Friday, March 30, 2007

Higher Power

I’m not sure how it happened, but a crime against humanity has once again been allowed to occur. I suddenly find myself swimming in a sea of despair and confusion, bobbing aimlessly and helplessly like a wee cork in the waves of sadness. Even now as I ponder this atrocity, I am forced to wonder what kind of world we live in. I want to write letters. I want to speak before the UN. I want to jump up and down on Oprah’s sofa and get the sympathy of the overweight masses. Heads must roll. Riotous demonstrations should be organized at once.

I have tried to bury my head in the sands of denial but instead ended up banging it upon a concrete floor, resulting in nothing less than a psychological concussion.

I can’t believe it.
I won’t believe it.
I musn’t believe it.

Yet even as my soul cries out “stop the insanity” I can feel the cold void in my heart. The questions run frantically through my mind… How will I go on? How will I survive? Just when I thought I had found the meaning of it all, I find the foundation upon which I have built my image, my very life even, ripped out from under me like a cheap garage sale carpet. Fashion TV has been banned in India. Banned I say. They find it too sexy and too steamy. As if anything can be.

Whatever happened to freedom of religion? Do I not worship at the temple of fashion? Do I not point my Pradas west and bow towards Milan at least once a day? Why, it is my unique fashion sense and god given ability to properly accessorize that separates me from the common masses. Everyone has their higher power, Dolce and Gabbana just happen to be mine. I simply will not be turned into a fashion communist with everyone being equal, walking around in drab colored Hush Puppies, Toughskins jeans and no L’Oreal in our hair. I’m worth it, damn it, and if one can’t be superior, what’s the point in getting up everyday?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lions And Sheep And Pigs... Oh My!

Connaught Place (CP) is made of 3 concentric circles, the inner circle being the most popular part with the shops and restaurants, and in the very center, a round park under which one finds the metro station for Rajiv Chowk. Why it is not the CP metro stop, nobody is able to tell me and so I just assume it is the victim of the world’s largest ball of red tape that is Indian bureaucracy. Actually Rajiv Chowk is named after Indira Ghandi’s son, while the outermost circle is named after Mrs. Ghandi, but nobody uses those names. It is simply CP, inner or outer circle. The metro, which is still being expanded just opened a couple of years ago and until today I had never taken it. I expected it to be crowded, noisy an run down like so many places in the city, but on the contrary, the station had not a single piece of debris anywhere. It was also airy, roomy and quiet for metro station in the center of a city and the trains were clean, shiny and smooth. I bought my light blue, plastic token, which looked like a gambling chip from a cheesy Vegas casino. I held it up to the magnetic card reader and like magic, the doors flew open and suddenly I had no idea where to go. I needed platform number 2, but there is almost no signage and so I began wandering around, looking for a sign, any sign that would tell me where to go. I finally found platform 2 and took the metro exactly one stop from CP to New Delhi Train Station and then back.

I was having lunch at Zen in the inner circle, where I ordered egg wrapped rice, which upon delivery turned out to be rice wrapped in a thin pancake of egg. I don’t know why I was surprised. The Chinese just have this way of calling things exactly what they are. Lemon chicken, boiling fish, sizzling beef or grilled king toad. I have had all of those dishes with the exception of the toad. I was tempted the last time I was in Beijing, but as I was not feeling well, I had a change of heart. It was between ordering the food and the actual delivery that I discovered I have some astrological issues. I am a Leo, have always been happy and proud to be a Leo, content to bask in the limelight, fame and glory that is my birthright. People love and adore me as they should. It’s all right there for anyone to read. Look up Leo and you’ll need sunglasses just to read the definition. Hear me roar, the lion, the ruler of the other 11 not so glamorous houses. I was not very pleased to learn that in Japanese astrology, I am a goat. A winged fire-breathing dragon would have been ok, but a goat? I am not sure whether to be offended or just dive into the deep ocean of denial. So there was I was, educating myself on the placemat as one does when waiting for the food to arrive and as if being a goat wasn’t bad enough, the Chinese have turned me into a sheep. A sheep. And a sheep that seemed to have lost his Little Bo Peep and doesn’t know where the find her. But I’m not done yet, the final blow was yet to come, the chart that showed the compatibility with other signs. I was curious who the Chinese felt I should be with. The highest rating on the entire chart, at 98 of 100, was the sheep and the pig. How would I explain that one? “Hi everyone, meet my partner, the pig.” I just don’t think it has that certain je ne sais qois I so liberally season my life with.

