Tohfa.. tohfaa.. tohfaa.. Laaya.. laaya.. laaya!

(This is not a rant, though it is unexpected, it is seasonal since I’m a part of multiple secret santas and all friends seem to be born in December. This post ends abruptly. Just read it through you know?)
After the previous post, lots of people asked me what book would be “ideal”, what if I don’t like a book? Secret Santa even asked me what I want. Books, duh!
Let’s face it. We’re Indians and we have a million reasons to gift someone and two million reasons to receive gifts. Gifts work as barters some times and then as a chit fund. Who spent how much on a gift to someone validates your budget for the person’s birthday.
Inspired by a friend, this post is something that has been saved in my draft section for the longest time! Simple because, “asking” for a gift is presumptuous and rude. Especially in India, where you smile and accept crockery and then flash another smile and just pass it on to some other person.
Finally comes the part about types of people who gift. The ones who personalise everything, the one who gives a voucher, the one who asks you what you want, the one (usually a relative) who takes you out to choose what you want, the one who just wraps something old in new paper to gift and finally the absolutely sorted person who simply gives you cash and says “kuch achcha le lena.”
My family has seen all of the above. One Diwali we received a “magic tap”, the ones you see in a magic show or the museum’s kids section that runs water without being connected to any pipeline. I have no clue why we received that, or where we’re expected to put it on “display”, but it’s there in the attic waiting for the impulsive sister to start her own magic show some day.
I have a registry I maintain personally. A gift registry for all occasions – Utkarsha’s birthday, festival gifting for Utkarsha, surprise Utkarsha gifts, you’re-so-nice-let-me-buy-you-a-gift Utkarsha, possible wedding gifts and in celebration of me winning the Nobel Prize the same year as the Oscar- gift list too.
I’m picky about what I wear, what I read, where I go, whom I go with etc etc. Hence, when usually people gift me something, I go and exchange it. I am THAT person. So it’s simple, why not take me along? Or simply ask? Budget issues? Boss, I can do Rs. 20 gifts as well. And honestly, if you think it’s cheap and impersonal to give cash or a gift card, think again! Some of my best gifts have come out of those!
Even so, if you want to surprise me (I don’t want to be surprised), then here are the guidelines on what to buy me:
Books and Book Accessories.
Buy me a book I like, I would want to read or something you want me to read! It doesn’t matter! Get me a book and you will see me drool (not over it)! I even have a wishlist  for that purpose, ask me what I want, I send you the list, buy me a book!
I am a reader, I read in at least three languages and numerous translated texts. I read non-fiction, fiction, autobiographies, travelogues, children’s stories, humour, conspiracy theories. See how I left self-help out of that list? Clearly, only one thing is better than books, and those are book accessories.
Make a bookmark! It’s not that difficult to make, the simplest one would cost you around Rs. 20 for 3! Get me a book cover! Or a notebook! Or pretty pages! Anything! I’d really be grateful you know?
I’m the person who gifts books to all and sundry. Yes, I am that nightmare that has gifted books to two year olds and fifty year olds. It’s perfect, even to someone who doesn’t read actively. Enough said I suppose.
 
Stationary.
Ever met me on a normal day? Seen the amount of stationary I carry around? Seen the amount of pretty stationary I carry? Even my staple pins are red, baba. I like fancy stationary – cool stick notes, pens, pencils, erasers, stencils, files, folders, highlighters, glue sticks, rulers.. you name it and I love it! The dream is to own a stationary shop someday. And sell nothing.
 
IF You’re Buying Me Clothes.
Another part of being an Indian is the obligation to buy clothes on festivals, special occasions and basically anything you can think of! So here are my guidelines:
a.       I do not wear what is “in”. Do not tell me you bought me fluorescents because college girls wear those nowadays. I don’t. I wear a kurti/tee every single day. And if I’m in the mood for change, I wear a salwar kameez.
b.      Skirts are uncomfortable. A majority of my time is spent on the footboard of the train, obviously skirts are not ideal. Add to that me being extremely shy about showing off legs, they’re a disaster for me.
c.       I like to blend and not stand out. My voice does the latter for me, clothes needn’t do it. A sober pastel or nude colour is often my choice, not the ones with lace/frills/sequins etc.
Okay? I reiterate, take me to shop. I stay within budgets.
 
