Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time-bomb mein twist hai

A wise man (my sister's husband & thus ever more wise because he married her!) made a remark the other day, the thought of which has made me chuckle a few times already. He said, and i quote, " Ever wondered that there would have been no Hollywood but for the nuclear bomb, and there would definitely have been no Bollywood without the time-bomb?!"

Come to think of it, the most horrifying plot in almost all of the jolly good Bollywood pot boilers of yesteryears (a fine tradition that has morphed into quite another thing with the use of sophisticated gizmos and gadgets) centres around the time bomb. Various unsuspecting innocents have been the shikaar of this ingenuious device, planted on their persons by the oh-so-devious baaaaad man.

Some Fuzzy Flashes:

The partially blind mother, who has only just realised that the mysterious blood donor who saved her sorry ass after she came under the villain's car is her long-lost son, reappears on screen with a bundle of disco-light emitting sticks strapped to her eternally maternal bosom, weeping silently into her tattered saree pallu while saying this to her son: meri chinta mat kar beta, isko iske kiye ki sazaa zarror dena!" (Don't worry about poor ol' me son, just kick ass! For i only gave birth to you, while he wishes to give you DEATH!!)

The said son finds himself in the same room as said mother after also being mysteriously informed by the said villain's sidekick that "tumhari maa, aur uski hone wali bahu hamare kabze mein hai, unko zinda dekhna chahte ho to Aravind Adiga ke pachaas hazzaar pond lekar bangley par aa jao" (you mother an her future daughter in law are in our lecherous keep; if you want both of them to atttend your upcoming nuptials, for which you have already booked the pandit and the bandwallah, get us Aravind Adiga's recently won Booker booty at the bungalow, ASAP!)

No address is given, but our wily protagonist, tired of keeping tabs on the two women by now anyway, has also mysteriously managed to locate the said bungalow, carrying what looks like .... did he also find a time machine to travel to London and back? did Adiga actually give in so easily?.... but it's only a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed (they don't know it yet) with the clothes he plans to take to the Bahamas with him. But more on that later....

So the swashbuckling son arrives to find his love-disinterest trying to wiggle out of the chains that bind her, in the process of which all she has managed to actually wriggle out of is half her clothes, while Mataji has been trying desperately to shield her jhopdi ki izzat from the roving eyes of the raucous sidekicks with said tattered saree, all the time working gingerly around the time bomb that's loudly ticking away like a large pendulum clock.

Enter son. Loud cries of hope and fear pierce the impending doom of the time bomb. The beady-eyed boys attack him one by one, each patiently waiting his turn to be disposed of in a tangle of kicks and grunts.

As Jack Nicholson says in A Few Good Men "Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You..?", and here in Bollywood we live in a world that has rules. Yes, rules, my boy. And the keepers of those rules are men with country-made guns smuggled from neighbouring Nepal. The cardinal one being: "Being the evile scumme of the earthe, thou shalt not fire thy katta but once, and then only one at a time, ever-patient till the chosen one has sent your homie flying out through the flimsy walls, with a mere belch."

Getting back to the story, suddenly, there is a loud roar and a burst of evil laughter, as a gaping hole opens up under our as-yet-unvanquished-and-unscratched hero's nimble feet and he is swallowed up even as the ladies in captivity let out loud shrieks of Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin (Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo way! Now what??!!), and in the very same instant, the heart rending screams drowned out by a visual treat of exploding saree and tank top, played in slo mo, over and over again. A horrific The End.

Whaaaaat? You killed the LV bag, you philistine??!!

I know what happened, but, for now, I leave that up to you. All you who are still loyally reading this crap, send in your entries and i will carry the one that pays a befitting tribute to the brilliant logic of Bollywood storylines....

And now i can hear somethin' a tickin' back here. Time to get some work done. Make me proud, ppl! What do you have to lose except your sanity?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Of mares and men

This past weekend, i shopped. Ate. Drank. And survived, In fact i'm almost feeling human after a long time. Through a drunken haze, i noticed two things i've probably never paid much attention to before.

  1. Most Chinese restaurants in Delhi (those which are not safely ensconced in pricey all-stars) have a paan shop right outside them. Huh?
  2. The volume of squealing children in the park on a Sunday evening is directly proportional to the intensity of your early evening hangover. Aaaarghhh!
Is that really a horse?

Nope. Probably the missus.

