a pair of golden heels, which, while not anywhere close to Carrie’s towering beauties, have not seen the light of day, since my happy feet simply refuse to co-operate. Life is so unfair. Short people should at least be born with magic feet; silver spoon be damned!

I can’t stress this enough and most women will agree with me: all those creams and moisturizers that claim to make your skin ‘glow’ overnight, are just cashing in on your insecurities. The only way to achieve that illusive ‘glow’ is to get pregnant. And since that happens to be a very expensive option, I have to resort to numerous painful alternatives for marginal benefits, which include sitting in shady parlours for hours and letting some strange woman hurt you in every way she can possibly devise, while obsessing about the quality of products used or if they can leave you scarred for ever…

When did it become so complicated to be a girl? I miss those days when I could just run around in shorts, bushy eyebrows and hairy arms, and still not care, as long as I could run fast, climb trees/walls, squeeze myself in dark holes and beat up boys.

You can buy your hair if it won’t grow…
You can fix your nose if you say so…
You can buy all the make-up that M.A.C. can make…
But if you can look inside you, find out who am I too…
Be in a position to make me feel so damn unpretty

We all are Dorian Grays at some level…

Friday, February 24, 2012

Winds of (Un)Change

I hate change: change of ANY kind, even if it’s good for me. The only exceptions are houses, jobs and relationships, where I am extremely dynamic.

But otherwise, I am someone who dislikes to be dislodged from her own safety net, as miserable as it is. Like for instance, my system got upgraded so that now I can have access to the latest versions of Internet Explorer, MS Office or Outlook, instead of constant pop-ups with the message, ‘Your browser is out of date.’ You would think I would be happy or at least relieved that my life would be easier now, but no, I am cribbing about how difficult it is to navigate through these changes. Me, I prefer my previous settings, as inefficient as they were.

Or take my clothes. For the record, I can STILL fit into a top which my dad got me from his first trip abroad, when I was 11. And yes, I STILL wear it. I simply refuse to throw away stuff, especially if they have some crappy sentimental value. No wonder I need a four-door closet for all the ‘valuable’ junk.

Or take Mumbai. I have been in the city for nine years now, and except the short stint in Hyderabad for my summers or the two-year phase in Pune for my MBA, this city has been my home. I hate the traffic, the rent, the alcohol prices, the loneliness, the indifference, but I am STILL here. I honestly don’t see myself living here forever, but I am extremely lethargic when it comes to making the move which is in line with my long-term plans. I can’t even motivate myself to go out of Hiranandani, especially on weekdays, let alone Mumbai.

Winds of change? It’s more like a still breeze...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chasing Rainbows

A couple of days back, I met this ex-colleague of mine from Company D. An MBA as well, she represented everything that I aspired for: passion, courage, strength, patience. She quit her first (and hopefully last) job to start her own handicrafts store.

As she animatedly narrated her experience over the past year, the remote corners of India that she had visited, the different kinds of people she had met, the diverse experiences she had had, I realized the rollercoaster journey she was going through: the uncertainty, the financial tussle, the constant struggle to be taken seriously, the ground level reality in terms of budget, inventory, warehousing, distribution or marketing. It’s all very well to read about it in fancy textbooks or make jazzy powerpoints, but it was a different story altogether to implement it practically. I knew her as the young kid, who lived with her family, had no responsibilities and blew up her salary on booze, movies and parties on weekends.

Suddenly, a year later, I was re-introduced to a grown-up woman, who neither had the money nor the time to indulge in all the luxuries she was used to for 25 years, who was traveling to Naxaliite areas in Chhattisgarh or villages of Haryana to Tamil Nadu on shoe-string budgets, who was talking to artists and retailers, who was attending exhibitions, who was exploring shady lanes in Crawford Market just to get cheap corrugated rolls AND dragging them all the way home in the peak hour crowded local train. The best part was she was happy doing it, she had no regrets and she was doing it on her own, when most girls of her age were trying to race one another to the altar.

And what was I doing? I was stuck in the half a kilometer radius of Hiranandani, getting used to a cushy life and a make-believe world in the name of work. Did I envy her? May be a little bit. Did I wish I had the courage to follow my dreams? Of course. Did I admire her? Hell, yea.

No, I can’t be like her. I am too practical. I have to pay rent and survive by myself in Mumbai. I have known poverty and I have no intentions of going back, as romantic as it sounds. But I do have a passion, an aspiration and may be even SOME talent. I do want to be a writer sooner rather than later. I don’t know how or when, but at times like this, when I am completely offtrack, when I am temporarily blinded by comfort, money and social status, the inspiration comes from the most unexpected sources, telling me to wake up, forcing me to open my eyes, making me a dreamer.