The only thing to do to recover was to go shopping at the little markets. There is one market just off of CP, behind the only modern building on the inner circle, sitting between blocks F and A. Turning the corner into the alleyway, the senses are immediately assaulted with shouts of offers, bargains, people holding innumerable strings of beads, watches, wallets, pants, bangles, earrings, windchimes, cloth elephants, inlaid jewelry boxes and on and on it goes, an explosive blur of color and sounds. People pushing. People pulling. People crowding in to see, making sure they don’t miss something interesting, or perhaps they just to be a part of something that is none of their business. I find the madness intoxicating if not addictive.

This evening found me with a friend of mine at Dilli Haat where I loaded up with enough cashmere and silk to make Nik blush. I almost bought a brilliant rhinestone adorned Ganesh. It was just too fabulous for words, but I passed on it for now. I did, however flirt with the very dishy Kashmiri cashmere sales person and I will most definitely go back to pick up where I left off. International relations being what they are, I feel it my duty to do anything I can to bring our peoples together, sort of the modern version of buying the world a Coke.

Me and Daisy Mae

I have heard it said that we learn something new everyday. It is not yet noon and I have already had my quota. So grab a pen and jot this down. Never, and I do mean never, walk too closely behind a cow. I’m serious about this one. Not only is the view not very attractive, but blink at the wrong moment and you just might find yourself putting your feet into a fresh pancake of poo. Cow pies are supposed to bring luck if you accidentally step into them, but when wearing sandals, I firmly believe they must be avoided at all costs…

One thing I love about India are the narrow and windy streets with all sorts of little shops selling all sorts of little things. Wedding jewelry, silver Ganeshes (or is it Ganeshi? Note to self: check the plural form of Ganesh - mustn’t make a cultural faux pas) spices, car motors and my personal favorite, the combination optical and dental kiosk. That must be the nightmare for every Indian teen. Go in looking like a star, come out with a full set of braces and coke bottle glasses.

I can stroll and take in the local color and what’s great is that I never have to pay any attention to where I am going, I am free to get completely lost and turned around because there will always be an auto or cycle rickshaw rolling past within a few seconds. If that doesn’t happen, the people that live and work there are happy to point me in the right direction. Small children peek out at me and giggle, usually too shy to say anything or come up to me but overcome with curiosity. Others are more than happy, eager actually to practice their English. I hear their names, I hear them count, they ask where I am from and then every once in a while, one will surprise me by starting to speak French or other European language, usually putting my own knowledge of that language to shame. I love losing myself in the timeless, sliver-like streets with the criss-cross of electrical and phone wires barely held together with electrical tape, the lengths of the wires themselves often in various colors as though they have been made of scraps or even patched when they broke or snapped. It is this spaghetti like collection of wires and TV cables with their thick coating of dust that provide a sort of open-air ceiling to the narrow streets which carve out the little neighborhoods. When I was in India before, I would see the occasional tourist walking through these areas looking as out of place as I do, but on this trip, they seem to have taken a keener interest in more upscale places like Khan Market where they can pop into Barista and have a latte when shopping for kurta becomes too strenuous.

