Sunday, December 25, 2011

Busy busy times

This past month has been unexceptionally heavy duty as far as work was concerned. With something to write everyday, I didn't as much update my Facebook status let alone my blog. By my Assistant Editor was away and the crown of thorns was passed on to me. Those who know...know that handling production of any magazine/ newspaper is far worse than the actual writing and this amazing month I had to do both and it was really took a lot from me. Looking back at this entire 26 days, I see nothing but writing and though I don't regret it, it do not make be glad either. Anyways, watched the absolutely fantastic Ruhaniyat this year...the Sufi festival and was enormously happy at the huge turnout...small crowds at great festivals always made me sad but this time it was encouraging.

The crazy work schedule apart, I managed to catch a lot of good, theater et al. The Ash Chandler show was a highlight, he managed to scandalize the proper society ladies of Hyderabad, who turn up everywhere. His adult humor was galling and hilarious to say the least. The open bar was where some others were interested in..the guy sitting in front had 11 pegs of whiskey and still stood straight. The only complaint was that I'm not reading at all these days, bough two books for a steal at the Book Fair but miss that reading day in and day out.

The year ends and it's time for all the silly recaps and redundant round ups....also loved the one line reviews of Don doing the's not Don2, it's Yawn 2.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A flash in a pan

That's how this entire month seems like...I cannot remember the last time something went by so quickly (though I always crib to Pt that it does, I mean it this time)I've written a lot today, been writing on and off since morning but somehow wanted to write here too...There is so much going on in my head, about articles to plan for the next month, ways to stop my hair from falling and stop worrying about why I'm not reading or listening to music much these days that I really needed to clear my head and write...keep writing.

I feel so lazy these days...I've always been lazy but the past couple of months I've taken a turn for worse because nothing excites or arouses me from the deep slumber I'm protruding into. Not reading, not doing anything merely planning and wishing that things would move on their own accord, which damningly never does happen.

Met Vidya Balan a couple of days back and man, she is one focused chick. She went to five places during her 10 hour trip to the city and nearly caused a mini- stampede in the mall I met her. I liked her though...she spoke well and didnt seemed to mind that everyone around her asked her the same questions. I hope The Dirty Picture works, always liked Silk Smitha and hope Balan can revel in some borrowed pride. Hell, no one deserves it more!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November blues

November is one of my most hectic months of the year along with May. November is the time for annual issue which basically means double work at the same pay which is certainly not amusing, it also means that I write so much that any more writing elsewhere means sheer fatigue. The irritants apart, it's a month I really love. One of my closest friends has her birthday this month and it brings cheer like very little things do, also it's beautiful in Hyderabad, with the winter just starting out and the concert/ theater season in full swing. A new tradition rather a revival of the old traditions is underfoot, that of performing at some of the best landmarks of the city, the forts, the palaces and the open grounds are brimming back to life and the background they lend to any event is unparalleled. The flip side being the impossibly long distances...but November also brings to forth the barely concealed fact to light that another year is fast slipping by without any significant achievement or change. It is always astonishing that an year has gone by quietly without any fuss whatsoever.

Months are so imbued with characteristics, January is always filled with the warm glow of possibilities where you think you are making this year count. February is thankfully, always short and spent dreading the impending summer. March is depressing always. Mid year for me, April and May are the fussiest with the unbearable heat and work making it a blur. June is cheerful, and brings a lot of hope wise or other wise. July marks a lull in work and my life begins again for me. August brings the rains and smiles, optimism and laughter, water and warmth. September and October, with their activities and festivities keep one busty. December is a daze often, spent wondering whether anything of value has been accrued for another year. November brings cheer for me, hard work and pleasure coupled...dinners and conversation... Friends and peace and bliss.

To making every day special!

