Feb 28, 2011

Steven Davies - attaboy!

The first time I saw him on television, he looked an attractive player and a suitable, if not better, replacement for Matt Prior. This was during the English winter and the Australian summer, during the just-concluded, vastly entertaining Ashes seried down under. I was actually disappointed when I heard that Prior was given the nod ahead of him the World Cup squad.

In the second week of the World Cup, he has made me proud. He has made all of us proud! Steven Davies has officially come out of the closet, and by doing so has become the first professional cricketer to come out of the closet. This is simply wonderful news for everyone - most importantly for him.

Sinc yesterday, there were dozens of news stories about him. But the most moving one was the one where he detailed how distressing it was to remain in the closet while playing for his teams (England, Surrey, and in the future, surely an IPL franchise). 'A tour of two weeks felt like two years', he said. Initially, he came out to the England coach Andy Flower about this who had a long discussion with him and they both decided that the team needs to know this.

When they collectively announced this to the team, the response was even more heartwarming. Matt Prior apparently gave him a nice hug and asked him why he had kept this to himself all this time! The others must have had poignant responses too. This news comes right at the heel of the news story of James Anderson, the Enlgish pace bowling spearhead and a straight, married man with kids, agreeing to model for a gay magazine photoshoot.

Both the stories speak volumes about the acceptance of of homosexuality as a social variant rfather than an abberant in the English cricket team, and more widely in the UK and in Europe. Indeed, many European countries have made gay civil unions legal and some others like Portugal and Spain have made gay marriages legal.

There are lessons in this. First, being out of the closet is the ideal, for the gay guy and his friends and family. Second, the society and the state, as and when i starts accepting homosexuals as individuals with equal legal rights, make it easier for celebrities and sportsmen to come out of their closet. I hope everyone takes home a message from this story and a glorious path is paved toward more people coming out!

Besides, who wouldn't want a bunch of Indian hotties like Zak and Virat (from the Indian) team coming out of the closet? ,-)

Here are some wonderful links on the story:

Feb 27, 2011

The Rock's back

This weekend, I spent most of my time watching sport and sports entertainment of television. My excuse was that I was recovering from a brutal week which reminded me of my days during internship and residency. I still remember a 108-hour shift that I had taken during my internship - I was so tired that I fell asleep by the side of patient of snake poisoning! My present non-medical life lacks stories of such superhuman effort. :-(

The highlight of the weekend, hence, was the coming back to WWE of the one and only Rock (Dwayne Johnson). It seemed that WWE was running out of ideas to come up with interesting stories and personalities. All the 'faces' were too juvenile (John Cena and Rey Mysterio for example) and all the 'heels' were incredibly annoying (The Miz and Cody Rhodes).

Vince McMahon, I think, did a careful analysis of the present scene. There were no 'faces' who were brash, arrogant, charismatic like to good old days featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin and the DX. He must have looked back at the roster to see if anything could bring him back the audience which love blatant cockiness that such superstars bring to the table. He must have found the Rock, the one guy which combines all of those missing elements and adds an amazing mic-presence and sense of humor to them.

I'm not going into a cliché here, but Rock did arrive and conquer the WWE universe in all but a 15-minute presence in the ring where he narrated everything that was going wrong with the WWE and how he's going to change them come Wrestlemania XXVII. This has reignited my interest in watching professional wrestling again - if the stories/plots aren't good enough, at least you can hear one of most flamboyant superstars make fun of everything under the sun!

On behalf of all fans of professional wrestling, welcome back Rock! We missed you!

Feb 26, 2011

A busy Friday

Yesterday, I played my first gig with Overhung at Inorbit Mall (Malad-W) as part of 'Uninor Rush of Blood' - a blood donation drive with live music featuring about 15 bands from Mumbai. This was probably the first time that I'm performing for such a noble cause. We just got to play for 20 minutes. But before we got on stage, the guitarist and I donated blood. And then we had a blast on stage.
There was an added advantage to this donation - you get yourself checked for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. It's been awhile since I did those tests and I expect to get a call from them if I'm positive for any of that. I hope I don't get an anonymous call in the first couple of days next week informing that I'm positive for any of those.

A lot of friends of mine were playing alongside us. But I only got to watch a couple of bands that played before us and the band that followed us. The reason was that I needed to head to Juhu for a dinner date with a South African. That turned out to be interesting with a wonderful conversation over some South East Asian food with some scotch and beer.

Although I enjoy such dates, I'm not sure if I can afford to spend so much on dates and parties anymore. That's the problem with leaving a potentially lucrative surgical career and chasing hollow dreams in music. This thought have been pushed into my head by a man that I met on a SilverDaddies.com who insists that I return to my surgical career instead of wasting my life if I need to live my dream of having kids.

He might be right, but I'm not sure if I should give up on my career in music which gives me so much pleasure and satisfaction. I need to enjoy my life to the fullest as well, shouldn't I?

Feb 25, 2011

Directions to the TV9 office

This is a google map view showing the road route to reach MIDC area close to the TV9 office. If you need any help in locating the office, please call on the following number.

