This thing called Love

The story of one particular four lettered word which has captured all life forms alike (No, I am not talking about the F-word here, but then which could also fit the bill if you think) is amazing. A few posts before this one, right here (read it if you haven’t already)I had mentioned about one of my classmates in the programme, a comrade from Belgrade, Serbia.
So the tough talking, straightforward guy who has seen much of life thanks to the erstwhile Yugoslavian era always has a story or two to tell us. And almost all of them mostly end with, “fuck these Americans!” The ring masters that they have been have managed to tear apart the Balkans and much of the republic of erstwhile is slowly coming over the damage of war and bloodshed. Hearing his tales, one feels his hatred is justified in more ways than one.
So me and this man got talking about life apart from wars and political carnage. And as soon as the topic of relationships and love hit the forefront, he had a story there too. But unlike the others, where the narration is quite raw and unemotional laced with concern, he was a picture of emotion and it was showing up on his face black and blue.And then he went pink, when prodded further and our lunch served as a perfect occasion for another wonderful piece.
And when the tables turned, it was time for me to spill my side of the story. And what did I have to say? Nothing. And as is with the westerners, the curiosity to know why/why not was evident. Funny though I ended up telling a very cliched remark, but on an afterthought praised myself for my poise in handling it. For if you asked me, I sense the europeans are running on a shortage crisis when it comes to women. Everyone I have met till today are in a relationship from age 16-17, some with the same guy, some different (ranging from 2 to half a dozen in some cases). And that is when I understand the difference in mentality.
A country of  billion would have several fish in the pond and so we can wait. Much to my surprise, he bought that counter quite well.

On the paneer & roti crave kronicles…

Two weeks since and an utter craving for anything paneer and roti made us (myself and Mudit) scan around for Indian restaurants in the downtown. And as much as surprised as you are gonna be knowing this, we were also in for a shocker when we realized there were around 30-40 Indian places spread far and wide across Lisbon. Add Porto, Faro and the suburbs of Lisbon and we reach a figure touching 50. Quite Impressive!!! And we zeroed in on this place near the Rossio square – Restaurante Gandhi Palace.

An above average meal with paneer and chicken cost us around 26E. Needless to say, it was a relief though the spice content on them was abysmally low. And that’s like a given considering the fact that this was Lisbon and not Delhi or Madras. Next on the agenda is to find a south Indian place. Dosa anywhere in Lisbon?? We are on it, people!!!! 😀

Bairro Alto, No Thanks

When almost 99.9% of the atleast half a lakh student population in Lisbon and much of the current generation have headed off to the bars and pubs spread across Bairro right now, here is one man, who is really old from within (as remarked by his rather concerned flatmate) churning out this post from scratch. Everyone is gone, the doors have opened all over and across Bairro Alto, the night life capital of Western Europe, if not continental Europe as such.
Discounted rates on drinks, happy hours, parties, beautiful women (& men of course) – there is everything there, enough to get a physically able person to run over and immerse yourself in the festivities. The best part is that its just not about Friday or the weekend, Bairro is alive 7 days a week, 365 days a year starting from 2330 and running well upto 0400 the next morning and in some cases, even 0530. And yours truly happens to be one of those very rarest of the rare people who still haven’t got himself an ESN card which opens yourself into Bairro and the best part of nightlife and parties with heavy discounts and offers.  
Even before people have got themselves settled in the flats, they are concerned whether the counters at the ESN office would shut down thus deeming it impossible to gift themselves an ESN card – such is the case. And for a moment, I thought it was just the “European” thing to head off for a dash at Bairro, at the slightest window of opportunity. And my Indian friend proved me wrong, so much so he probably thinks I came from an altogether different planet. People gave me a really concerned look when I told them about this and asked me to seek help (with the psychiatrist is what they had in mind, but they were nice enough to put it in milder words… 😛 )
Somehow I just do not feel like it. I have always despised crowds and gatherings, and this should pass off as an obvious counter to my traits. But then, I delved into this a whole deal and figured that most people go there just to have fun, and loosen up and unwind from the clutches of the grueling semester and work and life in general. I mean, that is the case with most people. And maybe its the fact that I am so in love with myself that I do not feel the need to go out into the crowd, and pay a few euros to unwind and relax. My relaxation would be fine with a few conversations with the people I love, some good music some good stuff to read and maybe catch up a good game on TV or live stream. This is not to endorse the fact that I might never head off to Bairro as long as I am here, but I would rather be a recluse than be claustrophobic and cringe inwardly at the sight of an exodus. 
Now Playing: Etho Vaarmukilin, Neha Nair (Outcast Vocals 2) – been listening to this for the best part of the last two days. 