Monday, October 10, 2011


As another power cut makes it's presence felt, I think of the last time I met Jagjit Singh. It was this year, around May when I interviewed him. I have been a huge fan of his phenomenal voice and the depth of its melancholy, that he could generate so much pain struck me as an extraordinary gift. Having seen, the masterful " Arth" and losing myself in the two magnificent gems penned by Kaifi Azmi and sung with a pathos which tears your heart apart...all these thoughts were ringing in my head when I hopped and skipped to meet him. We did meet, for once the press conference was on time and I was almost bursting with an inner cheer that I was meeting a person whose voice was great company, one which does not question and whose presence calms you invisibly. When I started interviewing him, my first question was about his style of singing, to which he asked me about Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the great poet about whom I had only scant knowledge. Then he asked me if I knew his body of work, then refusing to answer any questions... all through the interview all I could see was a person who did not match up to the phenomenal gift he was known for- his voice. I came back that day with a sinking feeling in my heart that a person so big can be so small and chided myself for matching a person and his voice.

Needless to say, that put me off his music for I couldnt imagine liking that. A few months back, I was watching Shyam Benegal's magical " Mammo" in which Jagjit Singh made an entry back into my life with his magical " hazaar baar ruke hum...hazaar baar chale hum" This time I kept the voice away from the man and allowed myself to lose my knot of discord in the impenetrable depth of his sorrow which connects instantly with any one looking for a companion. The nature of sorrow is such that it reaches out to other suffering instantly, attracting it like bees to flowers, you identify the feeling and once the connection is established it is as impossible to breakaway from it as it is from your first love. The quality of Jagjit Singh's voice had that uniqueness... of wrapping itself around you, making it's hold around you so breathlessly quixotic yet rendering you unable to move away from it, divine and all consuming.

When Pt messaged me today that he passed away, I felt a pang that I never listened to him live. Impressions are such fallible, things that they stay with you long after you've turned your back away. Today, I am glad that I met some one like him, though not exactly what I wanted happened, he was a real tangible person who showed me that he was just like you and me: human but blessed with one extraordinary power, that of a voice which comes back to you the minute you shut your eyes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

These bloody Bandhs

I honestly thought I wouldn't write about this but with the madness reaching a crescendo I really wanted to protest my life coming to a grinding standstill with the only way I writing. I've written about Telangana before (2 years back) but this time, the situation is so completely out of order that this is 17th day of an ongoing strike- no buses are running on the roads, with everyone from pujaris, news paper vendors, civic maintenance staff protesting on one day or the day, Hyderabad...this wonderful, magnanimous city of life and laughter is looking worse for wear and disturbingly, is beginning to tear because of the enormity of stupidity available in abundance. The Real estate lobby is crippled, all the IT industries have halted their plans for expansion and with even emergency services like medical aid on a stretcher, none of it is just annoying anymore its unnerving and scary. I am all for protest, protest is an individual right but when it turns into dissent and affects the life of everyone around it needs to be dealt with. The deafening silence of Delhi (busy dousing the flames of 2G) is resonant and I lament the fact that schools are closed, shops are burnt and traffic is thrown out of gear because some extremely jobless people feel like it. Another aspect which scares me is that most of us have become immune to this agitation just like the daily power cuts we are subjected to, indeed, I lived with myself for the past 17 days without even battling an eye lid.

What gives one person the right to disrupt another life and what makes one immune to it? Where will this lead to and what price will we end up paying for this?

Monday, September 19, 2011


When I was growing up I was roundly criticized for not exploring life enough...not many girl friends, not even the usual drinking/drugging retinue, not enough going out and certainly not experimentation. I was always clear as to where I stood and what I wanted. As a 15 year old in a disco, I knew that it was not a place I wanted to go back,ever. The definitive distinction of the parallels and the keen knowledge that they would never ever intersect was sacrosanct and simple. My distractions, my prejudices and my distorted beliefs were my cumulative effort to hold on to the only way of life I knew. Of late though, I've been questioning every action and inaction of mine, every decision I took and take and every choice is under a scanner. Am I growing up or growing older, or are questions merely knife edged extension of the doubts I am clouded under, shrill but omnipresent. I who like order and stability have developed a close knit relationship with chaos of every imaginable kind and the new strains of thoughts, new bouts of uncertainties do not unsettle me, I finally am welcoming them to my fold, not drawing invisible lines around me, not clutching at strings which were never present and not taming the confused cousins of these thoughts. Simple choices sometimes unlock doors which we never know existed and I hope that while this new tide washes over, the old guard only reigns in, not drain out completely.