GIVE ME TIME.
Next time, ask yourself. Is it necessary to spend money? Is there something better? Birthday conversations that run into hours? A post-card that arrives out of nowhere! A long e-mail describing to me your day? Taking me out to lunch? (We could go dutch you know). Spend an evening at the beach or at Marine Drive? That’s me! A day at the museum, maybe the Zoo or the planetarium, I love that stuff!
Obviously if you know me, you know that I’m not a spontaneous person! I do not get up and walk out the house, but sometimes I do surprise myself you know? You can never gift anyone anything more than your time. Do that. And then buy me some food. And a book.

Retrospect.

Have you ever felt that you should have had an experience much before than when it actually did happen?
A lesson you should have learnt earlier in life? Say probably, to make lesser mistakes, lesser painful ones later in life?
Or I’ll put it out loud, to have a better story at social gatherings?!
I feel that way now. In fact, what I’m experiencing now should have happened a decade back, at least good marks would be assured!
I’m at Sathya Sai Prashanthi Nilayam railway station in Andhra Pradesh. At 2.35am. Trying to ignore the stink of the public toilet of the Great Indian Railways while watching an uncle unwrap his inner wear from a dhoti to give the latter to his wife who feels the chills. More importantly, I’m waiting for a train scheduled to arrive at 7.30pm. Yup.
There’s a man who’s spouting phlegm from what I suppose is a nose. While I hear men peeing in the adjoining loo. Yup. The silence!
If you’re wondering why such dry descriptions: this is the essay I should have written when in school! For the countless students the Indian education system churns out everywhere and every year, none have escaped the mandatory “One hour at the Railway Station”.
I am no exception. Not only did I write these essays with less than  half a heart’s interest, I also made them up. Honestly, who didn’t?
That interesting lady in your essay from a night waiting at a station was actually Ruskin Bond’s creation. That girl with a flower basket was his too. The time you missed your train was probably your parents’ experience or the time someone left a bagful of money which you dutifully returned was something your tuition teacher read in the newspaper, and suggest you write it to make your essay “stand out”.
I had a standard one myself, where in the rush of a Mumbai local, I’m separated from my parents (which would never happen. We always travelled by road. Ha!), found by a police inspector who then takes me home to worried parents.  There! Happy endings! 😛
Unfortunately then, I didn’t have the wisdom of what I do today. It’s the middle of the night, I want an upper berth to sleep through the day!
All I get instead is a wailing baby, irate passengers talking of how the train wouldn’t arrive for hours, and an over stuffed man who farts at regular intervals. Or is that his snoring?!
Either way, a dead station in the middle of nowhere, accompanying sleepy grandparents, a jugal bandi of fart/snoring with wailing baby makes for so much better an essay, right? At least my English teacher would have laughed if not marked it the highest. Or is a child getting lost “stand out”?
Never mind. At least this blog post happened thanks to an actual wait at the station. 🙂

Magic of my own!

There’s a reason why this place hasn’t had a post in ages. Lethargy, mood swings, no time, health, studying being some of the excuses. But mostly, it is because there was nothing I had to say or do…

Honestly, I realised that it has been 5 months since my last post only when some friends pointed it out to me that they were actually waiting for a post on the blog!

So let me be upright about this, I may have followers, but I never kid myself into believing that I have readers. Or readers who’re regular, probably people who peek in every time I post something and then forget it.

But thanks to the few who remembered! J

So since the last post was to do with magic, I think I could continue to do the same. Especially because, that’s what I have been doing for most of the last two weeks.

For those who do not know, Pottermore, the website by J. K. Rowling as a continuation to the Potter world that she created, is up and running. And I have just been there, and there, and all over there since it opened for everyone.

Yes, it seems a lot of craziness on my part to be stuck on to a world that is simply fiction and to be engrossed in the extension of that fiction. True, that the lady is only cashing on on her success, but honestly, it’s just a bit more of magic into my world.

I started reading the Harry Potter series when I was in the 5th standard, and to my own surprise, I took very well to the series. For one, it coincided with my entering a new school and new surroundings completely. I was a new kid, whom everyone knew, because the teachers from my old school were now here, and I was given that special treatment. I will not deny it, I got most of the pampering from most of the teachers and had that extra bit of freedom that was elusive to others.

For a while, that was what Hogwarts was to me, a new school with lots of new cool stuff to do, stuff that my old school didn’t have. Hence, Pottermore, is now a simple extension of that nostalgia.

I know this is lame.. 😀 But that’s the welcome! 


This may seem like PR for the site, but honestly, it’s more than just that. I got sorted into a house, which was unexpected. I always thought I’d be in Hufflepuff, but surprisingly, I got sorted into Ravenclaw! Like the house where everyone is intelligent, in an eccentric way! 😛 I am from the house of Luna Lovegood! How nice is that?

