Friday, February 27, 2009

black velvet here i come

Question: What do you wear when you go horse riding?

Answer: Breeches

Question then: Do I look like the maharani of jodhpur?


Sunday, February 22, 2009

a journey in chalk

somedays back, my friend at wrote a post on blackboards at home.

and i realised how special mine was. the last time i wrote on it was when MIAMA when to everest base camp. During one of our telephone calls, he on his way up, me in our kitchen in Mumbai, he told me his whole schedule. Now that he was in the mountains, and had climbed for two days, he had a fair idea of his speed, his strength and which day he would be where.

Of course every conversation was filled with this urgency. We never knew if the cell would work in the next village, and this would probably be our last conversation for days.

Years of knowing we would see each other at home, or if we were travelling, just call whenever the fancy struck, and we had forgotten what it felt like not to be able to talk.

To look out of the window at night, look at the stars and think of him looking at them. To stop in the middle of a crazy day, and wonder where he was. To hope he was eating okay, sleeping fine, breathing good. Not worry, but just think about him from time to time. It was nice.

And his whole schedule, I chalked up on the blackboard as he spoke to me. In the morning, when I'd make tea for myself, I would stare at it, and smile.

Anyway, it stayed, even after he came back. And the list of strange sounding nepali names on a blackboard made me happy. Because in some way they had brought us closer.

Here's a picture of my blackboard. The names are gone. The feeling hasn't. : )

Thursday, February 19, 2009

meet ms ostrich

This is too much of a coincidence.

Last night someone who saw me after almost a decade remarked “ Oh my god, you have lost so much weight.”

Normally I would have preened and silently gone ya ya dippy do. But this time I didn’t. Because just last month I had heard someone say that. The exact same words, “ My god, you have lost so much weight.”

The thing is I never knew that I was so fat, that I have now lost so much weight. Get what I’m saying? I always thought I was like this only. Middle of the road, trying hard to stay in the not exactly thin, but not fat either bracket.

So just now, at work, I tell this to someone who has known me for the last six years. And she shrugs and say, “ ya, but you were rou…big structured.” Big structured! Means fat. And rou…means round. And round means freaking fat!

Now I should be happy that they think I’ve lost weight. But I’m thinking, shit, I was so fat, and I had absolutely NO idea.

So what else am I blissfully unaware of?

Maybe I have a squint? Maybe I have a large bald patch behind my head? Maybe my bum is tilted? Maybe I walk like a freaking duck? Maybe I have dogs breath? Maybe I am not funny, and they are humoring me? Maybe my laugh is like Janice in friends.

Maybe I am just having a little post menstrual syndrome today.

sector 7 mein dhal gaya din, ho gayi shaam

Every evening at 6.10 sharp, she wore her blue and white Reeboks.

And every evening, as she made her way down, the lift stopped on the third floor, for Manjeet aunty and her husband. He would nod his head and aunty would poocho the same question without fail, “ College kaisa chal raha hai beta?”

Suni would nod and say, “accha chal raha hai aunty.”

And as they stepped off the lift, she would rush out, leaving aunty and uncle peeche in one minute flat.

First, she would pass the kids waiting near the kaccha bady court. She’d wave at the one’s that waved their racquets and mouthed, “hi Sunidi.” Then she would pass the two ladies from Block C, as they smiled and nodded at her. Then would come the serious walker girl who had come from the US for her summer holidays. Thin bitchy type, with figure hugging tracksuit. Sometimes, there would be the young mothers ambling along with prams and ayahs. Sunni knew how to dodge them without missing a step.

She also knew that at 6: 15, he would be heading straight towards her. Taking long efficient strides as he came directly in her path.

He with his Ipod, she with her Nano.

They’d cross each other three times from 6.30 to 7.30. And every time they did, Suni’s heart would accelerate and she’d hope. Hi. Hello. Nod. What’s his problem ya? Can’t he see me? Itna bhi kya hai, I also have my Ipod, but I’m not blind. Chal I’ll only stop and say Hi, I’m Suni. Stupid. I think he’s gay. Or maybe he likes that America returned. Uski chakal dekhi…chu-se hue aam jaisi. Bitch.

It would all run through her head, as he picked up his pace for his last lap. Suni looked at those strong legs, blue shorts and soaked white Adidas T-shirt as it ran past her. And wanted to chase after him, and hit him on the head. But instead she turned and headed home out of breath.

She stood in front of the fridge, sweating and eating a 5 star and thinking, “ Shayad I should also straighten my hair. And tie a high pony. Like that America girl.”

