Day 2: Walking in the City of Joy

Gong Xi Fa Cai, readers! I thought it was going to be a quiet weekend but as it turns out, I was lucky enough to be invited to a small CNY gathering where I ate, ate and ate and put a setback on my diet. May the year of the dragon, be as fulfilling, exciting and of course, prosperous for everyone.

For now, on with Day 2.

Day 2: Walking in the City of Joy

I am rather grumpy – but I suspect that my mood is slightly worse for wear because my husband is not with me.

I’m torn. If I am honest with myself, I love traveling and flying. I love the adrenaline I feel when the aircraft takes off and when the plane lands. I love being in foreign lands. But I hate that I cannot bring Eizwan with me all the time.

Sunday is the day opted for the Calcutta tour. As to not make it too tiring for my grandparents, it was a half-day tour by car.

If you can ignore the bajillion wires, the grey haze – Calcutta looks like an amazing city. In the cool January weather, it could feel like Britain. Save for the man showering naked next to me as I walk by. Or the stray pig. If it sounds as though I am mocking India, it is not – it isn’t India without everything combined. The sights, the sounds, the smells – it is everything that makes India, India.

What is it about India, that brings out a kind of madness in their previous rulers? It is as though if you step foot in India, you have an intense crazy desire to build an over the top structure as testament to you being there. The Mughals built the Taj Mahal, the British, the Parliament, Victoria Memorial.

It is probably the same kind of madness that infected the British (along with malaria) to build the kind of palaces they did to govern India from Calcutta. But that was Calcutta then, I suppose. Calcutta today looks tired and I feel rather envious of the other cities in India. You can’t help that it was left behind a few years as the rest of India raced on to be developed. At the same time, there is a kind of pompousness that you can see in Calcutta. The ‘We’re not like them, we are more intellectual than they are’.

If anything, being an intellect defines Calcutta. There are plenty of museums, art exhibits, intellectual discourse in Calcutta. And just like all intellects, they may be smarter and more cultured than everyone else, but they are also worst for wear and well, poorer than their less educated counterparts.

Next time I’m back, I’ll opt for a walking tour. But I can’t help feeling there isn’t much else to Calcutta compared to the rest of India. One day in Calcutta, and the next time, I’ll make sure I get to where I’ve been hoping to go for ages, Darjeeling.


Day 1: Now Everyone (that is able-bodied anyway) Can Fly

The last time I went on a holiday with my grandparents was in 2005. I had just gotten back from the UK and was itching to go on a holiday. My grandmother had been bugging me to go on a holiday with them so somehow, in my mind anyway it made sense to bring my grandfather of 80 years and my grandmother of 70 years to a holiday in Vietnam.

That was nearly 8 years ago. It is probably the same kind of madness that prompted my mum to take her parents who are now 92 years and 80 year old respectively to go to the City of Joy.

The journey to Calcutta was nothing less than harrowing. I hate the LCCT with a vengeance. If cattle, as in the type that moo as opposed to those who can’t actually afford a decent flight ticket, could fly, this would be the kind of airport they would be comfortable with. There are not enough seats to sit down, the place is hot, dirty and stinking. It’s harrowing enough as an able-bodied person much less when you have two very elderly people in tow.

And every time I go here, I swear I will never fly Air Asia again, knowing full well I’ll probably be breaking that promise next month or something.

Hearing a Bollywood Star Narrating Your Life

One of my favourite things about Bollywood movies, is the narration. Usually the narration would be done in Hindi, a deep throaty male voice waxing lyrical about his life’s philosophy, reflecting essentially what this movie would be about.

I can’t quite explain what I like about it so much – film-making-wise, Bollywood narration can get it quite wrong. It’s long, it says too much. Avoid narration, let the pictures tell the story.

But I love it. I love the way it sounds, the rhythm of the Hindi language, even though I barely know any Hindi (except shaadi and pyaar but those are standard Bollywood words that everyone should know). I imagine that it sounds a lot wiser, a lot more profound as though life is going to change dramatically just because it’s said in Hindi.

So while some people motivate themselves by reading motivational quotes, joining groups. I hear Amitabh Bachan’s voice in my ear. S each time I get into the car or as I wake up in the morning to do work, I hear Amitabh Bachan’s voice. He’s narrating the story of my life in Hindi. Presumably, he is saying, this is the story of Adlina’s life. It begins rather quietly, and slowly. Because that’s how it goes with Adlina. She starts of nice and easy. Steady as she does it. But  watch out, this is Adlina we’re talking about. It never is quiet. It never is easy. It’s always something fantastic. And in 2012 something amazing is going to happen.

Of course, since I know very little Hindi, Amitabh Bachan’s narration is probably a mish-mash of dialogue from all the Hindi movies I’ve seen. So as long as my year doesn’t end up just like a Bollywood movie (see Singham for reference)-I’ll be fine.

2012 started very quietly. Eizwan and I welcomed 2012 at home, hearing the fireworks go off about half an hour early. Not quite sure why anyone would want celebrate New Year’s half an hour earlier – either you made a terrible mistake with your clock, or my neighbours really are a kiasu bunch, that you want to be the first to welcome in the New Year. We didn’t have fireworks – since well, you know they’re technically illegal but we did have The Wire. So we welcomed 2012 by watching another episode of The Wire before going to sleep. Actually come to think of it, the first ten days of 2012 have mostly been about The Wire. The two of us essentially have been incommunicado with the rest of the world because we’ve been watching The Wire. It’s a bit like home – eat dinner – clean up – The Wire. Wake up, wonder if we could squeeze in an episode of The Wire before we get to work. Weekend is canceling on friends – watching more Wire. If friends manage to get us out – we talk about The Wire.

Celebrating the New Year at L.Table in One Utama. We managed to squeeze in a lunch between The Wire of course. 

I would probably do another entry on just The Wire alone, I know, I’m only about 10 years behind the trend – but hey, some things are worth catching up on and babbling about incessantly after.

But I am actually quite busy. I knew that December was my last quiet month and I did treasure the quiet times. Since January had begun, work has been at full steam. Remember my vague ambition of getting one of my businesses up and running? Well, this Saturday I’m off to India again to work on this vague New Year’s resolution of mine. In between I’m squeezing in some more reading, a tiny bit of writing (naughty, naughty I know) and daydreaming about Dominic West. Is it bad to have a crush on Dominic West from The Wire?

Eizwan is a very patient man.

The Wire aside, I’m looking forward to 2012. It has been 10 quiet days but the voice of Amitabh Bachan in my ear may be saying – it is going to be a fantastic one.