Being the only non-Indian around, it makes me feel like I am on an adventure, a sort of Indiana Jones only without the whip and cool hat. Or Harrison Ford jawline. So there I was, the wandering gora, going nowhere slowly and without a care, Kylie spinning around in my headphones and a cow, who for the sake of this story I will name Daisy Mae Gupta, slightly ahead of me, keeping me company while leading the way. She the royal one, me staying three paces back, a Philip to her Elizabeth. I was looking left, looking right, scanning like a hawk for little things I did not yet know I had to have at bargain prices that I could swoop down upon and snatch up in my talons, dragging them back to my little nest.

In other words, I was in no way paying attention to Daisy Mae when she did the most unladylike thing. She let it go, right in front of me, as though I were not even there. As though porcelain accessories had not yet been created for the bathroom. It was simply beastly of her, but I had no time to think about that, I had steaming pie almost underfoot. I swerved left, almost colliding with a rickshaw that just about threw me off balance, I fell back to the right. Suddenly I was caught between a rickshaw and a cow pie. I had a choice to make: fertilizer or hospital. That is a choice that should not be taken lightly. But fortunately for me, one of the many Hindu gods was smiling down and gave the quick reflex do a small yet very elegant pole vault over the aforementioned unmentionable. I decided Daisy Mae and I needed space, some time apart. A time out, if you will. As we parted, she didn’t even glance at me with her cow eyes. Instead she swatted off a few flies with her tail as if to tell me to get lost. It was all very heartbreaking.

But I was soon over my heartbreak and I rounded a corner which brought me face to face with a herd of water buffalo. What water buffalo are doing in the middle of a city, is anyone’s guess, but they seemed to know where they were going and so I let them to it, moving out of their way and staying clear of the hind quarters.

Another little turn of phrase that proves itself correct here in India is “until the cows come home.” It turns out, and I was very surprised by this, that after spending a busy day walking the streets, lounging in the middle of traffic, sleeping by the side of the road and leaving good luck piles for the unsuspecting to step in, they do indeed go home. I thought they were homeless. And what, I ask you, is more heart wrenching than a homeless cow? Well, you can all rest easy, there is no cause for alarm. While their owners may let them play in traffic, they do keep them safe and cozy at night. For all I know, Daisy Mae could very well have better bedding than I do. And I am serious on that one. I sleep on a slab of wood with a mattress I suspect is made of crumbled bricks. I toss and I turn but no matter where I place my comfort starved body, it is lumpy hardness that greets me. Perhaps that’s why my fashion week contacts have forsaken me. The dark circles under my eyes are giving me that heroin chic look that was once the rage of the runways and went out around the same time we waved goodbye to the waif.

And like Kate Moss’ cocaine habit, I’m finished but will be back soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Getting keys made in India is a rather complicated affair. Well, getting the keys made is not so complicated, finding the place that makes them is near impossible. I was walking through the market on my way to another market, looking for anyplace to get a key made. I past the endless shops with saris, cloth, fabric, toilets, door handles, car engines, ropes, jewelry, toys, pottery, bed covers, lights, and what not, but found no place for keys. I asked in a hardware store and was sent four or five doors in the direction from which I had just come. I walked in and was sent four or five doors back in the direction of the store that sent me there in the first place. I stopped in between the two places and was sent four or five stores away and so on, until I gave up. I learned one lesson that day. In India, nothing is ever obvious, and I finally found the place to have a key made. The juice stand.

And there was the key maker squatting on the ground with his tools and sack full of keys next to him. He digs and digs through the bag to find the model that best matches the key to be duplicated. Then, he takes a thick metal disk and places one end of a short board on it to elevate the end and the other end he places under his foot to secure it in place. He holds the keys next to each other to see what needs to be done and then takes the new key and attacks it with a file. It is the kind of sound that when it starts causes every hair on your body to stand at full attention. He files and hammers a little here and there and every few seconds, he matches it with the original key and repeats the process until the key is duplicated. The whole time this is happening, a small group gather to witness the whole event, the gora and the keymaker.