After dinner, she lay sprawled on her bed, munching on the small Kwality Street chocolates that masi had got from London, and chatting on Orkut. “ Bloody creep. He’s too hot.”

Next day, over breakfast, her mother looked at her and said, “ Beta, VLCC kyun nahi join kar leti?”

And his mother said, “ Manjeet aunty keh rahi thi, woh sixth floor wali ladki…roz do do ghante walk karti hai, aur ek bhi kg ghata nahi uska. Poor thing, thyroid case hogi.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

assignment: the dungeons

i present to you coded transcripts of file XI. XXX agent greenglass.

Date: blacked out. Location: London

It was a slow day. When B popped his head in, I was just slipping on my Dior coat, hoping to make a quick getaway.

But his smile told me it wasn’t to be.

“The Dungeons await you agent.”

I could see the curiosity in his eyes. I have to admit, I was just as foxed. After all, it’s not every day that the Queen summons you to her palace.

The last time B and I made a trip to see her, it was because her Finance Minister was found floating in a Greek billionaires pool. It took us ten days to unravel a story fuelled with drugs, money and power.

But that was a year back. And B was still looking at me with his brown fox-hound eyes. He knew.

Four months back, I had met the queen. This time because her dearest last born was so infatuated by me, that he kept insisting I meet his mother or he would slash his wrists. I should have known better. Getting involved with a notorious bisexual who had suicidal tendencies was bad enough. Add monarchy and secret service’s most attractive female to that and you have a combination that would gladden every tabloid editor’s heart.

But that was then. And I’m sure the Queen wasn’t calling me to tea, to ask why I had dropped her darling son like a hot scone.

Still, I decided it was just the kind of thing that would demand a break in tradition. So I refused to change out of my gorgeous purple Erdem dress. So what if it showed my bare shoulders?

And I lit a Slims as I slid into the unmarked car.

Smoking always makes me sad. So by the time the car entered the mammoth grounds of the Palace, I was actually feeling sympathetic.

The old lady was having a bad patch. A bitter undersecretary had gone to the press. The jilted son was crying his eyes out. And her favourite great granddaughter‘s slight bump was developing into an enormous scandal. Not just because she was seventeen, but because no one knew who the father was.

Rumour had it that the girl was an heiress, and the father could lay claim not just to her money but also her title.

I felt a bit like the English weather when I walked in through those imposing doors. And all those dead kings and queens in their severe clothes, they did nothing to improve my mood.

I stood inside the Grand Hall, expecting to be taken through to the East Gallery. But the Queen likes surprises. And a sour faced secretary briskly told me, “Her Majesty would like you to have tea with her in her private quarters.”

So there I was, being whisked away, past the Grand Staircase, the State Dining Room, The Music Room till finally we reached the Bow Room.

My Christian Louboutins are meant for traipsing not walking, but then I don’t expect any of the women in the house to understand that. The silver framed family portraits that stared down at me from the marble mantelpiece showed generation after generation of princesses in muddy riding boots and sensible walking shoes.

I don’t know what sent a sudden chill up my spine. Their complete lack of fashion. Or the damp of the Palace we called the Dungeons.

The door opened. And I saw the most beautiful face. Accompanied by an even more beautiful body.

He was black, like polished ivory. His jaw line was perfect, his body was sculpted, his nostrils flared with just a hint of what it would be like to in bed with him.

“Would madam like her tea served now?”

I would have preferred the junior Page to tea, but all I could do was nod.

He smiled, bowed and disappeared. And before I could even blink, the tea trolley was being rolled in. By yet another gorgeous young man. The head Page was Italian judging by the olive of his skin, the jet black hair, and those sensual lips.

As I stared mesmerised at him, the food trolley was brought in. By yet another glorious specimen of manhood. He wasn’t very tall, but you could tell he was muscular by the way his crisp white shirt stretched over his shoulders. You could also tell the Footman was a Gorkha, because his eyes slanted deliciously, and his face was flawless. The broad nose, the proud tilt of the chin.

I knew something was amiss. Equal recruitment was one thing, but bringing the entire world on a platter for me, was something else.

But before I could put my finger to it, the Butler walked in and bowed. He was Spanish. His clothes fitted him like a matador. And his eyelashes dipped till you wanted to drown in them.

“Her Majesty.”

And the Queen walked in. I managed a quick courtesy; she motioned me to sit down, and nodded to start the tea service.

“I know its short notice, but it lovely to see you again.”

I managed to smile and say thank you, and talk about the weather, and the races, and ask about the corgis. But all the while I was watching. Not knowing for what, but sensing that a drama was being played out for me.

