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.



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 -


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.