That is right after I got sorted! 🙂



And then now, I have my wand, a 10 and three quarters, solid hornbeam phoenix feather core wand. And the wand chose me. Mind you! 😉

THAT is my wand. Which I am still getting used to. Yes. A wand.  Okay,  go off now! 😛


It’s a lot of nonsense I know, to be brewing potions online and to be duelling and collecting chocolate frog cards to win house points; but then it is the summer vacations! And it totally beats being a crocodile at any time of the year! 😛

So there you go. Another pointless post! 😀 And another reason for you to think that I am crazy!


PS. The post may make it seem like I am 11, and waiting for my letter from Hogwarts, but I just did turn 21 last week! 😀 Seeing that this is my first post in 2012, Happy New Year folks! 😀 Hope the first four months have been great for you too!  

Children’s day and My box of Magic…


Children’s day was/is the day I would await the most; apart from my birthday. For the sole reason that my dad is one of those rare people who gets a cake as well as gifts for the “occasion”. So basically the fantastic memories from my childhood have a lot of children’s day memories.

Such memories and other special ones were always hidden by me, something that I hid in the deep recesses of my book shelf. So that it would never be found by anyone. My box of magic.

As a kid I always had this wonderful idea that I’d find something that would bring magic into my life. [Blame it on the ideas of magic lamps/portkeys/glass slippers]. I know it is a fantastically romantic idea, but I have always wanted the perfect life with the “happy ending” in it.

So all the small things that I found pretty and well, cute, would go into a pretty box. It had all these ribbons stuck to it et al. I guess the box was gifted to dad by some client on Diwali when I was in school (probably primary). Still can’t remember what it held, but through the years, I’ve always dug it out and added things to it.

This is what my magic box looks like:

That’ THE box!
The Magic!



And the contents (if you can’t see clearly) are a lot of things from different phases of my life: there’s my LA Santa hat, some 4-5 pendants that look like small bells, all sorts of ghungroos and bells that I tore out of pretty key chains, my invitation for my Fresher’s party in FYBMM, my school bus pass, Mahesh Tutorials id card, my first pass for the rock show at Ruia in 2007, there’s a sealed packet of sands from the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean that I bought in Kanyakumari when I was 12-13 etc.

My mom and sister think it’s absolute trash that I’ve wrapped in two net duppattas (in fashion when I was in primary school). I doubt if I touched it after I was in 18. But today, I was looking for some badges from Wikipedia that some friends got back for me as a souvenir from its 10thyear celebrations, and I found the box by accident.

Funnily enough, even though it was only two years back when I last saw it, today when I see it, it still reminds me of all those sweet and happy childhood memories. I was sitting at home brooding about how pathetic it is to be alone all day long and have nothing to do – when I found this so called magic box.



Turns out, it is a magic box after all. After so many days of groping in the dark for some reason to smile, I found a box full of them. Magical memories. And my box full of magic. J

Imagining a dreamy hallucination…

I am sitting on some steps, right next to my building, with a stranger on the opposite side (Don’t even remember the face now), when a space ship appears, with the words “Udan Khatola” written across it. The man on the opposite side points his finger at the space ship, and disappears. Then I see some friend driving the space ship, and he asks me if I want a ride. I scream.

That’s a dream I saw a while back. Nothing special about it. Except for the fact that I am bragging about my absolutely horrendous “paint” skills.

Presenting before you: “Inside Utkarsha’s Head” – A visual representation of what I saw. Or didn’t. 🙂

Umm..did I mention that the material that the space ship was made from was something similar to the plastic that SINTEX tanks are made from?

Mere paas MAAA hain…..