9820521108

Finalized plan for the protest against TV9

(Details courtesy Pallav Patankar)

ACTIVITY PLAN

Address:
TV9 Media Maharashtra Pvt.Ltd.
110, Silver House, 13th cross road, MIDC, Andheri East
Mumbai, India
Time : 5.30 pm -8.00 pm

Activity:
We can start individually/in groups to TV 9 offices from 5.30 pm onwards. Pallav , Sonal , Vivek Anand , Gautam Yadav (others welcome) will carry letters of protest to TV9 at 5.30 pm. We will present ourselves at the reception desk and politely ask for the higher most authority present in the office. If we are successful in meeting him/her , we will handover the letters of protest. Currently the letters issued will be from QAM, HST, INFOSEM mentioning the shameful act of TV9 Telegu. We will hand over white flowers to the official. All those who wish to protest can come with a letter and white flowers (of any sort) and present their letters at the reception.

Each one can can ask for the highest ranking official in TV9 present and give their letters of protest. The higher the number of protests and protest letters the better.

Code Of Conduct:

1. There shall be no violence , aggression or bad language used in TV9 offices.
2. Please be appropriately dressed.
3. Conduct should be graceful and explanation as to why we are protesting should be given.
4. Each group that enters can decide if they wish to take other TV crews along while registering the protest.
5. Post depositing our letters at the reception desk we can continue to congregate outside the premises and display banners, as well as sing the song “Aaaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charchey har jabaan par “(we sang this on 2nd July Azaad Maidan)

Feb 24, 2011

Planet Romeo's release supporting the community

(*Content courtesy PlanetRomeo.com*)

23 Feb: Homophobic news on TV9 in India

Today we were informed about a homophobic news report on TV9. We are deeply concerned and quite shocked that such a report was broadcast. In our view it was sensationalist and showed a flagrant disregard for privacy and basic human rights. Yes, being able to live freely as gay, bisexual or transgender IS a human right! *

In the light of this report, we completely understand that you might be concerned for your own personal security and privacy. Security on dating and social networking platforms is always a concern. For that reason we have published this helpful safety information.

In all honesty, we don't have any direct power to stop such disgusting acts of journalism. But we want to let you know that we are with you, and that we have had direct experience of similar situations ourselves in the context of European gay movements. Sadly, legislation doesn't mean automatic acceptance by stupid TV reporters :-/

Let's keep fighting for our rights! 
Your PlanetRomeo Team

*23.02: TV9 पर भारत में होमोफोबिक समाचार*

*हम आज TV9 पर एक होमोफोबिक समाचार रिपोर्ट के बारे में सूचित किया गया. हम इस रिपोर्ट काफी सेचिंतित और हैरान हैं. हमारी राय में रिपोर्ट को सनसनीखेज़ बनाया गया है और एक ज्वलंत गोपनीयता और बुनियादी मानव अधिकारों को रिपोर्ट में अनदेखा किया गया है. जी हाँ, हम चाहे समलैंगिक हो, उभयलिंगी हो, या फिर किन्हर हो हम सभी को अपने स्वतंत्र रूप से अपनी ज़िन्दगी जीने एक का मानव अधिकार है!*

हम समझते हैं कि आप अपने स्वयं के सुरक्षा और गोपनीयता को लेकर चिंतित है. सुरक्षा डेटिंग और सामाजिक नेटवर्किंग प्लेटफार्मों पर हमेशा एक चिंता का विषय है. इसी कारण है से हमने इस सहायक सुरक्षा जानकारी प्रकाशि की  है.

पूरी ईमानदारी से हमें कहना पढ़ा रहा है की, हमारे पास इस प्रकार की ताकत नहीं है हम ऐसी घिनौनि रिपोर्ट्स को प्रकाशित होने से रोक सके. लेकिन हम आपको यह बताना चाहता हूँ कि हम आपके साथ हैं. हम खुद यूरोपीय समलैंगिक गतिविधियों के संदर्भ में अपने आप को कुछ ऐसे ही पारीस्थितियों का किया अनुभव है.

अफसोस की बात है, लेकिन कानून हमे बेवकूफ टीवी पत्रकारों से मान्यता प्राप्त नहीं करता.

हमें अपने अधिकारों की लड़ाई योग्य रखना है! आपकी PlanetRomeo टीम

Peaceful protest against TV9 Hyderabad

This is a "copy-paste" of the details of the protest against TV9 from an LGBT mailing list. Credits go to Sibi Mathen.
TV9's slanderous and malicious story of gaymen of Hyderabad and Planet Romeo is a wake up call for the LGBTI community to make sure we don't let the media or any individual invade on our personal rights for dignity and privacy

Join us for a PEACEFUL protest at TV9 Maharashtra's office. Join us in huge numbers with banners, protest letters(to be given to the channel) and flowers (with a get well soon message)....no screaming, no violence, no Naarebaazi!!

Time : 7pm 5.30 to 8 pm

Date : Friday, 25th Feb 2011

Location : TV9 Media Maharashtra Pvt. Ltd.
110, Silver House, 13th cross road MIDC, Andheri East Mumbai - 400 093

Please be there on time. For any queries (directions etc) call 9820521108.

Send us your mails on unitedagainsttv9@gmail.com.

Please pass on this message to friends, even if you can't make it, and help spread the word around.

Feb 23, 2011

TV9 Hyderabad's evil exposé

Yesterday, TV9 Hyderabad's YouTube channel uploaded a video of a slanderouos, maligned news story titled "Gay culture rampant in Hyderabad." Apparently, undercover reporters from TV9 went to a gay party and covered it. They also created a fake profile on PlanetRomeo.com and called some of its users and recorded the conversations that they had with them. These were used along with private pictures of users on PlanetRomeo.

