Thursday, October 9, 2014

Calm the fuck down

Read this if you are sick of opinions. Read this if you want to see no more ‘open letters’. Read this if you have ever tried to present a point of view on social media and have been bludgeoned with intense and scathing remarks on your intelligence, loyalties and choices.
I am not going to state the obvious. Okay, I am. We are a democracy. Every one, including people who are on this planet only because their parents couldn’t figure out birth control, is entitled to an opinion. But it’s getting annoying. It’s absolutely awesome that you choose a side. But after choosing the side, say your bit and relax. Stop shouting hoarse from rooftops and drowning out other people who also want to have an opinion. Stop calling them names and branding them with hashtags that invariably end with tards. Allow things to happen, let there be some fluidity. Everyone who doesn’t agree with you doesn’t have to be thrown on the ground and stomped upon till every inch of dissonance is snuffed out of them. Respect his right to have an opinion, a voice. Allow me to highlight this with a few examples.
Modi and the mania
Modi went to the US. We obsessed, people there obsessed, the American media obsessed, we even obsessed about our obsession about this visit.  Then, a small scuffle happened between a senior journalist and some people outside the venue. And we went beserk. You had to pick sides. You were either with Rajdeep or a Moditard. There’s no in-between. If you said Rajdeep was wrong, people quickly trampled on you to tell you how you’ve been brainwashed by the Modi brigade. If you stood with Rajdeep, you were either branded a Congress loyalist or someone who can’t judge things correctly when clearly because he’s been leaning towards the Congress and asking the hard questions and that makes him deserving of the treatment he received.
Women and their woes
You know the Deepika and TOI story by now. And what flared up again were questions about women, what they wear and if she ‘asked for it’.  Even as we were picking our jaw off the floor and shaking our heads in surprise at the madness, a vulgar disgusting display of the sick mentality of the men and even of women came to the fore. Facebook and Twitter exploded with battles being fought with ferocity by men and women who see females who bare skin as objects and men and women who cannot fathom the depths a tabloid has fallen to. Everyone disagreed but the remarks by some people left a bad taste in the mouth.
Flipkart and the flop
Flipkart had a sale. They faltered. They apologized. People couldn’t wait and made this about how Flipkart was cheating them and how they have always been crooks. How this was a big scam and they can’t believe they have been falling for this all this time. This is while some of them were adding items to their cart and wondering how to reduce shipping costs by adding more items.

STEP BACK. Take a deep breath.
Let’s take stock of the situation. Because we (by which I mean Indians as a whole) need to calm the fuck down. We have lost the ability to think straight. We are nasty, bitchy, spiteful and angry. It’s like the whole world has done us wrong. This needs to stop. And now.
The Rajdeep incident had lots of grey shades. It didn’t need the political shades we added to it. It wasn’t political. It was two people in a potentially explosive situation who lost their cool. Neither and the emphasis is on neither here, are a representation of their entire community or profession. What happened with Deepika was wrong. She did not give you or me the free reign to portray her body as we please just because she became an actress. She may walk around naked; we have to keep our erections down. Yes, it’s our duty to do that. Not her duty to cover up.
Let’s allow another species to breathe. The ones like me. Who are Modi fans because in the 30 years I have been alive, I have never seen young India so enthusiastic. Because suddenly I am optimistic about the future. However, I don’t go around chopping heads for everyone who isn’t in my frame of my mind. Who think women should be given every kind of freedom and every sort of right.  But don’t recommend going to lonely areas alone because that’s unsafe anywhere in the world. Who want to see young India succeed and move forward.

Lastly, stop waiting on the sidelines for people, companies and ideas to fail. When you climb on to the bandwagon purely for the bashing and the ego boost it gives you, it makes you a coward. Stop violently pulling down people who are gingerly making their way up. Stop waiting for people and companies to stumble because when they do, you want to point and laugh. Stop it stupid Indian, it doesn’t suit you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Things they asked me to do before 30.