Change has finally succeeded to seep through the doors, dressed as hope and certainly looks as delicious as desire but will it be as doomed?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yellow boots and all

- I saw the wonderfully eccentric " That girl in Yellow boots" and was glad that movie makers, from the mainstream are willing to explore bold topics which are still taboo but bringing them out of the closet. Kalki was so delicate yet disturbing and I was really glad that she is getting roles ( albeit from her husband) that bring out the depth in her acting capabilities. Added to that was the wonderful back ground score, loved the movie.

- Interviewed the amazing Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma on the crazy Ganesh viserjan day. He was so tall and so soft spoken and super sarcastic when he told the Novotel PR that when he asked why there weren't any fruits in his room. He got an answer saying that that was a privilege only for VIP's...adding nonchalantly to the PR that he was not important but was merely hungry! The look on that PR's face was priceless!

- Read Aatish Taseer's new book but thought it was bollocks. I know he had a troubled life with an absentee father but three books based on the same premise? Seriously? And look at all female interviewers falling all over him....who ever said that only us poor men ogle?

- Redrawing boundaries, meeting new people and having fun...all of this sounds so weird especially when you've been away a bit but am meeting so many interesting people these days and having fun too.

- My first post from my latest gadget, do I see Sa smirk?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An ode to an old teacher

When I was in School, English was my favorite subject, something I did well in and something that I was interested and intrigued by. When I was in my Seventh standard, a teacher came in who was kind, clever and tolerant, more than anything else she was efficient and encouraged us to find our feet. She taught us for four years, dictation, prose, comprehension, Shakespeare...everything and till date I feel that the debt I owe to her is so immense that life will find a way for me to pay back. As things go, when I heard of her unfortunate and untimely demise I was unaffected and strangely reluctant to think of her. I dont know why, but I did not even react to it respectfully. When I shared this news with Pt, however I couldnt really stop thinking of her, the curved slant of her alphabets, the wry grin when she caught me found reading during a class and the word of praise from her I simply craved for. Grief for me never till now needed a legitimacy but today there was an overwhelming need for it, for something who understood what I felt, for an emotion which is too volatile to describe and for the burgeoning need to tell her and share with her that writing is now a part of my life, all thanks to her.

I last met her almost two years ago, when I took Oscar Wilde's "Picture of Dorian Gray" for her, it was so easy to effectively be back in time again, to call her Maam and try to impress her by wanting to tell her that I was working for a magazine. (which I didnt and now I wish I did) We take things so much for granted, I always reckoned that I could go back and meet her sometime but now that time has passed, that sun has set and that need turned into despair but that memory lingers on, of a warm teacher who rises above personal deficiency to reach out and a sinking feeling in my stomach that a part of my childhood has now achieved closure.

There are now so many things I wish I did, the first one being the thought I should have met her often but what remains is a feeling of gratitude, for teachers who show us the way in so many invisible ways and are never thanked for. For the many choices they offer and are never acknowledged and most importantly for being a part of our lives but never seeking a claim on their contribution.

To Manjula Maam. She who gifted me a love for a language. She, who was there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dreams do come true

Whenever I want to meet someone’s work I hugely admire I am thrown in a quandary because people are seldom what they seem and especially with people in the creative field, they eccentricities and other maladies make me vary and apprehensive. I remember meeting Jagjit Singh, whose obnoxious behavior made sure that I never listen to his amazing music again and what was a daily durbar has been relegated to the dead end of my music soirees. So when I was about to interview Amitav Ghosh, I was all knots…will he be polite, will it make me swear off his wonderful wonderful books and most importantly, will he match up to his books?

In one word- Yes, he was all that and more. Soft spoken, affable and immensely likeable…mister Amitav Ghosh is charm offensive himself. Unfailingly polite and enormously well mannered, it was such pleasure speaking to him. I was so nervous that I forgot many questions I wanted to ask him and spelled pidgin (pronounced pigeon as pig- din!!) his book reading was well attended and a surprise, most questions made sense except one hilarious person who asked him why your books are so long and heavy (The moderator intervened and asked him to read newspapers) was a memorable night and I finally got my copy of the Hungry Tide signed by him!!