The LGBT community in India has united and has condemned these actions by the TV channel. The YouTube video has been flagged and YouTube has taken in down, and although I'm sure that this video will be uploaded at other locations soon, it is a positive step in protesting against the channel which has invaded the privacy of innocent people. The latest on the news story is that one student who was exposed in the news story has committed suicide. I don't have any official confirmation for the same.

Apparently, as a knee-jerk reactions, hundreds of members of PlanetRomeo have deleted/moved profiles and taken off their photos from the site. LGBT community members in Mumbai are planning a peaceful protest at the TV9 office in Mumbai on Friday. This will be against the ridiculous story run by the TV9 Telugu division. The details will be posted soon.

Please help the community in protesting against this serious issue of invasion of privacy. Thank you!

What you can do:
  • Flag video/copies of the story online
  • Write to the TV channel
  • Express solidarity to our friends from Hyderabad
    • By talking about this on various social media platforms
    • By changing your FaceBook profile picture to a picture which displays protest to TV9
    • By changing your Planet Romeo profile to "Hyderabad" and post your pictures on it
  • Join the community in our peaceful protest against TV9 on Friday evening at TV9's office (Details on my next post)
Please do as much as you can. Let this be a movement to prevent such stupid journalism from raising its head again.

Feb 22, 2011

A strange plea for help

A week back, I got this message from a friend of mine. It's about a friend (woman) of his who's finding it hard to come to term with her sexuality and sexual orientation. I'm pasting the contents of the message below.
"i know a very nice, homely, cool girl who is also highly qualified. She likes rock and roll and is a vocalist. she's 24. she's frigid...unable to have sex. family pressure to get married is mounting to a point where she might just decide to end it all. i think you understand better what a fragile situation this is...this is worse than rape.

She wants to meet guys who are gay, but have similar pressures on them to settle down "with a girl". This way she can be helped...and someone from the male gay community can also breathe easy.

I'm all for the "coming out of the closet" thing. But Kris i also know that there must be people out there who are struggling with gaining acceptance towards their sexuality. Maybe we can help 2 people...

i have seen her state, man. imagine what she'll have to go through...it bought tears to my eyes...she is a very caring and loving person..."
I don't know what to tell my friend. Should I talk to his friend, the woman? Should I suggest that she speak to some counsellor? Maybe someone at Humsafar trust? Do you think she can find someone gay who'll agree to forge a 'marriage of convenience' with her? Is that the right step?

Feb 21, 2011

To be able to survive

This is another FB poem that is shaping up as we speak.

I don't know if I will be able to survive | There are so many things from which to hide |

I don't know if I will be able to survive | There are so many things that I have left by the side |

I don't know if I will be able to survive | There are so many people to be beside |

I don't know if I will be able to survive | There is so much to do, and no one by my side |

I don't know if I will be able to survive | Missing you so much, and you are not by my side |

I don't know if I will be able to survive | With the foreignness of the truth about which I lied |

Feb 20, 2011

A friend I'll never forget

This is another song that I have just started writing. The last two lines of the first verse have been contributed by Vinokur. Both this and the song below have been inspired by status messages on FaceBook. FaceBook statuses aren't that bad after all.
‘What will you do tomorrow - write a song about me?’
I had said yes, but I haven’t yet
The words will come and the song will be
An ode to a friend that I’ll never forget

What I did today was to think about him
To reminisce the wonderful moments spent
And the words came along and the song is now
An ode to a friend that I’ll never forget

What I will do tomorrow, even I don’t know
I’ll hope for more such moments of fun and frolic
And the words have come and the song is now
An ode to a friend that I’ll never forget

How do such friends come along – that no one knows
How lucky I am to be with them – that only I know
How happy I was with him – that everyone can see
How glad I would be with him – that only time would tell

My only defense

This is a song that I have just started writing. My friend Athiran contributed the last two lines of the first verse.
Don’t know what I should do now
Be myself or hide behind a pretense
Feel I should call him now
The pain I feel is so intense

Let’s blame it on love
Baby, that’s my only defense

Someone suggested to me
‘Be yourself, that’s the easiest way’
I swear by that rule, and hey
Have followed it scrupulously to date

Let’s blame this on them
Baby, that’s my only defense

I wait for an hour or two
Before calling him twice
I get no answer either time
Must’ve been busy, I pay the price

Let’s blame it on the situation
Baby, that’s my only defense

Hoping for a call or a message back
I stay up until half past one
I still haven’t heard from him
Must be sleeping now, like a baby

Let’s blame it on the distance
Baby, that’s my only defense

Feb 19, 2011

Salon guy's advice

A day before I left for Delhi, I went to my trusted salon. I had gone there for a beard/moustache trim and shaping. My usual stylist was busy attending to some other client. So, a new guy started working on me. He did an admirable job, as this photo might tell you.

However, when my usual stylist got free, he came over for chat. He had been requesting me to color my hair or do some highlights. I told him about my sad story of hair loss. He asked me which shampoo I was using. I said Dove hair-loss therapy shampoo. Well, without wasting a breath, he decried Dove and said that I must try the L’Oréal range of shampoos.

Within a few minutes, he had convinced me of buying a set of L’Oréal products – a shampoo, a conditioner, and a serum – worth rupees 1500. He guaranteed that these products would have a good effect on my hair and prevent its loss. Even though I had spent a lot of money, I was happy that something good was going to happen to my hair. But I was proven wrong.

