Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaffrey, Ritesh Deshmukh, Ashish Chaudhary, Mallika Sherawat, Kangana Ranaut
Director: Indra Kumar

THE STORY: There isn’t one. So I refuse to honour the film by writing the nonsense that they showed on the screen.

MY PERCEPTION: That I am the biggest fool on this earth that I paid good money to watch this sick film that could not garner even one laugh and calls itself a comedy.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT: Mallika was good at 'Jalebi Bai' even if there was nothing new that she could expose and Kangana was more cheerful than usual. 

VERDICT: Do you want me to say more?

RATING: * Stupid (That's a minus, in case you have not guessed)

* Stupid
* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Friday, June 24, 2011


Gallery Pradarshak
I got an opportunity to visit this art gallery that belongs to Savitha & Lalit Hira on the occasion of Gallery Pradarshak’s 17th anniversary. They had organized 17 art shows over 17 days from June 6 to 24 2011. I went on the day Artist Sanjay Kumar had his art show and poetry reading.

At the entrance
Gallery Pradarshak is in Khar (West) and is tiny in stature. But they have regular art shows happening there. I have known that since the days I used to work at Mumbai Mirror and used to list their events in the newspaper. Savitha has been an e-friend since those days and I finally got a chance to meet her in person.

Lalit & Savitha Hira
Savitha is a writer-editor for the magazine Design Matrix. She has many interesting bylines in this interior design magazine.

Lalit Hira is an interior decorator who also designs furniture. Check out this sample on facebook. Mr. Hira’s designs have been presented at the London Design Festival 2007 and were received well.

Another corner with a work table and the staircase leads up to the mezzanine where the office is
The Hiras are passionate about art and started Gallery Pradarshak on June 9, 1994 at this small garage space. Though small, the gallery is very beautifully set up and the couple is quite choosy about what they are ready to allow to be displayed in the portals.

Lalit Hira sitting on his portable chair
They don’t charge a rent and are ready to take any newcomer if they like his/her work. They display works as least expensive as Rs. 1,500 and there is no limit to the higher end of the cost. They charge a commission on the artworks that are actually sold. Their gallery is booked a year in advance. The gallery is closed for about a couple of weeks for renovation every year and Savitha and Lalit plan their holidays around that.

Gallery Pradarshak is a lovely art gallery and I would love to visit it again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I sincerely hope that no Italian steps into this restaurant as he/she might either commit suicide or murder after eating the food here

Spaghetti Kitchen @ Inox

Venkat studying the drinks' menu
The four of us got a chance to go to a restaurant together after a very long interval. Viggy and I had been thinking of visiting Spaghetti Kitchen since a long time and hence we opted to go here. The place has just one thing to recommend it – the service.

Bloody Mary turned bad :(
THUMBS UP 1: The service! The staff were very accommodative and ready to set right every drink and dish that we did not like. But then we did not like most of the stuff served and may be they are used to this reaction many times during the course of the day.

Pizza that the guys relished
THUMBS UP 2: Pork Chops was the chef’s choice of the day and Viggy was keen to have it. Venkat and he shared a portion and they insisted that it tasted good. I am sure it did.

Pork Chops that Viggy thought was out of this world
THUMBS UP 3: The bar-man (if he had had a hand at it) could not quite mess up with the fresh lime soda sweet concoction that Vini and I ordered and it tasted quite normal. 

Pasta in tomato sauce - not up to the mark
THUMBS UP 4: Venkat and Vignesh ordered a pizza that they both relished a lot. 

Fresh lime soda sweet that they got right ;)
THUMBS DOWN 1: Venkat asked for a Bloody Mary. It tasted funny and the waiter offered to remake it. It tasted as bad and so we asked for a Long Island Iced Tea. I don’t drink, but have tasted Long Island Iced Tea. But never one as bad as the one offered here. Luckily, we could return that too and finally Venkat settled for a straightforward bottled beer that the bar-man could not mess with.

Penne in white sauce
THUMBS DOWN 2: Grissini was the starter that Vini and I ordered. They served 4 sticks of dry bread with four different sauces (????). Never hope to taste something like that ever in my life, thank you.