On the Madrasan girl, the Delhi Boy and the mad crowd running behind them….

Madrasan girl has made life hell not only on twitter and her blog, but also on Facebook. As a result, my computer stands to get some well deserved rest now that people have woken up to this and started writing their own hate posts, mine included. I was part of this debate on television for Ragam on “How racists are we” and the verdict on that was quite obvious.
Even when India makers a hue and cry about the racist mentality that they have to deal in the states or in the UK, what we forget is to see whats happening inside this country.We are a country of norms, traditions and faiths, which range from every microcosm of activity that transpires all across this country. And when we see another person, who is from another part of India do things in a separate manner, this becomes an obvious event of confrontation. Its not because we start doubting our principles or ethics, its just this feeling of the growing insecurity from within at the sight of this total stranger who would go about his weird ways and in most ways, find you weird too.
I am very much an Indian – born and bred in the south of the country and I am no different from these people. I did have a few rogues from the north in my class, who were very much annoying if not anything worse, but then I am very sure I was nothing less than annoying for them too. And for the best part of life in college, I have made myself steer away from them for reasons that were purely personal coz I felt I was best being around with my people. And I am sure, everyone does that. A Maharashtrian would be most happy if he/she can spot a marathi more than anyone else, a gujju does the same, a bengali, a tamilian – EVERYONE does this.
Only when it is somebody who beings it up in the public domain, we have a tendency to trash it, call it racist, have a big bad debate wasting a lot of time over something, which we all know exists even within us. India is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters is only reserved for the national pledge, but the reality is far far different. I do not think, I am exactly in a flourishing brotherhood or sisterhood with someone who cannot take me the way I am and instead ridicules the fact that I eat with my hands or calls me a madrasi. I think of you in no less demeaning manner.
So let us not deny her, her right to express what she felt. She has put in a lot of thought into this, much of what she says will be echoed by the average south Indian. Maybe she got in acquaintance with the wrong set of people in Delhi, maybe she is a victim of extreme inferiority complex and frustration because she stands no chance against the women in the north in hitting it out with a guy up there, maybe some totally other reason too – but we all meet up with these jerks and invariably take off on things like this. So take it with a pinch of salt and move ahead, atleast she has managed to get us to think. Everyone is indeed welcome to set their records straight on this issue and that indeed is the way to go about it. And the Delhi boy’ response I hear is equally good, but I do not prefer to read that and you know why.

The Mallu Trail

The trail to find an Indian, most importantly a malayali in Lisbon ended up nowhere, so to say. The feeling of having a rather bland affair with Onam this time around was almost unthinkable a week ago when I left home, but I have convinced myself to probably inhibit from the very fact. Not that I didn’t go searching for one, infact I spent quite sometime of the day on the 5th doing this.
I did most things right too. For instance, I got down at Martim Moniz, a predominantly Afro-Asian belt in Lisbon I am told. I did walk around the place for clues, asked a few Chinese and they redirected me to this lady at the Indian store who quite candidly said she had not heard of Kerala. I did not leave it quite there, got myself to this Indian restaurant (very pricey menu) and he was kind enough to tell me that he indeed was in acquaintance with one family from Kerala. My hopes of an Onam celebration were bearing fruit much more than ever before. And I hopped my way onto this other street as directed by the restaurant friend.
On reaching there, I met this family, they looked quite Indian and when we got talking, I realised that they were descendants from the Mozambique. And thus ended the mallu trail.
Happy Onam to myself and all my mallu readers. This time around, I am quite alone in Lisbon. Though I still will make payasam and maybe head off to the temple on the other side of town (Atleast some mallus should be coming there!! )