Was thinking, Hina Rabbani Khar looks smashing but when she spoke I honestly thought that it was SM Krishna speaking!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


It’s strange but I never really had any cause which was close to my heart (unless, it was for purely selfish reasons) but some how I was never really interested in activism if it required physical activity from my end. I've never really understood why and how people can pine for something so untangible. This time the magazine I work with has 13 social activists and I met some wonderful wonderful people whose passion, energy and enthusiasm both shamed me and gladdened me immensely. I fervently believe that a cause is like a kid, both require judicious attention and constant care and just like a child remains a child to their wards, a cause requires life long care and attention. I met a spunky (and absolutely gorgeous) wildlife photographer who made a record of birds found in Hyderabad and went to schools with it, a feisty lady of 60 years, wise and articulate who tries to save urban lakes, a software employee who also doubles up as an RTI activist and others like a lady who started an NGO called write to walk and takes up the cause of non-existent foot paths in the city. All of them determined and all of them so involved in the belief that their work would lead to some change. The great nature of their work, the vigorous push that it requires and the extraordinary work they put it simply astounded me! (The wildlife photographer spent one entire day to get a tricky shot done!) After meeting phoneys (actors/socialites) for so long, this piece I did was so close to my heart and made me believe that belief does wonders.

I simply loved Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, yes the second half pales, but it does lend the story certain gravity. It was fun, believable and frankly enjoyable to boot. I loved Zoya Akhar’s first movie as well and am so in love with the new Katrina, lively and energetic no longer an ice maiden.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The rains are here, a little late but as usual they bring a cheer to my heart, calm to my visage and a smile to my lips. I’ve always been a rain-bird and today has been unexceptionally dismal- the first proper rainy day of the season and I’m still soaking in the sights. I like the pitter-pat, that’s a sound which is much synchronized with my system. A longing to enjoy the rains, and an almost overwhelming desire to break out just like the clouds are crowding this heart of mine. The year so far has been difficult and this momentary respite is something I long for and whose mere sight quenches my thirst. Ferocious and gentle, loud and placid, the silent sweep of long accumulated angst is swooping down with tender haste and I am enjoying it from a distance, the mere sight soothing many frayed edges and much turmoil. The affectionate gloom outside is in complete contrast to the growing din inside, yet they co exist in harmony almost feeding off each other complimenting each other coyly.

Rains in college were great fun. The green which is so captivating and which never stays for long gives a high which is rare to describe. Eating a corn cob or simply sipping chai, it always brings back memories of a more relaxed life, maybe that’s why it’s so precious and precocious. I wish there was some equivalent to rain in real life too, something which has the latent power to wash down everything and helps you start afresh, that’s called reprieve? And life isn’t too careful with that. The smell of the first few drops remind me so much of the possibilities life offer to you which get stuck in the tempest of outpouring, always reminding you of what could have been possible and what hasn’t been.

To Rain.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Coming back

Come backs are so much tougher than leaving everything. I was at a press conference on Saturday, my first in months after an extended leave and was more nervous than my initial presser. Was fun though... missed all the gossip, waiting endlessly for 'stars' to descend and fighting with the PR for an exclusive. Interviewed Emraan Hashmi and Mahesh Bhatt, must say the latter was actually polite which was really surprising and gave honest, thoughtful answers to all questions. Having always liked his movies from Arth to Hum Hain Raahe Pyar Ke, I was really happy. Emraan is a very dis-interested person, so speaking to him is always done in five minutes flat. Must say, going by the crowds, he has more male fans than female, also he comes with a strict 'no-questions-about-kisses' stance but frankly nothing is more boring than asking him that.

I cannot wait for Mister Amitav Ghosh to come to Hyderabad, how amazing is the man? His River of Smoke, was so utterly spellbinding. His language, method employed to tell a story and restrained elegance is so sublimely charming! I was lucky to meet him once but am hoping to interview him this time around. I cannot not rave about his work...when is he getting the Nobel?

Watched Mammo yesterday and was marvelling at the enormously fine actor called Surekha Sikri, they dont make em' like that any they dont.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Work away

This space I’ve been away has always been a refuge so how can I not be back? After a lull, the tempo of the storm picked up and I’ve been writing, writing and well…more writing. Doing a story on street food is never easy but is always fun and I’ve had a lot of fun...digging into delicious dabelis and trying some delectable dosas off the wayside. The thing about street food is that its as unpretentious as you want it to be, just like food is supposed to be and of course as yummy as the creator wants it to be. The cover shoot was a disaster though, we wanted a big street bandi with everything in black and white and the food in delightful, loud colors…with clouds playing peek-a-boo and the traffic giving a test for our acrobatic skills…it was nothing shorn of a catastrophe.