I used the products for the first time on my first day in Delhi. After my shower, I tried combing my hair and it was a mess. The conditioner didn’t seem to have done its job – neither had the serum. My hair was rough, tangly, and all over the place. I was not sure if the reason was products or the hard water in Delhi.

I decided to not use the products again until I came back to Mumbai. Plus I decided to go around in a ponytail. I’ll give them a decent run in Mumbai. If they don’t let my hair feel as lovely as Dove products make it feel, then I think I should switch back. Anyway, the warning that I want to sound to you all is this – don’t trust your salon guy blindly!

Feb 18, 2011

Delhi Trip - Day 4

The last day of our trip started out with a heavy breakfast – as usual – at the rooftop restaurant. Both me and my friend had to catch morning flights to our destinations. The hotel arranged for a car to drop us at the airport. Because my friend was going to the International terminus T3, we dropped him off first. The taxi driver took Rs. 200 extra from me to take me to the domestic terminus – that’s how cut-throat these Delhi cabbies can be. That’s one of the reasons why I dislike Delhi. It is a beautiful place, but conveyance is a pain in the neck. I think the metro is a fantastic thing to have happened to Delhi and has made intra-city travel so much easier.

My flight was delayed by 2 hours primarily because of fog and secondarily because of (what I feel) as the sheer ineptitude of Go Air, the airline which I was flying. Despite my breakfast, I felt hungry and had to grab a miniaturised chicken zinger burger from the KFC and a coffee from the Costa Coffee before I boarded the flight at around 1 pm. There is nothing much to write home about regarding the flight except that it hovered in the Mumbai airspace for close to 20 minutes because of airtime congestion. Darned! Had I been home on time, I could have worked half-day and saved that much of leave.

I took an auto-rickshaw back home from the airport. Unlike Delhi, I asked the rickshaw-wallah to put on the meter and he obliged. That’s the beauty of Mumbai. On the ride in the rickshaw, I carefully surveyed the roads of Mumbai and compared them with those in Delhi. One thing is certain – Delhi might be brilliant, spacious, and beautiful in some parts. But it can’t beat Mumbai in terms of consistency and charm. Of course, conveyance is the other glaring “fail” of Delhi.

After reaching back home late in the evening, I started working on the photos and my blog posts so that you can read all this. All in all, it was a fabulous trip to Delhi and I had the wonderful company of a charming man! We sure are looking forward to our next trip together. Maybe it will be to Goa!

Feb 17, 2011

Delhi Trip - Day 3

It was the third day of our stay. The clouds had cleared up – it was bright and sunny and perfect weather to sight-see in Delhi. We had the Qutub complex on our agenda. We took the metro down to the Qutub Minar metro station. There were share Omni cabs waiting to prey on travelers wanting to visit the Qutub complex. They packed 9 people including the driver into that cab at Rs. 10 per person. It was so cramped that the gear shift was between my friend’s legs throughout the journey. The clown that he is, he didn’t waste an opportunity to squeal every time the driver tried to shift gears!

The Qutub complex had the same racist agenda as the Red Fort – foreigners have to pay Rs. 250/- whereas Indians and natives of the SAARC countries need only pay Rs. 10/-. I had posted a couple of status messages about this blatant racism. Many people commented on it. One of them, an architect friend of mine, said that the Archaeological Survey of India uses the extra money generated from the foreigners to maintain the monuments. However, she also pointed out that despite the money taken, basic amenities like drinking water and clean toilets are not provided for visitors. This was not the case in the US apparently, as confirmed by my friend, who said that most landmarks did not ask for a fee to get in and offered world-class services.



Anyway, we spent about an hour and half at the Qutub complex. A bunch of school kids were also visiting at the same time. Some of them were sporty and posed for pictures. I’ll post a few for your reference.

We decided to take a rickshaw back to the metro station. The rickshaw driver insisted that we visit a couple of emporiums on our way as he would get some free gas cards if we did that. We visited the Rajasthan emporium where I tried to buy a kurta pyjama set for my friend. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything that would fit my friend properly. So we left the emporium without buying anything. The rickshaw wallah stopped us at Saket metro station. From there, we took the metro to INA station and went to Delhi Haat for the second time in three days.

It was such a different experience this time. All the stalls were occupied and there was so much more to see. We shopped around like crazy – my friend bought more scarves, jewelry, and a Madhubani painting, whereas I picked up some exotic ball pens (from Rajasthan), some wrist jewelry, and a handmade leather-covered book for my colleagues at the office. I bought my friend a handmade leather-covered book and a framed medium size Madhubani painting as gifts. Once again, we ate at the Kerala food stall – this time we had Puttu + Kadala Curry, Appam + Chicken Curry, and an Onion Oothappam.

We ran into a mom/daughter couple from the USA – we had met them on our fist vist two days back as well. Pamela, the mother, wanted to use my phone to get in touch with her husband – she didn’t have a local phone. Our conversation with her was raunchy and funny and she immediately realized that we were ‘seeing’ each other. She indirectly told us that we were a beautiful couple. It was the second time in Delhi that strangers had recognized us as a couple and complemented us. It felt wonderful!