I may not yet know exactly why the chicken crossed the road, be able to describe the sound of one hand clapping or even take pebble from hand like Grasshopper, but I do know why cows congregate in the middle of the busy India streets. No, it is not to be in the center of it all, nor is it to create traffic jams as they journey toward the center divider they so favor. Cows are neither so vain nor so inconsiderate. It is due to the fact that the constant stream of cars provides two services to the holy cows. It keeps those annoying flies away, and more than once, I have been tempted to set up house on a center divider as well if it truly works. The second reason is that the passing cars create a breeze which provide the cows with a cool place to hang out as most of them do not come with their own air conditioning or shade.

Last Saturday I was in the mood for some shopping and decided to call on the relatives of some of my closer friends. I walked over to South Extension Market where one can shop in the trendiest stores like Gucchi or G.A.P. and buy the most popular brands like Calven Klain, all at bargain basement prices. But that does not compare to the Palika Bazaar in Connaught Place where I managed to find an Armani belt from Woodland and some GAP kurtas, which looked exactly like the kurtas from Tommy Hilfiger and Versace, right down to the color, stitching and design. These designers really need to start coming up with their own ideas and not just stealing from each other. I find it very disturbing, indeed.

I quickly made a dash for the electronics area where I was offered an iPod at a very good price. It was back, had several button on it and had the word “iPod” stamped across the front in big white letters. It looked sturdy enough to be used 5 or 6 times before falling apart so I decided to stick with my very own video iPod and moved on. India is a country where men and women are frowned upon for showing displays of affection in public, where a man and woman kissing on the side of the road can cause traffic jams and outrage, so imagine my surprise at the experience I had walking through the electronics area. Palika is known for their pirated DVDs, CDs and anything else that can be copied. From Hindi films to Sex and the City, they have it all. Each of the stores is filled with sales guys that spring to action whenever a foreigner is spotted.

Palika bazaar is underground and built in the form of interconnecting and concentric circles, enabling one to wander through the narrow corridors and get lost without ever really getting lost. It is also crowded and one must be content with being pushed, shoved, pulled, poked and, when one is a gora, hounded and conned. Palika is crammed full of things to buy mostly electronics, clothing, cosmetics and souveniers. I found a kurta that had a life expectancy of two or three washings for the asking price of 795 rupees, an outrageous sum for what it was. As it happens in India, when one is not interested the prics starts dropping and within three minutes, it was 300. I decided to buy it and paid with a bill of 500. One would think I would have learned by no, but obviously not. When in a place like Palika, it is best to never give a sum that requires change as they are loathe to give it and would instead prefer to give more merchandise and keep the cash. Suddenly instead of merely having a white kurta in my bag, I was forcefully given a black one as well, getting two for the price of 500.

But let’s cut back to the electronics area where the presence of a foreigner sets off a blizzard of activity and the conversations between me and the guys at the kiosks went something like this:

“Hello sir. Sir. SIR! You want DVD”
“You want Hindi film? English? Nice English. What’s your kind name, sir”
“You want TV show? Sex and City?”
“No, no”, I say
Then he moves in closer and whispers “You want porn, yaar” It was a statement, not really a question
“No”, I repeat
“I got good porn, sexy Indian woman, Indian women with white men, very hot”
I shake my head and hand to mean “No”
“You want gay porn? I have very hot men making the hanky panky. You like very much. I make you good price. I give you very cheap. How much you give me?”

And so it went, from one stall to the next as though a script had been passed around and I was the guest star in my own reality series, suddenly I knew the pressure Jessica Simpson was under and immediately sympathized with her “This chicken tastes like tuna” line. It’s not easy being the center of attention.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Musical Life

Driver seems to be taking his newfound musical diversity to new levels, exploring the sounds of the wider world, reaching out to acoustic cultures I was unaware he was aware of and I was even tempted to give him hi-five in the middle of traffic this morning, but thought better of it when I realized he was swerving to avoid a small gathering of cows that had taken over the middle of the street. Best to let Driver concentrate on driving.

