Monday, April 30, 2007

Lost forever!

A part of me is lost forever! My true companion of 6 years. My lifeline, my heartline. My friend in happiness and sorrow. It has taken away my sweet and sad memories, my secrets, my cherished moments, my snapshots. My database, my contacts, everythings lost with it forever. In fact a part of me is lost forever.
I lost my dear mobile phone today (hardly a year old)- Motorola L 7. And with it I lost my SIM of six years. Someone somewhere is getting an insight into my life at this very moment. And that thought shudders me a lot! Insight into MY LIFE?! Someone who does not share her life with all!!! If the stress of the past two days wasn't enough. Today this. I am feeling terrible.
Thankfully my old mobile has some numbers intact. But what I lost with this SIM can never be replaced. A new SIM with the same number will arrive tomorrow and I will use my old mobile for the time being till I am sane enough to spend some BIG BUCKS. But it will never be the same again!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The heat, the stress.... me needs rest!

Lost another battle of life! Life has been a series of failures for me since a long time now. Personal, career.... Once this, once that. But now I am beginning to get used to it! The sad part is that there's no time to make amends. With no time to be in touch with people/ friends, you lose out on many things. But then this is part of life, my life. Don't know where life is taking me....

The excessive heat and the stress, has made me a mess since the past 2 days. Just been sleeping since yesterday due to this bad headache. Me has decided to take rest now. Go on a holiday to a cool place and just freak out! But I've taken leave and no one has the time. I seriously need a break! I need to give a convincing pep talk to my lazy sister, me thinks!

Like this song from Namastey London a lot. It's too good and touches you a lot. Lyrics by Javed Akhtar. Sung by Rahat Ali Khan. Music by none other than apna Himesh Reshammiya.

(main jahaan rahoon
main kahin bhi hoon
teri yaad saaath hai) - 2

kisi se kahoon
ke nahi kahoon
yeh jo dil ki baat hai
kehne ko saath apane ek duniya chalti hai
per chhupke is dil mein tanhaayi palti hai
bas yaad saath hai
teri yaad saaath hai - 3

main jahaan rahoon
main kahin bhi hoon
teri yaad saaath hai

kahin to dil mein yaadon ki
ek suli gad jaati hai
kahin har ek tasveer bhahut hi dhondhali pad jati hai
koi nayi duniya ke naye rango mein khush rehta hai
koi sab kuch paake bhi yeh mann hi mann kehta hai
kehne ko saath apane ek duniya chalti hai
per chhupke is dil mein tanhaayi palti hai
bas yaad saath hai
teri yaad saaath hai - 3

kahin to beete kal ki jadein
dil mein hi utar jaati hai
kahin jo dhage tute to malaayen bhikar jaati
koi dil mein jagah nayi, baaton ke liye rakhta hai
koi apni palko par yaadon ke diye rakhta hai
kehne ko saath apane ek duniya chalti hai
per chhupke is dil mein tanhaayi palti hai
bas yaad saath hai
teri yaad saaath hai - 3

Uprooted !

Work at Mira Road station is in full swing. Everyday you see overnight changes these days as you walk to the station!

The nearby stalls were already removed a month back making the surrounding spacious for the new tracks and extended platform.

The additional new overbridge for the new tracks was completed a few days back and people have already started using it.

The gutter/ swamp over which thick broad planks were placed so that people could walk to the station has been cleaned and covered with stones (as the new lines will pass over it). The planks are still there coz an alternate route is not yet made. The swamp / gutter has been shifted ahead (coz it can't be sealed completely). People know the hazards of fully closing streams/ swamps/ mini rivers flowing through your city after the 27th July aftermath. Who can forget the fury of the Mithi river? Already projects to calm the Mithi are underway. Tunnels are being built under roads so that the Mithi can flow in peace. As of now many roads under which the Mithi passes, are dug deep till you can see the river underneath. Guess a similar tunnel or pipe will be made for the swamp/ stream close to Mira Road station. The entire swamp has now been cleaned and exposed congesting the road near the station. But all this is for a better future.

