Friday, June 29, 2007

The Chauffeur.

The pink city Jaipur. Not quiet pink except for the old town but has a mystical quality about it. I was glad that Sarat and I decided upon Rajsthan as our vacation-destination.
Sarat being the man he is, did not want to enquire how much it would cost us to hire a cab thru the hotel. The cab already picked us up from the airport the previous night.
But I being the woman I am,I had to bother. Can you believe! They charge equivalent of $7 USD PER HOUR and that is not it. They charge you a minimum of 2 hours every time you step out, even if it is just to have a quick dinner that would take 30 mts. off? Certainly.
I promptly told them that we would not need the taxi. What next? Sarat and I were all dressed to take a tour of the city and we did not have a cab to drive us around.
"You are so cheap" He began to argue. "Yes I am" I admitted without shame. But that was not done. I explained to him that Jaipur is a tourist place and taxis should be ubiquitous.
Not having a choice, he walked with me out of the hotel and we found an Auto rickshaw. The older gentleman convinced us that Auto would be a better option since we can shoot the city better (he points to the Sony DV cam Sarat was holding and the SLR that was hanging from my neck)
How did the Auto trip go? Some other time. Now for the Chauffeur.
The next day Sarat traced out a contact who happens to be a common friend. He arranged for a cab. The driver arrived with the Maruti Zen at 8 am sharp.
The Driver. I felt a sharp repulsion the moment I saw him. A thin, lanky and tall guy. Quiet young. Early twenties probably. He had a careless look on his face and his driving wasn't any different.
I told Sarat the moment we got into the car. "Let us ask for someone else, this guy looks like a trouble"
His accent was heavy. He was talking to us in a local dialect. Sounded similar to Hindi but wasn't. Looked like that is the only language he knew. He was surprised that we didn't know that language. More than surprise he actually sounded like he doubted if we are telling the truth about not knowing the language. I subtly rolled my eyes and looked out of the window determined to convince Sarat to change the chauffeur the next day.
He transformed himself form Chauffeur to a Guide. He seemed to know a lot about what is in and around the city. He drove us to a couple of palaces and revealed a grand plan to drive us to a tourist resort that night. He offered to click my camera but I declined politely. He didn't seem to mind about any thing I said, positive or negative.
He was calling me Maddum putting a lot of stress on MAD but then changed to calling me Meim Sahib later on. He seemed to talk a lot and briefed us about his auto biography in a nut shell. He did'nt attend school and so doesn't know to read or write and had an older brother that did his MA. He declared that so proudly and quickly turned back to Sarat and asked him if he could find the brother a job. Oh initial hatred was going stronger by the minute and it was actually not allowing me to enjoy the city.
It was evening and while we were all done with the day's touring and going back to the hotel, I glanced at my left wrist and let out a shriek. My gold bangle bracelet was missing from my wrist.
Sarat didn't lose his cool. "you left it in the hotel room may be" he suggested knowing how careless I am with my stuff. "no" I insisted. "It must be in your make up bag for sure" He added. "NO" I replied impatiently. Our driver looked back and asked what the matter was. I explained to him what had happened.
He seemed to explain the mystery of the missing bangle. Earlier that day I was shopping for bangles at a street vendor's stall in a park that was 30 kilometers away from where I realised the bangle was missing. He told me that he was looking at me trying on the bangles for size and wanted to warn me that the gold bangle was coming out every time I was taking out the bangles I was trying. I did remember this guy standing 5-6 feet away from me and looking at me but I didn't realise that he was actually observing the gold bangle falling out. I felt a tinge of guilt for having thought that he was just making me uncomfortable looking at me.
"I wanted to warn you then" he said. "but you were too busy"
Sarat gave up. "there are no chances of finding that mobile stall at the same place and getting our bangle back" He was sure. "Let's get back to the hotel"
The Chauffeur didn't give up. He drove us back to the park, actually talked to the security guard at the entrance (so that we didn't have to buy an entry ticket again) and went to the vendor straight. He was still there. And just one glance at me and even before I explained what happened, he took out his wallet and gave me the bangle.
I was impressed by his honesty and offered him some money. He refused. I just bought some more stuff and left.
While driving back I looked at the chauffeur from the back seat. He still looked careless to me. Certainly not repulsive this time around.
In the evening we went to that resort. Sarat insisted that he should come in with us. He stayed back for 3 hrs while we were dining and enjoying ourselves. It was past midnight by the time we came back. I did'nt talk to Sarat about changing the chauffeur. I was okay with him.
The next day he drove us thru a short cut to visit some more places. While we were driving we spotted a group of elephants that were being used to ride. Tourists were enjoying their rides on the enormous beasts.
Our chauffeur pointed to a group of Jean clad , goggled young ladies that were riding an elephant and commented 'Chale firangi ban ne"
I thought he was pointing to their hep western dressing and rolled my eyes again for his stereotype.
While Sarat was away purchasing the tickets, he came to me and started talking about how the animals are confined to these narrow streets and how ill fed they are all that. Just then a group of people in desi clothes passed by on an elephant and he exclaimed "Loh, yeh bhi bane firangi"
He was an animal activist was'nt judgemental about the dressing style afterall!