Like Marco, there is almost nothing I like better than good old-fashioned remix and just when I thought I had heard it all in a “been there, done that” sort of way, my ears were treated to an entirely new experience that still has my ear drums tapping… Hindi yodeling. Who knew such a thing even existed, but there it was… A bunch of lyrics I could not understand and suddenly a “yodel-odel-odel-odel-ay-ee-oo” done with such conviction I was tempted to braid my hair and change my name to Heidi. God know’s there were plenty of cows around to milk and all I was missing was a pair of kurta leiderhosen and some pointy-toed hiking juttis. It was all very “Sound of Music” set against a Hindu backdrop, not unlike Moulin Rouge. But who would be the beautiful courtesan and who would be the penniless sitar player? It was all I could do not to jump out of the car and start dancing in the gardens and pools of the Lotus Temple, but decided against it as my overpowering shyness kicked in basically rendering me rhythmically challenged. Goras just can’t dance.

And a Gora is what I am. A white boy. Fair skinned child of the jungle. A modern day Tarzan living amongst the elephants and monkeys that litter my life the way empty bottles of Veuve Cliquot used to when I was surrounded by wannabe supermodels and international fashionistas serving oversized portions of face to each other on Iittala platters complete with cocktail garnish.

But Delhi is not without glamour. In fact, this coming week is fashion week, and I’ll give you three guesses as to who is going to be schmoozing and boozing with the sub-continental who’s who. Wrong. Wrong. Yep, it’s little me, so hopefully there will be loads of gossip, tales of decadence and debauchery, backstabbing and blackmail that I will be more than happy to share with you here, changing the names to protect the guilty, of course. Look out Carrie Bradshaw, there’s a new light on the literary horizon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Snack With an Ancestor

The lights are on. No, they’re off. On. Off again. And so goes my day at the office today. As I was sitting in the dark, my face illuminated by my laptop screen, I wonder with a sigh whatever happened to the good old days when power going out would shut down all the computers and bring everything to a stand-still? Now we have laptops with extended life batteries that enable us to keep working even in the darkest of hours. It’s an outrage, an infringement on my rights as a resident of an electrically challenged nation. Then the big outage occurred this afternoon and even the generator was not working, the whole office was in the dark except, of course those of us with laptops. Thanks to modern technology, we can’t even use outages as an excuse to skive off.

At last, we were all told to shut everything down, which was music to my ears… I walked across the little street to the little park and shared a bit of wall space next to a monkey. I was eating fruit, he was eating leaves he was picking off the tree and suddenly it was me and my genetic ancestor sharing a moment of primitive bonding. Just as I was about to hand him what was left of my fruit, he finished his meal, turned his little red bum toward me and marched off without so much as a wink. I felt snubbed, abandoned even by my Darwinian history. For all I know it could have been a third cousin 200 times removed and now I will never know... How will I find him or her? I hate to sound prejudice and shallow, but all them monkeys look alike to me.

So today while animatedly (is there any other way?) conversing with my colleagues, I said something that surprised me when I heard it in my very own voice. I was so shocked I forgot the exact quote, but it went something like this: “I am not so comfortable having servants.” Where did those words come from? I was forced to ponder the subconscious part of my being that had so rudely and indiscriminately forced its way out of my body. But it is true. I am not so comfortable with it. All joking aside, I find it difficult to have someone do things for me all the time. I have friends that don’t even get their own glass of water or open or clothes their own windows.

And at work, it is the same thing for me. If I need water, diet coke, a plate, spoon, napkin, coffee, pen, paper, anything at all, there is only one word I need to know; “Gopal”. Gopal arranges everything for the team on my floor. And what I can’t bring myself to do that my colleagues do without thinking, is no matter where they are, they shout his name and here he comes, ready to do whatever needs doing. This is not done in a rude way, it is just the way it is done. At home, while I do not have a live in, everything is done for me. The house is cleaned, clothes are folded and hung up, meals are cooked, if something spills on the floor, the maid gets it. I don’t even rinse a glass on my own here.