I am expecting a wrinkle to pop up on my face anytime now. I turn 30 soon and things are expect to take a turn for the worse. Apparently the number- 30- is magical and between my birthday and the next day, women will start driving in Saudi Arabia, the earth will get a new moon and someone might actually date Mallika or atleast understand her accent. Or maybe all this won’t happen considering the next day is a Sunday and people are really lazy on that day. As opposed to, let’s say, other days.  Here’s a bunch of advice people gave me before I turn the dreaded number of 30.
Have a baby.
You should/must have a baby before 30.  I got married at 28. I am not getting on the baby wagon till I want to. On the other hand, going by what people have to say, my body has taken the number seriously. My womb is preparing itself for a shutdown, much like the US government, except no one is really protesting inside. I mean, my pancreas is busy and my intestines are twisted. My boobs are aloof and can’t be bothered with a silly thing like a womb-shomb. So, all on its own, my baby making devices are bidding tearful goodbyes to other body parts. Like that irritating employee on his last day who looks at everyone with panda eyes hoping to evoke a few tears.
Point being, I don’t want to have a baby. Not now. Maybe not ever.  Maybe I just want to annoy other people’s babies. Whatever it is, being 30 isn’t going to change a thing. Maybe my boobs will sag but that’s another story.
Travel. Better still, travel alone.
I don’t know what these people who write fabulous quotes about travel do for a living. It’s all very cool to say ‘jump off a bridge and life will catch you’ but in reality you are going to end up dead or severely fractured. You know the real deal? The truth? You are going to need a job. The boring one that involves sitting at a desk and staring at a computer. Because while you are travelling purely on goodwill and somebody else’s truck, you are going to need food. And a place to take a crap. And these things will cost you money. Unless ticketless travelling is your thing, you are going to have to have some cash to get from one place to another as well. Quoting beautiful things about being a wandering soul at a ticket booth will most likely get you a few abuses and a frisking from security. Or both. No ‘cool’ backpacker will tell you this but even when in Italy, your fourth pizza will make you sick and all other food will be slightly more expensive. Couch surf but know that you could be thrown out in the middle of the night, that sometimes, the couch with be drenched with baby pee and that no matter who you are, you will crave a warm bath once in a while.  Don’t embark on an adventure purely based on a few Facebook posts. The real world needs a few things from you.
I am 30 and besides a few useless keychains and shot glasses, I don’t have much to show for my 20’s travelling experiences. To set the record straight, I used my dad’s money. I am not ashamed of it. So really, I haven’t done nothing yet.
Point being, I strongly recommend travelling and travelling alone. But 30, yeah, that’s got nothing to do with it. If you can do it at 25, you can still do it at 36.
Fall in love with a bad boy
I took this one seriously and went on a wild rampage going from one bad guy to the next worse one with the enthusiasm of a 3 year old on steroids. How wildly inappropriate that previous line is. Back to the boys. There were ones I was convinced I was in love with, some who scared me because they were in love with me  and going mushy and some I wish I have to never see again in my life. But being in love with a bad boy isn’t all that it is made out to be. Most of the time, you are struggling for security and hoping you don’t walk in on him doing the neighborhood slut.  Or sluts, as the case may be. He will give you gifts and take you out to fancy dinners, what you won’t get is time. He will make grand gestures of love, what you won’t get is commitment. And while you pull your hair out of sheer frustration, long after you have given up on tears and death threats, he will walk away easy. Funnily enough, (and this has happened many, many times) he will marry the next girl he meets while he was still getting to the end of the ‘I am not ready for marriage’ line with you.
Point being, bullshit. You don’t have to date the bad boy or have a break up that will fuck you over. You have to have relationships. Strong ones, weak ones and ones that make you want to fall in love again. Mostly, you have to find the next person.
If you are turning 30 anytime soon, take the advice people give you, show them your middle finger and strut out fabulously. 30 is just a number.
For the 2 of you who are wondering, here’s what I did do. I bungee jumped in Nepal (scared and shitting bricks but it helped to have my brother encouraging me). I skinny- dipped in Greece (took a long time to find the beach and had a dear,dear friend keeping guard). Fell in love with a bad boy (it was crap). Lived in 3 cities.  Found my bliss spot (pedicures). Performed splendidly at my job and got promoted (this actually means something). Made some friends that I would sell a kidney for. Not bad to show for 30 years, yeah?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dream debuts and such

I wanted to start this with a dramatic line like ‘Bollywood has come a long way’ but really it's 2013 and we have Grand Masti, so... Anyway, I am noticing that increasingly, the starlets and extras of Bollywood are slowly getting leading roles which is a matter of grave concern- not.. But since I must, here we go.