We became fast friends with the Chauffeur. He was with us the for the next two day. I started to appreciate the idealistic lad in him and discovered the child-like aspect to that rough, rugged exterior - His compassion for animals and child labourers, His secularism when he stopped at a Dargah and told us that he believed in that baba and his love for nature and keeping it clean and his honesty.

It is strange how deceptive looks can be. It is stranger how we judge people on how they look and how they speak. This guy is illiterate but was a lot more cultured than most people I met.

We took his phone number down so that he could be of help if someone we know would travel to Rajasthan.

I am trying to remember his name. I will never forget though, the lesson he taught me. I will never ever judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thai Cuisine.

It is interesting how I got hooked on to Thai food being the finicky eater I am. When you are a staunch vegetarian your whole life, it kind of becomes obsessive after a point. I keep on asking the waiter if the veggie soup broth is actually veggie stock. He says it is. I pause and ask "does it have any meat?"
He says. "no" I pause yet again and ask "can you make sure?"
Sure enough, he comes out and announces that he is not sure and I end up coming out to the restaurant eating a couple of lettuce leaves stuffed inside a bun.
Before I deviate - Thai Food. Satya is my vegetarian friend with a twist. She is extremely experimental with food. One day when we were out having a girl's day out, she literally forced me to go try Thai food. Reluctantly and after a thorough scrutiny of what went into the dish I was interested in, I placed my order.
This was some four years ago and Thai food has even since joined my list of favourite foods. I rarely venture into trying new "veggie" (like they have a lot! LOL) stuff, but I do enjoy eating it.
Should probably be that coconut flavour that I am so accustomed to as a south Inidan or just the carbs.
Well, I am on a dinner date tonight again with the friend who had forced this cuisine on me. I am happy I gave in and tried it:-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Yes, they are usually those muscle men in tight leggings and masks. I am talking about the ones that we meet daily. The ones that have someting special and adorable and praiseworthy about them. These are not the kinds that come and rescue us in danger or display superhuman courage and adventure.
Let me explain.
What do women do when they meet? Yes, anyone's guess ! Gossip. I have no shame in admitting that a part of what I talk to my girlfriends and family is usually gossip. I cannot however get my older sister Seshu to ever gossip. She is firm on her principle. If you are looking around to kill some time with gossip or have some not so nice things to say about people (irrespective of how bad they are) don't ever go to my sis. Come to me instead. We can chat away over a cup of chilled caramel frappuchino from Starbucks.

Okay, jokes apart let me go ahead and list my heroes. Nalini ! She is my cousin. Technically second but has been closer to my heart like my own sibling. Naini has it. The voracity to read and gulp everything anything she can set her eyes on from sci-fi to culinary books. She is definitely my hero for her relegious and deligent reading habbit.

Geeta, my lil sis can get on anyone's nerves with her whacky humor. You still smile though she can be irritatingly irritaing. Her glory is perfection.
Geeta always completes the jobs she takes up (not just finishes them)> Any one can assign a task to her - could be as simple as brewing tea or as complex as making a dress for you. She takes care of perfection like a perfectionist and her organizing abilities are infectious.

Satya - My hero of Humor. This girl has such a childlike sense of humor. I am splitting my sides when ever I am on phone with her. She can turn the most boring of days into laugh riots. The one major lesson of life I learnt form my dear friend is to laugh at myself. Life is so much fun when you can look at yourself in the mirror and laugh at the person that looks back at you.

Mom - She has to be mentioned when it comes to devotion. This woman is devotion personified. She is easily the most devoted mom, wife and career woman I have ever met. The meticulousness of how she attends to my dad (lucky man) is worth its weight in blogs. Now I wish I had said that about myself.

