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September 24, 2011

'ADRIFT A Junket Junkie In Europe'---Book Review

Title: ADRIFT-A Junket Junkie In Europe

Author: Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu
To know more about the author, you can visit her website---www.cuttingloose.in

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd

Price: Rs 150/-

Genra: Non Fiction
When I first heard that Puneetinder Sidhu's ADRIFT was up for grabs, I was curious to give it a try.
Being someone who loves traveling, I was looking forward to reading this book since some time now.
Besides, reviewing a travel book was a sphere I hadn't quite tread upon before and the fact that this one was by one of 'Hindustan Times' former food and travel columnist, only added to my curiosity.

Arm chair travel across the whole of Europe sounded like fun. But there was this risk of getting bored, which I must mention, was instantly nullified on getting the book in my hands.

The first striking feature about the book is its attractive cover page.
The second is its size, though on reaching the end, you can't help wishing for more.
This 100 page summary of an entire continent is written with such zeal and high spirit, that the enthusiasm and passion for travel is almost infectious.
Also the organised nature of the book is reflected at the very start itself by a 'sneak peek' index which carries in it glimpses of what lies ahead (in the pages to come, of course).

The opening chapter has the Chandigarh based author Puneeta Kaur SIdhu, telling us about her impromptu summer vacation to Europe (thanks to the strategically located Punjabi diaspora and good contacts).
Some of the 'Nine cardinal rule's that she decides in flight might feel a little too strict and make the reader wonder if the trip would have ended up being more adventurous, had she gone a little easy on them.
But then again, it's her trip...her rules.
Who are we to complain, eh?

During her stay in Germany, she learns a few words that add to our limited German vocabulary---Prost, Bitte and not to forget Schizer (which made me laugh as I promised myself I would put to good use some day)
She gets invited to an hitherto unheard of 'Goa' party---something which made me want to breeze through all the lines in between until I got to that part (out of sheer curiosity). The description of this party makes one imagine what it must be like to witness such a gala event---Indophiles recreating an 'India' in the German country side.
She also speaks about 'Mitfarhzentrale' a car pooling service encouraged by the state to conserve energy.

While in Swedon and Denmark, she speaks about her visit to Hylinge, a quaint village--a short drive from Helsingborg, where she gets a chance to eat one of the most delectable part of the Swedish dining cuisine---reindeer meat and then, Balting herring.
"Even durian would come out smelling of roses in comparison" she says---a line which made me flinch as I remembered how I had rushed off for fresh air despite being metres away from the tropical fruit at a local supermarket during my trip to Malaysia.
Besides, I have to mention about the ultra baffling moment in the book where I was enlightened that 'Rudolph' the red nosed reindeer of the much known carol singing fame was actually a 'SHE'.
Thanks Puneeta, for clearing my concepts...phew!

The visit to Torekov (a fishing haven) and the stay at 'Adrid' make you feel a strange pull towards this place---which made me reconsider Sweden as a holiday destination.

While Puneetinder juggles between the work of Vincent Van Gogh and the life of Anne Frank, she also gets an opportunity to see a real wind mill and window shop in a red light district.
Her trip to Amsterdam is piled with a lot of alarming and exciting anecdotes which work their way to arouse the interest of the reader and make it more interesting than just any normal travelogue.
So is her stay in Austria.

Visiting fairy tale castles in alpine havens, her Hungarian rhapsody is filled with adventure as she explores her way to Budapest and Lake Balaton.

The chapters on France and Britain brought along with them, a Deja Vu kinda feeling---Hampsted Heath, Notting Hill Carnival, Billy Conelly and not to forget the wine consumption and silly 'high' that kicked in thereafter, at Paris---swept me in nostalgia of a trip not such a long while ago, and made me put down the finished book, lost in memories of my own.

Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu has succeeded in captivating the readers interest until the last page.
The easy flow of language and wit makes it an interesting read.But if you think the 100 pages booklet is something you can read in half an hour, you'd be mistaken.This is one read you would want to read at leisure and soak in the informative yet lively banter, all through the way.

Her travel stories leave you smiling in places, while some parts compel a strong urge to make mental notes in preparation for your next holiday.
Pictures speak a thousand words, they say---the photographs in the book were an additional highlight.
I also liked her style of combining humor, anecdotes and travel---which keeps the attention of the reader from wavering, a trait most travelogues otherwise possess.

