Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Monthly Update

Hiya... I have been following the news on an hourly basis... fb, twitter, ndtv, newspapers... everywhere. I am proud of Delhites... while rest of the country celebrates the holidays, they are battling it out in the cold. Kudos!!!
Its a lame duck Govt. I have always disliked BJP 'coz of their pro Hindutva agenda. Now I am wondering whats worse... Congress- nothing seems to shake them up or BJP- with its division on religious lines.
I am keeping my fingers crossed... I hope this time people get the message that women's safety and equality is no laughing matter.

It has been a busy month... very busy. Let me update:
- I shifted into the new place on 1st Dec
- On the weekend of 8th Dec, KC came for an impromptu visit and I managed to get a lot of things settled. Thankfully, he loves the place. He keeps telling me I am living like a queen since its a 2bhk
- On 10th, my best friend got married in Bhilai. I don't do weddings... find them too boring. I never take the trouble of travelling to attend a wedding... but this time, I had to be there. It was not a regular, normal wedding. She had gone through a lot of trouble and pain to get married to this particular guy... just like me. Except in her case, her parents gave in finally. Also, she was the only one to attend my wedding. Imagine a place full of strangers at your wedding and having only one familiar face. I attended her reception but slept through the wedding and then woke up for her bidaai. I wore a saree... first time after the wedding.
- On 14th, I flew to Jaipur for the Annual Conference. AC is always fun 'coz I get to meet people from other locations. It is a good place to network and meet up people. I won an award (just like last year) so it was great.
- From Jaipur I travelled to Gurgaon and did everything I wanted to- had b'fast at Choco La... went to Select City walk and had lunch at Amici Cafe. I wanted to check if Sephora had opened (it opened this weekend)... went for a movie- Life of Pi... had Chicken Biryani at Coco Palm
- I joined my Jazz classes. Yep... its back to Jazz. Unfortunately, I have to start at the beginning... from beginners. But the instructor mentioned that he will promote me to the next level in a month or two. The classes are in Bandra and I have joined an open batch... which means I can either attend the Wed/Sat class or 2 hours on Sunday. Travelling from Mulund to Bandra is a pain... and I am trying to figure out the best way to do so. Imagine, I travel for 2-3 hours for a 1 hour class... but its worth it
- This weekend KC is here and I managed to get a gas connection. I cooked a meal on Saturday night- rotis, rice, sabji and daal. Awesome!!! So, the kitchen is up and running. KC is my lucky charm... everytime he comes I manage to get something important done
- Now, only 3 days of work... and then off to Gurgaon on Friday night for New Years. KC didn't want me to spend money and come but I cannot stay alone on New Year's. I am not so broke as of yet. Some things are more important than money.

Hope you all had a merry X'mas... 

Friday, December 21, 2012

In the News

Hiya... my posts have been few this month but life is so busy. No... I am not going to disappear from here... I just need some time to settle down and get into a routine.
I have not had 1 day to just sit and relax. Every day has been a race. I shifted into the new house on 1st Dec... On 2nd, after unpacking I met my bro for dinner and shopping. The next weekend, KC came to Mumbai for a sudden visit. On Monday and Tuesday I was in Bhilai to attend my best friend's wedding. On Friday and Saturday I was in Jaipur for the annual conference. On Sunday I was in Gurgaon. On Monday, it was back to work.
I hope this weekend will be relaxing.

Before I type anything else I need to put down my thoughts on the recent rape incident. Last night a jackass buzzed me on gtalk... it was something on the lines of "I was right... Mumbai is safer... after all, the rape happened in Delhi". I was late, tired and waiting for dinner. I requested this person to leave me alone right now... but he wouldn't take a hint and I lost it... I have never been this rude to anyone on chat. Anyway, I was shocked. If you feel happy that it happened in Delhi and you get to prove a point... then, you are no better than an uneducated lout.
There are 2 points I want to make here:
- As a woman I feel unsafe everywhere
- I am not surprised this happened in Delhi... and like this