Bollywood romanticizes everything. Yes, everything. But even to the most artistic mind, getting a clothesline to have more expressions that the leading lady is tough. But it happens. I can bet a couple of clotheslines have already hiked their rates and will only work with big banners. I mean lets admit it, clotheslines didn't really think they would ever make it to the Swiss Alps league. Yellowing underwear, tattered pyjamas, a long lost sock and very-crisp-from-being-in-the-sun clothes are usually found giving each other company on these wires. In a Bollywood movie however, the clotheslines have bright, vibrant sarees stretched out languidly, fluttering in the breeze which makes the perfect backdrop for romantic interludes. Much pursuing happens within the seams of these clothes. The heroine walks into a glorified version of dhobi ghaat and ducks behinds some sarees. The hero chases her ducking behind other sarees. Much ducking and sareeing ensues and in the end, usually due to the inability to even play the basic game of hide-and-seek properly or sheer negligence, the heroine ends up running into the arms of the hero. Voila, romantic song done. In fact, to add authenticity to these scene, sometimes, the actress is even asked to carefully wring a garment.  Of course, this is performed to melodious tunes and she does it like its a long last art done requiring the talent of a crafted artisan. Let’s just hope no one ever comes clothes to my clothesline which is nowhere next to glamorous and usually has our very irate maid wringing and drying the clothes with alarming strength and disgust.
My hair is usually tied in a bun and I make a concentrated attempt to make sure that it is clipped away when I am doing any sort of work. Nothing mundane like work or concentration can stop a Bollywood heroine from having her hair softly framing her face and flying at the exact angle as dictated by the choreographer. Her hair will fly when she walks, when she stands and waits for a bus, when she is looking at herself in the mirror, when she attempts a push out a baby during labour and all those other emotional stages of life. To those new to Bollywood or life, when an actress tosses her hair back with much force, it is her being haughty. When she is thinking, a nice strand, shiny and straight is made available to her to twirl around her fingers. During romantic moments, one strand also obediently pops out of place so the hero (in what is a moment that establishes his sensitive side) can tuck that wayward hair behind her ear. And of course, the hair doesn't frizz when left out in the humidity too long or look like a mop during the monsoons. Nor does it ever get stuck in a hairbrush causing her to pull at it. It’s all very detangled.
Slum children
On a good day, they will not knock on your window and manage to put you on a guilt trip. On a bad day, you will be willing to empty your wallet and give them your property when you look at the slum kids. You really can't help but feel bad. In movies, things such as pity or guilt are done away with completely. In Bollywood, slum kids are cleaned up, given new clothes and will sit in the frame gleaming in the background. They will do nothing useful in the background till a song streams in. Then, they will get up and prance around the heroine who looks suitably thrilled at being in their midst. She will also smile sweetly during this time establishing the fact that she is a kind-hearted soul and that she is merely a prop in the movie much like the kids. Around this time, a decent choreographer introduces rain. For the other, slow motion does the trick. The song usually ends with these kids cannon-balling into a water body and frolicking around. If the actresses’ character demands that she be chirpy, she will be seen having a whale of a time with the said kids. The end. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

War of the words. Or so it says. Book review of 'It's you move, Wordfreak!'

Book written by Falgun Kothari. Review by A little Amused but mostly Confused Bystander
As a reader , a writer and in general a human being with a love for words, I was eager to review this book which used scrabble to create a story. I hastily put together some big 7 letter words for the review incase anyone was going to score me. And that sounds a little wrong.
Anyhoo, the lead characters are Wordfreak and Worddiva who are falling in love from the first page of the book. They live in Mumbai and they chat online. They also live alone which all characters in books nowadays somehow manage while I still struggle to buy my own underwear. The book opens on the eve of a date. Let me put a few things straight here. The back of the book reads (which I am assuming everyone reads first) like these two Word players are totally into each other. Allow me to quote, “Wordfreak and Worddiva hit it off right form their first online Scrabble game. “ So, technically, though the back of the book says otherwise, this isn’t a blind date between these two letter and vocabulary-rich individuals.
The book starts of interestingly enough. The protagonists take their online, ,due to the lack of a better word,  ‘thingy’ offline. Alisha Menon is a divorce lawyer. Aryan Chawla makes green buildings. Which you may not misunderstand as buildings painted green or buildings that are like the Hulk but must understand as environment-friendly brick and mortar structures. Back to the book, the date is ideal, they both are ideal, looks are ideal, ideals are ideal and everything is great. At this point, I think the writer should have moved on. But, she doesn't. Much is explained about which body part is doing cartwheels, which one is sweaty and how absolutely gorgeous the other person is. Because you know people who think they are ugly and fat with no life aren’t the ones on the net at 3am in the morning. The gorgeous ones with muscled boyfriends in tow generally have such intellectual pursuits. No offense to anyone.
Our lead characters gorgeous as they are apparently have never had previous relationships. So it’s all hunky-dory and sexy. Then, somewhere along the line Falguni Kothari (the author) realizes there isn’t much happening in the story while the reader has already fallen into deep slumber. So, she jolts the characters out of their boring life and brings a nice past life issues angle into it.
To briefly go over this again. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love Boy meets girls family. Screeching halt. Really, in India? Before we even know the guy properly? Apparently, it's a norm that the minute you have some interest in some guy you will tell you mom who will quickly order you and boy to come home. Moving on, girl meets boy’s family. Sundry characters are introduced. Most of these are novel characters. Happy, chilled out nani. Cool, back-thumping uncle etc.
Somewhere along, Aryan develops issues and Alisha must solve them in the manner that all women in the world solve, well, everything. They talk, then he runs away from here, then they cold shoulder each other and then they talk and everyone is happy. There is a choreographed dance sequence in the end. Not really.