Most friends I have; keep complaining for some or the other reason about the Bollywood style dialogue baazi at home.
I remember some one telling me that her mom says, “Tu is ghar ki laxmi hain, apni izzat apne haathon mein lekar ghoomti hain, apne ghar waalo ka maan rakh lena beti….” Every single morning.
As if the preaching wasn’t enough, the fact that it comes with such lines that you would expect from Reema Lagoo, Farida Jalal, Nirupa Roy or Rakhi Gulzar, makes an average teenager cringe more. And sticks with you through most of your adult life too.
I know of some one who still detests the fact that when he tried to sneak out a coin from the mandir in the house, was told that “kok se chor paida hua hain.” That hurts. I know.
But off late I’ve adopted this policy of accepting whatever my mom says with a pinch of salt. After all she is just as much influenced by the Bollywood dialogue baazi as I am!
Say for example, when I think of a happily married couple, my mind immediately conjures up a picture of a family of four, one boy one girl child, lady in a demure floral print saree and the man in a tee shirt and faded jeans, walking down Marine Drives at sunset, holding a balloon and some senghdana too go with the mood. Now that’s something right out of a 70’s movie end, where you’d expect a “The End” coming in from somewhere in the horizon. 
Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
To ab main hi aisi to meri maa kya hogi?
My mom is those types who would be a cross between Farida Jalal the heroine’s mom and Farida Jalal the hero’s mom. She’ll let us off when dad doesn’t and hold us back when dad lets us off. She’ll cry at our (my sis and my) good exams results, yell at us like the sky’s falling on her head and then finally take us shopping and then splurge.
There are times when she is the mini Rakhi Gulzar from Karan Arjun and horribly superstitious, at other times she is the Jaya Bachchan of KHNH. What stays constant? Dialogue baazi of course! When I say something, she calls it dialogue and now everything she says is what I call dialogue!
The fact of the matter remains that just as we are prone to react to all our life’s situations in the Bollywood way, life hasn’t remained just as romanticised. I see myself running into a guy’s arms in the middle of Sarson ke khet in the DDLJ style, but the fact of the matter remains that given a chance, I’d simply click a picture and put it up on FB, then brag to the world. “That’s me. Simran.”
I’d love to be the one at home, getting my kids’ homework done, cook some four course meal then finally put everyone off to sleep and then sit on the window staring at the moon. In reality, I’ll have a job, which won’t let me have time with my family, the kids will live in a crèche and learn to recognise the nanny their as maa, and I will be the aunty.
So then, whatever li’ll is left of this Bollywood style romantic life, with the black-slapping, canteen antakshris, running around for fests, I will enjoy. I will enjoy singing in the quadrangle, having chaai at the katta and fantasise running away and touring the world. Because what ever the reality may be, my mom will crack those Bollywood dialogues, I will sing “yeh dosti…” and turn into a hose pipe at every farewell and in the end of the day sing songs at the top of my voice like they represent what I feel.
The Bollywood in me will never die, nor will it off my mom. Or anyone’s mom for that matter. So if living happily enough means living in filmistan-created-world, so be it. Even if it means my mom deciding to enlighten me with the words, “Akeli ladki khuli tijori……

Dooooooodle…

One of these days I’ll start something and call it “doodle”, in every probability it will be just there. In my book. Another doodle.

Something happens when the study leave starts. Suddenly you stay at home too much, you’re not used to it, and life’s drab. I cannot study for my 1st semester any year because it’s winter and who can stay awake? 
Then I can’t study for my 2nd semester, because I’m too exhausted to study in the summer!

Frankly, I’ve been hit by a bad case of procrastination this semester. Point in case: exams are to start in two days and I am writing a blog post, tweeting, fbing all together! Some of it can be partly blamed to last semester’s result where I was 2nd in class (yes I brag) all thanks to an 85 in computers (More bragging points!), but sadly, no computer this semester nor is there any other subject where I can remotely touch that score!

But well, apart from that, there are quite a few interesting things on.
For one, dad’s back! All those who don’t know, dad’s now working in Gandhidham and comes home once a month. If that “once a month” is right before my exams, it isn’t really my fault right?

It so happens that dad’s two bosses are bald, and dad is allowed to unleash his terror on the rest of the staff (only heard about this). So while the staff there used to call the other Raghu and Rajeev, my dad is now called Ranvijay. -_-



I did survive that, but I cannot bear to see Robot a day before my exams begin, let alone as a family event, occasion being mom’s birthday. Don’t get me wrong, the movie’s fine, but in Hindi? And stretched to 4 hours?

India is playing matches. And how! So you expect me to study?

There’s a tsunami and an earthquake and a rare astronomical phenomena all happening at the same time, and you want me to study?

A wedding, an anniversary, a birthday, lots of cakes and paneer….I’ll study?

A laptop crash, new anti-virus buy, loading the thing, and still get bothered by Trojans, studies anyone?

HIMYM and Modern Family are running again, albeit the previous seasons, HOW DO I STUDY!

The best: Cycle agarbattis and Baskin Robbins send me messages to support Indian in WC2011…

Yes right. I am studying a lot in the race to prepare. Nothing like a useless body on the couch doodling away in time….I don’t have a loud conscience you see. Or else I’d be studying now. 36 hrs to go. But I do own a mother who makes up, so well, I’ll open a random presentation now. I’ll start studying. Tomorrow.

Till then, all eyes to Nagpur, or maybe the Thai movie on UTV, or maybe Movies Now, or the orange wall in 
front of me. Sigh! Wish me luck.