Walking in the rains…

I know, I know Mumbai rains are to die for! Everyone gushes about the lovely weather Mumbaiites get to enjoy during the monsoon. It is a huge respite from the sweltering heat and everyone looks forward to it with great pleasure. But things are changing and it is never like it used to be. The very fact that the infrastructure in Mumbai is falling apart doesn’t help the Mumbaikar in a great way. I have never found the rains, especially in Mumbai, to be an ear shrieking, jumping -with-joy affair. Definitely not after being stuck up in one of the biggest floods some years back. This is definitely not how I envision the rainy season: Walking in the rains

 This happens only in the movies!

All I can think of is this:

Rain-in-mumbai

When I was a kid, I hated the umbrella because it never served the purpose. I would trundle to school with a mighty umbrella so that I do not get drenched. The queue system in school ensured that the kids learn how to behave and wait patiently till the bell rings. However, the kid behind me would make sure that the raindrops trailing off his / her umbrella dripped right on to my head or my uniform’s sleeve. A fight would ensue and everyone tried their best to avoid each other’s umbrella. How I hated that!! Sitting all drenched in the classroom with four or five students packed on a bench was never fun. Ugh!

The uber cool rain boots (sigh) were even more pathetic. First, there were not much of color choices and designs to choose from like the ones we have today. There used to be solid colors like black or pink and I preferred black, don’t know why. The boots were high enough to make sure that my tiny nubile feet stay protected from the muddy waters. But alas, this never lasted for long.  The rains would fall in every angular direction and thus gain entry into my precious boots and I would cringe. The funny sound it made would guarantee giggles as soon as I entered the classroom. Not very lovely memories of the rain…

As time passed by, I got better equipped to tackle the rains. Travelling by local trains during the monsoon is no small feat. The worst part would be to stand still, patiently, in the crowded trains while getting doused with holy rain water or getting hit in the guts with a phoren-made umbrella. Young college girls with long ferrule umbrellas resembling walking sticks don’t make life easier. And the never-ending fights in the famed Mumbai locals add spice to the damp weather.

But sometimes I do feel like walking in the rains when the weather looks pleasant. I have tried that, really, only to be doused by muddy waters from passing vehicles. The large potholes on the roads filled with yuck do not fit well in the romantic monsoon scene. The gait which I adopt during the rains resembles a child walking on a tight rope. I have heard of so many incidents where people have fallen into open manholes because someone stole the manhole covers for hard cash…Oops! So much for walking in the rains.

Apart from the occasional waterfalls, treks and hikes which people love to go for, there is nothing awe striking about the rains in Mumbai. The hardships which one has to deal with almost wipes off any pleasure the rain has to offer.  I know many of us really love the monsoon and eagerly await this part of the year. We Mumbaiites are blessed with ample rainfall and should definitely make the best of it, but pray, tell me, can I ever get the pleasure of walking in the rain, without a hoot to care about…

Englishisms- Learning from scratch

Ignorance cannot be bliss all the time. Today when I was surfing the net, I came across a question which set my brain cells ticking! The question went thus, “What to call that groove above your lip?” And I found myself scratching my head! I wondered why it never occurred to me before.  To satiate my inquisitiveness, I decided to Google it! (Who else!) And lo, I just tumbled on to an entire list which answered such seemingly simple questions for which no one had the answer!back to school

To say the least, I was thrilled to learn the new words and was nodding all the way, because the questions were so familiar and related to our daily routine in some way or the other. At times, we tend to ignore the minute things, wherein lies the greatest details.

So here is the list from Webster dictionary for you to enjoy. I am sure you will be amazed!

Aglet : the tag covering the ends of a lace or point

Armsaye : the armhole in clothing.

Escutcheon: a protective or ornamental plate around a keyhole

Ferrule :  the knob on the far end of an umbrella

Keeper : the loop on a belt that keeps the end in place after it has passed through the buckle

Lemniscate : the infinity symbol (I learnt this in my Math books !)

Liripipe: the long tail on a graduate’s academic hood

Lunule : the whitish mark at the base of a fingernail

Minimus : the little finger or toe

Philtrum : that vertical groove above your lip

Punt : an indentation at the bottom of a molded glass bottle

Tittle : the dot over i or j    (My English teacher never told me this ! )

Tongue: a movable pin in a buckle that passes through a hole in the strap to be secured

Vamp:  the part of a shoe or boot that covers the front of the foot

That was some real enlightenment and I am glad I got to learn some new words, although i would never address a shoe as ‘vamp’ ! :)

Excuses You Can Use!

Excuses…..one thing which we all cannot live without.  How many times have you tried one to escape a excusesbothering aunt, a nagging friend, the call center guy and a million others getting on your nerves?  Well, it is the best possible way to get away without hurting someone!

So, here are some golden excuses which are used or ‘abused’ quite often:

I am busy—– Practically for anything!! You just have to bang the phone after saying this to prove it!