The chefs
THUMBS DOWN 3: I don’t remember the dish name, but I had asked for Penne pasta in white sauce. I know that the pasta should be cooked firm and should never be soggy. But the pasta they served me was about 30% cooked. I added a few seasonings to make it taste better, but it just did not. The waiter offered to make it better. Yeah, he did return the dish and the pasta was cooked 40% this time round. Not my dish of pasta!

The Bar where they messed up the cocktails
THUMBS DOWN 4: Vinitha ordered pasta in red sauce. She found the sauce too tangy and looking at her face expression, they offered to make it better with grated cheese. By the time the cheese came, the pasta was quite cold and she left quite a bit of it on her plate without finishing it.

Our table
THUMBS DOWN 5: We were shocked to see the huge bill of Rs. 5005 – this despite their not including the two cocktails that we returned.  Yeah, we had ordered quite a few things, but as regards ‘value for money’, it was anything but. 

Our table from another angle

Long Island Iced Tea with Viggy in the background


Wall decor

Monday, June 20, 2011


Vini & me with MV Wisdom in the background

Venkat, Vinitha and I went to Juhu beach on Sunday afternoon to see the ship that had washed ashore a few days ago. We parked the car in one of the side roads and walked on the beach.

Vini and I were keen on walking in the water but when we saw the filth floating around, we decided not to. But soon, we had no choice as the beach was quite narrow with a lot of people around. We kind of stepped to the edge of the water and walked quite a way to catch a glimpse of MV WISDOM.

MV Wisdom, Venkat & me
We tried hard not to flinch every time a wave came up to our feet and were quite determined to walk to the ship. We got fairly close and took a few photographs and got out of the closest side road and decided to walk on the road instead of on the beach.

MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu Beach
If the beach and that particular road were in competition for ‘most filthy’, I am not sure which one will get the award. We managed to wade through the vehicles and kachara and finally managed to reach the car in one piece.

While we had baths to wash off the filthy visit, the horrible sights and smells kind of linger. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My Dad
This guy in the picture who looks like a hero is my father. He was just 25 when he married my mother.

I wrote this article last year. As it still holds true, I am just recycling it on the occasion of Father's Day 2011.

Father’s Day falls on the third Sunday of June every year. While we need a father 365 days of the year, this one day has been dedicated to revere him specially. This year, Father’s day falls on June 19.

My dad is Durairajan. To put it in one sentence, "He is the backbone of my family". It is my father who has always taken all the responsibilities, even while my grandparents had been alive.

My Dad at work at Castrol Ltd.
He went to work at the very young age of 17 without completing his education. He is an ace with figures and accounts are his life. He served with Castrol under the British to begin with and later under Indians. All his bosses and co-workers were always in praise of his work and ethics.

My father is too straightforward for words. He or my mother has never ever refused anyone who needs a help – till this day. They have brought us all up with the help of my grandparents with a wonderful set of values that I absolutely appreciate – more as I get older.

I recall a number of incidents from my childhood. It is true that my father used to be very busy with long hours at his job. But I remember him spending a lot of quality time with us.

Even while people raised their eyebrows at the amount of crackers that Appa bought during Diwali as we were all girls, nothing would faze him. I remember the many number of Diwalis he used to light those crackers along with us. It always rains in Chennai during Diwali. The crackers tended to be damp. The determined Durairajan used to set up a stove and a huge tray (தாம்பாளம்) and warm the crackers. I remember so many times he used to hold my hand as I used to be too scared to light the ones that made noise.

My father and Yours truly!

There was this wonderful experience when the first World Trade Fair happened at Anna Nagar. We were seven kids at home, including my cousins. Appa wanted to take us to the fair without the pain of travelling in a crowded bus. He and Nagaraju (my grandpa’s friend’s son who used to live with us at that point in time) took two cycles and rode us all the way to Anna Nagar from Chetpet where we used to live then. Some of us had to wait by ourselves while they went home for the second trip. The experience was too exciting for words.

Eating out in Madras was very rare in those days. But Appa had a special treat planned for us every six months. The whole family used to go out and have heavy snacks such as dosas, vadais and more. Having a sweet on these occasions was a must. In fact, we used to begin the party with a sweet, in true South Indian style.

Appa’s office picnics were a different thing altogether. His company used to take the office staff along with their families during these day-outings. Some of the places we went to each year were Mahabalipuram, Pulicut Lake, Sadurangapatnam and Poondi Reservoir. I remember Appa taking us all by the hand and showing us all the monuments and explaining the history of the place and being totally patient pointing out the importance of these places.

