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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My Mother's Daughter

I had no intent to start writing a novel. [Please read the full post before you conclude anything at this point].

I never thought I had any of that stuff. I mean having read just a few books that were found conveniently in a house inhabited by seriously serious book lovers, I was the last one who should think of writing a book. 

But thoughts change with life. Curiosity to find what life is all about has got me do this. I mean think about writing seriously.

For almost 30 years I was subconsciously grooming myself to be like my mother. A non-vegetarian Gemini, ornamental fish lover, megalomaniac, strong-headed, well-read, civil servant, journalist and business woman, who currently looks stunning in her 50s in the lawyers gown - that is my mom.

And who am I really?

A veggie Sagittarian, dog lover, artist, journalist, random somebody with average looks and plenty of promising friends as well as business ideas but yet to make anything commendable out of her life. Far from anything superlative as mother... but am thankful for the good genes. Days when I feel a bit broke, alone or aimless, I look into the mirror and feel happy as am surprised 'Oh I do look like mother... a bit here... a bit there.'

Mother and Me at a press event at India Habitat Centre, Delhi
that was the venue for one of my art solos in 2010

I cannot say enough how much I love her. Wait a minute am not sure if it is completely her that I love or the image of a mummiest mom whom I have painted in my imagination. I am pretty creative you see and I get carried away easily. These are flaws she wants me to fix asap and get on with life. 

We are not the sweetest mom-daughter duo. We fight like cats and dogs at the slightest agitation. It comes naturally to us if our chats lasted more than few minutes. It is a fact that we find it impossible to cohabit under the same roof for more than 3 days. Our break up point is almost predictable to the whole family. And some how if we touch the fourth day in peace and harmony through friendly chats, I can sense the tension on my grandmother's face. Like she is waiting for the thunderstorm to rumble down any moment now. She would say holding my hand, "I am praying everyday that this time you guys don't fight. Mole (dear child) I am worried because you are so much like her. I mean simply argumentative," she specifies this with a worried expression that makes me hug her and assure nothing is wrong... though deep down I know there is no guarantee this bliss will last forever!

Mother has many reasons to argue. The biggest reason perhaps is that she is a lawyer and knows life more than me. Her father too was one. And if I may mention so, with two generations of argumentative lawyers, what reason do I give myself to not argue. It is hereditary you see. Tell that to mother and she would remind, "If it were in your genes then why are you not a lawyer?" It is a fact that no one else in the house is an artist with a parallel career in journalism. "What sense of security or future do you have with a freelance journalist's job in the Gulf?" It is clear that she is just worried for me and I should only simply listen but old habits die hard.

According to her either you should have a solid career to support your passion or a supportive family. By family she probably means the one you are supposed to be in after marriage. Her duty to raise a shrew is over. She reminds that each time we fight, that she thought her part of the taming was over when I left home for higher studies and job hunts... and that she hates to be parenting me at this age.

It is not that she doesn't care about me. I wanted to write a full blog about the 'fire in the belly' talk we have.

In my mother tongue this is a phrase used in reference to young girl children. Until they are settled into their new lives safe and sound, mothers have 'fire in their belly'. Meaning all reasons to be pissed and worried thinking about a far away daughter's security and life. Sometimes she is so worried that she is not available or is too busy to talk. I think, to avoid arguments.

Upon no respite to our argumentative state of affairs I started reading Linda Goodman for some answers. Goodman states clearly that Gemini parent - Sagittarian offspring are bound to be like us. So it is not just something wrong with me, it is the planetary alignment you see.

Not just a Gemini mother, I have my best friend who is a Gemini. You know the funny thing. She is like a mother to me! I sat down to check my Gemini list and could not believe most people I know closely are freaking Geminis!

Two Geminis: Mother and My Best Friend at Dilli Haat (a rare snap)

Well I sure have got very close to mother. It is a puzzling manner the universe seems to have arranged this by sending so many Geminis in to my life. These people are just as genuine, argumentative, passionate and caring as her though each one is different. I mean we argue over different things. I should ideally not miss mother so much, but then I do go home when I get homesick... only to fight after our normal 3-day honeymoon period and come back feeling disgusted all over again.

Regarding the novel am writing. Well am rethinking on it. Mother says I should not write it before am mature enough. And not before I have read enough to get the best language. Ideally not before 45!

I shall rethink. I mean the age at which I think I must pronounce myself mature enough! Really to write a book these days you need language and maturity? 

Somebody please give me a break!

PS: The novelog '13 Until I Die' that had its 9 chapters published will continue next year for sure. I promise!

Friday, 30 August 2013

fridge-free, alive and kicking

exactly one month after my last post, today, i was hunting for some good change to refresh my head before i got on with some more of those pending chores. my to-do list is just getting massive and for a change it doesn't scare the shit out of me cos they are all what i wish to do and align me with my mission to bring about 'that' change [which has already begun on the right note].

