Friday, December 22, 2006

Ho ho ho!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Paradise Found

This coming weekend I'm off on holiday to a tropical paradise. One of my absolute favourite places on earth, Zanzibar is an island full of history, culture, spectacular beaches and mouth-watering food. Exactly my idea of heaven.

Not to get all tour guide-y, but Zanzibar was the centre for the East African slave trade back in the day, and the decaying ruins of slave markets and crumbling sultan's palaces still stand to tell their tales.

While a lot of the island is white, sandy beaches and aquamarine waters; Stone town, which is the heart of main island life, is all long and narrowly winding alleyways; brass-studded, carved, wooden doors (a throwback to the times the Sultan of Oman ruled Zanzibar) and dusty corridors that echo with the whispers of long forgotten ghosts.

Yup, you read right. Ghosts.

I have listened to older generation Indians and Arabs, who, having lived there after immigrating on dhow boats from the East, speak many a time of hearing shuffled footsteps at dawn. The sound of the jinn, going about doing it's ablutions for prayer. Strange sightings and mysterious sounds. And stories of possession.

It doesn't help that the last time we'd gone there, taking a meandering walk through the labyrinth of narrow streets that is Stone town (now a United Nations World Heritage Site), we spotted an ancient African man, huge rosary beads around his neck, carrying a dead crow in each hand. Witch doctor or other-worldly spirit, we couldn't tell. But needless to say, we kept very, very quiet as he passed us by in a world of his own calm.

My fondest memory of the place is when all of us, a bunch of about 5 girls, were idly traipsing about when we noticed some raggedy children teasing 2 big, black, scary-looking dogs by throwing pebbles at them. Suddenly we heard furious barking and on turning, saw the dogs lunging.

We ran for our lives.

Panting down the alleys, we ran blindly through the mazes of narrow streets, adding frightened beggars and confused shop keepers to our marathon team. We pushed each other desperately out of the way, one girl falling face down into the street, while another jumped clear over her.

After we'd sprinted across half the town, a man dashed out of a little shop. "What happened?" he shouted at us, alarmed.

"Dogs!" we puffed, terrified, "Dogs!"

"What dogs?" he asked calmly, probably thinking we were high on something.

We slowed down and turned. No dogs. They hadn't even bothered to chase us.

Here's wishing the holidays and the year ahead bring lots more fun, adventure, love and excitement; and even more stories to blog about.

Have a merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year.

I'm off to collect my fee from the Zanzibar Department of Tourism.

Links : Images of Zanzibar, More Photos, History, Stone Town.

Photo courtesy (stolen from) Getty Images.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Party Hearty

It's almost christmas, and the year end parties have started with a bang. My weekends (and a lot of the work week) are almost completely choked up with plans. Even if that means dragging myself out of bed the next day wanting to die, so I can sleep some more. For eternity.

But the endless parties and meeting old friends and new strangers is always fun. What's even more fun is the hilarity - the absolute, utter hilarity - of being possibly the only stone-cold sober person at a wild party. Because you should know, the antics of the piss drunk make for some seriously good entertainment.

Since I'm usually the only one with a boring glass of juice (or at my most hair-down-all-caution-to-the-winds best, an ice cold red bull), I'm usually able to appreciate (more like, laugh till my tummy hurts and never let them forget for the remainder of their time on earth) their drunken acts of lunacy.

This one guy for instance, at last weekend's bash where almost everyone was plastered, all high on life (and a whole lot of other things). He wandered over and started talking (and I use the word loosely) about the cheesiness of old D grade Indian movies.

"All they do," he slurred drunkenly "is dance around trees," and tipsily tottered around the near by lit-up tree, then promptly fell off the steps next to it. He then stumbled back to our table, picking up the cloth napkins at each place-mat and stuffed them down his shirt.

"See," he said, "They cram napkins down their boobs. Then the hero comes and kneels at her chest while she breathes heavily," and proceeded to act it out, thrusting his chest spasmodically in the air, confidently playing the heavily panting, busty heroine.

I think it's time he came out of the closet.

It's not always so amusing though. A lot of the time when everyone's passing out left, right and centre, drinking themselves into oblivion, like it was last night at a friend's very lively, movie-themed party; I wonder whether most people can enjoy living and loving life without the aid of hazy, alcohol tinted glasses.

As someone who doesn't touch alcohol (by choice) and can go to a party and still have a blast, I feel sorry for people who have the need to zombify themselves. Getting a little tipsy and happy I can understand. But when you drink to a state that you couldn't recall your name if you had a gun to your head is just, I don't know, stupid.