As for complaints, I dont have any.
Reading a journey experience is like traveling with the writer and everyone has a unique style of traveling.
Judging or comparing styles is like being that unsatisfied pesky guest who tags along with you every leg of your journey sans personal expenses and still keeps gloating about how much fun he had during a previous one, instead of enjoying the moment.
As for me, I had tagged along an entire Europe trip with Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu, only to have enjoyed her fun-filled-energy-packed experience to the tee.

Having said that, I would suggest you to pick up this book the next time you visit your bookstore and give it a read.
For all travel enthusiasts, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Rating--3 out of 5 (in the category of travel and adventure)

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September 20, 2011

Life---an entirely different 'cinderella' story...


Pumpkins can never, not if the world depended on it, change into carriages...leave alone golden ones.
They are just big, plump vegetables that our moms would bargain with the vegetable vendor for, only to cook into the most disgusting concoctions which we were made to eat despite the ugly faces we made.
They would never serve any other purpose besides increasing our bowel movements and providing for important antioxidants and vitamin A.
But when we were told about the wave of the magic wand and the pumpkin turned coach, we BELIEVED!!!

And the mice?? The mice would NEVER turn into horses either, not even if they cross matched with another species.
It is just against the law of nature, you see. But then again, Biology was a subject we studied only in college.
'Magic' formed our childhood basis..and we BELIEVED!!!

And of course, life also taught us that the rat who turned into a coachman and lizards that were changed into footmen, was a whole lot of bull crap too.
Literally speaking, rats are just rodents which cause nothing but the plague and lizards, well...they are just ugly creatures which creep up our bedroom walls sticking out their dirty tongue at us---the suckers who were told the 'Cinderella' story and more importantly, who BELIEVED!!!
Metaphorically speaking, life taught us that the 'rats' and 'lizards' we met along the way would never change..no amount of magic could/can/will change them into something better---they stay just the same, forever 'rats' and forever 'lizards'.


Also, we learnt that there were no glass slippers being gifted to us---we would have to adjust to Manolo's and Jimmy Choo's (which would burn a hole in our own pocket) and yes, since they come in all sizes, we could not really rely on them for that 'exclusively ours' fairy tale end, either..sigh!

Yes, I agree it's a tad bit disappointing to know that the 'Prince' or perhaps the 'frog' you thought to be one, will never come running in an attempt to catch up with you, if you leave the ball like that. (That happens only in Yashraj movies and Dharma productions, nowadays.)

Rather, he might in all probability, get into an apparently (to your imagination only) compromised relationship with a beautiful and not-as-fussy unemotional girl he had met at the ball (before he saw you enter and was mesmerized by the light reflected by your glass slipper) convincing himself that 'time heals everything' and eventually you will see him happily grinning away in thousands of wedding pics posted all over his Facebook wall.

But time would heal that too..and soon enough one day, one extremely ugly picture (clicked and tagged by one of his jealous colleagues, when he apparently wasn't looking) is all that will take you to realise what a balding, pot bellied, spineless reptile he had always been.
So don't make a fuss. Life is like that.

Coming to the pumpkin turned coach, life managed to give us a harsh reality check on that too.
We learnt that we would have to manage all of it ourselves--be it a ball or your workplace, there will be traffic rules we'd have to follow.
There will be signals which will make us stop in the scorching heat and wait patiently till the light turns green.
There will be flat tires and petrol hikes, and needless to mention public transport strikes too, which will make us wish time and again for the pumpkin ride, we'd read about, as kids.

Shopping for designer labels make us feel better but only for a while.
Unlike the famous glass slipper, these wear out, go out of style and finally, we outgrow them.

and eventually we realised that there were no fairy god mothers, at least not one's without a selfish interest of their own---we had to work towards making our dreams come true, and of course leave some to luck and good faith.

Life is not just about ONE evening ball.So its not worth sulking if we cant make it to one such party.

Instead, we need to get out of the cinders, hang out with our friends and have a ball of a time as often as we can.
Its just one life and it does NOT allow us the luxury of being stuck on to one disappointment for too long.
Eat loads of ice creams and get over it, I say.
Keep low on the tantrums.
Break some rules, if you feel like it.
Do what makes you happy.
Sing, dance and please DO NOT depend on that shimmering gown and diamond studded crown to have a good time.

