Thursday, April 27, 2006

There was nothing in Doha in the 80s - really ?

While blog-hopping some time back , I came across Creative lock II, a photo blog . I liked the pictures posted and left a comment. The blogger replied back

This is the comment exchange

bilbo said...

came here through om's blog. loved the pics you've taken. Was in Doha from 85-88. Am sure its changed a lot since then . Would love it if you could some pics of it. Especially of the corniche around sheraton. :)

Arroclint said...

bilbo: hello..
what were you doin here in the 80s? there was nothing here in the 80s. im doin a project on images for doha sometime in the next couple of months, ill put up the pics. but trust me its changed over the last 20 years...

While, I was happy that he'll be putting up some pics, what caught my attention was the remark about there being nothing in Doha in the 80s.

Yes, Clint, there was nothing in Doha in the 80s. There were no big amusement parks. There were no big malls. The Centre , Family Food centre and Salam Plaza were the only ones around at that time. But , there was our big house with a garden in the front, an almost jungle on one side and a backyard with gravel in it and shell remnants. We often pitched a tent in the garden and played away many a summer evening. There was the Ramada with its club and its swimming pool.

Doha was my first experience of a south Indian accent. At least the first time I noticed a difference. Doha was also my first exposure to arabic. I got 3 out of 100 in the first exam . 13, the next exam and then 98. I had picked it up. Realised I could do it. Did it again later , back in india, with sanskrit , and am now trying with nihongo.

I wrote my first poem in Doha. Also , got my first, first prize for both poetry and essay writing competition. Doha was a lot of speeches made in front of the assembly. I realised I loved doing it. That I loved word play . Doha then had Young Gulfers and Young Times.

I took my first pic in Doha. In the pic , could be seen a whole lot of carpet and the head of my youngest bro. He was the only one short enough . The rest had gotten beheaded by yours truely. I guess one learns about composition from mistakes such as these.

Doha did not have a gazillion TV chanels then. There was one hindi movie at 9:30 PM, every thursday. We could never stay awake for it. But we made up for it with tom and jerry .

And at that time we could only go to the Al khor garden. Still remember the kites we picked up there and fly only there. We did bring it home and tried to fly it in our garden. We never could. My brothers and I still don't know how to fly a kite.

Doha, at that point of time , did have the world's best zoological garden. Loved going there. Loved all the beaches and to this day , remember the 4WDs that would come and rescue our car. No matter what car we took, which group we went in, one car would definitely get stuck and then had to be helped out.

Doha was the corniche and then walks we took there after dinner every night. I remember our last night there. It was a full moon night and we could see something huge , right above the sheraton. One of us said, it was the water tank, the other said it was a weather balloon. Don't remember what other guesses we made. All three of us were wrong though. Finally mom smiled and said, "notice the water around your feet. What you are looking at , is the moon. It is this close and thats why looks big enough, and thats why the water on the walkway."

So, yes , there was nothing or nothing much in Doha in the 80s. But sometimes, nothing is all that you want, and all that you need.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A wkend trip down the memory lane

Is it just me, or does every one go through the experience of reminiscing about things past even while creating new memories. I, sometimes, feel like being in a time warp. A feeling of being stuck, even while moving.

Anyways, before I started spouting philosophy, let me start with what I did this wkend and why I began my post this way.

Saturday day was spent in the lab, as are almost all my Saturdays. Shu, my diehard party animal lab mate wasn’t done with it, it seems. While I was leaving lab, he goes, “I am planning to go party tonight, will call you before I leave.” I told him to call but also very honestly told him that I might not come.

That's that, or so I thought. Walked around Shibuya and Ginza and got home around 6 PM. Was online talking to Apy when he said something about receiving a call from Shu (they’d both met during the sakura charity bazaar). Apy asked me if I was coming or not. I told him about being in two minds about it. Since my mind was not made up, he made it for me. Turns out, I was going.