With all the stuff we had bought, we had to take a rickshaw back to the hotel. We celebrated our third successful day out together by sipping some beer (that too, Fosters) that the room boy had specially arranged for us. After relaxing in the room for a couple of hours, we went up to the rooftop restaurant of the hotel, where the chef had made a special Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani for us. Although the spices weren’t all there, he did a remarkable job of making one for us. We finished another bottle of Fosters beer along with the dinner. With a heavy stomach and a heavy heart full of thoughts having to leave each other and the wonderful city of Delhi the next day, we returned back to the hotel room.

Feb 16, 2011

Delhi Trip - Day 2

The second day started out with a fantastic breakfast at the roof-toop restaurant at our hotel. It was still overcast and there was a threat of drizzles. We first set out by metro to Chandni Chowk. Central Delhi isn’t really a place that will appeal to a foreigner who’s expecting Delhi to be a shining demonstration of India’s emergency as an economic superpower. After getting out the metro station, we walked around the maze of Chandni Chowk. We found an interesting chaiwallah who allowed us to photograph him after some initial reluctance. His chai was amazing and we would recommend him if you ever visit Chandni Chowk by using the metro as he is on your way out from the metro station to the main street.

We walked through some of the bylanes in Chandni Chowk looking for some items for him to buy, but we didn’t find anything interesting. Then we headed out to the Red Fort where we were greeted by the great Indian racist propoganda – Rs. 250 entry for a foreigner and Rs. 10 for an Indian or those from the SAARC countries. After getting our passes, we went in the majestic red fort which wasn’t look all that red.

Inside, we found an interesting row of stalls selling antiques, jewelery etc. He was suggesting that we should visit all the shops with cute Indian men and as soon as we said that, we walked by a shop which had a couple of handsome Indian men up front. We walked into the shop and we were greeted by a third handsome man who took us to the interior of the shop to demonstrate his wares.

We got into a friendly conversation with him. Soon enough, the vendor recognized us as being a gay couple and outed himself as a bisexual guy. He showed us fantastic paintings of the gay Kama Sutra – apparently, that shop is the only place which sells such paintings in Delhi. We had such a wonderful, flirtatious chat with this vendor and we decided that we would come back and buy some paintings if my friend’s client would answer positively to the e-mail that we would send later that evening.

We then visited the interior of the fort, which was a pleasant experience. On our way back out, we checked out some more stalls and my friend bought a few bracelets at a reasonable price using all of his charm on the vendors. I can’t believe how all these vendors love him so much. He’s such a charmer, I say! We then headed back to the metro station. We grabbed some cheap vegetarian fast food on our way for lunch.

We bought our tickets to the Central Secretariat and got into a packed train at Chandni Chowk. We were almost crushed to death three times during our trip – funny, it wasn’t even rush hour. I consider that as an experience even worse than the rush hour in Mumbai suburban railway system. Somehow, we managed to get down at the Central Secretariat and walked on the Rajpath to the India Gate. This part of Delhi, the South Delhi part is incredibly beautiful – despite some puddles and mud on our way because of the rain.

We hung out for a few minutes at the India Gate where some vendors came up to my friend and started talking to him in English. Suddenly, my friend started talking in Japanese. The jaws of the vendors dropped and they asked me in English if my friend was Japanese. After a furious minute or two of conversation in fluent Japanese, during which my friend indicated his lack of interest in the items the vendors were selling, we took a autorickshaw to Rashtrapathi Bhavan at the other end of Rajpath.

We spent a few minutes taking pictures and my friend posed for pictures with an extended family from Uttar Pradesh. Then we took the same autorickshaw back to Pahar Ganj. We were really tired for the second day in running and relaxed for a couple of hours while drinking beer – I watched the World Cup warm up match between India and New Zealand while my friend got busy with e-mails and photographs.

We headed out to find another restaurant for having dinner. We ended up at a cheap roadside dhabha at Arakasan road which had a tandoor. After having rather disappointing dinner comprising Tandoori Chicken, rumaali roti, and half chicken tikka biriyani, we took a walk around the disappointing neighborhood. I played with a few of the stray dogs – the stray dogs in Delhi are so much more friendly than those in Mumbai – and after that, we returned back home for the night.

Feb 15, 2011

Delhi Trip - Day 1

Waking up in the morning and catching an early flight to Delhi is stressful enough. That too, to meet a person whom you have never met is almost terrifying with the weight of expectations, how much ever you try to control them. But I wasn’t really terrified - I was happy and excited with Madonna giving me brilliant company through the trip and FaceBook threads giving me enough entertainment as a distraction.

When I got down at the Terminal 1 of the Delhi airport, it was cold and overcast. I had to find a way to get to the new Terminal 3 (T3) - I found a free inter-terminal GVM bus which was rather convenient. At T3, however, as the time of arrival of my friend’s flight drew nearer, it started raining, it got really cold, and my anxiety was almost unbearable. His flight was slightly delayed and it took some time for him to clear immigration and get out. He couldn’t find me initially - and was wandering around the couple of exists for a few minutes until I saw him.

I called out for him and he turned around and we walked toward each other. He looked even more beautiful than I had expected him to be. He came over and we hugged each other. It was a surreal experience to have met someone so special within 7 weeks of meeting each other online. We took a cab to the hotel in the cold, rainy weather. Incredibly enough, the road leading from the airport to the city was lined by various things under construction and the rain made everything blur into a muddy mess.

However, the conversation was easy and smooth I felt at ease with his company. Our senses of humor were complementary – that is why we got interested in each other in the first place – and it was obvious that we made an excellent pair intellectually. And he was crazy and eccentric – just like the clown that I had grown used to on Skype.