The latest surprise came when we reached station yesterday morning for going to work. A huge structure which was a major contribution to Mira Road's skyline was uprooted and felled. For those who've seen the station as it was earlier will clearly remember what struck them as soon as they reached there. Yes, the two big towers which was like a gate to Mira Road and had SHANTINAGAR written in Bold Steel plating on it, is no longer there. It was a massive structure and a contribution of Ajmera Builders which initially developed Mira Road for the lower income group people as per Govt's directives. The area came to be called ShantiNagar. Later as Muslims moved to the area looking for security after 1993 Hindu Muslims riots in Mumbai, the other side of Mira Road started developing and came to be called Naya Nagar. More builders came in the area, though the most prominent was/ is Asmita Builders which is owned by the Corporator of the area, Muzaffar Hussain. All that is a different story. I will take it up later some day.

But since Mira Road is now mainly divided into Naya Nagar and Shanti Nagar, the huge gate was discrimatory in a way! It failed to recognise the existence of Naya Nagar! I don't know when the black granite towers were erected. I've seen it ever since I first saw Mira Road some years back (earlier my life existed of South Mumbai only extending to Dadar at the most and very rare trips beyond to Bandra etc)! But now the twin towers are gone! It's made way for the new, just like life does. It keeps changing. So do our tastes, preferences, outlook over time.

Just last Saturday, I was thinking of clicking a snap (with my mobile phone) of Mira Road station as it was going through changes so that I could preserve the old snaps. But I was a fool not to do the same since I was damn tired! Never had I thought that such an important landmark would be uprooted overnight! And now I am trying to search for snaps of the structure as it stood before and cannot find the same anywhere. But this time I've managed to click the fallen structure from close quarters on Saturday (28th April, 2007). Maybe it will go down in the history of Mira Road.

While I was clicking, I thought why not click the Ticket Booking office too! With the New Booking Office coming over the new overhead bridge, even that might also be history!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Big Fish

I got this pic in mail forwarded by my Dad.

This BIG FISH was caught in Con go River (Africa). Yumm.... Big fish, small fish! I just love fish. This picture is interesting (including the man!) so I decided to post it here. Where's the 'aam ka khatta', coconut, dried red chillies? I wanna cook this one! I meant the fish !!!

While on the topic of fish, let me discuss the A to Z of a fish, right from buying to cooking.

How to Buy? Though I never go to a fish market (no time! must've accompanied Mom on rare occasions, tho'), I've been handed over those two important points while buying fish :

* Flip open the gill. The redder it is, the fresher is the fish.
* Lightly press the fish with your finger. The body should be firm. The more it presses, the less fresh. But again, beware. It could have just removed from ice which could add to firmness. Comes with practice.

Some fisherwomen can be real nasty. Hence keep your comments to yourselves if you don't like the fish. Just move on to next stall. (Especially in Grant Road market). Else be ready for a splash! Of fish water!!! Which the fisherwoman will bless you with for passing comments for her dear fish.

Also, you should be well versed with the varieties of fish available. Many Mumbaiites aren't. Hence a Bhing can be passed off as Surmai to an illiterate person in fish literature. Also, many North Indians play it safe by buying only pomfrets. They will apply masala and fry it. The real tasty fish gravies and delicacies come from the coastal people.

Even Bengalis love fish and make lovely varieties. But they prefer fresh water fish. To those like us, who are used to the sea fish flavour, will not appreciate fresh water fish that much. We relish the surmais, the ravas, the bhings, the taarlis, the bhangdas, the prawns (still not tasted Big tiger prawns, tho!)

Cleaning the Fish : Here comes the interesting part. The cleaning. Of course, you can have the fish cleaned and cut at the fish market itself. Especially the big fish. But the other ones are your babies waiting to be cleaned and cut in a specific manner. At no extra cost.