The junior Page was laying out the cucumber sandwiches and the jammy dodgers. He worked fast, with his eyes down. The head Page had set the crumpets up on a Wedgewood plate. He was pouring clotted cream. The Footman was standing in attention behind the Butler, holding the teapot. The distinct fragrance of Keemun Hao Ya filled the room. The Queen nodded and put out her hand.

The Butler had her cup of tea in his hand. She asked after my parents, her hand stretched out. The tea was still in his hand, as he looked at her for just a split second, a silken smile appearing in the corners of his mouth. And then, he stretched and handed her the teacup.

That was it. As I told her how my parents had just embarked on a vacation to Sardinia, the penny dropped.

Why the best looking men in the palace were waiting on me. Why the Queen wanted to see me, for no apparent reason. Why the butler took more than two seconds to hand her the tea.

It was simple. He knew he had a future. And I knew he had none.

So as she leaned over, I whispered, “Ma’am, the Butler did...her.”

Clutching my Sergio Rossi clutch, I curtseyed my way out of the Bow Room. My eyes slid over the Butler. And I knew I’d never see him again.

The Dungeon had claimed another victim.

the files of agentgreenglass are copyright protected. please do not reprint or publish them without her permission. the consequences, needless to say, can be deadly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

that crummy thing called love

Oh no.

Valentine ’s Day is around the corner. That mushy day that’s designed to keep Archie’s and Cafe Coffee Day in business.

See, the thing is, I don’t really have a problem with love. Heck, there are days I violently believe in it. But I have a problem with celebrating these things on a given day that is standard issue. Why? Why can’t I celebrate Valentines’ Day some other day, say...25th of March. And why do I have to celebrate it with countless other folk? And who are you to tell me which day to get mushy?

It’s like my birthday. I never feel like celebrating it on that day. Or New Year’s Eve. By evening I’m bummed out. Because it’s like I have to, just have to celebrate it that day.

Anyway, for those who like 14th of February on 14th of February, here’s a site you might enjoy. It inspired me to come up with some of my own messages.






Go to And give love a shove.

you've been googled. and destroyed.

there is this magazine called campaign india. a marketing and advertising magazine mostly.

they have a column called Who does google think you are?

they google a person from the industry. and every fortnight they publish what the search throws up. then they give their verdict.

like, for example, if the first entry about you is some serious news, their comment would be Boring.

or if the second entry is some three month old story featuring you, their verdict would be Not enough. Be seen more often. Talk to the media.

and so and and so forth.

now I have nothing against the magazine, but I'm amazed at how asinine a column they can produce.

anyway, now i have to go cry into my maggie noodles because google thinks I need to wake up, and start networking. And my facebook contacts are not up to the mark. And three of my entries are three month old. Oh shame. How will I look myself in the mirror tomorrow

Sunday, February 8, 2009

assignment lausanne

Once a week, I shall post a page from the coded transcripts that I have preserved from my days as agent greenglass. Am I still in active service? Do I still walk around with a credit card in my bag that can slit people’s throats? Are my morals looser than a yellow journalist’s tongue? Do I really use champagne to wash my hair? You might find answers. Or you might not.

Date: Blacked out. Location: Switzerland

I got dropped off at the Lausanne Palace. Usually I don’t think very highly of agents who choose conspicuous meeting places. Especially when the fate of two governments rested in the smooth brown confines of my Loius Vuitton Damien Azure bag.

I knew it was wrong. Both the hotel and the bag. But I had just stepped off the beaches of Saint Tropez. My bathing suit lay on the floor of the helicopter that had flown me in. The foot soldiers had the sense to pack in a red valentino dress and a white virgin wool cashmere jacket. But of course they forgot the bag.

I walked into the Palace. My instructions said he would be waiting at the Le Cote Jardin. But then, in my line of work, nothing ever turns out the way it’s planned.

There was a message for me. He was waiting at the Suite Presidentielles. His note said he hoped it would be more comfortable for me, after my journey.

I smiled to myself. Why was I not surprised? Hadn’t everyone told me there was something about him? Je ne sais quoi!

Still I was here on work. And if I wanted rich playboys all I had to do was drop my Hermes scarf. And my razor sharp brain.

Though I was curious I must confess. As the elevator purred its way to the inside of the Presidentielle Suite, I caught myself wondering if he would be what they made him out to be.

007. Charming, dashing, a man of unimaginable wealth, wit and intellect. He knew how to fly planes. Detonate bombs. Speak in sixteen languages. And every trick in the book to make a woman go weak in the knees.

The doors parted. And he stood outside.

I’ve been taught, since I was nine, that a woman never gave away what she thought. But for once, the smoothest woman operator this side of the Atlantic was caught by surprise.

