Saturday, 25 December 2010

Santa probably has Alzheimer's anyway

The thing about sadness is that it is all-consuming. It exhausts you right to the bone. I mean, I just can't deal with the whole thing. And I think what I hate most about it, is that it never lets you sleep.


I don't know what it is, but everything about Christmas reminds me of impending doom; the mistletoe, the retarded bilingual carols, even all those weird people in Santa costumes handing out lollies. Surprising. This is supposed to be the only super cool pagan ritual worth celebrating since 1 C.E.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Watching Indian news channels could harm your brain - Tried and tested.

I don't understand why Indian news channels have begun to resemble episodes from corny Indian reality shows. Someone has got to do something about these god-awful news anchors and television journalists. Sagarika Ghose dolls herself up enough to make you want to take a gardening hose and just wash her down, Arnab Goswami is outright obnoxious, Rajdeep Sardesai screams into the camera like the Indian public are hard of hearing, and finally, there is Barkha Dutt, the scum of mainstream Indian news media. Watching her everyday is like watching re-runs of something as lame as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahut Thi. Also, when she is out of work, I think she's busy searching for anything she can fill air-time with. If you want something minced to bits and served with flavour on air, give Barkha a call and she'd be right there - she pencils everything down, like those waiters who constantly ask you what you'd like to eat and how you'd like it ten thousand times. She makes porn out of events of national importance. Remember the days after the Mumbai attacks when she analysed a curtain for three hours, and then moved on to all that painful rhetoric about the government and how no one is paying attention and how everyone should be really concerned about the world coming to an end this very minute. Really, forget being scared of terrorists, you'd be scared of all that insanity she spews forth. It's like she's on the brink of losing her god-forsaken mind. And all that obsession with 'Breaking news'. Since when did Rakhi Sawant become breaking news? or that calf born with three horns? or superficial Katrina Kaif holidaying in Mexico?


I'm not saying that Indian journalists (including Barkha) are all dumb, but really all that breaking news is destroying my brain. I'm sure they have enough air time to show some of that intelligence that are supposed to have.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

1.

Remember the co-worker I had introduced to you a few entries ago? The attention-seeking, bride-hunting, incorrigible, sociopath who made me wonder if the male race is, by all means, a genetic failure? Yes, TT. That's who this post is about.


Turns out that I wasn't wrong and judgmental about him, after all.

On Monday, a rather depressed friend from the office on the first floor, came to my cubicle and asked for help. 'M, I know you have alot of pets at home. I rescued a squirrel that fell off the tree in my garden, and I have no idea how to save the little fellow.. could you tell me what I could do?'

After an hour of discussing details on how the poor little thing could be saved, he decided to book an appointment with the family vet. 'I don't think vets here are of any good', he said, sympathetically, 'but you're right. I'll give it a shot'.

Later that afternoon, TT who had been sitting in the opposite cubicle came over and asked if we could go to Kairali for lunch. Yes, I said. And hardly a few minutes later, we were speeding down street alleys to the Kairali at Koramangla.

Lunch was an unhurried affair. As on all work days, we did everything we could to stay outside, and keep ourselves from dying of boredom at our desks. But on the other hand, this made it imperative that we found something in common to talk about. And knowing that he'd talk about his bride-hunting, and not wanting to hear about his frantic search for a female slave companion, I stayed quiet. TT and I had nothing in common, except for the fact that we loved prawns and that there was already a plateful of it in front of us, which we were picking at with our forks.

Suddenly, he decided to break the silence, ' I didn't know that you liked squirrels, M'.

I looked up, and stared at his face, wondering if his passionate tone was honest. This was the most humane thing he had said to me in months. 'Well, yeah, I have squirrels at home, other animals too...'

'That's amazing,' he said.

'I didn't know you liked squirrels,' I started to say.

'I love them. But it's difficult. How do you manage to cook them at home?' he asked me.

Need I describe the look on my face?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

2.

Obviously, I ignored him the next day at work. But he moaned and whined all morning about how bored he was, so I asked him if he wanted to have some tea and ice-cream?


'Ice-cream? Are you mad? Do you know I hardly have time to find a wife?'.

Since I had become used to this conversation everyday, I insisted. 'What's wrong with you, TT? I mean, seriously. It's not like there's a shortage of women in Kerala, you know. You'll find someone soon. Anyway what's the deal with this urgency? Why the hurry to find a bride?'

I knew that this did not comfort him. In fact, I couldn't believe I was actually encouraging someone to do something that went against all my principles. But maybe, I thought, 'maybe' people like TT were different - after all, we all long to marry someone someday, settle down and have kids. Maybe some people found love differently, and didn't want to wait all their lives for 'the one'. So, for some strange reason, I found myself brimming with empathy and was willing to listen all day to his constant complaints about marriage.

Just as these thoughts randomly whizzed inside my head, he turned away from his desk and wrote down the details of another profile he had come across on the matrimonial site he had been logging onto everyday. Fair. Slim. Long Hair. Unemployed. Syrian Christian. 24 years old.