Even the while idea of DIY is not really done here. If you order something that needs to be assembled IKEA style, it will be delivered and assembled for you. If you buy curtains, they will hang them for you. If you go to the grocery at the market, you buy what you want and they will deliver it. Even Subway and MacDonald’s deliver. Need clothes? Just have them made. One evening over drinks, my friend Abdul said “I never wear ready made.” I was instantly jealous. Why didn’t I think of that line? In my opinion, that is a line that should be reserved for cinematic lighting and a DeMille style close-up.

But back to the topic at hand, I have to remember that it gives people a job they may not otherwise have, but coming from the western world, it is just a cultural adjustment I find difficult to adapt to. Of course if I could find one to work out for me and whip my body into Adonis like shape while I slept, that would be brilliant!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Ivy

I have been keeping this to myself so as not to worry my friends, loved ones or paparazzi, but I have been suffering from an advanced, if not semi lethal case of BDS (Bubble Deficiency Syndrome). Just as I was entering the final stretch, about to pull out a pizza pan and pray to Our Lady of the Pepperoni, Danielle came to my rescue and invited me to join her and a group of friends at Ivy in New Friends Colony to see a Dutch jazz and blues band. The last invitation from Danielle had us at a Rajasthani and Flamenco dance performance, followed by a fabulous dinner at Ploof in Lodhi Colony with the fabulous and impossible to duplicate Angelie. The whole evening was amazing and so I decided to accept Danielle’s invitation before she even got it out of her mouth… She got out only the “I was wondering if” and I shouted out “Yes, absolutely, I am on my way darling. Kiss, Kiss.” I was, of course a few days too early, but one must be prepared.

The Ivy is almost entirely white, with the only color coming from the plasma screen at the end of the 200 foot bar, which also makes it the longest bar in India and the 9 red glass chandeliers hanging from the black ceiling. We eschewed the more intimate and private upstairs dining area which overlooks the main room in favor of a table for 10 right in the middle of it all. I mean, what’s the point if you’re not seen? No sooner had we settled into our seats than Angelie and I looked at each other and without saying a word, agreed on the champagne cocktails. A woman after my very heart. The way to a normal man’s heart may be through his stomach, but mine is most definitely via a crystal flute.

We were soon scanning the menu and Danielle and I gasped in unison. There was pate. I had no idea that grew pates here in India and was very happy to see them on the menu. We ordered them immediately and when they arrived, they were fantastic. Not quite the foie gras I had been craving, but definitely good enough to hold me over until I am back in Europe. For the main course, it was mostly sea bass all around and it was one of the best seafood dishes I have had. It just melted like butter as any respectable fish should.

But the excitement does not stop there, oh no… We were there not only to be seen, but also to take in a little jazz band from the Netherlands. Their music was not at all Dutch sounding and then I heard from Chris, the queen bee of Delhi social life that they had driven from Amsterdam to Delhi and that in 3 months time, they have to perform in Turkey and so were leaving today to drive to Turkey. What an adventure that would be. The music was quite good when they backed it with some lounge beats and if you squinted in just the right way, you could imagine being at La Suite in Paris. It wasn’t long before I was dragged to the dancefloor where I put on my best Justin Timberlake moves to the oohs and aahs of my fellow party peeps.

This morning my phone was buzzing away as friends – ok, one friend, but still it is all so exciting - were calling to tell me they had read about the party in the morning’s paper. My excitement of being at the event of the evening was soon smashed to the rocks as not only was there no mention of my name, but not even a photo with me with a caption that read something along the lines of “mystery man seen canoodling with glittery glamour girls” or anything like that… I need to write a letter to the editor.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Bugs Life

What has 6 legs and is the size of a large recreational vehicle? The ants living right outside my door. I have no idea that the insects and spiders feed on, but they seem to be doing better than I am. Flies so large you get a concussion when they bang into your head. Wasps with hanging legs that are far more muscled than mine and snails that look like they will constrict the very life out of you if given a chance. I caught one sneaking up on me in the garden the other day, looking all innocent until he stretched out a bit and bared his fangs of death as snails are often wont to do. I feel like Mowgli in my very own version of The Jungle Book, only without the animated dancing bear, black panther or crown wearing orangutan, but I do have the resident monkeys hanging around and I’m sure if I go to the right market, I will be able to get one of the rare miniature hand-held cows, India’s answer to the Chihuahua, which are all the rage among the fashionable Delhi set of which I now consider myself a platinum card-carrying member.