For some reason or the other, the cab driver took us through one of the less beautiful roads of Delhi to the dirty Pahar Ganj area, a hub for cheap hotels. We were expecting the worst when the cabbie rode up a filthy side lane into a the Arakasan road leading up to our hotel. Our hotel looked a tad better than the rest of the other neighboring hotels and we were ushered into our “Premium” room. Despite it being late in the morning, we decided to have some breakfast and ordered in the complimentary breakfast.

After resting for an hour or so, we planned to head out to the streets. The room-boys told us that it was raining heavily outside – but we didn’t want to get stuck indoors. We took an autorickshaw to Connaught Place to check out the various state emporiums and showrooms of handicrafts along the Baba Kharak Singh Marg (NH8) and picked up a couple of umbrellas from a shop.

Connaught place was an incredible mess, with the rain spoiling everything. We took some time to find out an ATM and a currency exchange vendor before having a cup of average coffee at the Madras Coffee House at P-block. We asked around for Baba Kharak Sing Marg but we got confusing responses from the people that we asked. Finally, a boy pointed us out the right way.

We went and visited almost all the emporiums on the road. He wanted to take a look at silk scarves, bracelets, necklaces etc to see if he could make a reasonable wholesale purchase. It was incredible the way he interacted with the vendors. Cracking jokes, making them smile, and making them extremely friendly! They all loved him and he loved charming them! Although we didn’t buy anything, he got an idea about the various options that he had in Delhi (as compared to the open markets in Thailand, Bali, and Burma).

We then took the Metro from Rajiv Chowk to INA and went to Delhi Haat. By this time the weather had cleared up and it was a little warmer. Although we were greeted by a message at the ticket counter that some of the stalls are closed because allotment of stalls was taking place on that day, we weren’t all that disappointed. We walked in and found an incredible array of stalls featuring products such as silk scarves, pashminas, rugs, jewlery, paintings, paper work, puppets and more. There were some food stalls too – I took him to the Kerala Tourism Development’s stall where we had appam (which is apparently called “huppers” in Sri Lanka) and vegetable stew.

We bought a few scarves at a reasonable price and also bought a couple of hanging puppets for decorating his tents – he resells all these scarves/jewelry items in the US after setting up tents at various institutions, schools etc. We then took the train back to the New Delhi where we had to wait for half an hour to get platform tickets to cross to the other side of the station where our hotel was. That was the really annoying part of the entire trip.

After reaching back the hotel all exhausted, we relaxed for a bit before taking a shower and then venturing out for dinner. The most ironic thing is that there were hardly any good restaurants in Pahar Ganj where one can have a decent dinner with drinks. We found a recently opened restro bar called Delhi Den where we had a cocktail and tandoori chicken along with rotis and palak paneer. The food was delicious – that’s Delhi’s asset, the quality of the restaurants. And we called it a night after that.

I must confess that all through the day, I felt the most at ease that I had felt with anyone that I had met in a long time. It was almost as if we had known each other for years. That concludes day one of our adventure in Delhi.

Two years afterward

As I'm sitting at the Mumbai airport waiting for the boarding call for my flight to Delhi, I'm not as jittery as I thought I would be. Instead, I feel the buzz of my medications, the relative lack of sleep (thanks to the amazingly early flight), and the excitement about the journey that I am about the embark on.

Yes, this is the first time that I'm traveling by myself - that is, without my band - in two year's time. The last time I traveled alone, I went to visit my parents in Kerala, to come out to them, to tell them how wonderful it was to have Vinokur in my life. I was a little naïve about another man in my life, and he crushed me like a cigarette butt under his mighty boots little after I returned to Mumbai.

In these two years, much has changed. I have broken up with Vinokur, and I'm out on a mission to find someone special in my life. I hope that I have grown more mature and now being 31 years old, have gained the ability to take wiser decisions regarding my emotional life. May this journey be one bold step toward that. Shalom!

Feb 14, 2011

Much like a cuckoo

The morning went to plan
Until I get a call from him
Was he changing his plan?
Was it just me, or was it him?

I call him, my heart's in my mouth
Unfortunately, it's not a clear line
I hear his voice, he asks
'Is everything going to plan?'

I breathe a sigh of relief
I told him everything's just fine
I need to have more self-belief
Just to be myself, I'm fine

The morning went well,
The afternoon did too,
When the evening came, well
I was much like a cuckoo

The workday went a little too busy
My workmates were all happy for me
All of the wished me the very best
They wanted to see me happy, after all

At the very end of the day
My boss called me in the cabin
We discussed something important
And we shook hands and parted with a smile

It is my first vacation from work
In two years and a little more
I went back to my desk thinking about it
And my heart was back in my mouth

The morning went well,
The afternoon did too,
When the evening came, well
I was much like a cuckoo

Feb 13, 2011

More men from SilverDaddies.com

This is getting repetitive. I have written so many times about meeting fascinating men from SilverDaddies.com. It just doesn’t stop. About three weeks or so back, I got a message from this wonderful man who’s originally from Portugal and currently resides in the United States. We started exchanging e-mails, which primarily consisted of short snippets of conversations ranging from politics to humor, and from flirtations to serious conversation.