As for the prince, if someone needs to see us all decked up like that, to fall in love with us..then we might as well give it a second thought.
We are going to grow old and fat anyway--age is just a number, baby...a number which can change appearances but not the heart.
So if someone manages to fall for us in just a few hours of silent ballroom dancing---then we have something to worry about, don't we?
Compatibility is not judged on the basis of a few hours nor on good looks or financial status.
So ideally, we ought to go out there in our rags, our dusty slippers...our simple yet clean pair of jeans and a tee thrown on top---sans makeup and jewellery and see who we can relate to in mental wavelength, kind spirit and honest attitude, instead of letting a rich dude (who has the audacity to call for a beauty pagent to select a partner for life) pick us up like a piece of chinaware in an antique showroom.

All said and done, we got to be brave..take no shit from people (be it our seniors at work, relatives, boss, society) leave the 'cinders' that have us bound in shackles and go follow your heart.
Break free from the 'cinder' life and while you are at it, file a law suit and those bloody torturers who overload you with that inhuman amount of work. (to all you behind that computer screen, working your ass away, this one's for you)

Its a different thing that lady luck was always around in those 'once upon a time' days and i guess, a little bit of magic goes a long way to help an uneducated woman. Sadly only in fairy tales.
But life is not a Cinderella story, isn't it?

Now coming to the things I (and perhaps, even you) should learn from the story---
1) Patience and good temper---because she waited all those trying years...and did not burn herself or her evil step mother in the cinders instead.

2) Forgiveness---for she allowed her cruel step sisters to stay on, instead of banishing them from the kingdom or at least asking them to pay a small price for their cruelty (like gifting her the whole new collection of Jimmy Choo or Prada, as her wedding gift).
I mean, c'mon, I still think she let them go away easy.
But forgiveness is a virtue they say..sigh!

3) Last but not the least, hope---which she did not give up on, even after the party was over.
I mean, I dread to think what would have happened had she to throw away the other slipper in a fit of anger or frustration.that imbecile prince (who needed that as evidence to recognise his 'love') wouldn't have believed her anyway.

Yes, I agree that Cinderella was not quite the skeptic that i have turned out to be...blame it on her lack of exposure to the big bad outside world (C'mon, you cant blame the girl--she was locked in the cinders for like ever!) or dearth of common sense (How much can those twittering birds and doe eyed animals in the woods, teach you anyway?)

So yes, she did have a 'happily ever after' fairytale ending.

As for us, somewhere between fiction and reality, lies the truth---the truth we all know, yet refuse to see.

But we are happy for the moment. Yes, we are 'cool' like that! ;)

September 18, 2011

Confessions of a 'High Maintenence' woman...


I don't need a plush apartment,
in Manhatten or Times Square...
But I need you to be beside me,
to remind me that you care...
to tell me you think I'm beautiful,
even when I'm old and fat...
And mean every word that's said,
I'm 'High Maintenence' like that.

I'm not crazy about diamonds,
no gifts you'd need to buy,
But I ask of trust and honesty,
and a promise that you'd never lie...
No Gucci, Versace or Armani,
nor Poodle or Persian cat...
only love that lasts forever,
I'm 'High maintenence' like that...

I ask not a Porsche or Ferrari,
nor demand a foreign twirl,
But I might sulk and pout and brood all day,
if you flirt with another girl...
I may not always tell you,
the reason I'm feeling ignored,
or I may throw a childish tantrum,
assuming you are bored...
Ask not any questions then,
just tell me you love me so,
hold me close and calm me down,
please know I'm feeling low...
There'd be days like these I guarantee,
when you'd stare and wonder at,
this cranky woman you thought you knew,
I'm 'High Maintenence' like that.

For I don't need your money and riches,
to keep me feeling proud...
I just need to be beside you,
in life's ever so maddening crowd...
For these memories are timeless,
and love, a priceless affair,
So lets keep it worth remembering,
and precious for both to share...
Some days, I'd be all understanding,
at times, I'd play the 'brat'...
So please handle me with utmost care,
I'm 'High Maintenence' like that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Writer's Note: This poem is purely triggered off by a conversation I had with a friend today morning.
I, on the other hand, need to have my Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Cadillac, and of course, needless to mention, all the attention, trust, patience and time in the world.
So please DO NOT fall in love with me!