So, we met up at roppongi station around 10:30 and our hunt was on. First stop HIDEOUT. Nice place, not too crowded. And I guess I was on a roll, effortlessly walking a line between the past and the present. When I went out pubbing with friends at NYC, we always started with whiskey sour. It was my poison of choice here too. The drinks were made really well. Our night was on to a good start. While shu and apy danced to the hip-hop playing, I nursed my drink and looked around. While I could see the people around me, in my mind I could see people around me from 3 yrs back. I could see myself with them, getting drinks, getting drunk and dancing. I could see our school toast and I could see the final sammich dance we did. All of this made me smile and led my friends to the conclusion that I was getting high. I was, high on the drink, the memories it brought and the fact that our waitress Victoria moved like my friend M. I made it a point to tell her that when we were leaving.

Next stop MOTOWN. This place was slightly crowded. The party had already begun here. We got some more drinks and we were again witness to why I like Japan so much. Apy was handing me my change but since I was drunk, I dropped the coin. The bartender looked for it and when he could not find it, he brought out flash light. He finally got the coin and handed it to us. Apy and I had an only in Japan look on our faces. We thought of moving a little inwards and that's probably when I dropped the sweater I was carrying. Again the same waiter handed it over. When we went out clubbing in NYC, M used to forget her jacket and some or the other friend used to find it and bring it over. M’s jacket was known among us as the little animal (it was a huge thing in faux fur). The running joke was that M’s little animal followed her home. On Saturday my own little animal followed me.

Am a little fuzzy on what followed next, but I guess one whiskey sour and two scotches would do that to a 5-zip gal. I was dancing. And continued to do so for quite a while. It was fun to dance to all the old numbers from ABBA. Brought back memories of dancing in NYC and off course dancing in hostel nights in JNU. More fun to catch sight of Shu every once in a while, steadfastedly continuing on his hunt but drawing blanks. Time for a trip to the restroom, and rendezvous with an Australian couple. The guy was drunker than a skunk. He pointed to his gal and asked me if she was gorgeous. I answered in the affirmative. He went on in a pseudo menacing tone, "Don’t touch her. "This, was followed by an eye roll from the gal in question. And only a drunk Bilbo can come up with, “she is gorgeous but I don't swing that way. “

Any drinking session of mine is ended with a cognac. I spill some of it and a friend finishes the rest. That's how the one on Saturday ended too. We did check out other places but I guess the drinking and dancing was done. The rest was walking around, talking, joking and just having a good time. It is April, but Tokyo weather has yet to make up its mind. Hot and cold it blows. Saturday was a cold night and we tried keeping indoor for the most part. Even spending sometime in the starbucks getting a coffee. Hung around on the road between a manned rotisserie truck and an unmanned stool with a few tubes of toothpaste on it. A random gal got tired of waiting for the guy to turn up and made away with a tube. That was hilarious. The stuff that happens on a night spent drinking. From your dropped coin being returned to you to some one committing a petty theft. It was, all good.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Icarus and my reality

" Sometimes people talk to us but they don't really talk to us. They talk around whatever their reality is . Sometimes they talk just so they don't have to tell us what their reality is. They don't tell us they are hurting- not until it's too late"

I read a lot, and by lot, I mean a- novel- a day lot. And then I keep coming back to some novels again and again. Revisited Icarus, a Russell Andrews thriller and came across these lines. Now I know why I have it on my shelf.

I felt like Patience McCoy was talking about me. Except I am not talking around my reality. I am still looking for my reality. Can catch a glimpse of it sometimes before it disppears on a curve again. It brings its own surprises each time I meet it.