About a couple of years ago we all (Jayu, Lak and my families) went to Vaidheeswaran Koil along with Appa. He had arranged for a mini AC bus for the trip. It was an extremely comfortable journey. We left on a morning and returned the next morning at 5.30 am travelling through the night. I am ashamed to say that I grunted, groaned and grumbled about the journey while my 75-year-old father made the trip absolutely cheerfully and enthusiastically. Appa has a totally enthusiastic and positive attitude towards life.

Having five daughters never bothered my parents. It was grandma who was kind of worried. While people believed the maxim அஞ்சு பெண்களை பெற்றால் அரசனும் ஆண்டி ஆவான் – we all believed just the opposite in our family – அஞ்சு பெண்களை பெற்ற அரசன் எங்கள் அப்பா. I remember Sujatha (my elder sister) coining this sentence.

My dad as he is today!
For those who cannot read Tamil, the saying goes like this – one who gives birth to five daughters, even if he is a king will soon become a pauper. Our father is a king after bringing up us five girls.

DURAIRAJAN stands for:
Undying spirit
Raring to go
Jack of many trades
Neat (always well turned out)

Picture Courtesy (Pics 1 & 2): Lakshmi Ranganathan (Thank you so much Lak, for sending me the perfect pics)

Thursday, June 16, 2011



While I have been handling event listings for so many years, I have not had much experience in seeing art shows and the like. The event that I went to last evening was absolutely novel to me and believe me, it was a mind-blowing experience.

Gallery Pradarshak is celebrating their 17th anniversary by holding exhibitions of 17 different artists over 17 days from June 6 to 24, 2011.

Artist Sanjay Kumar with his mixed media work on display
Yesterday, June 15, saw the display of artworks by artist Sanjay Kumar. There was also a poetry reading session by the same artist. Yeah, the man writes poetry as well, in Hindi.

Hailing from Patna and with a BFA degree from the university there, Sanjay Kumar has been living in Mumbai since 1993. He has no less than 30 years of art experience. He has had five solo shows so far, the last one being at Tao Art Gallery in 2009.

One more from Lord Buddha series
The artist does an in-depth study of his subjects before setting to work in great detail in mixed medium. While earlier he had worked on subjects such as ‘Kaali’ and ‘Shiva’, the latest batch of figurative works in mixed media at Pradarshak are all about Lord Buddha. The detailing in ink & conte (that’s a type of charcoal stick for ‘anaadis’ like me) is nothing short of amazing.

The Book published by Tao Art Gallery
While Sanjay Kumar is a full-time artist, he writes poetry whenever inspiration strikes him. Poems just spring out of him at different times in his life, following no fixed pattern. I don’t understand poetry. Yeah, I love listening to songs and can well relate to the lyrics by Bharatiyaar, Vaali and Kannadaasan in Tamil while I love those written by Gulzar & Javed Akhtar in Hindi. But reading poetry in whichever language is just not me.

Sanjay Kumar reading poetry from his book
Yesterday evening, listening to Sanjay Kumar reading poetry from his book “लो मैं झूठ लिखता हूँ!” was a soul-stirring experience. He read about 20 poems and also explained each circumstance under which he had given birth to every poem. Beautiful! 

Pages from the book designed by Rajesh Pullarwar
There was this poem that had been inspired by a thought shared by the artist’s friend, Mr. Rajesh Pullarwar. Mr. Pullarwar explained it himself. “When you are very angry, fill a mud pot with a colour powder of your choice, any colour that represents anger to you. Then break it by smashing it on the ground. Seeing the smashed pot with the colour powder spread around in an unplanned pattern takes away the anger.” A lovely way to ‘lose’ your temper, I thought. Incidentally, it was Rajesh Pullarwar who designed the book of poetry written by Sanjay Kumar. I am sharing some of the photos that I captured of the book – all the backgrounds were taken from different angles of Sanjay’s art studio. You have to see it to believe it.

Some more pages. Yeah, that's the artist on the right
Some of Sanjay Kumar’s works decorate the walls of the plush home ‘Antilia’ belonging to Mukesh Ambani. The artist believes in doing his bit to society and has donated a print machine to Patna College of Art.