Okay, let me not be a feminist here. Nor go on displaying my nepotism.
Dean Anderson, my neighbor is my Hero of enthusiasm. He can rip the house apart and build it with this enthu for getting things done. During Christmas time, our street looks like a mini Vegas. Courtesy Mr. Anderson. His RV is taken out 4 times a week and the family spends time trekking mountains and biking on trails.

Heroes. Such a grand word. Yet I come across them everyday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Don't they say that the sense of smell is the strongest sense of all?
I still remember some smells form childhood. The smell of wet earth somehow brings back memories of playing with rain water that fell thru the open sun window, into the depression created in the center of our living room floor. would be cool to tell Aarti that I lived in a house that had an open sun window which welcomed all the elements into the house.

The smell of seasoning in dal.. Makes me hungry. Also makes me think of evening play dates in my neighborhood. We'd run into the house and smell it in the air. Cummin, mustard and asefotida married together creating the best ever vegetarian side dish. (oky this is open for arguement)

The smell of Petrol. Makes me think of childhood again. Living so near to a petrol bunk made this a very nostaligic smell

This brand named Fruits and Passion has a hand cleansing gel that smells like wild berries. I bought this when I was vacationing in Calgary, Canada. The moment I use this on my hands after cooking or cleaning, I am magically transformed into that crisp winter breeze of Banff National park. what a wonderful memory to rekindle!

I should mention this yucky smell of molasses that stinked the air in our grand dad's town. Makes me think of summer holdiays now. Hmm...Is that not a paradigm shift?

Givenchy Pi feels like Sarat.
EsteeLauder pleasures or Polo Woman makes me feel like a teenager.

Chicco soap is so Aarti these days.

And Yes, the smell of cut grass is alway a smell that makes me feel at home in a foreign country, it makes me feel grown up and in-charge.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


A coach bag - Actually a tote. Big enough to house a tub of wipes and a stack of diapers, lip gloss, car keys, two jars of baby food and a book (to read)

A vanity - with little pots of color for the face and nails. Numerous brushes. A sectioned translucent trinket box containing earrings.

A closet - with an array of bold colored sairs, salwar suits, t shirts and trousers. Not to mention bags of all shapes and sizes to accesorize.

A kitchen - busting at the seams with pots and pans. One for sambar, one for rasam and one for steaming veggies to mention a few.

A pantry - smelling like New India Bazzar. Full of pearl pet jars and spice assortments.

A front yard - blooming with roses - Hybrid tea. Pink, yellow, red and lavender.

A book case - showing off the well read people. From technical to spiritual. From fiction to relegion. A book case that also displays baby shoes and little kinck-knacks. Girly knick- knacks.

A heart - full of emotions, zeal and love for live.

But a Mind - short of ideas to write a blog. A mind that has one thing in abundance - Confusion!!!


It is not funny at all. Aarti takes anytime in between half and hour to an hour and a half to eat a single meal. my right hand seems to be in a perpetual angle holding her soft tip spoon full of mashed rice and veggies sometimes or yoghurt or oatmeal cooked in milk sometimes. Her taste is strange. Or should I say her taste does'nt exist at all. Whether it is cake batter ice-cream from Coldstone or heavy whipping creme from that pineapple pudding I made, feeding her the third spoon always becomes an ordeal. She does'nt seem to care for food at all. Coming from a family of foodies (at least on her mom's side) this is kind of unusual for her.
She loves a couple of things. Green peas and slices of cucumber. She bites into cucumber slices with her front teeth and crunches them away with her gums. The only time I see her restless with reference to food is when she sees green peas on top of the fried rice I make. Now if I steam green peas and feed them with some butter, it becomes a big no no!
Finger foods are always on the floor. She loves playing with her cheerios and sweet potato puffs. If you think cheese or cheetos whould excite a kid, nay, not so!
My day begins with the dreaded thought of feeding her breakfast and usually ends with the guilt feeling of not have fed her a full serving of dinner.
Is'nt life strange? I am, on the other hand, trying to confine my appetite to lose those post partum pounds that keep me from fitting into those lovely pair of GAP jeans. I am subconsciously thinking of food all the time, whether it is about feeding Aarti of myself:-( Thai fried rice from the local resturant, Onion rings form IHop (not to forget the pancakes and maple syrup) Malai Kofta and hot rotis from Sangam are a few things that cross my mind more often than the most common things that are supposed to be crossing my mind. LOL.
Dunno what, you are probably hungry from all those descriptions by now, or you are bored. Either way is a nice reason to open that fridge and do some binge eating.
May I suggest you to bring your food to your computer and tell me a thing or two about increasing and decreasing appetite for my daughter and me (respectively) while you are at your munching!!!!