September 15, 2011

Stereotyping...tsk tsk!!!

I was just idling away, engaging in pointless banter, when a friend directed me to this link here.
Now, my first reaction was triggered off by the title of the post 'An open letter to a Delhi boy'. So the feminist in me was ecstatic---here was another of those 'Dear John letter' (only one more public) as a form of brainless entertainment to my otherwise mundane and boring day, or so I thought.

It was only moments later, that I realised that this girl here was missing the entire point---the 'Delhi boy' had mysteriously gone missing from the post and some mindless-girl insecurities seemed to be creeping up instead, bit by bit.

As I continued reading the post, the excitement turned into a strange kinda repulsion.
Here was this Chennai-born-Delhi-based (or whatever..don't sue me if I'm wrong, I couldn't care less about her exact lineage) girl thrashing away and generalizing all Delhi guys under the sun, just because somewhere down the line, apparently one (or few) of them managed to create that impression.
And wait, it didn't stop there. In came the families, the religious festivals, the physical attributes, the music idols, and whatever little of the Punjabi clan that was remaining.
Hmmm...clearly this girl had a problem...and it seemed like a pretty serious one to me!!

What was weirder was the reactions this post triggered off--while some comments were plain deleted, the ones that were not, seemed to be treading on the same line of foul language and insane temperament.
How typical, isn't it--our long-since-passed-over-the-ages Indian mentality of 'You scratch my back,  and I will try and stab your intestines out'.?

What particularly put me off this so called self declared 'MADrassan' was her exceptionally rotten and wilted flowery language.
While she spoke about Punjabi's being highly incorrect in their Grammar and accent, she was not exactly a role model herself. In fact, I would rather spend time with a person who mixes up genders in language than be with a foul mouth who apparently has mixed up values (low enough to talk disrespectfully about someone's mother/family) instead.

Shahana might have managed to make some fairly accurate points there about the bias some north Indians seem to show against people in the south. But the way she has put them across is not just utterly childish but really foolish too, and that makes me think twice about the intellect and maturity she claims to have, as part of her South Indian lineage. (I'm not going to commit the stupid folly of stereotyping like THE Shahana here, because I personally think that she could very well be an exception---perhaps just like the Delhi 'Sadak Chhap' she has come across who has inspired her to write off the whole Punjabi community.

Hmmm...OK. Now I need to turn the table around for a while, because frankly I've been looking at every corner of it and am clearly not impressed with not just the 'diners' but the 'table' itself in all its entirity.

But to my surprise, this piece which should have made it to the thrash can, has made it to almost every single Facebook wall, google status and website (of course not exactly in the way, Shahana might have wanted it to..but like a friend rightly put it---'I guess even cheap publicity is publicity enough for some.'
We are happy for you, journalist girl!

However, I cannot help but wonder why you changed your display name to 'Broken Morning' and removed off your display pic minutes after this revolution that you managed to stir?
Was it a shocking life-changing surge of modesty, or an expected lack of guts...or wait a min, have you fled the country??
Surprise us, will you? Take responsibility for your words, and call a press conference. We live in cloud-cuckoo-land---we believe in change of hearts, you know, unlike your Texas-chain-saw-massacre attitude.

What kinda surprised me a little was that this uproar created by this Ms Never-heard-before-journalist-turned-blogger, managed to infuriate many a North Indians..and to some extent this 'Ms Shahana'  has succeeded in creating a wave of hatred in the minds of every Punjabi around.

Just one question to you---why?

Why do you care about something you know is not true?

I have stayed in Goa, almost all my life..and I do agree when people act all smart-ass and place you in a stereotyped bracket, it hurts..it infuriates..it angers. I have personally stopped myself from going and assaulting many a people for their bias---in much a "Forgive them, Lord..for they do not know what they are saying," kind of way.

I have heard Delhi'ites and Chennai'tes alike, those who have never even once visited this place, speak about Goa being this small town that time and technology forgot. And no amount of explaining can shake their vision of it being anything more than just the land of skimpily clad girls frolicking on beaches, cheap alcohol, Cocaine trade and Konkani slang.
All I'd say is 'As the bell clings, the fool thinks'.