Point no 1: As a woman I am constantly on my guard. I am conscious when I leave home. I am careful, observant... aware about who is walking in front of me... who is behind me... who is staring at me... whose hands are almost touching me... I think twice about where to go... with who and what time. And it is not just me... it is all women. We are not free. We always, always have to be careful. And our instincts are always right. We know when someone is having bad thoughts about us. And we are not safe anywhere. It is so simple... a touch here... a touch there... how do you figure out in a crowd? It is not about Delhi Vs Mumbai Vs B'glore Vs Kolkata etc. Rapes are happening everywhere... every city, everyday, day and night... forever. And it never ends. I don't know who these men are... but there are everywhere ... it is not about education... they can be poor or rich... they can have a good upbringing or a bad one. There is no way to classify them. I will give you random examples:
I was in class 12th and went for tuition to different professors for Bio, Chem, Physics and Maths. The Maths Prof was a lame guy who held classes in his basement. He had a wife and kid. I performed very well in all my tests and was confident about scoring excellent marks. After the last board exam (it was Maths) I dropped into the class to let him know about the paper. He was pleased to see me. My parents had been pressurizing me to prepare for the DAIICT entrance. I requested the Prof to help me with the preparation. He agreed. A few weeks later I went for class. He was alone in the basement and made me sit next to him on the sofa. It was weird... all of us generally sat on the chairs. His leg was touching mine and I tried to ignore the weird feeling. Suddenly he started saying some random stuff and put his hand on my back. It slid down to my waist... thats when my brain screamed; "Run". I picked up my books and ran out. I didn't think or question or rationalize... I just ran. I told my parents a day later but asked them not to do anything. I am ashamed to admit I didn't do anything... didn't complain or file a report or anything. I am sure he tried it again... with some other female.... This happened in a safe city like "A'bad" ... the man was my teacher... my only interaction with him was in class along with other students. Why did he think he could get away with trying something like that??? I don't know... it beats all logic.
This world is a shitty, shitty place. Unfortunately, I don't think it will get better. All the women who are protesting today... where were they yesterday? Why didn't they protest before the rape??? How many rapes are we waiting for to shake us out of our comfort zones??? Wasn't Guwahati incident not enough??? And the Kolkata rape? How many more? We still live in a society where women take their husband's name... what can we expect from this patriarchal society?

Point 2: Here are some to do and not to dos in Delhi:
- Always drive... Better to have a car even if you don't have a house
- Never take the bus... and definitely not a private bus
- If your friends drops you off in an auto, ask him to note down the plate number for future reference
- Delhi is a state... it has large spaces of deserted roads... some of them not very well lit. You need to be careful
- If you are a woman, you do not have to stop your car even if a cop asks you after 8 pm. Cops are not allowed to stop women after 8 pm

Central Delhi, where all the dignitaries live, is where the cops are seen. All other areas do not have cops. None of the traffic signals have cops. It is easy for a crime to occur. Drinking and driving is very common. People are horrified NOW... what about till now? So, we wait for a horrific rape to happen and then protest? Why not protest before that?

I don't have a solution. How do you change a society? Do I dare hope that women will someday be free ??? To do as we please... when we please??? Will men stop seeing us merely as sexual objects??? 

Sunday, December 9, 2012


This review does come a little late but I finally watched Talaash. I can't believe it has been a week since I moved into the new house... seems longer. Last weekend I was setting up and unpacking. The only things left now are:

  • Bookshelf. Housefull furniture sucks. They have not yet delivered the shelf yet even though I paid them 3 weeks back and they had committed 1st Dec'12 as the delivery date
  • The gas connection- Hope to get it this week even with the packed schedule and commitments
  • 1 more carton to unpack- it has some knick knacks which I was hoping to place on top of the bookshelf

Anyway, after setting up the microwave, getting the plumber to fix stuff, cable connection, getting the agreement... we watched the movie. It was surprisingly packed for a 2nd week. 

I already knew the suspense even though nobody on my fb posted the details. I wish I could have watched it last weekend. Nobody expects to watch a supernatural suspense thriller in a flick which stars Kareena, Aamir and Rani. Stars steer clear of supernatural (except for Bhoot) except for making comebacks (Karishma Kapoor... sad comeback vehicle).

I liked the movie... the actors are superb... even with the suspense out in the open it was thrilling. The only thing lacking were chills down my spine. I was not scared even in one scene and I wish it was otherwise. The scenes did not remain with me after I left the theatre. Some chills and it would have been fabulous.