But then again, I have dreamt too many times and I have been disillusioned too many times

And do check out her collection at Arth Crafts

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Wild and Wilderness

With three days of nothingness stretching in front of me, I was dreading this long weekend. I tried to get last minute tickets to Ajanta Ellora, but that didn’t quite work out. So I had two choices: either I mope around the house listening to Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ or make the best of things.

And since I couldn’t go to Ajanta Ellora, I did the next best thing, i.e. trekked my way to Kanheri Caves next to the Borivali National Park. Armed with a water bottle, shades and camera, I embarked on my first solo trek. Now I am not exactly the best of trekkers and my friends will vouch for it, given all those embarrassing incidents of me being inappropriately dressed in a skirt and top when I should have been wearing tracks or me wearing dangerously precarious heels and falling down repeatedly. But this time, I was prepared, thanking my impulsive decision to splurge on those beautiful red Reebok running shoes: my most expensive purchase till date.

For a moment, I did contemplate taking the easy way out by boarding one of those buses that ply from the main entrance till the caves, but like a true tourist, I decided to explore the wilderness on foot, as I walked my way for four hours, randomly clicking pictures and snooping around the dark corners of the caves. It was hard to believe that there was so much of ancient history right in the city, while we went gallivanting half way across the world, cribbing about the fast-paced life in a metro. For a change, here was a place, tucked away in one corner of Mumbai, which probably had more greenery than the whole of the city put together, and I could only imagine how beautiful it would be during the monsoons.

The rest of the weekend was spent in indulging myself, given that I was completely paralysed by the body ache that followed my enthusiastic adventure. Convinced that the trek had cost me at least 5 kgs, I treated myself to delicious icecreams and chocolates sans any guilt, not to mention the homecooked chicken curry. I hate to cook for myself without the flattering words of encouragement by forgiving friends and doting parents and I did miss JB1 who had this annoying habit of inviting himself over every time I made chicken, only to point out ALL that is wrong with it.

I also managed to watch Ek Mein Aur Ek Tu (completely blown away by the ending, though the rest of the movie was strictly meh) and J Edgar. For a cute guy, Leonardo de Caprio never ceases to surprise me with his acting talent. Each time I watch his movies, my respect for him as an actor just grows.

Rolling in the Deep?… not anymore

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Fleeting Glory

First and foremost, I am very grateful for my job; for everything it has offered me in the last one year, for bringing me to life after all I had been through and for making me believe in myself again at a time when I was alone, vulnerable and lost. I go back a year, and I still shudder at the memories: memories of being homeless, jobless, broke and broken.

Finally, after three months of waiting anxiously and living a life of squalor, this company pulled me back from the pits. And I started from scratch, in a new team, with new people and new challenges.

In the last year, I have seen myself grow, move on and make new friends. I have also seen the organization mature through management changes, restructuring and growing team sizes. That also brings me to the evident signs of a maturing organization:

a)Employees have degrees longer than their names: It’s almost a miracle when your four-letter surname is followed by a string of letters like B.E., MBA, CFA, FRM, CA, CPA. You look around you, and people are still writing some exam or the other, while all I am doing is wasting my time on my blog or reading books which have no academic value or taking vacations instead of study leaves. I am officially the least educated person on the floor.

b)More time is spent on meetings/operational formalities than on work: This was one of the main factors which literally drove me away from Company D, and as I spend more time in my current company, I shudder at the way it slowly but surely moves towards ‘processes’ and ‘best practices’ which are discussed in the different meetings where the same things are repeated but in different jargons.

c)Success becomes directly proportional to the number of big words used: Suddenly everybody wants ‘management responsibilities’ which involve ‘paradigm shifts’, ‘strategizing’, and ‘operationalizing’ and since I have no idea what they mean, I am left to do the dirty ‘grassroot level’ work which is beneath the dignity of other people, but thankfully, I am happy with that.

d)The focus shifts from working to networking: The early signs of a mature organization are alarmingly getting on my nerves, when my objectives are being modified towards ‘increasing professional contacts’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘exposure’ which when translated in plain English means ‘hang out with the people who matter’or 'make important friends'.

e)‘Value’ becomes directly proportional to your relationship with the manager: As it is, in a research set-up, it’s difficult to quantify ‘value’, and especially if you are in a mature organization, the big ideas have already been exhausted, and you are easily expendable in favour of someone who is less obdurate and opinionated or as HR will put it, ‘has better attitude’.