Seriously, you people should learn from us Goans.
We allow people to think what they want to..to believe what they want to...
Why? because we couldn't care less!
If some pig headed tourist (be it a Northie or a Southie) believes that Goa is the 'Las Vegas' of India and wants to die boozing and doping around here, we allow him to. Because in heart of heart, we know that the truth is that Goa (like every other place/region/state) is made up of TWO diametrically opposite sides, and the one you choose to believe just shows us the one you favor to live with.
The definition of good, bad and ugly changes from person to person.

What I'm trying to drive home here, is that it does not depend on the region, religion or family lineage.
It depends on your mind set.
That is why we get to see journalists and other so called 'intellectual' people still stoop down and bad mouth when given a chance.
Speaking of mind set, this is not about taking sides..not at all.
In fact, later in the day, I was directed to another post by Chintan Gupta, a fellow blogger here, who decided to give the self-declared 'mad'rasan a piece of his upset mind.
And what did she do?? write an equally abusive post in an attempt to get even...sigh!

I am not surprised..no!
Disgusted? yes!

I must admit I might be all game for this battle of Gaali Galoch (though I'd still prefer wit and sarcasm any day..but if you insist too hard, I can slash you to pieces too), had this been a personal affair.
In fact, I am not someone who can take a foul word against me, without ripping the other person to shreds, be it physically or mentally.

But in matters like these, when the family values and self respect of the whole nation is at stake, dont you think it is better to stay level headed?

Coming to level-headedness, where exactly is the audience supposed to go, in these kinda debates?
the silent readers who are confused whom to side, since they have had no personal experience either ways? the staunch loyalists (of course for their part of the country only) who seek opportunities like these to voice their spineless and equally baseless opinions? and needless to forget, the trying-hard-to-stay-level-headed ones who are provoked to leave their brains behind and go straight for the kill...blindfolded!?

Well, there is an answer to everything---the Southies support the Southies, and the Northies, follow the Northies..simple, isn't it? NOT!!!

If the reader response is based on cultural divides and regional differences, then how short of a 'Jihaad' are you? Think about it.

This whole 'Uttar Dakshin' fiasco reminds me of a famous dialogue from a movie I'd watched not such a long time back
"Iss desh mein do bharat baste hai..." The only difference is, this time it's not about reservations.

In fact, it is an issue much more serious than that.

Stereotyping is for the weak, by the weak, and of the weak.
For heaven's sake, get over these petty differences.

It is high time we moved beyond the 'North' and 'South' of things...

September 14, 2011

Cyptic thoughts # 34

Sometimes, leaving someone alone is the best thing we can do to make them feel better.

Sometimes, no amount of concern or care can help heal a breaking heart.
Sometimes, no matter however much we try, some issues cannot be fixed.

Everyone needs some time on their own---time to recuperate, time to recover, time to introspect, to heal, to breathe...and nothing you do can speed up the proces for them.

Even the best of friendships are put to test under stressful situations, and no amount of 'wanting' to help actually helps.
Sometimes we just got to realise this and leave before we are told to leave.
We got to be around for those who matter, only when they want us to be around.

...because sometimes, only 'space' is therapy.

September 06, 2011

The 'Truth & dare' tag...


I was dared into taking up this tag, by a friend and fellow blogger.



And I thought, after all these years of being around, perhaps I owe my readers that much...

So go ahead---what would you like to know?

Now for the tagging part *evil laugh*
(The writer can choose to answer/ignore questions depending on his/her own choice.and both sides should remember to maintain the spirit of the game.)

Soooooooooo *rubbing hands with glee* I hereby tag---
---Blasphemous aesthete
---SUB
---Vyankatesh
---Mayank
---Priyadashini joyce
---Scribbling girl
---Pankaj verma
and last but not the least, whoever wants to take this up.

cheers! :)

September 04, 2011

Cryptic thoughts #33

Innocent faces sometimes prove out to be wearing the most treacherous masks.



Some people wear disguises to hide their pain and some to conceal their dark soul.
Either way, when the masks come off, I'm always left feeling a little 'less' alive.

If only these masquerade parties would come with a prior invite, instead of being an unexpected on-the-spot show that they normally are.
That way, at least I would have the option of not showing up to witness the event.