But, I liked it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mumbai- Why it sucks

Mumbai sucks... a lot. And I will tell you why:

    • It is not cosmopolitan. The dictionary meaning of the word is "Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world". Mumbai is strongly dominated by Marathis, Gujjus and Hindus. Anyone who does not fit into these criteria will have a hard time. So, if you are a Muslim or a bachelor or non vegetarian... you will have a very difficult time finding a house. The people in Mumbai are not "live and let live" kinds... no way. They have rules and regulations and expect everyone to follow them. They are not broad minded. 
  • It is very conservative. The first day I traveled in the local train (Andheri-Ville Parle-Santa Cruz-Bandra-Dadar-Lower Parel), 90% women were dressed in salwar kameez. I have nothing against the Indian garment but a "cosmopolitan" city would have more women dressed in western outfit. In Delhi, 50% women would be dressed in Indian wear. When we met the broker for a flat this is how the conversation went:

Him: So, your name is "First Name" "Last Name". Your maiden name is on all your documents???- PAN card, passport, driving license... etc etc
Me: Yes
Him: Arre... you should change it immediately
Me: Huh??? Why will I change it?
Him: You don't intend to take your husband's name?
Me: No
Him (to KC): And you don't mind?
KC (dumb founded and speechless)
Me: Why will he mind?
The broker was not happy. Even though I asked him to make the agreement on my name, he wrote "My first name" "KC's first name" "KC's surname". I called him and told him; "THAT is not MY name".
    • It is not fashion conscious. I have been so used to seeing beautiful, well dressed people in Delhi that Mumbai is a culture shock. Mumbai women (and men) dress shabbily and do not take care of their appearance. This may sound very shallow but in the last 1.5 years I am so used to seeing women with make up and the best clothes they can afford (whether from Gucci or Zara or Sarojini Nagar).
    • Mumbai is inhuman. Many times I come across women shoving and pushing to enter the local train even though the train is empty and there is enough space for everyone to sit (not just stand). It makes me wonder. I understand if you have to fight for space but why fight when there is no need? Mumbai people are so used to fighting that it has now become a habit. It makes them inhuman. While in Delhi people regularly offer their seats to someone with kids or an older person. They can afford to be generous and think about others. Anyone shoving and pushing is looked down upon. People get on the train only when ones on abroad have got off. 
    • It stinks. When KC and I had come to find a flat in mid oct we traveled in a cab from Santa Cruz to Vashi. The entire city stinks. There isn't even one area which does not smell. When you come from a clean, green and a non smelling city this becomes very noticeable. After sometime you become used to it. I don't understand why the Municipal Corporation cannot clean up the city. How hard can it be? 
    • It is very political. Do I need to mention the bandh on Thackeray's death?
    • Mumbai is all about the lower class. They know that the high class and middle class is dependent upon them. They hate working late hours (even though people in offices work late)... they charge exorbitant rates (specially in posh areas like Andheri). It took me a week to find a maid and even then she was charging as much as I paid in Gurgaon (for a 2 bhk). The cook demanded double money from me. 
    All this may seem trivial but after living in Gurgaon for 1.5 years I have realized that things do not have to be like this. Gurgaon people can be classified as follows:

    • Professionals: Since most companies have moved to Gurgaon most people live here out of compulsion. They are mainly working in high paying MNCs and come from all parts of the world
    • Retired people: Gurgaon was a small town before DLF came and changed its face. A lot of people have bungalows (just like any small town) and prefer to stay here after retirement. So, a lot of senior citizens live here
    • Haryanvis: The local people who mostly stay in sectors and away from posh DLF localities
    • Labour: Mostly from villages of Bihar and Jharkhand
    I liked staying in Gurgaon... you can wear what you want... traveling in the Metro is so comfy and luxurious... nobody cares about your marital status, caste, religion, creed... the flat owners are extremely nice and do not have any rules... there are no bandhs or riots or blasts in Gurgaon... you can find excellent cooks and maids for very reasonable charges

    Mumbai does not come close to Delhi in terms of standard of living and only someone who has lived in both cities will realize the massive difference.