I smiled, and sat beside him. 'Why the hurry? Let's go have some tea'.

'No,' he sighed, ' You don't understand. I want to get married soon because I cannot wash plates. I also want someone to iron and wash my clothes everyday. I need someone to sweep the house and wipe the floors too'.

I don't exactly think the feeling that crept inside me was disgust, this time. I mean, it was more the kind of thing they say serial killers feel before they mince their victims with a hacksaw. It surely wasn't anywhere close to disgust - I think it was a crazy, maniacal rage. I was picturing myself impaling him the way they did in those Dracula movies in the early 80's.

'Oh, really. Why not just get domestic help instead', I said, coldly.

'Are you crazy? Why would I want to pay? This is a woman's duty', he explained, irritably.

This is the point in those serial killer movies, that they attack the victim. The minute he said that, I came to realize - that there truly is reason to want to murder someone, right then and there. I didn't say anything though. I guess, at this point, there was nothing I could think of to say. The only words that were at the tip of my tongue were profane, and the only thing I wanted to do was kill him.

After a while, he got up, packed his bag and came over to tell me that he was going to Kodaikanal. I told him to have fun, and asked curiously if he had a matrimonial date with some girl from Palakkad. I was hoping the answer was negative. For some reason, I found myself worrying for the women he had 'shortlisted'.

'Of course, not' he laughed, 'I'm going there because its raining heavily and there are alot of frogs'.

'Huh?'

'Arre.. to eat. I'm staying at the sterling hotel to hunt for frogs. You don't see frogs too often in Bangalore'.

'What? Are you insane? How will you catch frogs?' I felt nauseous.

' Easy. I'm just going to take a rock and smash the ones I find. If they don't die, I'm going to put them in hot water in my room'. With that, he left.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Milana

Everyone name their children after colours, grandfathers, Gods or Goddesses, but my cousin named her baby after her favourite pizza place.


'Why?' I asked her.

'Everyone's going to think of something lovely like food when they say her name', she smiled.

Weird, I thought. But totally uber cool.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Where are my kids, cars, whores and houses?

Seriously. What is it with Indian parents? It's almost as if once their kid turns twenty four, all they do is cry. Do they not realize that their children will one day use the grey matter they have been blessed with and rationalize the world around?


My parents and I seem to have swapped lives ever since I grew out of my teens. Now, it isn't me listening to songs from the 60's and moping about how life is unfair and how we are all heading towards nuclear Armageddon, it's my folks. Anything that has ever happened to me over the past five years - boyfriends, breakups, exam scores, jobs, illnesses, weight-loss, graduation - has just made my parents more cynical and upset about how their first daughter is growing up. For them, it would've all been better if I just stayed thirteen, when they could tell me what I was to do and I had to listen. Or it would've been better if they could boast of my exemplary achievements (which there are none).

I think a part of it is some kind of social dilemma - Indians are all about being the best at everything and if they fail at it, their children have to achieve what they couldn't. So in short, your accomplishments aren't really accomplishments unless you have managed to live up to generations of expectations. In India life is a 'Vicious circle of Probability', a kind of fantasy tree that is planted and rarely grows. This is how it goes -

1950 - A man tried his best to become an engineer, but his father didn't let him live his dreams, he goes to option 2. i.e strive hard to make his son become a successful engineer.

1970 - So the son grows up, trying to become an engineer to please his father, but hates it and hates every moment of his life and swears that he's never going to let his children become engineers. His father tells him continuously that he's a failure.

1990 - Now the kids grow up, and are actually interested in engineering, but they take up a creative course because they want to please their father and fail to do so. So they spend the rest of their lives telling their children what decisions to make.

2010 - Kids these days don't listen anymore so they are born failures anyway.

Now all my parents do is point out minor successes of the children of people who hardly mattered in our lives. X has a job at the Bank. Y just gave birth. Z is earning ten times more than I am. They are so caught up in this web of pitting my accomplishments against the children of others, there is nothing I can do to make them think of me as a success - unless of course, I live up to their vision of the first child, and become a disturbed 'Child of Firsts' - the first to own a car, the first to earn the highest, the first to get married, the first to have children and so on.

What I'm trying to tell my parents constantly is that I'm fine, that I'm alright and they don't have to worry. But my mum clearly isn't convinced - ' You are 24 and not married as yet', she says. I'm thinking of a couple of fictitious triumphs to calm her down, but then again, I know this is a never-ending soap opera.

Wait, what is my mum looking up on the yellow pages now? Dear God, I hope there isn't another one of those prophetic cephalopods in my locality.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Waltz for Eva and Che

Eva -
I don't expect my love affairs to last for long

Never fool myself that my dreams will come true
Being used to travel I anticipate it
But all the same I hate it, wouldn't you?

Chorus:

Eva- So what happens now?
Che - Another suitcase in another hall
Eva - So what happens now?
Che- Take your picture off another wall
Eva- Where am I going to?
Che - You'll get by, you always have before
Eva - Where am I going to?