[btw remember you are reading a seasoned saggi's ancient blog, it is time you got used to her pompous accolades than worry about the extra two mins lost reading this not-so-great post.]

the most important change at my end is nothing but a new life style. you can safely call it a fridge-free one.

to stretch back and touch stone age doesn't take much even while you may be in dubai - living a normal ac and fridge life. do this for me. just try living without your fridge for a month please. you will automatically blog about it. [or at least post something interesting to your fb status post even if you are one of those who read others' and go why does he/she have to report every sneeze and f*** to the public?]

i have just completed 4 months w/o the fridge and trust me life and my routine has changed [beyond recognition ;)]. i have no choice but eat fresher food. initially i was eating out a lot but soon i got used to the routine of picking my fav veggie for the meal and chopping it up and making a bowl full of it. when i got bored of the stir fries, i switched to soups [or sometimes dialed the nearest pizza joint ;)].

this change has also cut the non-vegetarian foods out of my diet almost completely. not to mention the sauces, pickles and other preserved foods that need refrigeration once opened have also disappeared from my life [just the way some sour ties fizzled off for good]. the toughest one was to get off dairy as i love milk any time of the day or night. as adults our bodies accept yoghurt better than milk so that reason got me hooked to mostly yoghurt as any form of dairy. and guess what they are healthier. when emotions peak to brim and fall, logic saves :)

fridge-free life has opened me to newer cooking ideas... also made me free from the hardcore cooking to a large extent. it is only natural that when you prepare something standing for hours in the kitchen, you want it to last a little longer... and u stack em/freeze em for later.

this has resulted in three big changes [other than my reducing waist-line].
1. saved a lot of time for other activities/studies/research
2. more opportunity to socialize/liaise with new networks over a cozy meal - each time a new place!
3. this successful challenge has opened me to adapt to other seemingly-tough-but-good things - like switch to slightly more expensive stevia than other forms of sugar; pick from the organic counter more often as daily shopping makes you pick fewer items and they don't pinch your purse as much as your weekly/trolley-full shopping meant to refill the crisper does. another new at my end is that i have also begun to take daily dose of good supplements from the pharmacy to not fall weak and compensate on nutrients i may be missing out because of my changed dietary habit. [otherwise for a long time i was a fool who dreaded popping anything that looked like a pill/medicine - some deep-rooted conditioning that runs back to childhood memories devoid of any pill or injection... or a poor-eater's meal-time traumas/dramas... or a belief that health comes through right foods and not hospitals/medicines.]

those who believe in 'prana' or life aspects of foods will also agree with me that energy levels increase manifold when you are eating fresh and not stale. fridge only delays staling or further delays it as most foods that reach us are already engineered to stay pepped to keep the 'pick-me-up-look' long after their natural expiry time. [watch 'food.inc' a bbc documentary if you don't believe me].

as i am still a long way off from having my own farm and producing my food like my healthy ancestors did, the least i can try is this lil experiment. even though i don't know how long i may stay on this other side of life, am much happy to share the fact that it works wonderfully well.

the one big thing i miss is frozen yoghurt - my comfort food on any dull day. but then i have chosen other ways to drive away dullness - like going on a long drive [or go shopping at a big art store :p].

am so glad i cud experiment and continue to pull out every one of those things - that i once thought were impossible. freedom is precious and sweet. it is rewarding, logical and can be environment friendly too. and most of all it satisfies 'that' hunger you never knew existed in the first place - damn satiating i say!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

the long and short of it...

it has been the longest ever blog-break. why? so many mundane reasons you don't need to know. [ya me too hate that condescending tone. really!]

but i hope it/they change(s). [lol].

sorry it has been damn busy at my end. experimenting with life and times - and redefining purposes from a different angle altogether. [aah! this sounds acceptable. pompous. stupid saggi!]

rolling in on... from a journo to an artist to an art teacher to an art promoter my journey is just as exciting as the next freaking page in a compelling thriller. [very saggi again]

no complaints. some more lessons learnt. and probably i stand wiser [and less tormented than the times when my wisdom tooth broke open my jaws!] [get over saggi-ness wise owl!]

meanwhile... i picked up a few things here and there... [like at a street side vendor's colourful display that distracts you to look at things closely... and then when you squint to read the fine print closely - it reads 'made in china'... and you think twice if you must really buy it... thinking if it must be toxic].

the analogy tends to be longer when am short of words. [silly right?]

few people that i came across distracted me with false faith and their 'holier than thou' everything else. [how negative a thought. damn right they are]. people who promise more than what they can deliver. [ya that condescending tone again. i tell you. it is high time i got over it.] i must remember perhaps am paying through my nose for this. [and the tone stays. ready to sound itself louder even while am trying hard to tuck it away. lol.]

well this blog is much longer than i thought it should have been. the only thing shorter at my end is my new mane. [yeah i did that finally]. free from decades of messy buns. realised there is no point being the rapunzel trapped in her castle.

thank god. now it is only the tone i need to work on. [lol no more. shut the dash up!]