Ash is pregnant and I am mightily thrilled…no nauseous giggling for a year now…thank you god!

Haven’t watched a movie in over two months, the longest I’ve stayed away…dying to watch Shaitaan…love the edgy music.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Breaks, long and short

It's been a while since I've written anything...its feels so amazingly vague. On a break from Work, I'm finding out so much about the simple joys I've submerged in the din surrounding me- the beauty of a silent house, the non- purposeless of it all, the lazy lazy Sundays curled up doing nothing and the joy of being with myself. I like it, the break, the whole deal of not having a deadline and writing when you dont feel like, searching for that perfect word and making hundred calls in one day. I only wish the rains were here, they would provide the company I seek and solace I need. What do you say when you realise that two whole years add up to a whole grand sum of zero? laugh and move away or sob and share it...

Reading again and feeling invincible because of it, Anita Nair's "The Better Man" and Anjali Joseph's magical lyrical "Saraswati Park" have infused new ideas of the old way eloquently. Endless cups of tea and minimal phone conversations have only made days better, while new forays make seem earlier ones utterly pointless.

Rambling haphazardly...gimme a break...I'm on one!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Price of Love

Some time back when Sa and I were in a deeply conversational mode and when the conversation deftly took the turns and twists with the randomness only then can, the talk spiralled to love and while discussing the cost of loving someone she asked "What is the cost of your Mother's love" while I was hesitant to answer Sa put it out in the open for me "To love her back". It seems so simple... the basic equation of love that adjectives fail to quantify the simplicity of it all. It boils down to give and take- rudimentary and raw and like any other equation it has its own exceptions, love's own exceptions but in essence it's like any other exchange, barter and sometimes barbarious. In many instances when we club love with affection and do not realise the difference or the sacrilege, it is a blindfold we choose to move around with. At times, love is just another possesion we wrap ourselves with to give us company in an otherwise long ardous journey. To love is to be loved in return. By demand, coercion, reason or treason.

There are simply no movies to watch...World Cup's upteen casualties and I have taken to watching old hindi movies. "Trikaal" was just about okay, the allure of Leela Naidu notwithstanding while "Bhumika" was so powerful, it showed that you dont need make up artists from America to show that you age, it can be done in just one grimace or contortion of face musles, ask Smita Patil.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yes, its been long

And this time I wont search for excuses. I didnt write because I had nothing to write home about. No clever conversations, no witty prose or even mundane I let myself be and decided I would'nt feel guilty and I didnt. So what was I upto in the month gone by

- Been busy busy with work. My Editor is caught up in some personal stuff so basically doing double my share of work. Cribbing constantly about it but loving it because I can do it.

- Was caught up in personal agonies of my own, but have come out of it scratched but smarter with the one line that gave me immense courage " If I dont fight for my happiness, who will " borrowed shamelessly from Ayn Rand.

- Had some immensely unpleasant encounters, first with Jagjit Singh (whose work and voice I admired greatly) who was like the rudest person I've ever met. Ram Gopal Varma was another pain but I retaliated big time and he was forced to keep quiet for one. (My photographer and myself were equally amazed and appalled at my rudeness, but he took it too far)

- And basically doing everything I was supposed to- reading, meeting friends, eating (If you want to eat something sweet, please try Hyderabad baking Co at the Marriott, amazing grub) and watching movies (how scary was Black Swan??)

But it sure does make me feel happy that I'm back at my space...I'm sure Pt must be grinning!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Journeys are supposed to be means to an end, cumbersome at times, convenient at the others and comfortable when least expected. Indian train journeys are supposed to be voyages wherein you reach out while not meaning to and adventures where one knows what one gets oneself into- everything which is interspersed with the everydayness of life chaotic undoubtedly but immensely warm and extraordinarily humane.