Well, so now that I am a part of an almost mature organization, I can see my foreseeable future, and as is always the case with most things in my life, it seems short-lived…

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentines Day to My Eternal Soulmate

To all those people raving and ranting against Valentine’s Day: SCREW YOU!

It’s the single-most ROMANTIC day of the year. If you don’t believe me, go log in to your Facebook account. 337 people can’t be stupid. After all, they are your FRIENDS…

What makes it all the more SPECIAL is the way you usher it in. It’s not just about THE DAY anymore; you have this wonderful weeklong celebration which finally climaxes on Feb 14…

And, and, and, the jawdropping amazing thing is to make that climax all the more exciting, snapdeal offers discounts on condoms. I kid you not! Not to mention all the great deals on restaurants, gifts and salon services. Love was never so cheap as it’s now…

If you are planning to get married, then you can’t possibly choose a better day than Valentine’s Day. It’s just so sweet to sign a pre-nup and get into wedded bliss on this special day, knowing that you are protected once the heart-shaped cake is sliced into pieces. Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan anybody? Or may be Sharon Stone and Phil Bronstein?

If you ask me, the only people who are dead against Valentines Day are either single, hideous or belong to some political party, who secretly watch porn while preaching about the sanctity of Indian culture…

Me, I had THE MOST WONDERFUL Valentine’s Day ever. I spent the day with the person I love the most in this whole world, we had a nice quiet dinner at home and we basked in the glory of being in a comfortable, secure, long-term relationship which doesn’t need the assurance of flowers, chocolates and heart-shaped balloons.

I was in love with me…

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Dark Horse

I was born simple. I was brought up simple. Life ruined me. With each passing weekend, I move from being corrupt to decadent. Like yesterday, for instance. We went down to the Mahalaxmi race course, ‘just to experience the whole deal’ AND my excuse was that it was a professional hazard (of being a wannabe writer who needs to broaden her horizons).

Except the occasional bet on cricket, I am not much into gambling. I don’t play poker, I don’t mess around with the stock market and I definitely don’t put my money on a four-legged animal. My only previous brush with race horses was four years back, when I was in my first year of MBA and as part of the Corpcomm team I had to interview a Symbi alumni, who had a flourishing business which dealt with buying and selling of race horses.

While the minor glitch was being stopped at the gate (deceptively school-girlish looks often let me down), I managed to sneak in and there was no looking back. We rooted for the underdog, or should we call her the ‘underhorse’, and unexpectedly, she finished third, leaving all of us smiling and a few thousand bucks richer!

Apart from the race itself, it felt like being transported to a different world altogether: with the men, dressed in formals and neck-ties and the women resplendent and sophisticated, it was the cream of South Mumbai gathered on a Sunday afternoon, carelessly elegant and carefully arrogant, while I looked down mournfully at my shabby outfit which stood out as a constant reminder that I DID NOT BELONG THERE.

I also dutifully stuck to my new resolution as I guiltily watched Manchester United vs Liverpool, almost like I was cheating on cricket. As I nearly knocked over my glass when Rooney scored back-to-back goals, I firmly reminded myself that I was only flirting with football, and the alcohol was the REAL deal. I even missed the major part of the India-Australia match, and just to prove a point, Dhoni chose to regain his Midas Touch and pulled off an unlikely win.

Now who would have bet on THAT?

Friday, February 10, 2012

As Good As It Gets

Apparently Mumbai is cold these days; I mean literally! Now being a hot-blooded Bong that I am, sub-10 degrees temperatures turn me into this lazy, useless person, with an unhealthy attachment to the quilt, with, wait for it, a TUB OF ICECREAM!

Now the only thing better than tucking into bed on a weeknight with multiple scoops of the BR Bavarian Chocolate icecream, is tucking into bed on a weeknight with multiple scoops of the BR Bavarian Chocolate icecream AND BACK TO BACK AWESOME MOVIES!

Remember a few months back, I went gaga over a Bong movie, Autograph, the debut venture of a school senior of mine, Srijit Mukherjee. Now I watched his second film, Baishe Srabon, a psychological thriller and a tribute to all the unsung poets whose talent went unnoticed (*sniff sniff). While not as soul-stirring as his first movie, this one is gripping enough to make up for Raima Sen’s cringeworthy acting. I would have so loved to play her role as the sassy journalist, in an on-again-off-again relationship with the intelligent, yet somewhat uncouth lead detective. Sigh… some dreams remain unfulfilled. Make that TOO MANY dreams remain unfulfilled.