His dark blue Brioni suit was impeccable. But its clever tailoring could not hide the paunch. The face was tanned all right, but the eyes were not right. They looked red, like he’s been drinking too much of the fine Bollinger Champagne that stood the uncorked on a table behind him. The hair was too long, and combed over. An attempt perhaps to conceal the bald patch that was beginning to make itself more than visible.

He extended his hand and said, “Finally we meet.”

I smiled. My cold-as-the-Choppard-on-my-finger smile and said, “Pleased to meet you Mr Bond.”

He grabbed my hand and held it. “You are as beautiful as they say.”

“ You are too kind. I believe we have some important business.”

“ That can wait. There’s champagne on ice. And cold briny oysters. “

The only way I like my champagne is with caviar. And the only way I like my men is suave and athletic. He was neither.

I accepted the champagne and walked across to the window. I knew his eyes would take in my long legs sheathed in silk stockings. No man has ever been able to look at them, without wondering what it would feel like to have them wrapped around him.

I felt a hand run up my legs.

“ You are incredibly sexy.”

I turned. Resisting the urge to flip him across my shoulder and straight down the busy Grand Chene. It would certainly stop traffic. And the international community. And every swiss bank. Every government. Every secret service operation. Every mafia, the Russian, the Italian, the American.

But this was not the plan.

An aging secret service agent with too much information and a loose mouth couldn’t just be dealt with. He had to be disposed, in a manner that was befitting. And more importantly, discreet. So no questions would be asked. No blood would be spilt. No government would be embarrassed.

So I turned. And looked at him over my glass.

“ Don’t you want to know what business I’m here on?”

His tongue darted out as he licked his lips. Perhaps it was the oysters, or perhaps not.

“I’ve been doing it for years. Takes one look to tell me why you’re here. Her Majesty probably wants me to save her skin again. Or the agency needs me track down the Russian Mafia before they invest in a nuclear plant in Kabul. “

He knocked back the champagne and said, “But you. I’ve never seen anything like you.”

And before I could say Kamasutra, he was all over me.

His legendary lovemaking skills were either a figment of someone’s overactive imagination. Or the women in our service were just not meeting the right kind of men. Let’s just say I don’t consider trying to bite off my breasts while simultaneously pushing his groin into my thigh to be an able demonstration of the finest lovemaking.

I, of course, had paid attention to every aspect of my training, which is probably why I had mastered not just the seven sections and thirty six chapters of the Kamasutra, but also all thousand chapters of the original Kamashatra.

But first there was business to settle. The brown confines of my bag, in which nestled a single condom. Packed in its signature black and gold casing.

His eyes widened when I pulled it out. I smiled and said, “ I came prepared for you Mr Bond.”

From there it was easy. The Kamashatra doesn’t really describe how you can kill a man. But the Mare’s Position followed by the Suspended Congress, followed by Splitting the Bamboo can make even the most virile man tired. Add the Lotus like position to that, and you have him in a faint.

Top that with Spinning like a Top, and you’ll realise why sex is such a deadly weapon.

I checked his pulse. Nothing.

I slipped on my jacket. And picked up my purse. It was bothering me.

Maybe I could stop over at Loius Vuitton, before catching my flight back to France. One does like to be dressed right.

As I walked out, I picked up the receiver and said, “ The international man of mystery, is history.”

I do have a sense for the dramatic.

the files of agentgreenglass are copyright protected. please do not reprint or publish them without her permission. the consequences, needless to say, can be deadly.

Friday, February 6, 2009

crash into me

It’s 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.

I’m in that halfway land where my body is asleep and my brain is going about switching the lights off.

I can hear the phone ringing. Far far away. First I think I’ll ignore it, and then because I can never resist a ringing phone, I take it.

L, she shouts into my ear. Remember me? From college. I got your number from P, and I’m now in London, and I saw you on facebook and......

And I’m seventeen. Away from home for the first time. I’ve never lived in a big city before. My father is in the Air Force, so I’ve been brought up in the safety net of a cantonment. All my friends, boys and girls are wholesome, my going out is restricted to rather wholesome jam sessions, my taste is music is pretty mainstream (Grammy and Top of the Pops), my clothes are what I think is cutting edge cool (Weekender!), my haircut is well, my mom’s talent at cutting hair was always restricted to what she called the Lady Diana cut.

And then, suddenly I’m seventeen. In college. In a hostel. In a big city.

R and P are my closest friends in the hostel. It’s a warm day in April. We’ve got ten days off, to study for our exams. P’s gone home to Nasik. That leaves me and R, in a state of
summer lethargy. We have our books open, sprawled across the bed, the fan slowly whirring. Drowsy and bored we’re trying hard to concentrate.