    When I put up nasty comments about Mumbai, someone commented; "Can you buy groceries at 11 pm in Delhi?"
    I want to reply to that here:

    • Yes, I can... if the shop is open (which is highly doubtful)
    • Why will I go buy groceries past my bedtime?
    • Who shops for groceries at 11 pm?
    • Is my standard of living better 'coz I can buy groceries at 11 pm or is it worse 'coz I find time only at 11 pm to buy groceries?

    I love Delhi and I will move back... don't know when... but it will happen. Mumbai is not my kind of city. 

    But, I have not moved here for the city. I have moved here for my job. I have shifted here to add to my skills and to learn. And thats all that matters. The other things are immaterial. We cannot have everything at every stage in our lives. We need to pick and choose. I have chosen my job over my husband and a comfortable life in 2013. In 2011 and 2012, my husband and marriage was my priority and it took precedence over my job. 

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    I am alive

    Hey... I am alive and kicking in Mumbai. Its been a month since I posted... a month which has been one of the toughest periods of my life.
    Why? Its not about parting with KC and living alone... I have not even had time to think about that.
    Let me begin at the beginning.
    I came to Mumbai on 2nd Nov... KC and I got our registration and police verification done. On 3rd our stuff was supposed to reach. Guess what? It didn't turn up and I kept getting different updates from Agarwal Movers and Packers... someone told me it would arrive by 12 pm, another guy said it would come on 4th Nov and a 3rd person confirmed 5th Nov. At 2 pm, we got an update that the truck has reached Nasik and will arrive on 4th.. not before that. Agarwal MnP sucks... I am never hiring them again. On Sunday, we unpacked and tried to finish as much as possible. It was exhausting. KC left for Gurgaon on 6th. Thats when trouble started. First, there was a fight with the guard since he was very, very rude and told me; "I am not an agent for sourcing maids... find a maid yourself". Now, the most important person in any building is the guard... he is the one who helps residents for everything- plumber, electrician, cable, internet, maid, cook etc etc. I was shocked and complained to the owner (who lives in the same building). The owner was non committal. Second, after numerous follow up Tata Sky guys came to the house for installation. The guard refused to let them in since it was past 7 pm. I was again surprised since I was unaware about any such rule. The owner told me no work is allowed after 7 pm on weekdays and on Sundays. This sounded ridiculous. How am I supposed to know building rules if the owner does not mention them or write them in the agreement? I asked the owner to tell me all the rules. One of them is that if friends stay over for more than 2 days I need to get their police verification done. Which means that if you are my friend and come to visit me for a week I will have to take you to the police station along with your documents and then submit the NOC to the building. The owner and I had a major disagreement on this. KC and I had both gone to the police station for a verification... we are responsible for our friends when they stay over. I decided to move out.
    The search for another house started. I decided to move to the eastern suburbs- either Mulund or Powai since I have stayed there earlier. Luckily, I found the perfect flat on Diwali day... for a lower rent. I was excited. The house was huge, had a balcony and very good view. Perfect. The only problem was the owner had to get some leakage issue resolved and wanted 15 days. I wanted to move in immediately but decided to wait. After 2 weeks, the owner was non committal about the exact date when the issue would be resolved. I had to ultimately cancel the flat and find a new one. The only problem was I had a week to move out from the previous flat. For 2 days, I traveled from Lower Parel (after work) to Mulund and then back to Andheri. There were no 1 bhk available in Mulund. The one flat I liked was given to another family. On Wednesday, with no other options left I agreed to a 2 bhk at the same rent. I did not even like the flat but had no other option.
    I shifted in on Saturday and things have looked up since then:

    • TV has been installed... still waiting for the Tata Sky guys to turn up
    • Bedroom has been set up
    • Set up the kitchen today
    • Got the wardrobe and dressing table set up
    • Internet has been set up
    • Found a maid
    • Finally gave a bundle of 75 clothes for ironing
    The only things left are:
    • Cable
    • Book shelf
    • Footwear
    • Home theatre
    • Gas connection
    • Unpack 2-3 cartons
    I am really liking the flat... its huge with 2 bathrooms... has a separate space for drying clothes... overlooks hills from all rooms... except it is too lonely and silent. 

    Below are upcoming posts:
    • Mumbai- it sucks
    • Mumbai Vs Delhi