Time and time again I've said that I don't care
That I'm immune to gloom, that I'm hard through and through
But every time it matters all my words desert me
So anyone can hurt me, and they do

(chorus)

Call in three months time and I'll be fine, I know
Well maybe not that fine, but I'll survive anyhow
I won't recall the names and places of each sad occasion
But that's no consolation here and now.

Huevo - Don't ask anymore.


----------------

They say some songs are a reflection of our lives. This is probably mine.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Matchfixing and reproduction - Indian Marriage for Dummies

I wish I could tell you that my life is full of nice, out-of-the-world experiences, but it isn't. What I can tell you about, though, is how oh-so-phony life can be sometimes.


Last Thursday, one of my co-workers, TT, walked into office looking rather flustered and annoyed. It was quite an obvious way of telling us that he was angry, and to keep to ourselves. He didn't smile all morning, he didn't plug in his headphones and start humming, he didn't join us for coffee, there were no phone calls, no bathroom interludes - he was behaving the way Indian heroes do when they get dumped before intermission. Was he ill? my other co-workers discussed. A bad date? A death in the family? warts in the wrong area? None of us had seen him that sad.

At four, I was throughly concerned. This wasn't normal, maybe I could help. You know, be the shoulder to lean on (not literally) and all that. Besides, I've always been good at advice -I love to get all Socratic and discuss the ways of the world. So I walked over to his desk, and tapped him lightly on the shoulder. 'Hey, TT, are you ok? Want to get some coffee or something?'.

He turned back and said, 'A thousand girls'.

Ok, obviously the moment he said that I laughed out loud. I mean, come on, that sounded so Kushwanth Singh. 'A thousand girls, TT? what? all of them last night?'.

But turns out it wasn't a joke at all. 'I have to get married in December', he explained, 'and I looked through a thousand photos of girls, but have only shortlisted three. There aren't enough girls in this country. I'm depressed'.

'You looked through pictures of a thousand girls? Like how crazy are you?'. I couldn't help saying that. Come on.

'No, M. I like December, its my favourite month. I have to get married this December. And I cannot find a girl. You don't understand'.

'So? you're like hunting for women online? Isn't that weird? How do you judge them from photographs? How did you just shortlist three?'. I was (by this time) more amused than ever.

Some are fat, he said, others are thin. He wanted someone curvy and intelligent, but not more intelligent than himself. He wanted his bride to be fair, because he was dark. He wanted her to be ambitious, but not enough to make him feel insecure. His woman shouldn't have short hair, should have clear skin, preferably different coloured eyes, should dress traditionally and should be willing to cook him meals and work and take care of his children.

'It's so hard, I have to find the right girl because I want to get a child which looks right, can you help me, M?', he looked at me so earnestly, I felt like slapping his face. What I wanted to say was 'You don't need a wife, you poisonous, psychotic beast. You need therapy'. But I knew that wasn't going to make a difference.

'Well, I'm sorry, Matchfixing isn't really my forte', I said, softly.

'I know, it's so hard. Imagine! A thousand profiles and only three girls worth my time.' he laughed. I couldn't understand which part of this demented, demonic master plan amused him, but obviously, I had to laugh too.

Ha, Ha, he laughed.

Ha, ha, I laughed.

But never before had a joke filled me with such disgust, nausea and dread.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Gone too soon


Bert. You little heart-breaker you. You didn't say bye. Just so you know, you'll always be my baby.

Forever comes,
in different ways,
to each one,
each time,
each now.

Forever us,
in togetherness,
we'll be,
we'll wait,
we'll grow.

Rest in peace, munchkin. Sweet dreams.


Friday, 2 July 2010

Joey, all you need is some Chai and a history book.


Look at him.
I mean, just look at him.

When I first saw this picture, my heart skipped a beat. OK, I admit I have a thing for spectacled, extremely geeky, sorta cute journos. But hey, there's something so irresistible about guys who write, who are witty and who are so damn well-read. Oh well, then a friend of mine felt she must pop the bubble I live in and sent me this.

And I realized that probably dream guys are just that - a dream.

And before I knew it, Blogosphere was buzzing with tall tales of new age racism, debates on multiculturalism and fantastic arguments on the plight of the browning White World. I spent the entire day reading comments, blogs, articles, rants, status messages - everything that could possibly help me see the humour in his article. I found none. Then I looked through a couple of responses to the article in The Hindu and The Express and realized - wait, this is the funny part everyone missed out - What Joel Stein was saying was different from what he was trying to say.

Yes, there was a difference.

What he said was - that his town of Edison, NJ is populated with trashy, ugly people from the Indian sub-continent. I'm sure there are Pakistanis and Bangladeshis as well, just that Joey can't tell the difference. Altogether, he said he resented going back because Edison lost its old, White World charm, and that it had become a two storey town of Betel sellers, Roti eaters, Bhangra dancers and stank of Cologne.