Nothing exceptional here but if you have been reading Chetan Bhagat, you will probably think this is literature. Not a very different storyline but should keep you reading. Take it to a government office where you know you are going to be waiting pretty long to get a pipe in your house fixed.
Don't get fooled by the title though. Except 3 minutes in reading time, no part of the book makes any reference whatsoever to the totally awesome game of Scrabble. What a waste of my triple word score!

This review is a part of the" target="_blank">Book Reviews Program at"> Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Does this not enrage you?

How are we so complacent?
As Indians we are either asleep right now or are smoking something so potent we don’t really care. Actually, the fact that we don’t really care isn’t new or untrue. But, here as we park our bums on cushy chairs every day, our country is struggling in every aspect. Does it not enrage you that this is the government we chose? That we are looking like a bunch of monkeys to the world around us? That this is not affecting only our economy but our reputation?
Here are 5 sins of a government that is a tyrant and dense, a combination that caused a World War the last time it happened.  Every Indian, rich, poor, adult, young, urban, rural should feel strongly about these things and decide how much anger should dwell within.

Pride: Air India nose dives.
For the past few years, Air India has been incurring losses despite government bailout. Losses of upto Rs.28,000 crores have been incurred. This is our NATIONAL carrier. I am sure there are tonnes of us that are willing to take it just for the sake of our country but we alone cannot make this work. How can an airline which was once one of the best carriers in the world (top 5 apparently) be sputtering for breath? What is the government doing? Far smaller economies are doing better in this sector than us. Yes, this does affect us on a daily basis. But, does this not enrage you?

Greed: Pocket fires in economic crises
We are one of the nations the world is looking at and we are making a complete fool out of ourselves. A productive economy is teetering and unsteady on its feet. You could get Rs. 54 for one dollar just yesterday. We are a BRIC country – touted as the next decade’s super economies and again we are a mere caricature of good governance. Fiscal deficits are huge and foreign exchange reserves are so low that we can pay for imports only for the next 6 months. Yep, all this planning that our government has done will barely see us through 6 months.  What is the government doing? Does it not cheese you off that every day we are paying a little more for basic comforts because of this? Does this not enrage you?

Wrath: Comic disbelief
Take a look at the first two points. You would think that our government would be quaking in its boots. Turns out, not at all. What do we use the parliament for instead? Oh, for discussion about a cartoon. The said cartoon was published when the person in question (who is being made fun of) was alive and even he knew this was in jest. Some donkeys years later, a stupid, fucked up parliament breaks up a session about this.  Heads roll, resignations are given and apologies are muttered. The sorry state of the country stays the same. The weakened, surppressed classes aren’t better off and Ambedkar is like a demi-god to them. The education, barring this cartoon, will continue to be a business and is possibly one of the most lucrative avenues in the whole country right now. Does this utter waste of our money and time not stun you? Why are you silent? Does this not enrage you?

Sloth: Heading nowhere
This is one of the sins which means that you neglect the duties you are suppose to do. And how well we score on this front. Right now, there was 21 Public Sector companies that are headed by no one. Yup, no one to show them the way. They are all without a full time Chairman and Managing Director. These are the companies that are supposed to balance out the capitalist effects of privatization. Clearly, this is not a talking point. Such a sham this. When a country needs efficient and sharp planning to cut costs and improve welfare, the very bodies that are suppose to being doing this are floating around headless. Does this not bug you? Does this not enrage you?

Gluttony: A law system that has been spat out
A minister who has taken thousands of crores of rupees is let off on bail and so is a young driver who killed a pregnant woman. Our law system is at its best a joke and its worse the place where even terrorists feel safe. The government tells us that we can’t pin down a crime on anyone and even if we do it won’t take much to bail him/her out. We are a country where the price of a crime is paid by the victim with either a life or loss of money while the perpetrator will either walk free or serve a rudimentary sentence.  Who are we, the citizens of India, to turn to? Do we stare from the sidelines and hope the splatters of a crime don’t dirty our clothes or do we pitch in and get embroiled in years of harassment. Why are our choices so limited? We are a democracy. We have rights and not only duties. We pay taxes and we should demand returns. Does this not enrage you?


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Where I review a book. Yay!