I am not well——Second most abused excuse after the first one, most probably to get a day off from work to attend an interview

Can you call me at say, 6 in the evening?—-To avoid a call center guy trying to sell a credit card, hoping that he would forget to call back, but bingo! He calls you again L

I have plans, sorry— To a clingy friend who is asking you out for a coffee

My friend had an accident and I have to rush—–Mostly to your mom, when you have to go out with friends on a weekend

I have lots to study —- Very handy, when you are being forced to attend a relative’s wedding

Will call you-——-While signing off after chatting with a friend (I seriously do not know why people say this when they are not going to call, in reality)

Hey, I think am getting another call, will call you back——- (In case your friend /relative are not in a mood to hang up. And yes, the call back never happens :) )

I am stressed out-——– A common excuse for smoking!

I am so tired today -—– Used often for missed gym sessions or morning walks ( I use this quite a number of times)

My watch stopped working—— On coming late to work

I am on my way already——- For a friend who is waiting on us ( but the fact is, you are still fumbling for the house keys :) )

My teeth feel so clean——– A perfect excuse for not brushing the teeth at night!

Chocolate is good for your heart——– Agreed, but that doesn’t mean swallowing an entire bar at a go.

From the above list of excuses, honestly, I have used most of them at some point of time. But then, who wouldn’t, if you are asked to attend a boring wedding ceremony when,you can while away your time with your girlie gang instead :) and I am sure most of us can identify with the above mentioned excuses( I am feeling better already :) )

Do you have any of your own ? :)

A ‘Begging’ Issue

Begging in India

Mumbai is known for many things, one being, home to the biggest slum in Asia.  Beggars are a daily sight in Mumbai, be it at the bus stand, at the temple doorsteps (that’s their favorite spot), railway stations, traffic signals and so on. Basically, they are a part of Mumbai & Mumbaikars have learnt to deal with it somehow. It’s heartbreaking to see kids begging on the streets so that their families can have a day’s meal. However, there is a difference between asking for alms and forcing someone to shell out a dime!!

Lately, I have noticed a bunch of vagrants on my way home. A mother along with 5 kids, accompanied by one more woman, are a daily sight at the traffic signal. The kids are all aged around 4- 5 years and one is a toddler , merely a year old. Since the traffic signal is near a big shopping mall, this is an ideal spot for them to earn their bread. Especially,during the evenings when the mall is teeming with people. The mother along with the other woman usually rests under a tree ( yea, there is still some green cover left in Mumbai :) ) while the children are always kept on their toes! Every time a rickshaw stops in front of the mall, the alert children harass the passenger for a rupee or two. The kids usually target young girls , college going kids & foreigners since they are an easy target and end up paying instead of shooing them away.

I saw one of the kids pestering a girl for money and when she didn’t yield to his requests he simply asked her for an ice cream and called on his siblings !! The girl literally ran for her life. This tactic works very well at times and the kids end up earning a ten rupee note right away. There was an article in a daily about a leading Bollywood actor being harassed by a beggar on a crowded street in Mumbai. This actor was in his car when all of a sudden a beggar landed in front of his car, yelling and blaming the actor for the so-called ‘accident’. It was later revealed that the beggar was just trying to make some quick money, knowing a fact that people would obviously sympathize with him! How smart!

This has turned into a big nuisance and people end up paying not out of sympathy but due to sheer frustration and irritation. I wonder, why don’t these women  do some house hold chores to earn their livelihood! I can understand if they disabled , but no, they are perfectly alright. Instead of giving the kids their due, they prefer to sit idly and let the kids suffer!! Is it because its easy money or are they plain, lazy?

Switch Off Your TV

Have you heard of the ‘No TV Day” initiated by a leading newspaper in Mumbai? I think it’s an amazing concept to just unplug your idiot box for a whole day. Can you imagine a day without your favorite pancake laden soap queen or the over the top, dramatized so- called reality shows? I know there are many around here who just cannot survive without this daily dose of distraction.

When this news got around, the residents of my building complex decided to give it a shot.  As such we never miss an occasion and greatly believe in the saying “Unity in Diversity”, although many of us see  it as plain “show off” :)  Anyways, so to force people out of their homes on a Saturday morning, we have day long activities like debate, sports, competitions for kids and elders alike and so on.  It promises a day full of nonstop entertainment along with a cash prize for the winner. How exciting!

Gone are the days when there were a handful of TV channels with creative content! Today we have around 30- 40 news channels (there may be more) all doling out the most ridiculous and the silliest of “Breaking News”.  News channels have gone worse than the nausea inducing daily soaps. Somehow, television has killed the thinking ability of the common man. Children sit glued to their TV sets instead .When I was a kid I would wait for the evenings so that I could go and play a game of badminton with my friends or indulge in my hobby. It was so refreshing and fun. With computer games and other forms of entertainment, outdoor activities have reduced greatly.

The “No TV day” on 29th Jan 2011, is a great way to shun the couch, soak in some competitive spirit and get moving, Mumbai!