What he was trying to say was - that he felt like a foreigner in his own hometown because of its huge immigrant population. Simple.

A few years ago, this article would have had me furious. I've never been to America, but I think spending a year in Britain, (where I felt like I was back home in India) taught me that every coin has two sides. I understand Joel's sentiments about his home town; I can imagine how horrid it must be to come back home and see your quiet neighbourhood transformed into a circus of sorts. I sympathize with him having to put up with the strange scent of turmeric, chilli powder and incense. And having to look around for non-spicy food.

What I couldn't understand was his ignorance of history in general, his prejudiced rant on the Indian stereotype, and his utter, blatant disrespect for (South)Asian culture. And no-one echoed my sentiments better than this guy.

If you're reading this Joey, here's what I'd like you to know -

I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn't want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?

Indians didn't have a grand plan of settling in Edison, or any other part of the world. When we grew up, America was the first country any average Indian heard of. The only world outside India for most of us was America - and of course, Britain. But then, America just seemed funner, greater and grander than Britain at that time. If you must know, alot of us are still sulking with Britain. But to be fair to you, yes, our malls are bad.

Lyndon Johnson's 1965 immigration law raised immigration caps for non-European countries. LBJ apparently had some weird relationship with Asians in which he liked both inviting them over and going over to Asia to kill them.

Ok, so you tried being funny. It was a little bit, that last part. But I think I'll pass. This was the Act of the century wasn't it Joe? The one that was supposed to signify an era of change and American liberalism?

For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.

Yeah, even I thought all Indians were geniuses. But when I grew up, I realized that most of us in my country weren't geniuses because not all of us could afford an education. So I'm sorry if many of the not-so-brilliant merchants (Gujaratis and Punjabis I think you are referring to), brought along their even-less-bright cousins. The truth, we don't really care about how educated and sophisticated each other are. And about India being poor, yeah. Sad Story. Did you know that India was one of the wealthiest countries in the world - it took us several thousand years of existence and a few hundred battles to get to the lowest rung of the ladder. Wait, you're American right? - do you know why and how America got rich as it is today? Or did you flunk history at high school.

At which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians "dot heads." One kid I knew in high school drove down an Indian-dense street yelling for its residents to "go home to India." In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if "dot heads" was the best racist insult we could come up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an elephant nose.

Joel, the dot you are referring to is The Bindi. If you must know what a Bindi signifies, look at this. Every Indian woman wears a Bindi with her sari regardless of what religion she belongs to. Also we're a proud, beautiful, exotic species who love spicy food, singing and dancing. Personally, I don't see how you find racial attacks funny. Did you laugh when Jews were slaughtered in Germany, Joey? I wonder.

Unlike some of my friends in the 1980s, I liked a lot of things about the way my town changed: far better restaurants, friends dorky enough to play Dungeons & Dragons with me, restaurant owners who didn't card us because all white people look old. But sometime after I left, the town became a maze of charmless Indian strip malls and housing developments. Whenever I go back, I feel what people in Arizona talk about: a sense of loss and anomie and disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy.

Well, nice to hear that you actually liked something - Dorky Indians who played Dungeons and Dragons with you. How many Indians did you make friends with? I wonder. As far as I know, Indians love the outdoors. Most of them play cricket, football and tennis. Ok, that last part is funny. Did you ACTUALLY think that you can separate Indians from their food. Holy Moly. Which world are you living in? We'd carry spices in our wallets if we had to. We don't consider Hamburgers and Pizzas food. At all.

Their assimilation is so wonderfully American that if the Statue of Liberty could shed a tear, she would. Because of the amount of cologne they wear.

Indians wearing cologne - This is the first time I've heard of this one. If I see anyone wearing cologne next time, I'll remember to laugh. For sakes.

Frankly, I don't understand why TIME would waste any space letting you write a humour column that doesn't make anyone laugh. Remember that saying? It's not satire if no one's laughing. I definitely didn't find it funny, and I don't even care enough let an idiot like you bother me because - quoting you - you said you are 'an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything.'

But on the brighter side, probably you ought to share a few good xenophobic jokes with the Taliban. And have a chat with my friend IC, who deserves your space in the TIME mag. He looks alot like you, a better version and a better person. And most importantly, he writes stuff worth reading.

Otherwise I think you're alright. Not Hot. Not intelligent. Not irresistible. Other than therapy, all you need is some chai and a history book.

**************************************************************************
P.S - Just so you know if Russell Peters had written this, we'd laugh. Yes, since he's the same ethnicity and he's been in our shoes. Maybe a tan would've worked for you? Also, why is this hilarious article of yours not in the TIME mag international edition? Too few for satire here, eh?


Monday, 28 June 2010

My brain pulls the sleeping beauty act at the wrong time

So there we were, five of us, stuck at work at 7pm. Reason? I couldn't come up with a title. Now, of course you might say, 'Oh, come on M. You write, and writers are supposed to be good at this'. But I'm not. I suck so bad at coming up with anything when my brain is fast asleep. Tell me, what sort of a silly brain would be this lazy knowing that its job is a regular day shift.