I like to be able to talk coherently (as much as is possible above the deafening music), get home safe, sleep on my own bed, rather than crash out in crumpled clothes on a stranger's uncomfortable couch. And nurse a killer hangover the next morning.

Although grumpiness resulting from the late night + early morning wake up call for work, a missed breakfast due to having overslept and a skipped lunch trying to maniacally meet deadlines, comes pretty close.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Only in Africa will you find a peacock in all it's magnificent feathered glory, strutting proudly across a traffic jam packed street at rush hour.

Head held high, neck craned to look down it's nose at it's honking surrounding, disdainfully arrogant, it crosses the road unfazed as grown men stare out of their cars and point and laugh.

I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'd rather have my tonsils removed with a rusty spoon*

Or: Thanks, but no thanks.

What is it about men that makes them treat women like they own them? And this with all women, not just their own. It's cool if you're chivalrous and charming, but if you're going to get all weird and freak out on someone you barely know, or even share a casual acquaintance-type relationship with, it's SO not.

It really gets my goat because there I'll be all nice but platonic (with a huge dash of casual) with someone and then they'll suddenly turn around and hit me with a lovey-dovey, sappy hand (and I speak metaphorically). Smack bang right in the middle of my gob-smacked self. Which is all well and good when you're both attracted to each other and flirting. But if you've been very obvious that you're not interested in the least, and go out of your way to be sisterly... WHY? WHY?

So I'm freelancing for this guy right? We met once when he had to give me some supplies and we're mostly communicating over the phone... all very professional and work related. So I finish the job and when he comes to pick his stuff up, he brings a little gift. I'm not one to take presents from people I hardly know (bad experiences. life lessons learnt the hard way) so ofcourse, I refuse in the nicest way I know.

"Why?" he goes, "It's just a small thank you. A watch. Not expensive," and shows me a garishly kitschy pink watch.

Now even if I wanted, why would I take that? I don't collect cheap, tacky, (ugly) watches thankyouverymuch.

"Take it" he says "If you don't want it, throw it away. I can't give it to anyone else, I bought it just for you. Who will I give it to?"

"Your girlfriend/ wife/ whoever" I say with what I think is an impish grin and then I walk off.

An hour later he calls me up. "Are you married or something?" he asks.

I'm lost for words. I don't want to say "D'uh no" incase he's got any ideas, and I can't say "yeah, with 3 kids" 'coz he'd find out in less than a minute from a mutual friend. Although I have done that once before when a stranger stopped me in the middle of the road and asked me my name. When I asked him why he wanted to know, he'd asked instead if I was engaged. I told him I was married and walked off chuckling, thinking I was oh so clever. A few months later I was set up on a blind date with the very same guy. So much for being smart.

So instead, I go "What do you think?"

"Damn you!" he says in annoyance "you can't even answer me properly! You don't take my gift! You don't answer my questions!" and he hangs up.

I couldn't have cared less at that point. His job was done, he'd paid my fee, and I was happily headed for lunch with a good friend.

And then this sms conversation happens:

B: sorry i lost my cool. just having a bad day. sorry

GG: its ok.. but next time please dont make such a big deal out of small insignificant issues.

B: sorry. i know guys must be hitting on u all the time. im not one of them. all i wanted is to show appreciation to a fellow artist. Im sad that my efforts were not appreciated. I prayed for you though - its friday :)

GG: (groans to herself, then rolls her eyes)

B: am i considered as just a client or a friend? if the latter then what else do i need to know about u. itll help me not to be humiliated next time.

GG: (enjoying lunch)

B: i guess i answered my own question. ok thats cool, i can live with that. i will send my driver to pick up the stuff tom. bye.

First of all, having a bad day is NO excuse to act like a moron. Secondly, whaddya mean you PRAYED for me? What are you trying to insinuate? Jerk-O. Thirdly, the whole client vs. friend thing? We've known each other for less than a week and I talk to you only about the work I'm doing for you. What do you think? Fourthly, you do NOT give cheap, tacky gifts to women. If you can't afford it, buy flowers, buy chocolates, buy a goddamn card. Fifthly, get a life. And a girlfriend. Sixthly, talking to someone for two days about work does NOT give you the right to give her presents. Well okay, you can give her presents. But only nice ones and without dishonourable intentions or expecting anything in return.

Maybe if the watch hadn't been so ugly?

Superficial? Who me?

*From a list of creative ways to say "No" that also included amusing but very gag-able items such as: I'd rather suck the snot out of a gorilla's nose until the back of his head caves in.