Driver, on the other hand has taken his new project of making mix tapes to an extreme and this morning it was Crazy Frog as we whizzed past the Lotus Temple and as if that were not bad enough, he served up a bit of Las Ketchup for dessert. It had me calling for total sensory deprivation and praying for the early onset of a minor coma, just long enough for the vehicle to come to a full and complete stop so that de-boarding could begin. How I long for the good old days of our deep conversations during which neither one of us understood the other…

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Waiter, There's a Virgin Mary In My Pizza

How many Indian’s does it take to move a car?

Well, I don’t know the answer to that except to say it is a lot. I was in the office when driver came to get me at about 7pm. I packed up my things and went downstairs only to find that our car had been blocked in my another one, and a dusty Hyundai at that. Normally in India, when a car is in the way, it is simply moved out of the way. No need to find the owner, this is done by merely rolling it forwards or backwards, clearing space. Yesterday at Def Col Market (here in my hood) I saw 4 guys pick up a small car and just move it over by about 1 meter to make room for another car – Nobody so much as glanced. In the US, there would have been a storm of Glocks and AK47s to scare off any would be parking Samaritans. So, when I saw we were blocked in, I didn’t think anything of it and driver went to push it out of the way. It didn’t budge. He looked at it, looked in the window, checked to se if the doors were unlocked and then pushed again as if those things would have actually made any difference. The thing I love about people here, is there willingness to help. This usually starts by standing around and taking in the situation and then repeating what others before them have tried only to realize that nothing has changed. But I find the enthusiasm with which people throw themselves into these types of desperate situations heart warming and inspiring.

But I am not yet done with my driver stories yet… I think driver is trying to bond with me. Normally in the car, he plays Indian music and tends to favor the Punjabi sounds, with Punjabi MC being his band or DJ of preference. Not really sure which category Mr. MC falls under. This morning I got into the car and instead of hearing the usual sub-continental beats, I was confronted by Shakira and her truthful hips. I thought it was the radio until I engaged driver in monosyllabic conversation and learned that he had made a tape. It wasn’t long before we were both humming along to Barbie Girl while on the road to Gurgaon. You can brush my hair, undress me anywhere… Did I just think that out loud?

Last Saturday evening I was at the India International Centre for an amazing performance of Rajasthani and Flamenco dancing organized via the Spanish Embassy. I had been living in a social Sahara so long I forgot what it was like to mingle with people in a non-work related environment. The performance was amazing and then we went out for dinner at a fantastic restaurant in Lodhi Colony named Ploof. I highly recommend it. I immediately thought of Nik… It had tones of Lola with an Indian twist and the only thing that would have made the evening any better would have been some bubbles, but I am saving those for this evening, when I treat myself to some upscale drinks at the Ivy. It is indeed time for me to color my life with a bit of glamour.

Mother Nature seems to have gotten the memo that spring is here and she is turning up the heat. And practically overnight, people have gone from complaining about the cold to complaining about the heat. I for one am loving it and can only say “bring it on and keep it coming”. I am also looking forward to evening cocktail parties in the garden and hopefully soon I will have my own place complete with rooftop terrace which will be perfect for sunset bubbles and tasty treats.