Tick Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Ok, five hours. And still no title.

'Come on, just give me a hint. Anything. I don't want another article on Jodhpur with the 'Blue-city' title. It's overdone.', my boss said, rather irritated with me.

I was thinking. I mean, trying to think of anything and everything blue. Trying to get my stupid brain to wake up - Blue suede shoes, royal blue, cerulean blue, oasis blue, blue lagoon, blue frog, blue roses, blue films. What not.

But nothing fit. It felt like walking into a shoe store that was filled with odds. Finally, a tiny little idea popped up out of nowhere. Hey, at least it sounded brilliant in my head.

'How about 'Blue Belles of Jodhpur'? That photo story has images of pretty women doesn't it?'

My boss looked at me incredulously. Seriously. For three minutes straight. And then says -

'Wow. Yes, just the brilliant idea I've been waiting for. So do you have sub links to porn sites to go with the story?'

Wait - was that sarcasm in his tone? It's not my fault that my brain falls asleep now and then. At least, I TRIED, OK?

Sigh. Someone help me.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

When The Real World Meets Meerkat, She says...

Baby, I'm just an ordinary girl.

I grew up in a town that had just four streets, three schools and more pigs than anywhere else in the world. No, I don't mean to say I grew up in a sty, I was just brought up in a place that resembled one. So when people look at me and go - 'Oh My God M, you are so effin' kidding me. What did you do growing up with no internet/football grounds/theatre halls?' I look at them and say - 'I lived.'

It's true.

You see, I've been town-hopping all my life, but never once in those days did I feel the need to flit around in a tutu from one kitty party to another or throw tantrums about frilly socks and barbies. I just wore what was given to me. When we got back from school, we played outside in the yard with spare parts we found or climbed trees that hung over the compound. Once a year, the circus would come to town and we would visit it, all dressed up, as a family and go on every ride twice or thrice. I also had to share the television remote with siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, maids, office staff, and visitors, so I didn't really get the point of why anyone would want to watch tele anyway.

And the house we all grew up in - it smelled of warmth and food. All day long. There were no pizzas or take away, but the fridge was always full, brimming with nameless snacks that were carefully baked to perfection. At nights, when the power went out, we sat by candlelight and ate our food. On sundays, and other days, we played scrabble, rolled around in the mud, build sandcastles and had water fights with the gardening hose. Most importantly - Oh, my - most importantly, we read. We read all the time: Books found their way in-between our school texts, gifted to our neighbours, read before bedtime, read when we were ill, taken with us on long bus rides, and given to us on our birthdays. It was these books that eventually helped us grow, to dream, to strive towards becoming better people.

Now, when I look back, those years of childhood seem so far away. I'd spent my years travelling to and fro, moving out and moving in, living off my suitcase and trying to fit in place. My lifestyle has become a 24 hour mess of phone calls, facebooking, emails, text messaging, dolling up and wearing high heels. I look at life in the city and realize that I've grown out of most of the things I grew up with - the life I had lived seemed so far fetched. Yet, every time it rains and I step out of my office to feel the drizzle on my face, I know that you don't have to pursue happiness, it's always around - just that ordinary girls see it and Posh Totties don't.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

I'm no atheist. There's definitely some supernatural cause for my misery.

I don't believe anyone who says they don't believe in God. Really. Most of the time, they dish out rubbish from books like 'Why I'm not a believer' or 'God exists and so do Martians' or 'Jesus is a fake - I am the real God' or utter tosh like that. But wait till the next disaster - a break-up? genital warts? a math exam? or say, (worst-case scenario) - someone close is dying, then they're singing 'Hallelujah' all over the place.


This, I do not understand.

I'm not a religious person. I've been brought up just about religious enough to understand that religion really has to nothing to do with The Bible or the Vedas or the Quran or Avestas - instead, (I think) the basis of all religions is simply a question of faith. I mean, it could be a hundred different books, but aren't they all saying the same thing? Krishna asks Arjuna to believe in himself when he's in doubt. Jesus asks Mary not to cry because he's going to come back anyway. Mohammed spread word about oneness. And suddenly there are countless saints and gurus in the East and West spending all their time writing thousands of books explaining faith.

And faith is a great thing. We'd do badly if we didn't have faith in ourselves and each other, wouldn't we? Also, faith lets us hope for the craziest things - that beach-house in the Bahamas, that those bad GRE scores don't really ruin our chances to an Ivy league college, that our pets are going to live eternally, that our relationships last against all odds - it's comforting.

But what's with everyone trying to figure out where God is? And wasting all their energy rationalizing that he doesn't exist because he doesn't have a facebook account or no photographs for us to have a look at his face?

That's like trying to prove you love someone by jumping off a cliff.

Personally, I think people like to believe that there's something greater than our sodding existence, that there's a heaven to look forward to, or that maybe we stand a chance of being reborn as something nice, like a rabbit or something. So they put their faith into someone they think is (way) better than your average human being, and they call him God.