Chicken soup is the stuff of legend. In books, the protagonist will usually sip on some wholesome, piping hot soup when they are down with a fever. Drinking a chai by the windowsill when you are in contemplative mode in Indian novels or walking hand in hand into the sunset are probably the clichés next in line. Anyhoo, I am not the one to let a lousy fever rule me. When I get a cold, I will get a ice cream, challenging the cold, even as my throat croaks in protest at this invasion by this chillingly cold enemy.
So, when I was picked to review  “Chicken Soup for the Indian Couples soul’ in my I hale and hearty condition, I really assumed my awesome wit and unexplained love for spouting clichés won over the panel. Of course, the fact that I am newly married therefore a good pick was a rationale that did not pass my head as my ego and my writing skills did a skillful tango in my brain, occupying much space.
‘Chicken Soup for the Indian couples soul’ has a smiling, young couple on the cover. Unlike every ad in the magazines and papers these days, the couple on the cover looks every inch the Indian with a fine crop of black hair and tanned skin.  A good start I think.
The back is a quick summary of the book positioning it as the one thing every person with a romantic streak needs. A few details about the authors/compilers of the book are written here.
The Chicken Soup series is not alien to me. I have read quiet of few of these, the most recent and appropriately being ‘Chicken soup for the Indian Brides Soul’ which was a mix of poignant, cheerful and touching stories. I tell you this so you know where I am coming from when I write this review.
Let me tell you that I also understand a few things about the ‘Chicken Soup’ series – one that there is a limit to the number of words you may dedicate it each story and two that each story has been written out by a different author. As is the case with almost all these editions, Chicken Soup of the Indian couples soul also has sections- 8 in this case.
It starts of with the ‘Made in Heaven’ section with is a collection of stories of how odd couples from around the world, irrespective of the distance, personalities and perspectives get together to make a life. While some get you thinking, some are predictable and some so ruthlessly edited that they leave you a little empty hoping that the author had a little more space to feel. What struck me the most here was that most of the stories are from another time (not the 2000s or 90s) causing a disconnect as I do not identify with these stories. If the book has come out recently, in 2011, the stories should have been more recent so as to strike a chord. The book moves on to stories about overcoming obstacles, about couples marrying after accidents, helping each cope with loss and illness, supporting each other and in mostly cases completing each other. Some of the stories in certain sections seem repetitive and mundane while some have you suitably awed. Sections 5, 6 and 7 seem very similar and can seem depressing. Some of the writing seems superficial, juvenile, lacking details and with an abrupt flow. This can be excused as I assume that not every contributor is a seasoned writer.
Would I recommend it? Yes, if you need to restore your faith in marriage or love because some stories can definitely make you believe in everything including unicorns and fairies.
I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for a good read that's written out well.
I compare this book to the ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Brides soul’ and the former definitely fares better in every department.
Read this one if  you run out of books but I don't suggest you go looking for it.

This review is a part of the"_blank">Book Reviews Program at"> Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Random ramblings of an unstable mind

This post is a list of things I am thinking right now. Do not expect cohesiveness. As if all your thoughts make sense all the time. Or even some of the time. Anyhoo,

1) Oscars: I watched the ceremony and Angelinas leg. The leg has created its own loyal fan base. I distinctly remember the left leg shuffling under the dress, desperately sticking out an ankle in an attempt to get noticed.  Bah! loser. Apparently, Jennifer Lopez's nipple did make an appearance but what chance does a mere tit stand in front of a well-heeled leg?

2) Pinki Virani: I am reading a book called ' Deaf Heaven' by her. This is her foray into the world of fictional writing. So, I am in the middle of this book. Let me tell you, there are a lot of characters here. A lot. All women. In fact, there are more women here than in Hugh Hefner's house. I feel a lot like Super Mario here. Your will be on a conversation, then you jump up and voila! there is another conversation. Just then you will fall down and come back to the original conversation. And in the midst of all this, you are constantly tip toeing around other characters. In short, this book doesnt come recommended.

And why, no really why must I know that Pinki (Yeah, we are on first name basis.Not) and her husband are childless by choice? Her other works talk about women empowerment but here she must explain her reason not to have children? Hmpf.

3) Descendants: Awesome movie, blah, blah, blah. Nope. Didnt think so. Stretching out an emotion is one thing. Taking it to Hawaii and making a movie about it is another thing altogether. Somebody tell me why this was such a great movie.

Thats all I am thinking. That's really less actually. Dont want to crowd my brains with too many thoughts. Space saving. So when some ad man wants to capture my 'mindspace', he has some. I dont want my thoughts and all those brands hanging around together. These brands are real bullies.