Speaking of tasty treats, I was distressed to read about the latest Virgin Mary sighting. I am still waiting for my IRES (In Refrigerator Elvis Sighting) so imagine how distressed I was to see on CNN (yes, it was headline news) that the Virgin Mary has appeared in a pizza pan in Texas. That blows my mind. Why would she go to Texas of all places? I know Beyonce hails from the land of the ten gallon hats and George Dubbya, but really, the Virgin Mary? Perhaps there was no room in any other pizza parlors. You would think she would have learned her lesson and called ahead after that whole stable incident.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Holi Pics

A family on a motorbike... yes, on one motorbike... Quite a common site, although usually with faces not quite as pink...

This is what all of our hands looked like... and still do ;-)

A guy at a gas station...

2 Guys on the street watching the dancing

Getting sprayed with some very cold water...

Playing snack vendor at India Gate...

Me at India Gate

The rocking party on the terrace across the way... The red and green "smoke" are colors that have been thrown into the air...

Me and Anuj

Holi in my hood...
Me and Anuj

Posing at India Gate

More business opps at India Gate

Striking a pose at India Gate
Part of our group at Anuj's

Dancing in the streets

Me, Sgarad and Anuj - the end of a party...


After waiting in breathless anticipation, my first Holi finally arrived. Holi is the festival of colors, which marks the end of the winter and the beginning of spring. The celebration is basically about coloring your friends and family and any strangers that happen to cross your path. The colors come in powder form, which are the most common or spray. Also mixing the powder in water to throw on people or to pour onto some unknowing passerby or friend you can trick out onto the street is also common, It used to be that the powders used had medicinal purposes, so that as they were thrown and smeared, they would be inhaled and absorbed into the skin, providing protection against the colds and viruses that tend to make their rounds during this time of year. Well, technology has stepped in and now ther are all sorts of colors, some of which can be downright dangerous and I heard stories of people losing their sight or getting very ill, so it becomes important to play colors only with people you know that you can trust have bought the natural colors that will not cause any reaction from the skin or any health issues…

I felt like a little child and just the thought of coloring the world was enough to keep me awake the entire night before the big event. I spent Saturday shopping for a white kurta. I saw several, but they all had smudges or looked a bit dusty and I wasn’t settling for anything less than sparkly white, something I could completely obliterate. My plan was to have a shirt worthy of framing by the time it was all said and done.

I was invited to a Holi party in North Delhi and my driver came and got me and then it was off to Vasant Kunj to pick up Sharad before heading north. I got outside the car, gleaming white kurta shining under the Indian sun… With my white skin, blond hair and white kurta, I may as well have had a bull’s eye on my body. I got out of the car in front of Sharad’s flat and suddenly a cold shock hit my back. It was a child on the 2nd floor spraying a stream of blue colored water all over me. Suddenly the very colorful men down the street spotted me and made a mad dash, colors in hand and arms waving madly. It was a flurry of pink, green, blue, yellow and white and suddenly I was appropriately decorated.

No time to waste, we hopped into the car and headed north. The normally crowded and congested streets of Delhi were empty and instead of sitting in traffic jams, we were racing down the boulevards passing party after party, the city a blur of color as we whizzed past.

We got Anuj’s place for our Holi party but not before stopping for directions which resulted in more color and hugs and warm greetings… It all began very calm and respectful, smearing a bit of color on everyone’s face and head while spreading wishes for a happy Holi. The out came the spray foam, then the hose, then the cups of water and from there it was just one big mess. On the terrace across the way people were dancing up a storm with colored powder filling the air and buckets of water being tossed here and there. Before long, we were wet and stained and dancing in the streets (that seems to be happening to me a lot lately… it’s all very Martha and the Vandellas.)

After a few hours of making a mess for someone else to clean, we decided to head back to my place and have an impromptu get together… I was excited to host my very first gathering here in my humble yet highly blooming garden. Unfortunately, there was nobody to join us and so it was Sharad and I in our war paint, playing carram and having a few beers before calling it a night.

2 days later and I am still stained pink, have rivers of color running through my hair and try as I might, it is just not coming out… Everytime I get in the shower, everything goes pink, but no matter how much seems to go down the drain, I don’t see any difference on my body.