Ask me. I talk to God all the time. I don't pray, I just talk - sometimes when I've had a rough day, when I'm flustered, or when I really really need to win a lottery. Of course, nothing happens. But I feel like someone's heard me. No going to a temple, no sitting through boring sermons, no praying five times a day, no nothing. But I talk to him, complain for hours and then cry from time to time when I really need something.

But you see, that's the whole deal about religion that bigots, scientists and the intelligentsia don't get. It's ridiculous to do some hare-brained analysis on the power of our conscience, and psychotic to interpret religious texts literally and go around preaching bullshit.

And its plain depressing.

You see, we are humans. Denial is the only straight road we tread because it's the only comfortable one. Being blind to reality from time to time is important because it is comforting. Take a woman who's dying of cancer, take a parent who cannot afford to support his kids, or better still, let's take ourselves as an example. Do you think our lives would've been better if it had only 'truth and logic' in it? The world'd be one hell of a disgusting place then. I mean, its depressing to think that all of us evolved from monkeys, bad enough. So its only natural that we look into ourselves or look up to someone else for some kind of hope.

If I were to put a label on myself I'd probably be an agnostic. I don't like to think that this is all there is to living and neither do I think God is a celebrity I've got to go all gaga over . I'd like to think that somewhere in-between is where we really are on this planet and that in the end, a conscience and a little faith is all we need.


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Life of Cat


If I could live my life all over again, I'd like to be born into cat society.

Look at Cat - she goes to meet her boyfriend, this dirty tabby who lives down the street every other day. And when she's not busy sleeping with him, she's busy having his kids. It's amazing how she just never tires of sleeping with every tabby there is - usually the tall, dark and poofy kinds - and always comes back home to have her kittens. I don't know how she manages, but she seems to love being a single mom. And she usually sits around, begs for food when she's hungry, steals it if we're not around and sleeps around 16 hours a day. Whenever she feels like a manicure, she finds Mum's precious leather couches to sharpen her claws. No amount of chasing her will help.

If she's bored, she has sex. Not just sex with her boyfriend but with every Goddamn cat on the street. The number of cats who struggle their way over our compound - sigh. Once she even had an underage boyfriend. What was she thinking? Anyway she dumped him soon after. Thank God. Yeah, so she has no qualms whatsoever. Not only does she get to walk around naked, she gets to look all perfect.

Why isn't my life that easy?

I mean, she doesn't even have to have a name. Well, Cat's an atheist, and didn't want to have any silly religious name that clung to her and defined her actions. But I guess if she ever settled for a name it'd be something like 'Princess Cat II' or 'Cat, her Highness' or something like that. Personally I'd like to believe her real name is 'Catastrophe'.




I tried getting her to read this blog, but I don't think she cares too much. She also refuses to move from her favourite place (pic above). You know , maybe that's why I'd like to be born a cat - The only religion I'll know is apathy, and the only God I'll worship is myself.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Globish, English and Rubbish

That's what People Like Us in the real world supposedly speak.


A few years ago, when girls in my class were spending sleepless nights in an attempt to score higher in their GRE and TOEFL exams, and twelfth grade students like my little sis were trying to digest the literary insanity that is Shakespeare, this French guy came out of nowhere and proclaimed that none of us speak English the way it's meant to be spoken. So after a grand, fantastic study on how pathetic non-native English speakers destroy English, he came up with a term that he felt was what we really spoke -

Globish.

So this pretty little word in its real sense described the simplified, mutilated form of English that People Like Us speak, a language that accounts to a little over a 1000 words, and is enough for us to get by and be understood in the world of the Land of High English. I'm sure the word flashed across his mind when he was 'power nap-ping' somewhere in his 'ideating' room or something. But anyway, someone somewhere hit the cosmic button and the entire universe suddenly seems to have parted to two sides - English speakers on one side and the rest of world on the other. Obviously, it attracted more attention than it really deserved - and my American India-Crazy friend IC, came all the way to India to write about the phenomenon that is Globish.

Now, IC is the perfect American journo - absolutely sexy with glasses and books in his suitcase and everything, and he eventually wrote this fantastic piece for the New Yorker - but in the ten days that he spent in India drinking mineral water, teasing me about 'my infamous Indian accent', telling me that I'm too cynical of Indian politics and asking me why I don't pronounce my 'r's', I wondered how much he actually observed about India.

Way back in 2005, when Mary Blum wrote about how 'Nerrière speaks excellent English but switches to Globish if he is not getting through.' in The New York Times, I couldn't help but think, 'Seriously, give me a break. A frenchman who speaks excellent English?' and of course, this video was the last thing I needed to watch. What he seemed to be promoting in the video was not simple English for the common person, but a dictionary for fools. I'm sorry, but that's what it looks like to me, no matter how intellectually anyone tries to explain it.