Here's to hoping I make a better acquaintence with it some time soon.

lunch today or who'da thunk

For some time now , I've been joining my lab mates for lunch at the cafeteria. This time round, its been good. So far, no mixing of all the meats, making me pick out the tiny pork bits and no more allergic reactions. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Today we had something I'd never thought of having. We had ochazuke. Its a combination of rice , toppings and green tea. I mean seriously, who'da thunk!! Hmm this tea looks nice. wait a min, lemmme pour it over my rice. Had I done something like that at my family dining table, I'd have been sent up to my room without dinner. It looked quite interesting and was not too bad, if I do say so to myself. The strong tea taste of green tea was missing, all though the aroma was definitely there.
Just when you think that you've seen it all, the cuisine here throws you a new curve.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rain and the thoughts in its wake

Its been raining today since morning and surprisingly, I am not grey or blue. I did have some serious thoughts in the morning while on my commute. I use the monorail for part of my commute. It has big picture windows to take in the view . Since, today the view was blocked because of the rains, I could focus more on the droplets. It was interesting to note the different route all the droplets took to eventually get to the bottom of the window. Some just trickled straight down, some blazed past. Some flashed across the window like a meteor and some snaked their way across. Some were fast, while some meandered and took the long and scenic ( for me ) route. Some dithered for a while, taking a few hesitant steps forward, before gaining momentum. Some carved their own path, while some took the easy way out and followed the droplet before them. They all eventually made it to the bottom of the window, but each made much of this short journey, making my commute interesting. I did not have a camera on me and sometimes, I think its a blessing. I focus more on the view than fretting about getting it all. I did look for pics though, and these capture the emotion very well.

Monday, April 03, 2006


I’ve had a fascination with the cherry blossom, or sakura or yamazakura as its referred to honorably in Japan ever since mom and dad moved to Tokyo and mom started waxing eloquent about this beatific bloom that could be seen everywhere, come April. Mom insisted I plan a visit around that time. Being at school in NYC, I could only visit in May and by then the sakura had given way to the hydrangea. Next year, when mom started talking about these blossoms again, I gave into the temptation and visited Washington DC for the cherry blossom parade. I barely caught the blooms. We spent the entire day Saturday walking around the mall and admiring the flowers. When we drove past the area on Sunday, we were in for a disappointing sight. It had rained in the night and the water droplets had taken the flowers with them in their plunge to the earth. I was left wanting for more.
I moved to Japan towards the end of April and then started the wait for the next April, for the cherry to bloom again. I wanted to witness the blossom in its glory again and I did get the opportunity.
And I got it again this year. Although, it lasted for a much shorter time than last year, I enjoyed it much more this year. The ladies of Rachna club organize a Sakura charity bazaar, every year. The club is formed by wives of the senior members of the Indian Embassy in Tokyo and the wives of other Indians in Tokyo. Though I am guessing, being a wife is not a mandatory requirement for membership. :P
In the Previous years, almost all the food sold at the bazaar was made by the ladies themselves. Last year, they introduced a few restaurants and this year, the food was entirely by the restaurants. The members, however, manned the various stalls and their family members pitched in. The bonhomie and the sense of belonging was so tangible, one could almost touch it. And, as a friend put it, he felt at home, in India while he was at the embassy. Don’t take my word for it, just read about it.

I took these picures at the Yasukuni war memorial shrine on the 18th of march. This particular tree is from Kyoto and it was blooming then.

These pics are from yasukuni shrine again, just different trees. The leaves are already visible. Another day or two, and the flowers will fall off and the leaves will take over. The Pics were taken on April 1st and the blooms already on its way to getting over.

And now, to a different kind of bloom. Its still the sakura, it just hangs. I think it is also referred to as the weeping cherry. I could be wrong about it though. These were taken on the 2nd of April, at the end of the lab hanami picnic.

We did not have as nice a picnic as last year , as, it was windy and sand got into mostly everything. I've witnessed worse sandstorms here as compared to the ones in the mid east. so we sat on our blue tarp for a little while, tried to eat and drink and make merry, but after a few beer spills and a hell lot of mopping, we finally gave up and headed towards the lab. We did make takoyaki ( octopus ) though. It seems to be a hanami tradition. This year though, there were too many fake takoyaki floating around. From the ones filled with apples bananas and pineapples to my own desi take on it. I took bondas for the lab picnic :D

And now for the grand finale. Apy took a great effort for it and was generous enough to share