I followed it up with this year’s highly-acclaimed movie The Descendants: a remarkably nuanced take on a middle-aged man’s struggle with his dysfunctional family. The last movie which touched the audience with a similar theme was Sam Mendes’ American Beauty that depicted everything wrong with the modern American society. While Kevin Spacey won me over as an impressionable teenager, George Clooney’s drool quotient is unmatched. For a man who represents evergreen bachelorhood (but does so infinitely more gracefully than our very own Salman Khan), he impeccably portrayed the typical American father-of-two, who simply can’t get his act together, or his family for that matter. And the salt-and-pepper hair just makes him all the more sexier, if that was possible.

Is it weird that depressing movies manage to make me happy?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beautiful Stranger

Have you ever looked closely at the mirror?

Have you ever wondered what lies behind those dark lashes and the well-defined kohl-rimmed eyes?

Have you ever explored what hides behind those smiling lips, tinged with the light shade of lipstick?

Have you ever taken a moment to ask what goes inside the head covered with a mass of dark curls?

Have you ever paid heed to what the fine lines on the forehead are trying to tell you?

Have you ever noticed that those disproportionately big ears you always hated are telling you to listen more?

Have you ever realized that the turned up nose has a story of its own?

Have you stopped to wonder who you really are?

Have you met the beautiful stranger called You yet?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Times They Are Changing...

I have decided to make sweeping changes to my life. Yes, repeat after me. SWEEPING. CHANGES.

1.I am going to STOP trying to write something which caters to the mass market 100-rupee segment. Over the weekend, I tortured myself with a recent “best-seller”, written by an acquaintance with a similar background. This was her first book, which was picked up by Rupa. While it was a fast-paced read with elements of good humour strewn in parts, I found the subject matter clichéd, banal and a complete insult to my intelligence. But what was worse, were the repeated spelling errors which stood out glaringly, page after page after page. Trust me, I don’t grudge her the achievement: it’s a big deal to get published at such a young age, and that too by a reputed publisher, and boy, do I know how hard it is. However, I also realized that now I don’t WANT to be just another ‘writer’ churning out rehashed versions of the same old junk. What makes the 'not wanting to be just another writer' part easy is that NO publisher would take a chance on me in this segment: my writing simply doesn’t fit in and I can’t compromise on my style or content to MAKE it fit in. Hence, I am going to wait, till I am mature enough or experienced enough to write something which is different, radical and most importantly, honest and unpretentious and not simple a "me too" version.

2.I am going to STOP obsessing about my boss in the India office. It’s an open secret that he doesn’t like me, and I just have to accept it. No, I am not going to change myself or try to get into his good books. In life, you can’t please everybody, and due to genetic disadvantages (my dad NEVER got along with ANY of his bosses and the trait has been handed down the generation), I ALWAYS pick the wrong battles. In Company D, my manager and I nearly came to blows, and while things are much more civil here, I don't fancy my chances for too long. As long as my work gets appreciated, I shall stick around. When it stops making a difference, it would be time to move on.

3.I am going to STOP watching cricket. Yes, you heard me right. If Sahara can take the bold step, so can I. Now that I have played a crucial role in India’s rise to the top, I have nothing else to offer to the game. While I have always been an ardent tennis follower, cricket overshadowed it. So now, tennis will lead the devotion quotient, and I will also focus on other sports which I follow intermittently: Formula One, Badminton and Soccer. Especially with the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, I have enough time to prepare myself for the event. And here I quote Subrata Roy, “I wish cricket well.”

Or may be, I should JUST wait till the India-Australia-Sri Lanka tri-series is over; for old times’ sake…

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A rose by any other name would have a different spelling

Shakespeare, I believe asked the question, “What’s in a name?” Plenty, if you ask me. He may not have grasped the significance of it, given his name was as simple as William. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for me.

So I have been blessed with (or so I believed) a unique and exotic name, and as long as I was in Kolkata, it got me a lot of compliments (as well as a pen friend request from a guy from Andaman, in an age when you did not have the luxury of adding random people on Facebook).

But as soon as I moved outside Kolkata, I was faced with the trauma of being caught in a trap with people who apparently pronounced names EXACTLY that way they are spelt! Shudder!! Not only could they not pronounce it the way it is supposed to be pronounced, they also failed to appreciate the exoticism of the name, and I was reduced to ‘that Bong chick with a weird name”. So over the years, I have gotten used to lame jokes and administrative confusions, as I patiently tried to overcome the challenges of the missing H and the use of A instead of O.

Anyway my name literally means maang, which signifies the parting of the hair, where married women put sindoor or vermillion. But of all the cruel jokes that I have been subjected to, this one takes the cake:

Picture courtesy, Neil

The name is Simanti, pronounced Shimonti…