IC's review is a great analysis of English as a language of influence, a language that was moulded and twisted by generations of people who spoke it, fought for it and read it. But for obvious reasons, it stays within those limits. It never once lets you think of how that People Like Us didn't have a choice when it came to English. We had to learn it. We had to read English at school, and were expected to speak at least two other national languages. English was (as IC writes) our ticket to step up the ladder, to up our social status. English allowed us to walk around with our noses in the air. But in the Land of People Like Us, we think in two languages - we are the kind who are accustomed to bargaining with the regular autowalla in in Tamil or Hindi, and the kind who enjoy spending hours on the phone talking to our friends - in English. We needed English, and we had to stay connected to our roots. So we made English 'local'. What's wrong with that? I would never say that the English I speak is 'Globish'.

Here's why -

Firstly, I don't believe that there can be a single set standard for any language - be it English or any other - because (not matter how you look at it) language is a tool for communication. Any language being a science or an art is secondary. Yes, Dickens, Tennyson and all you people who are buried in Westminster, its true. And Will Shakespeare, I hope you know you were famous not just for your plays, but because we couldn't figure out what drugs you were on when you wrote them. Of course, Thiruvalluvar - Dude, what were you thinking? Have you heard of Madras Tamil? Thanks to you, I nearly flunked high school.

Secondly, who was the clown who said that native English speakers speak great English? Is the famous American 'Whateverrrrr' and the over-use of the word 'Like' (eg. what are you like doing today? I'm like thinking of going downtown' - perfect English? And the average Brit discussing 'Who he 'bonked' today'? It's difficult to communicate in any language without alternating rules with functionality.

So Globish doesn't make sense to me. Sometimes IC laughs and says, 'Speak English, you silly Indian'. Then I ask him if he can pronounce the word 'Bharath' and he pauses for a minute before he says 'Parrot'. I laugh. Seriously, how ironic.

I wonder how it'll be for Native English speakers after the Indian population explodes in another twenty years and Hindi becomes the only known international language. It'd probably spell chaos for those in The Land of High English then - they'd have to switch from speaking Ignoramus-ish to Hin-glish.

P.S - Apologies to folks in Britain. You tried killing us with English, and we just killed English instead.



Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Can a heavy lunch during work hours damage your brain?

We were sitting at this nearby restaurant, waiting for our food. The conversation was centered around the arbitrary use of English language in India and whether the average Indian really benefits from learning English in the Indian education syllabus -


AMg - Dude, I don't understand why Indian writers use such big words that no-one can understand. Do you think its because they want to sound intelligent? I bet they use a dictionary. Have any of you read Arundathi Roy? I think all these people keep a fucking dictionary open in front of them.

JMc (sounding really flustered) - Please, Indian writers are alright. Why the hell do we have to study Yeats and Byron in Middle school? Have you read 'The Solitary Reaper?' I don't see what the hell he wrote that poem for. I mean, who the hell reads stuff like that?

AMg- (very seriously) - Ya, that's true, but see, that's because in those days these poets were really intense and thought alot and shit like that. So they wrote stuff they felt deeply about.

JMc - (Delirious tone) - Like we cared what they thought about... I mean if they wanted us to understand what they felt and shit, they should've written it in simple English.

AMg - (Very very seriously) - Arre, that's what I'm saying dude. No-one should have Yeats and Byron in Middle School. That's deep intense shit, its something you'll connect with when you're stoned out of your mind. Trust me.


The waiter brings us dessert, and all of us take a moment trying to figure out what the hell we've been served.

Me - Ok, so what the hell is this shit?

AMg - Tuti Fruity.

Me - What the hell is that?

AMg - A bastardized version of fruit salad with ice cream.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

When in doubt -

Me - How was I to know honey is actually Bee vomit?


Chris - Yum!

Me - Wait till a bottle of my puke hits the shelves.

Chris - #&*@!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The this, that and those days

I love Sunday mornings. I love waking up early, and curling up on the couch waiting for the sunshine to fall on my face. I love making coffee for my dad and pointlessly arguing about something we've seen on the news. I love annoying my sisters who love sleeping late on weekends. I feed my cats extra. I tidy extra. I go through my memory trunk and sit for hours in the spare room looking at photographs. I catch up with my girlfriends and we speak for hours.


I think everything I love about my life happen on arbitrary Sundays, a Sunday like today. Especially since every Sunday begins or ends a phone call with Revathi, the only kind of best friend a girl can ever wish for.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

You know those days when you wake up and feel like Dita Von Teese?

Sunday was like that.


I woke up and realized that I had enough of it all - quasi-flirting, quasi-relationships, emotional insanity, betrayal, and 3 am phone calls. I was tired of being the person I had become, I looked into the mirror and didn't know the person I was staring at. Over the week, I'd had the worst spats and cut ties with a few of my closest friends. I didn't know what the heck I was doing to myself and the people around me.

But then Sunday happened.