I sincerely thank Ms. Savitha Hira, owner of Gallery Pradarshak, for this lovely evening. Savitha has been an e-friend since Mumbai Mirror days and I got to meet her for the first time after 6 years. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011


I have been using a Reliance mobile connection since 2004! I was the last one to get a mobile in our home having postponed the inevitable as much as I could.

My husband keenly promoted Reliance as he believes, till today, that they have the best network. My parents and sisters live in Chennai and Reliance appeared to have the best offer for STD calls at that point in time.

All these reasons convinced me to go for Reliance service provider despite there being very less choice of instruments for a CDMA connection.

After 7 years and 3 instruments – all extremely mediocre and purchased only at Reliance outlets – I have finally changed my way of life.


I had been postponing the purchase of a new mobile as it was never a pleasure to purchase stupid ones from the Reliance counter while such lovely ones were available all over town. While both my kids (staunch promoters of Vodafone) kept purchasing latest models, my husband and I just continued to foot their bills.

About 8 months ago, Reliance gave me a free SIM card with a new number – because I was a big customer (my monthly bill ran to about 1500 rupees). Unfortunately, they could not transfer my CDMA number to GSM at that point. Luckily for me, I kept the deal on hold and stuck to my old phone.

A couple of weeks ago, I told myself that it was high time that I got rid of my horrible mobile instrument and was keen to convert to GSM. The moment I mentioned this, my son told me to go for a Samsung Corby Plus. I checked at the local mobile showroom and the internet and liked it too.

The very next day, Venkat purchased the instrument and handed it to me in the form of a pre-birthday (5 months to go yet ;)) gift.

Now, all I had to do was to get a SIM. With so many ‘IDEA’s flying around, I went to the local Reliance showroom to enquire about converting my CDMA number to GSM.

I had to wait at the counter for 25 minutes while there was just the one customer in front of me. The woman in charge was so distracted – she spoke to the people on her left and right and just could not concentrate on her work. No wonder it took her so long to complete the transaction. This is not the first time I have faced this at Reliance. It seriously makes me wonder today why I have put up with this all these years.

I went ahead and asked her about transferring my CDMA. She told me that it would be cheaper for me to get a new connection. When asked ‘how?’ she told me that I would have to pay 250 rupees extra for conversion while a new number will come free of cost. Some service!!!!!!!!!!!

I told her clearly that that would be cheaper than informing my 422 connections that my number had changed. You should have seen her face to believe the stupid expression on it. They have been trained to think CHEAP!

She told me to come two days later as there was no stock of forms. It was a Monday. I asked her whether I should come on Wednesday. She told me that Thursday would be better and not to hurry as she had so many forms to complete and they would take a long time!!!!!!!!!!

I told her that I needed a GSM in a hurry. She laughed and told me “that will not be possible. You come with the required documents and photo and we will get the form filled. Then it will take a minimum of 10 days for the GSM connection to be established.” This was a transfer from Reliance to Reliance. Amazing! This was told to me, a customer for a little more than seven years. I am already their customer and they still wanted proof of identity.

My husband told me that in these days of ‘portability’ it should not take too long and I should talk to Reliance again. I did not want to go there before Thursday as I was not too keen to wait in line for 40 minutes and receive stupid replies.

On Thursday, I walked into Vodafone at Sion. The security asked me my name, mobile number, purpose of visit and gave me a docket number. I was called to a counter within 5 minutes – no exaggeration. The man at the counter took my passport, Reliance bill and photo, made necessary copies, filled in some forms himself, took my signatures and told me to pay Rs. 369 at the cash counter – all in 10 minutes. I paid the money in another ten minutes and voila! got the SIM card in my hand. They told me that the ‘portability’ will happen in 7 days – “sorry ma’m, we cannot promise before that as it takes that long” was what he told me.

The next Wednesday night, at 12 midnight, my new SIM started working.

“Mr. Anil Ambani, do wake up and smell the coffee.Your company thought to control the mobile instrument market by creating CDMA, but then you did not think of making quality stuff. That’s probably because you were catering to the poor. Bad thinking in my opinion! Pretty short-sighted! And the service provided by your Sion counters (in the plural) is nothing short of terrible. It will not be long before my husband’s number also gets exported."