I have always believed that you could see the quality of the man through the words that he writes, and this is the perfect case. I had a Skype conversation with him – crazy, hilarious, intelligent, funny, erotic – all at the same time. He’s raging hot (just by the looks) and he’s even hotter on an intelligent conversation/mental level. Such people are so hard to find in Mumbai, I tell you.

Another case – three days back, I met another wonderful man from the US. He’s from Hollywood and works in the movie industry. He is also a musician and has indulged in various projects that included the creation of famous bands such as the Black Eyed Peas. He has led a 100-voice choir which toured Europe during the Berlin Wall demolition. Now, the circumstances in Egypt has led him to reconsider re-releasing the old content with some new material in a DVD!

It’s too bad that all these men that I meet are from abroad (mostly the United States). But I hope that one of them will click and will lead to something more than just online friendship.

Feb 12, 2011

Conversation with my parents

My sister has finally gone back to Chennai with her kid. She is staying with her in-laws at the moment because her husband is on a work-related US tour. Apparently, she’s unable to find an ‘aaya’/maid/nanny to take care of the kid in Chennai. If she could, she can move to her own apartment and have some peace. I hope she finds happiness and comfort soon as taking care of a 5-month old kid is not easy.

Well, because she has left, my Mom and Dad are back to being by themselves in Kerala. Today, I woke up just at 11 am, just in time to chat with her. We had a pleasant video chat conversation where we talked about the various issues regarding my sister and myself. Although I tried pushing in the conversation about my visit to Delhi to meet my friends, she seemed resistant to talk about it. I left it at that.

My Dad also joined in for a bit during the chat. He looked older than ever with his new pair of gigantic-looking spectacles. As usual, he was trying to ask me about my ‘career’ in Orthopedics. He also wanted me to gain national recognition by performing in the AIR or some TV channel so that I can put that up on my resumé. I wanted to ask him about his predictions regarding my future, but again I restrained myself.

It’s crazy how I want my family to be involved in my emotional life. It’s almost as if I’m seeking their approval. Doesn’t everyone do that?

Feb 11, 2011

Hectic Week

This week was one of the most hectic weeks that I have had in recent memory. Full days at work and rehearsals with one of the bands during the evening every single day. This was so exhausting. I think I’m going to need a lot of sleep over the weekend. That means my Kala Ghoda festival visit and other plans are going to go for a toss. Well, let it be. Let me enjoy the weekend relaxing.

Feb 10, 2011

Financial troubles?

I might be a 31-year-old qualified surgeon in India. But I don’t practice surgery. Neither am I in a lucrative job – I work as an academic editor in Medicine and Biosciences, and the salary is about one fourth of what my cousins earn. And I live all by myself in Mumbai. This doesn’t augur well for my finances. I’m yet to await the final word regarding my appraisal this year and I fear that my hopes of moving into a better apartment are going to be stalled yet again.

My second profession – music – not only doesn’t bring me enough money but ends up making me spend money with regard to jams in rented jam rooms and dinner/drinking sessions after rehearsals. This has been especially true in the last two months or so. I need to probably opt out of these dinner/drinking sessions to save up some money or else I won’t be saving up any money!

Because of the various rehearsals and also because of the relatively hectic schedule at work, I have not been able to go to the gym regularly. My membership is due for renewal in April, which is around the time my apartment lease is going to expire. I guess I will have to stick to the same apartment for at least another year. The big burning question is – should I renew my gym membership? I guess I should as that’s the only investment on health that I’m making. I think I should cut out on partying and eating/drinking out as a compensation.

Feb 9, 2011

It's finalized!

Yes, it’s fixed. I’m meeting with the wonderful man that I had met late last year in Delhi for 3 days in the middle of next week. We plan to see Delhi apart from spending time with each other.

I’m excited as hell. But I know I should keep my excitement in check. I don’t want to scare the balls out of a really cute American. Keeping every paired appendage in my body crossed that it will be pleasant first date.

I still remember the bizarre time three Februarys back when I had gone to Delhi with Shor Bazaar with Vinokur with me. I hope this trip will erase those crazy, painful memories.

Feb 8, 2011

Waiting For You (Part 3)

I don't know what's happening to me
I'm nervous and jittery, its plain obvious for everyone to see
A bunch of butterflies have taken refuge in my tummy
Madonna and Trent Reznor aren't helping me take it easy

Waiting for a word from him
Waiting for a call from him
Waiting to hear his voice
Waiting to hear him say 'yes'

Every moment that passes does ever so slowly
Every time I refresh my inbox our when my phone vibrates
My heart goes into a flutter
Don't know if I can pull down the shutter

All this in the hope that
Every moment that I'll spend with him
Will be making up for these anxious moments
All this in the hope that
Every moment that I spend waiting
Will be rewarded by something special

Feb 7, 2011

More suspense

This morning, the wonderful man that I am hopefully going to meet up with called me on Skype. He said that he couldn’t find a direct flight to Mumbai. I wasn’t quite disappointed when I heard this primarily because I was staring at his handsome face. Then a brainwave struck me. I suggested that he fly to Delhi and catch a flight to Mumbai. He said he hadn’t thought of that before. He said he’ll look into it and let me know by tomorrow morning.

All day at work, my brain was churning over about how to make this work. Then it struck me – why can’t I fly to Delhi and meet him there. Soon, I was looking up tickets to Mumbai–Delhi to-and-fro flights online and I found some really cheap fares. I was so excited that I had to call him. I did, and he answered –for the first time in a couple of weeks. I informed him about the developments. He sounded cheerful and asked me to forward the information about the flight tickets.