I was onto one such journey the other day, travel is something I choose not to do and in those cases when it is not possible to put it off any longer I find solace in the pages of a book; any book. This time however, it was not to be for I had fellow travelers whose names I neither asked for nor were exchanged but whose memories will always bring a warm cognizance to my visage and a steadfast reassurance to myself that no matter how much things change some things just remain the same and rightly so because they belong there.

My two companions and myself could not have formed a more obtuse triangle, I’m a 25 year old with all the trappings of the age imbibed. The first exchange was with my elderly genial gentleman who politely asked me for the time, the second a lady who asked if I could give her a hand with her luggage. After an agreeable silence and with our famed reticence lasting not more than a few minutes at its best, conversation flowed and I kept delaying a voice in my head which asked me to reach for a delicious paperback in my rucksack specially chosen as an aide in what I supposed was to be an arduous journey.

As we got past the initial pleasantries and moved a little beyond formality, I was surprised that the elderly gentleman was an 82 year old sports commentator for a Government run station and the lady on a visit from what was now her home- USA to attend a wedding. Appearances like they always do amounted for very little. It was an allegory of almost three different generations sitting together and having an actual conversation- mundane, ordinary, polite but overwhelming personal about life, faith and the condition of Indian railways! Being the only person not to have brought dinner, it was offered on a platter and my meek resistance was won over with the warm hospitality and the sight and smell of delicious brown wheat breads.

There is nothing new in what I described- three diverse people meeting each other for a small span of time but perhaps that is the understated elegance in it, a casual beauty which makes for great memories. The unexpected kindness and the underlying magic makes you reach out far more than you would ordinarily allow yourself to. As the night unfolded, we did not like many of the stories I’ve heard exchanged addresses or promised to stay in touch but bode farewell with the pleasant regret that an evening spent well was drawing a close.

Strangers never to meet but experiences ever to keep, the pull of human nature was what brought us together. I for my part will never forget the advice given- that of always starting a meal and a day with a smile, because as the person whom I addressed as ‘Sir’ explained what begins well always ends well.

Friday, January 21, 2011


are no fun if you are alone! I was not alone per se on Makar Sankranthi, but with my mum on the other side of the World and this being a festival which solely rested on her efforts, I felt really vague getting up at 8.45 am and eating out on a festival, but of late nothing has been following a pattern so I guess that it was just as well that even this did not fall in within the customary paths. All it did was to point out one more rudimentary fact of life- that everything plays out the way its supposed to be inspite of your best or worst efforts. But missed the sweets especially the ones which are made only at this time of the year and sorely missed the warmth that festive days bring in with them (along with the fights)

Met the team of 'Dil Toh Baccha Hain ji' the other day (Pt's debut press conference) and realised that things remain the same no matter how much they change. Madhur Bhandarkar was the same rude person he was last year and Shazahn Padamsee as boring, the only relief was the fact that they came just an hour late so went home early. Hope the movie tanks.

Dying to watch Saath Khoon Maaf, how amazing does it look?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Odd Ends

As it always happens when you are writing after a certain time, you know where to start but not where to end, so I'll go easy on myself and kick off...

-Things have been absolutely crazy of late. There was a time (not very long ago) when college was for two hours and I used to find myself at home at 11 am, with the whole day in front of me and not knowing what to do except reread my Harry Potters (No wonder I know them by heart), the circle of life has churned so much that these days, I have absolutely no time for me when I say that. I wake up early run around, work, drive, come back home, eat and go to bed early! 10.30 is me calling me quits and its for the first time that I'm sleeping so early or so much!

-Was Part of an amazing experience called 'Dialouge in the Dark', a touching way to savor the dynamics of the dark wherein you are led around in pitch dark by a visually challenged person and learn to make use of the other four senses you are blessed with. The tour takes an hour and you end up eating in the dark trying to figure it out by flavor and taste, you even have to move about using a stick. Brought to Hyderabad by the brilliant Sudha Krishna, it is an initiative to help us realise what we have and also bridge the gap between the visual and non visual.

So much more to write especially about the cold cold weather here, but for now I'll wrap things by saying no matter how cliched No One Killed Jessica is, its worth a watch just because of its overwhelming zest and Amit Trivedi.

PS: Another year, strangely though this time I'm wise enough not to wish for anything...perils of ageing or plain realism?