I learnt this art at quite a young age. We have a tool which is called the Adala (this is what we call it in our gaoan/ village). It is actually a coconut scraper-cum-fish and meat cutter and very famous in Southern India. It is a flat small stool to which is attached a tool. The front portion is used to scrape a coconut whereas the connecting blade is used to clean and cut fish meat.

Method :

* You sit on the stool and get into the act. Keep fish in a vessel filled with water. Remove them one by one and clean 'em
* First you scrape out the scales moving the fish horizontally over the blade
* Then you have to cut out the tail and fins with the blade.
* Then cut off the head and put a little cut on the abdomen.
* Then put your finger in the fish's belly and remove the stuff inside till its clean (don't say yuck!)
* Cut the fish in portions as required and keep in another vessel.

But you gotta be little tough for this else stick to eating fishes cut from market itself !

Washing the Fish : This is very important coz improper washing can lead to odours. You gotta sprinkle sufficient salt over the pieces and mix 'em till they bathe in salt. Then you have to pour water over the pieces and rinse each and every piece carefully in the water with your hand. Remove each piece again in another bowl of water and repeat process once again till fully clean.

After that? Simple. You make nice dishes of 'em and eat 'em - How? Saute, cook, fry, dry..... fish will taste good any which ways! Smack! Don't expect me to write recipes here!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Called off

Thankfully the bus strike was called off by Saturday and life was smooth sailing again!

Saw 'Namastey London' today and especially liked the 'description of India' which Akshay Kumar gives (translated by Katrina) to a Londoner who thinks India is only about snake charmers and rope tricks! Good lines and dialogue delivery. We were all clapping by the end of it!

The other highlight of the movie was the 'Rugby' match. Too Cool! Why are we still playing boring games like cricket ?! Hope to see a rugby match live some day!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bus Strike

With BEST buses going on strike, commuting in Mumbai has gone from bad to worse! Not that I travel by apna BEST often, but the strike has affected the other modes of transportation too. Trains have become more crowded. The rickshaw / taxi wallahs have started acting pricey!

Yesterday (19/4/2007), I started my day happily by sending good morning sms to all my friends wishing all of them a Good Day. You gotta keep your mood cheered up in these days of terrible heat when you're embarking on a journey through Virar trains amidst sweat. I got a curt sms reply back from a friend and my bad day just began! Missed getting into two trains (my concentration having waivered) before I finally got into 9.18 am Dadar. I was already late and informed office too. Finally half an hour of suffocation and sweat later, I reached Andheri exhausted. I step out of the station for another shock! The BEST bus strike!!!

The roads were lined with people pleading with rickshaw drivers without any sympathy from them. Entire crowd which goes to SEEPZ and Saki Naka by BEST were on the road. The whole stretch looked as if some 'morcha' (public gathering) was in progress. Some rickshaw guys were taking several people at a time (charging them all separately), some were coolly driving off (probably wanting someone to bargain with them by offering big bucks!). Vultures, all !

I didn't relish the idea of jamming into an auto with strangers and half sitting on some guys lap! No way! Neither did I want to encourage malpractice of excess fare, so I waited. It was 10 am already. The heat had begun. And how I hate it! I was strolling aimlessly on the road, hoping some auto fellow would be kind enough. But the moment any rickshaw was sighted, people were pouncing on it like crazy! People wanted to hit the drivers coz all were frustrated in the sun without any mode of transport. I even saw an extra smart driver taking 'panga' with some people and public enjoying the 'tamasha'.

I called my colleague who advised me to wait for our second shift bank bus, which was expected by 10.45 am (the first one goes at 8.45 am)! Fair enough! But the sun was too much to bear, with me being more prone to tan and sunstroke! I went at our bus pick up point and waited with a hanky on my face to save myself from the sun! Few more office people gathered. I bought chilling Frooti from a nearby stall (having stood in the sun for 45 mins!) and felt better on sipping it. Finally bus arrived and we got in. Then I slept through the journey feeling drowsy with heat! Reached office at 11.30 am!!!