I forwarded the information in an e-mail and I haven’t heard back from him except for the acknowledgment of his receipt of the e-mail. The excitement/suspense is killing me. That was very evident in the office when I told my friends about what might happen. I’m so dying to wake up tomorrow morning to his call on Skype informing him about his arrival to Mumbai. More crossed appendages please!

Feb 6, 2011

To take care of myself

Sometimes I forget that I’m supposed to take care of my health. Too many bands, too many commitments, too much of work – all have led to me ignoring the fact of taking care of myself and my body. Bands and commitments lead to more time out and partying and drinking and work leads to more stress, forcing me to try and find some time to relax.

I’m ashamed of myself in a way – to have missed gym on most days in the last three months or so – to indulge in some kind of alcohol in some social occasion or the other quite regularly. I wish I could just push the red button on this and get back to the routine of having time to take care of myself. Even if I find it, would I have the courage to push it?

Feb 5, 2011

Laughter and Jokes

How wonderful is to make you laugh
To see you gush, to see you blush
How wonderful is to make your life
To see you smile, to see you blush

How wonderful is to make you laugh
To see you forget, the pain in your life
How wonderful is to grace your life
To see you open wide and wide

Laughter and jokes aside
What’s there left of life?
Laughter and jokes aside
What’s there to live for?

Feb 4, 2011

The wait maybe over soon

A few weeks back, I had written a song about a wonderful man that I had met online. I sent the song to this funny guy who commented that he liked it but wanted more instrumentation in the song. Anyway, I thought these two lines were the weakest lines in that song.
Wishing that us and this would be real, really soon
Wishing that it would be, sooner than soon
Apparently they aren’t. He made me really happy today morning on Skype. He said that he might visit me in a couple of weeks in Mumbai. I have every paired appendage in my body crossed hoping that this would happen. Please cross yours with me. I have already applied for leave expecting his arrival and our first meeting.

Feb 3, 2011

More Music Than Music

Things are really going well with my music life.

  • My solo project Ideat Savant has taken off well with the three performances last month. I’m writing songs regualarly and I’m on the verge of setting myself up a decent recording setup at home.
  • Cirkles is playing shows regularly.
  • Shor Bazaar has disassociated with the manager that we were working with (because of differences) and are once again independent. We kicked off our independence with the gig at the QAM week celebrations at the Carter Road amphitheater. We are working with a couple of drummers and things look good. There is another gig coming up for us on the 13th of February at Bandra Fort. We are playing with Ehsaas.
  • Bad Influence, despite not having gotten on the gig scene yet, is shaping up well. I’m recording bass for songs in Zomb’s private project (erstwhile Zomb and the Agenda).
  • Pralay—well I’m not quite sure what’s happening with them, but still…
  • On top of all this, I have been requested to play bass for my friends’ superband Overhung. We had a first rehearsal tonight and I thought things went well. I hope to have more shows with Overhung in the coming months.

This is a lot of music and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Wish me more luck than ever to manage my social and official life with all these six projects!

Feb 2, 2011

The sweetest proposal

I'm blessed - I have very sweet friends at office. The sweetest amongst them is Akki, a beautiful, wonderful woman. I feel that she deserves every bit of goodness from life. Fortunately, she's getting it.

Her boyfriend, currently her fiance, proposed to her on her birthday (last Sunday) in a very special way. He took her out to a movie and during the interval, popped in a slide in the projector which said this:

Of course, he went down on his knees in front of the whole theater, and slipped a beautiful engagement ring on the ring finger of Akki's left hand!

How sweet is that!!! Akki told me that he had to take permission NOCs from her parents and family before he did this. Also, he approached three different theaters regarding this. Only one theater (and its management) agreed to the plan!

Those who want to be sweet to their girlfriends/boyfriends, please do something like this!

Feb 1, 2011

Shloka Missionaries

Five days back, on my way back after the open-mic night at Bandra, I met Professor Sandeep Desai on the train. He is a chief architect of Shloka Missionaries, a charitable trust for educating poor children from the interiors of Maharashtra. He walked into the first-class compartment and had started a speech on “Vidya Daan,” the latest project of Shloka Missionaries, through which he collects money from willing commuters on the train and distributes it.

At first, I thought it was just another guy trying to sell a product and didn’t take my eyes of the book that I was reading. But he sounded earnest and sincere and soon he had the attention of all the passengers in the compartment. He first did a speech in fluent English and went on to display laminated copies of various articles that have come up in newspapers and magazines about the charitable trust. I was moved by the man’s commitment and devotion to charity. He then went on to give a repetition of the speech in Hindi.

At the end of his speech, I couldn’t help but donate the last 100 Rs. note that I had with me to his charity. I got his “card” — well, it’s not much of a card because he can’t afford high-quality card paper for distributing the details. So, it was just a cut-out of a printout — and went through it. Two days before, I had sent him an SMS indicating my desire to help in anyway as a musician. I haven’t gotten a response to that yet. Today, at work I was able to go through the website and I was moved again. Hence, I decided to blog about it.

I urge everyone to give in a couple of minutes of their time and go through the website. If you are as moved as me, please get in touch with Sholka/Prof. Desai and contribute whatever you can. You never know, you might run into him in the train some day!

http://www.shlokamissionaries.org/index.html