Suddenly R jumps up. We’re going out, enough is enough. I’m staring at her, trying hard to fight off sleep, wondering where we could go. Shiv Sagar, Linking Road, Hill Road.

We’re going for a makeover. She’s three years older to me, and considers it perfectly normal to bully me around. So in ten minutes flat we’re in an auto rickshaw speeding towards Nalini&Yasmeen. I’ve never been to a fancy parlour, let alone one where Dimple Kapadia is sitting next to me. I’m so awestruck I don’t say a word. My hair is snipped, till it’s really short. They tell me it’s called a blunt cut. The thing is I’m feeling like I got hit on the head with something blunt, because the haircut costs me hundred bucks. Hundred bucks to look like a million bucks.

Anyway R looks completely different too. Very glam. So now we’re like two infected mushrooms. We can’t stop grinning at how good we look. We head straight back to the hostel to change. I wear my shortest dress and Ruchika wears her tightest jeans. Now we’re ready. With nowhere to go.

So we step out. Decide to catch a train to Churchgate. Pretty woman is running in Eros. On a whim, we stop at a PCO. I want to call V. Aah V. Hot V. Strange V. Moody V. Dark V. Nothing like I’ve ever known V.

So I call V at his hostel. It’s my lucky day because V is manning the phone that day. I hear his voice, and as usual I turn into a little hormonal swimming pool of love and longing. Any way, it’s also my lucky day because V lazily laughs and says he’ll meet us outside Eros. By the way, V is Goan. And nothing like the guys I’ve ever known. He wears his hair long, listens to White Snake and is always languid.

And at seventeen I’m in love with V.

So we reach Eros. I can barely sit still in the train. I’m standing at the door, the wind ruffling my new hair do. R is screaming “ sau rupaiye ka naash!” But I’m counting stations, five to go before I see V.

We standing in front of Eros. As are a few hundred teenage girls. The show is running houseful. Even the black marketers are throwing up their hands in resignation. The only one who doesn’t care is me. Because I can see V making his way through the crowd. Walking towards me.

He grins, when R tells him no tickets. We walk to Sundance cafe, to grab a coffee and figure what to do. He smiles at me and says, “Nice hair!” I promptly resolve to call nalini and Yasmeen to our wedding.

I’m in la la land, while R and V make a plan. It’s an elaborate plan, and they are grinning like mad. I just hear select words like V, V and you, V and the train, V and his friend.

Anyway, we’re soon on the train back to the suburbs. It’s pretty empty. V and I are standing near the door. Opposite each other. Silence. The sound of the train. The wind whipping my hair.

Anyway, the night goes on. It involves buying beer. Picking up K, a friend of V’s who we meet for the first time. Trying to drive K’s car. Parking at the beach. Drinking beer at K’s lawn. And finally all four of us smuggling into K’s house at 3 am.

By now we’ve all giggling about anything and nothing. The mood is set. K and R are getting along like a house on fire. K’s room is huge. And has a balcony attached to it.
They disappear to the balcony.

And V and I are sitting in the room. Me on the bed, dangling my feet. V on the couch. Opposite each other. Silent. The only noise is all the thoughts in my head. Will he kiss me. Please kiss me. Maybe he’ll kiss me. Shit, what if he kisses me, and then we fall on the bed. SEX. No way. Okay...maybe. I don’t know. Shit, I should have worn better underwear. Ok, we’ll just stop at a kiss. Maybe ten kisses...

Then V smiles and says, “You take the bed, I’ll take the couch.”

I’m staring at him. He stretches out on the couch and says, “You’re a kid. Someday you’ll understand.” And he shuts his eyes.

Damn. So today, when R speaks to me, it all runs through my head in a flash. And suddenly I think I know what he’s talking about.

He’s gay!

But then I think no, there’s a deeper, simpler meaning there.

Sometimes, however hard you want something, you will just not get it. That’s life dude.

Monday, February 2, 2009

goodbye my love

I just heard that Jonty died.

It’s like a phase in my life got over. Jonty was my youth, my courtship, my love affair with Calcutta.

He was the dog who jumped between us when we snuggled up on the sofa. He was the one who stole my rubber bands from the window sill while we slept under the quilt. He was the dog who modelled for my first big shoot. He stayed the night with me when A was out of town, and I was scared. He knew we were at the door, ten minutes before we got to the door.

He loved taxi rides, silly games with the sheet and all of us.

Rest in peace Jonty. And I’ll miss seeing you at the door when I walk into that lane.