Evening we had decided that we had to leave by office bus only, no matter wat else we would end up loitering on the streets the whole night (coz by that time we got news that in the night even the autorickshawallas will also be going on strike. We have office buses at 5.45 pm (which is distant dream for Trade dept), 7.15 pm, 7.45 pm, 8.45 pm and last one at 9.30 pm for people going on Andheri side. My team was aiming at 7.45 pm or maximum 8.45 pm bus and we put our best team-effort and decided to keep some queries aside. So finally left office at 8.45 pm. The office bus was jammed coz the 7.45 pm bus hadn't turned up and no one wanted to take a risk on the road!

The next day ie today (20/4/2007) it wasn't that bad coz private buses had already come to the people's rescue. There were buses to SEEPZ, Marol and Saki Naka. I reached Andheri station at 9.10 am and tried asking some rickshaw drivers who were trying to act indifferent, but without any luck. Then I proceeded to check out some private buses when a autorickshaw fellow agreed to take me for a ride... I mean 'to my destination' :-) with lot of nakhras amd a condition of leaving me at a stop earlier than my destination. I had no option but to agree. Behind me popped a man asking me if he could accompany me till Marol. Seeing the situation, I agreed. But he started to get more of his friends, to which the driver rightly objected saying that he had agreed only for 'Ladies' (thats me!). And threathened if that guy got more people, he'll throw me out too! Finally a lot of grumbling later, I reached office though traffic was bad due to the commotion.

One more day of strike to go.... but tomorrow is Saturday and we will manage somehow..... Life is a struggle!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rupee gets stronger- The consequences

Hey! Its great that our dear Rupee is getting stronger as compared to the dollar. Thats great news to our economy. And proves that we are making positive strides. Then why are we complaining ? Aren't we proud of our own economy?

The current conversion rate of Dollar to Indian Rupees is fluctuating between 42 to 43 since the past few weeks and the exporters seem an extremely confused lot! Some small timers are losing their cool while some are in two minds about converting their earned dollars. And we, handling international trade, are at the receiving end for all no fault of ours!

Suddenly all exporters are questioning us - why did we convert their foreign currency (all foreign currency is getting weaker against the rupee)? Even those with approved special rate in our records are complaining. If we had to take the permission of each and every receiver of Inward remittance before crediting their accounts (we receive several hundreds of credits in a day!), we would never be able to complete our work! Some HNW (high net worth) and corporates clients ask for rates everday and hold their credits hoping that the next day it will be better! But after a few days, convert and take the credit. The ones who had booked forward cover (contract) at good rates are smiling coz they're still enjoying the benefit of old rates! The smarter ones take credit in their EEFC (Exchange Earners Foreign Currency) account. This way they can use their foreign currency at no exchange loss and convert it when market is favourable.

We, common people, can atleast think that a trip to the US / Europe will eventually become cheaper and affordable in the future! (Wishful thinking!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tu khwaab sajaa

In dinon man mera
Mujhse yeh keh raha :

Tu khwaab sajaa

Tu Jeeley zara

Hai tujhe bhi ijazat
Kar le tu bhi mohabbat.

I am tired now of being Agony Aunt for many people/ friends for many many years and helping some find their dreams.... Guess its time for me to find my own dream now and live happily.

Everyone has a right to love and be loved. And this song depicts the feelings very aptly! And wonderfully sung too! Such fusion music creates magic. Classical with rock (electronic guitar). Good. Many such songs are doing the rounds these days. And they are truly appealing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Uff yeh macchar!

I came across this senseless shairi, which is apt in this teribble heat combined with humid climate. Mosquitoes have been bothering us a lot, so I dedicate this verse to them (esp the heartless mosquitoes of Mira Road) :
Macchar ne jo kaata,
Dil mein junoon tha,
Khujli itni hui,
Dil besukoon tha,
Pakda toh chhod diya yeh soch kar,
Saale ki ragon mein apna hi khoon tha!!!
Aadab arz hai!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Angels with a Purpose

We often hear of Angels but how often do we see them around us?