- the end -

*those in the square brackets are monologues [call em myalogues if you wish]

Monday, 4 February 2013

13 Until I Die! [Chapter 9: On Air]

Star News in Mumbai kept me there - on air - literally. Flying high and low for I had now joined the circus called TV news. Of meeting hourly deadlines in a 24-hour news channel. Of magically producing news capsules from thin air. Of flashing bright 'Breaking News' banners made from the colours that make a clown's dress. Of cartwheeling mid air while swinging between weekend special packages. Of attending hub meetings on other tricks to up the TRP [applause! applause!]. All this while Mumbai studio insides beat the winters in Delhi. Really! Did TV journalism originate in Antartica?


Dated somewhere in 2002-3 at Star News' old basement canteen with newsreaders... later it got a plush large canteen on the 8th floor from were one could see Makhalaxmi racecourse's beautiful green patch

Before getting that call from Star I was doing something totally different. The contract with an industry event company as their Brand Manager had one last job to be done. The editor’s job on Preview’s debut edition. On March 2002, the first business magazine on printing and packaging industry was launched across the country. It was time for me to pack up.

I had begun to like Mumbai though nothing had changed. Attending interviews kept me busy for a while. Clearly remember that it was while waiting for the appointment letter from Mid-Day after their written assignment... that Star News called - responding to an interview given months back in Delhi.

‘TV is better than print’ a lot of seniors thought so. I wanted to find out if that was true. By now I had a hang of online news portals and knew what the news desks at agencies or papers were like. I did not want to go back to killing time like I did previously at HT and TOI. Nodding a yesss [with a fist in the air] to electronic media was almost natural.

Star’s interview was a tedious one - plenty of rounds meeting people and screen tests... with and without makeup... with and without scripts. The selection process took another month. Ravina Raj Kohli [the lady who changed the ‘face’ of TV news in India] took me in as she mentioned while shaking hands - "you look good on camera and speak clean ‘Dilli’. Congrats!". Is that all you need to be a journalist on TV, I wondered while still shaking hands and smiling jubilantly.

To be bilingual was tougher than I imagined. I had to be the ring master - scripting in English, getting the nod of approval from the shift producer, translating it to connect with various bands of viewers and then typing them out in shudh [pure] Hindi as well as do voice-overs in the ‘shudh accent’ before sitting down with the video editors to cut the package with visuals drawn from OB vans and archives.

Like an angel, a senior colleague Ajit Sahi [a walking talking bi-lingual encyclopedia] walked into my anxious life and spent his t-breaks with me. His influence was huge on me. He helped me understand the Hindi language belt in no time. I soon began to meet hourly news deadlines before shift producer Tasleem Khan yelled out 'RD kya ho raha hai' [what is happening RD?]. Sahiji never agreed that TV was any better than other medium and on bad days I would agree with him. Last when we spoke, few months back, he was busy reporting for Tehelka from Tahiri Square. He is much thrilled to be out of the studio environs - just as I am at the moment.

At Star apart from a fat salary I earned many names. 'Speedy RD' when I ran a flash news before Aaj Tak did and 'Chana jor garam' [hot chickpea] when I lost my temper. Thankfully these are the only two I remember now.

Soon after, NDTV broke off from Star News and was the industry’s new blue eyed boy [fathered by Pranoy Roy]. Many colleagues moved on to ND and were happy even though they paid less. I stayed with mother [Star] to complete 3.5 years there… to 14 hours at work to earn yet another name ‘employee of the year’ [not very proud of this… please take a clue from the McDonald’s billboard].

The channel’s complete transformation to its Hindi avatar had me gasping for air. Recently it gave up its mother [Star tag]. The new name is ABP TV [Anand Bazaar Patrika TV]. Clearly Murdoch’s global appetite could not handle the Mumbai masala for long with many more channels wanting a bite of the TRP pie. Years spent under the Star tutelage reminds me of the nursery rhyme twinkle twinkle little star for no particular reason. Aah may be cos those were days when TV News Channels took baby steps into Indian media.

Inside the studio dressed like an Eskimo I fought bad weather while correcting my accents to deliver perfect VOs but outside I could not escape the very infectious Mumbaiia flu - slangs like kya re... vaat lag gaya...  Plenty of involuntary interjections punctuated my acquired local diction. They slipped out of my pout in a sing-song manner just like in the Aati Kya Khandala Bollywood number. In short, accent ka vaat lag gaya [gone for a toss]. When I came back to Dilli everyone nodded in disapproval to what Mumbai had done to my speech. But I preferred to be bindaas [Mumbai slang for happy] with my newly tweaked self than switch to poised voice and all that jazz my friends wanted to find beneath my old bandana.

to be continued…

General disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or reincarnated is not a coincidence. No animals were injured during the making of this novelog although some monkeys may have their feelings hurt. Sorry.


Recap: