Musings posts

Private luxury: doing your own thing

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

[Did this piece for M magazine’s section on what the word “luxury” means to different people in an intimate, personal sense]

I have a friend who works for a bank in London. He’s doing well for himself but he thinks of his job as a necessary e…


Friday, November 20th, 2009

Check out the intricate White Tiger cover in Bulgarian, a Cyrillic spin on the tale of the übermensch. When I first learned Punjabi, that Gurmukhi script used the same glyphs as Hindi for different sounds struck me as an elaborate joke. I was being punked by an unseen prankster. And with Cyrillic: the ‘H’ is [...]

Just enough to be dangerous

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I was at the drugstore buying unguents the other day — a man’s gotta maintain the quiff — when the giggly black girl behind the counter asked, ‘What does your shirt say?’
I couldn’t remember. Looked down at the tidd and saw this:

Oh yeah, that. During the summer moustache project, I looked like I was wearing [...]

Dog’s little soldiers + how to count

Monday, October 12th, 2009

From a newspaper article today about how caring Delhiites can be:Delhiites are a compassionate lot when it comes to stray dogs. The survey says 66 per cent of the respondents actively feed dogs.The reasons given are here:”My panditji has asked me to fe…

Golden shower

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Screw you, matrimonial site, for creating the most deceptive, ad network-mandated close button possible. It’s catty-corner to the standard location, the opposite of the standard color and as small as possible. For following me all over the Net if I’ve ever so much as breathed on the Times of India online. And for covering my [...]

Accent training

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

A cousin who’s recently come to the U.S. tells me how he resolves his cable billing problems. He calls the cable company, which punts him to a translation Web site. The site connects him to a Hindi speaker who’s actually a Tamilian with a thick accent in Hindi. But the Tamilian understands my cousin’s Indian [...]

Moral relativity for rock stars

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I find Hollywood’s outcry around the arrest of Roman Polanski for child rape to be bizarre. We seem to carry the idea that celebrity forgives all. In the case of Maya Arulpragasam, lyrics glorifying suicide bombers are forgiven by her musical excellence and her standard-issue musician fuzzy-mindedness about politics. In her case, the argument goes, [...]

Good morning, Kalimpong

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The only time I ever see these names in Amrikan life is on the specialty tea board at the local café: Kalimpong (hello The Inheritance of Loss!). Assam Golden Tip. Darjeeling, of course. Sri Lanka Ratnapura.
It is still freaky how these people are required to memorize your face and order. The machinations of a BigCo [...]

Tales from the crematorium; “the done things”

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

[Did a version of this for M magazine’s “Freedom Songs” special]A few weeks ago I was at Delhi’s Lodhi crematorium to perform the last rites for my just-departed nani. The sadness of the occasion was underscored by relief – she had suffered t…

The moustache project

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

The summer moustache project is well underway, and it is my first (intentional) moustache ever. High school lip down doesn’t count. Oh, I’ve had goatees before, and the moustache-and-chin Don Juan. But never just the Indian Standard.
Aside from giggling at myself in the mirror, the ’stache has some surprising benefits. Uncles and aunties are way [...]

Overheard at the café

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Me this morning: ‘Can I get a tea with milk?
Barista, with the gentleness of morning: ‘Do you mean a Chai™?’
Me: ‘I guess?’ It was twice the price.
Chai already has a meaning. You can’t just rebrand it at will. Next time I’ll reply, No, I’d like a MyFootUpYourAss™. Actually, I’ve rebranded it as a pleasantry.

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A link and some rambling

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Nothing to blog about as such, so back to linking. I just read Rana Dasgupta’s excellent piece in the new Granta about India’s market elite. It’s a vivid, wide-ranging (and very scary) portrait of unbridled consumerism in the post-liberalisation years….

Coffee ritual

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Over the weekend I caught up with Raag of PMH over coffee at Four Barrel, a Mission café with gorgeous typography, the smell of new wood, a massive skylight, exposed beams and a coffee roastery in the back. I’d wanted to meet at Ritual, a café with a kitsch commie flag stuffed with hipster Macheads [...]

The rant for the week…

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

…is directed at people who feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they receive happy-birthday messages from their hundreds of Facebook “friends”. My wife tells me about a friend who gushed to her on the phone about how her day had “absolutely been…