I believe that many of us come with a purpose in life. God assigns a purpose to some of his people and sends them to make difference in another favourite person's life. Some of God's favourite people are assigned with this task much too often while some once in their lifetime.

When a person is down in life and prays for help, God cannot come personally for God has no form. So he sends his angels. These are people like you and me sent to make a difference in our lives. Sometimes we are assigned this duty. And believe me, its a tough job! Often we wonder why are we doing certain things which we are doing. Sometimes even get hurt in the bargain. Finally we realise that we are just playing our parts. A part of which God is the director!

I have been through tough times myself and a couple of very good friends have been through my pain like Guardian Angels. Its because of these angels that we survive. The less fortunate ones, end up shattered and broken and even dead!

I would consider myself fortunate if I have made a even a little difference in any life. But like all assignments come to an end, Angels have to move on when the purpose is served.

Thanks to all the Angels who've been part of my life!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Celebrating the New

Life is all about new beginnings

It's about change
Its about letting go of the old
And making way for the new
Its about leaving back the sad
And looking forward to the good
Its about hoping for the best
And forgetting the rest
Its about banishing the bad
And waiting for the best
Life is about hope
Life is about test
Life is beautiful
Only if you face it with zest!

And I celebrate this hope of a new change, by giving my blog a new look! Our kitchen and passage work is nearly over. Only two more days to go.... But for getting the new look, we had to go through discomfort and allergies... Just like that, life is also about going thru a little discomfort till you finally get what you truly deserve!

Be positive... stay positive!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Girlie Talk

There has been this girl in me wanting to speak for so long! And this being a general blog with mostly social and philosophical musings, didn't want to clog it with too many ideas- which is want I stand for!

If Shagufta has a serious side, she has a whacky and girlie side too! Geminians have many sides, remember!

So, girls (and peeping Toms)... you can catch me separately on :

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Eid Milad un Nabi

Many non-muslim generally get confused with the name of EID in front of all Muslim festivals and wonder how many EIDs Muslims celebrate in a year!

Eid-Ul-Fitr (Ramzan Eid), Eid-Uz-Zuha (Bakri Eid) and Eid-E-Milad. I had to explain to a colleague that Eid means 'celebration' or 'joyous occasion' and hence all our festivals are preceded by that word!

Eid-Ul-Fitr is enjoying after a month long of fasting and abstinance and giving alms to the poor by understanding their hunger. It is celebrating of the achievement of enhanced piety.

Eid-Uz-Zuha is about sacrifice and commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim's (Abraham's) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael for God.This is the day after the pilgrims in Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide.

Eid-e-Milad or Milad un-Nabi is the celebration of the birthday of Muhammad (PBUH), the final prophet of Islam.

Today is Eid-e-Milad. Sweets are made the night before and distributed. The mosques are lit up and so are the houses. On this 'mubarak' occasion, I'd like to share a Naat written by my Dad in Urdu. He sent it to us and his friends in messages on our mobiles in six parts beginning from yesterday night. A Naat is a poetry written in praise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

A Naath
by Abdulrahman U Shaikh

Mubarak ho jahaan waalon
Muhammad Mustafa aaye,
Jahaan mein noor phaylaane
Habib-e-Kibriya aaye.

Zamin se aasmano tak
sada-e-marhaba goonji,
Falak roshan hua dunya mein
ab qairulwara aaye.

Muhammad ka farishtey bhi
adab se naam lete hain,
Nabiyon ke woh hain sardar
Khatm-ul-Anbiya aaye.

Rasulallah ko aye mominon
ummat bahut hai pyari,
Hamare rehnuma aaye
Haamare qairkhwa aaye.

Shafaa-at ka liya hai
Aap ne Allah se waada;
Pilane ke liye kausar
Muhammad Mustafa aaye.

Huzur tashreef laaye
Rahmatul-lil-Aalameen ban kar,
Kaho taazeem se Salle Ala
Salle Ala aaye