Saturday, July 30, 2011

i was born
to a dream..
after labour pains
that lasted a lifetime..
cant live in reality
for too long.. :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sandeep Anand

Somewhere, there is a LinkedIn profile that will not get updated. There is a facebook profile that will not see any more status messages. And there are 2 very young children who will never go to temple again with their father.
Because that father is no more. He passed away this morning. He was a colleague. And a friend.
His wife is responsible for the design of the Esha site. And the CLABIL site. And now, for their 2 children.

Nothing can be said for a moment like this. Nothing at all.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm a small town girl..

And these are the things that i miss about being in a small town:
1 If someone eveteases you, all you have to do is shout and blows will rain upon him, while you are escorted home as "dear daughter"

2 If you are traveling alone with a child, no one will think twice before taking all your luggage and escorting you to a car and ensuring that you are comfortable before moving on.

3. Everyone knows everyone and if your child misbehaves, you can rest assured that you will hear of it before the evening is done.

4. No one can do something morally wrong (like cheating on a spouse, troubling the DIL, abusing a child or a step child et al) and hope to get away with "none of your business" to the neighbors, or to those who know.

5. If you are elderly, you will be given a place to sit, and if you are a child, you will be protected, even escorted home, if you are a woman, you will be taken care of. Someone will carry your luggage for you. If you are a pregnant woman, Mother Earth and its 7 sisters will bend over backwards for you.

6. Basically, i miss the genuine warmth, the social vigil (that was in some ways stangulating) and the sharing of delicacies when made in one house.

7. If you came home and your mother was not at home, you just rang the neighbor's bell and sat there and ate and were monitored until mater returns. if mater had to go somewhere, all she had to do was to inform the neighbor and a play date was arranged. No one needed to "ask" if you will babysit and no one needed a 24 hour maid. The kids got exposed to various kinds of houses, and stuck together through it all.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Panchabhoota (Five Elements)

I was Born
To the WATER
of my Soul
- Ever Flowing
and ever strong

To the smell of wet EARTH
after the rains.

To the SKY
that's too far away
to make the distinction between
exists or does not exist.

that smells of someone else.

To the FIRE
of my heart.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 - MUST AVOID

The thing is, when you are in the travel business, and you make a mistake, you dont just make a mistake, you ruin someone's holiday, and they may have been looking forward to it for months, or even years.

I havent been to the Golden Temple in years. Its a dream to go back and experience the peace of 4 am in Golden Temple like the last time. So finally, one zeroed in on a weekend in July, and got the tickets booked.

The hotel was booked through

Here is the whole story:
Day 1:
Reservation made online. If you book online, there is a time when they say "checking availability, please wait". So one assumes that the rooms are booked. The full payment is taken in advance.

Day 2: 1700 hours:
To be sure , i call up the hotel to confirm that they have got the booking from They say no, and sorry, we are sold out. No place at all. Then i call and ask them why the booking has not yet reached the hotel. The lady, Gayatri, puts me on hold for 10 minutes and then tells me, sorry the hotel is sold out. I cannot do anything. I can give you a full refund if you want. I do not want a refund. The full refund i will get even if i cancel online. No meherbani there.
I asked for alternative accomodation. She says, sorry , we cannot process that. We will have to get to another department that deals with cases like that.
Me: Ok, so talk to them and get back to me.
Gayatri: Sorry, i cannot do that. I cannot call them if u drop the call, and i cannot call you back or email you.
So, i am put on hold for 15 whole minutes after which i drop off.

Day 2, 2330 hours:
I call again, only to be put through to the lodging team again. This time, the hold time is about 5 minutes. The lady tells me that she has to speak to the original hotel personally before booking me in an alternative place. I tell her that someone from their company has spoken to the hotel and indicated that there is no place, which is the reason why i m making this call in the first place. She says "i understand, but this is policy."

Hold time: 15 minutes while she tries to talk to the hotel (Best Western Merrien)
After that, she unholds me and tells us that she is not able to get to the hotel but she will go ahead and process my alternative accomodation anyway. She recommends another comparable hotel and i say ok. She puts me on hold - 20 minutes this time, and then tells me (You have to hear this to believe it) "Oh, i finally understand why i am not able to get through to anyone in India. Because of the time difference - it is night in India now, and all the reservation desks are closed." - This, from someone who works in an international operation across time zones.