It was the hottest afternoon in Chennai, and the temperature was soaring. People stood under any shade they could get. And I walked out completely dissed, hair uncombed, smudgy kajal, a ridiculous top and flip flops. Then I met him. And we spoke about nothing exceptional - the weather, the traffic and our so-called-lives. We sipped on lemonade in a room of apple flavoured smoke. And we did nothing all evening but walk around the block before it was time to leave. We did nothing but talk. We did nothing at all.

It was a just another Sunday.

But when we went back home, my head was singing. For the first time in long, I laughed at something funny on television. I picked up a book I'd saved for reading. I could think of nothing but chocolate cake. I reread NK's message and deleted it. I called my best friend and we spoke about random stuff. I felt weird. I felt uncluttered and free. My head felt woozy and my heart felt light.

The truth was that it was the hottest Sunday in April, and I was wearing this ridiculous top, flip flops and was perspiring. It was easily the worst day in the lives of many.

But who cared?

It was Sunday and I felt like Dita Von Teese.





Marriage in India is like some weird ass mating ritual.

It really is.


If there is one goddamn good reason that every Indian girl with half a brain would want to leave the country, its because we want to save our lives before being put up for auction on some matrimonial site. Not that marriage is a bad thing, you know, but the idea of marriage in India - the whole idea of picking-off-grooms-by-looking-at-photographs and checking off a mental list of his body stats - hairy, tall, bald, fat, thin, nose, penis of working condition, etc. and financial stats - does he earn enough to get me enough shopping allowance? Is he linked with enough powerful people? - this whole idea is twisted and beyond me.

An aunt I haven't heard from in a hundred years calls me this morning and this is how the conversation went -

Aunt - 'Meera, How are you. Heard you are in Bangalore? when are you planning to get married?

Me - 'I'm fine. Yes, I'm in Bangalore. Not anytime now'.

Aunt - 'When we were 18, all of us got married and look where we are, none of you children these days listen. You should get married.'

Me - 'Sure. Alright, I'll speak with you later.'

What I really wanted to tell my aunt was that it isn't 1960 anymore, and that women have ambition, and I can see where she is now and that's definitely not where I want to be so long as I'm alive.

I mean, this is marriage right? not fresh meat I'm shopping for lunch?

Where is the love?

Mum says that love doesn't matter. And that it will come. I wonder if she meant those new shoes I was planning to buy or some guy with a puffy moustache.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

My family has three hundred billion uncles and aunts.... and counting.

Seriously.

For the past few years of my life, I've been (im)politely corrected each time I referred to someone as 'Mrs.X'. This reference almost always ends with  another person immediately suggesting, that I 'just call her X Aunty'. 

So it is fair to ask the obvious question (unless you are Indian, of course) -

Does this mean everyone around you is an Aunt or an Uncle?

Apparently, yes. 

Right from the tea-stall owner to the strange woman who handed me an extra plate at dinner, it is supposedly discourteous to not refer to them as Uncle or Aunty. This Uncle-Aunt, Brother-Sister address is so completely, and atrociously Indian that even our country's pledge reads ' All Indians are my brothers and sisters'. I mean, why couldn't they just not get so damn sentimental about Independence and simply say something to the lines of ' We will stand together as friends and co-exist and love each other' or something? But no. And it's not surprising how everyone becomes some sort of extended family once you call them an Uncle or an Aunt here. From the 'Aunty' at the counter in Spencer's Daily to the Tea Kadai 'Uncle', everyone wants to know about my well-being and my love life. Unbelievable!

It is difficult not to be amazed by Indian society sometimes.

P.S- Swami Vivekananda, just so you know, you're like awesome and all that, but I really think that pledge could've been written with a little more thought.

Monday, 11 January 2010

If there ever was an agrarian crisis

Mum - Why are the animals on my farm walking all over the place on Farmville.


Sis - Ma, you've got to lock your animals in line so they don't wander away.

Mum - What??How can you do something so cruel?!

Sis -??@#!#$ They're digital animals!!

Mum - So? Just becaue they're digital you think its alright to ill-treat animals?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Scribbling on empty pages

There's this retarded American thriller about a bunch of teenagers tripping on magic mushrooms and killing each other -  I was watching it on New Year's eve when the clock struck twelve and the world was going berserk. 

I know that it sounds like the most pathetic thing to do on 'such an occasion', but there was nothing more comforting than silence to welcome this particular year. You know how you're almost always certain things will never happen the way you want it to? That's exactly what 2009 taught me. I've finally realized (after a hundred pitfalls) that most of us fall short because we're always waiting for someone else to come fix our lives. We rely on advice, books, teachers, parents, friends, just about anything and everyone we can lean on - except ourselves. This is the year I'm going to start repairing all the damage from the last year. 

So as far as resolutions go,  I'm going to start with getting my hair done and buying myself a new phone to reorganize my friends list. And call the people I've promised to. By March, I should get my bank accounts and investments in line. By July, I hope I'm sitting at a news desk once more poring over stories around the world. And by December, if, and only if I  just manage to muster the right amount of strength, I guess I'll kiss NK goodbye.