I am promised that tomorrow morning, by 10, someone will make an alternative booking for me and call me back. Great.

Day 3: 1040 hours: No call yet.
I call them, and the agent - Gagan Kalia this time, gives me another runaround and another round of holding while he talks to the lodging team. I ask him whether the agent from last night has left an instruction that i should be booked into another hotel first thing tomorrow morning. He says NO, we do not have an instruction like that, nor do we have an instruction to call u by 10, and anyway we cannot make outbound calls.
I leave instructions with Gagan on the order of preference of hotels and will he please email me within the next 2 hours with the new accomodation details? He says, for sure mam.

Day 3: 1700 hours: No Call or email yet.
Predictably, i call again.. and this time, i am told the same thing "I have to contact the Lodging Dept to authorise this alternative accomodation. May I please put your call on hold while i connect to them? It will only take 2-3 minutes."
Actual Hold time: 15 minutes.
Result of Hold time: This case has been assigned to another person who is finding from the hotel why they cannot give reservation. I will advise you to wait for at least 24 hours because he sits in the US. (Like i care!)
Me: Can you please at least process a full refund?
Asif Ahmad: Not without authorisation from this person mam.
Me: How come Gayatri said she can do a full refund right now?
Asif Ahmad: I dont know mam.
Me: Asif, its on your website. Cancel 4 days in advance and get full refund. Where does approval come in?
Asif Ahmad: Can i place you on hold while i check whether i can get u a refund right now?
Hold time : 15 minutes.
Result of hold time: We are processing your entire refund, and it will take 7-10 business days (thats half a month in calendar time)
Me: Why will it take so long?
Asif Ahmad: Thats the SOP mam.

Why am i taking these names? Because this stellar performance should come up when someone is googling them for employment. If you want employees who are good at giving customers the runaround, i would highly recommend all employees of expedia, and personally recommend these 3. In a cheating and fraud business, these guys will be right at home.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
- One of the beacons of my life.. and among the few long poems that i truly love.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Film Review: Delhi Belly : Avoidable Crap

At least one thing is true - the movie's name is completely accurate. Delhi Belly is the term non Indians use to explain the mandatory "stomach upset" that most tourists experience in Delhi. And this film is about "stomach upset", and also manages to test your ability to stomach nonsense and absolute f^&(ing crap. Mine is upset now. VERY UPSET.

The thing is, I am old fashioned about movies. I like a movie to ideally have a point, and at the very least, to have a story. A random set of pictures on the innards of bachelor living accomodation is of NO INTEREST to me.

The "story" is about 3 young men staying in filthy bachelor accomodation. The girlfriend of the hero, Tashi, inadvertently becomes a courier for diamond smuggling. She passes on the packet innocently to Tashi to deliver. Tashi gives it to his photographer flatmate, because he gets late covering a murder (he is a journo).

The photographer gets loosies and therefore the task of carrying the stool sample (covered in brown paper) and of delivering the parcel (covered in brown paper too) falls on the third flatmate. Predictably, the third friend gets the 2 paper parcels mixed up and the diamond smuggler gets poo on his table (and yes, you can see it too. On screen. Human Faeces. )

The baddies follow the good guys, some mashup that i couldnt understand, and a while later, Aamir Khan going back and forth with his pelvic bones. For 3-5 minutes that feel like an hour. Some things, Aamir, you should never do. Making Delhi Belly and doing item songs are 2 of them.

So, you should see this movie for the kind of crass language that assaults you from all ends - with no point , need, or even justification (other than "ordinary ppl talk like this." How come i know no such ordinary people?) . You should also see this for absolute lack of a storyline, much less a point. At every level and in every way, this film is just crass, tasteless, loud and vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. i dont even KNOW anyone who uses this sort of language every day, so dear director, stop assuming that all ordinary ppl talk like this. Or want to hear this language. This is one film that, if it becomes a hit, will actually make me feel ashamed of the kind of work we are producing.

Review in one line: Avoidable Shit. (And thats the nicest thing you will hear in the film. if this surprises you, wait till you see whats in store).