Which brings me to two random observations from Indian baraats (wedding processions). One, about the use of ghoris (mares). Why the female? My uneducated guess is that since the event marks the beginning of a journey in which the female is most probably going to be carrying your shit around, it's time to learn how to place your trust in the species, while riding, nearly blindfolded, amid exploding firecrackers.

Sit tight while others enjoy the ride.

Two, the bandwallahs alway play "Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka" (This is a nation of brave young men), right after the groom gets ready to vroom towards his fate. Why that particular song, I used to wonder, till a wise woman enlightened me. Saying something along the lines of 'blessed are the brave who take the plunge into the murky waters of matrimony' and all that.

But i think it's because none is braver than the one who has entrusted his life to a spooky old mare, well knowing that the wedding party is carrying a bag load of crackers, perhaps enough ammunition to blow up a mid-sized nation. But then that's just me. What's life without some murky waters, eh? And besides, if the shit gets too much to carry, all you gotta do, girl, is to just rear up those hind legs :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Penultimate Paranoia

.. is a new term i think i have coined today. Do pardon me if it already exists.

Penultimate paranoia (P2) is actually the fear that you feel when you are watching the tail end of your favourite TV series. It's the fear of the unknown. The fear of not knowing what would eventually fill that particular weekly spot once the series actually ends. And the fear of never finding one nowhere near as good as the one bidding you farewell.

Being penultimate in nature, this particular fear hits you only at the very end, just an episode or two before the curtains come down. In extreme cases, this fear is said to coincide with season finales as well. And might manifest itself, unnaturally, even while watching rented re-runs. The phenomenon is not confined to television alone. Ask any Pottermaniac. As someone who has not read a single Harry Potter (i know. bite me.), but who waits anxiously for the movies, i am already entering the paranoid zone. It's time for the second last in the series to be released, and after one more, the supply will end.

I am also branded by Bourne. Jason Bourne. As the amnesiac agent swam away from his killers in the very last scene of the very last (or so they say) movie, i couldn't help but feel depressed for days. I feel Bond diehards have an unfair advantage over fans of characters who cannot be re-incarnated in different shapes and sizes of sex appeal, while retaining the oh-so-groovy Brit accent. Bond's universal appeal and the eternal stream of Bond movies have probably made "The name's Bond. James Bond." the most rehearsed lines in front of the mirror, probably with the actors who have played the the sizzling spy leading the count. I know i've said them out loud oftentimes, occasionally without even bothering to replace the James with Jane :)

P2 has various other avatars, as i am slowly discovering. Like the fear of gobbling up the very last sausage too fast before you take a vegan pledge. Or the strangely psychotic expression on the faces of would-be quitters while puffing on what they swear (yet again) is their last cig. Or the feeling you get on the last evening of your insanely expensive, once-in-many-many-many-years dream vacation. Or even the very last bite of that exotic cheese from an unpronounceable European village with the magic cows, which someone charitably decided to partake with you. . .

I must stop now, for i am paranoid about discovering any more things that i don't yet know i am paranoid about!

Oh, and the TV couch awaits with that season finale. Time to break another Bond.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Designed to torment

Certain things have been designed by the wrong people. And given their unchallenged monopoly, the torture continues.

Take most toilet bowls for example. Definitely the brain wave of mean men. So while their kind can safely direct the flow anywhere for a smooth and silent spray, we women continue to shift our bottoms endlessly, and in vain, but can never get to the bottom of the matter - how to pee noiselessly. Highly embarrassing on a first date 'at the pad', especially if it is a bachelor zone designed for awesome acoustics. Or if you are unfortunate enough to answer a call you thought was from a harmless fellow sufferer, but ain't, smack dab in the middle of a can't-hold-it-any-longer loo break. Ouch!

Then there are sinks/washbasins which are definitely the creation of midgets, conducive to being placed only at certain heights. Tall people: use at the risk of your back giving out as you bend over, nearly double, trying to get that toothbrush under the tap, while nearly buckling at the knees to take a look at your mug, in all its morning glory, in the mirror- the top of which probably reaches shoulder level. I'm gonna get one that I can look at even in six-inch heels. Will definitely remember to keep a platform for all you li'l ones out there, and given the origins of my misfortune, don't any of you dare to throw that old "heightist!" at me.

Or take low to medium-budget cars. I mean if you have a lot of money and can afford the fancy life off the road, then why is it that you get to also afford the fancy, gadgeted-upto- its-eyeballs car as well, since chances are that you ain't gonna be driving any of them in the first place? So what makes your lazy driver - who snoozes the day away in the air conditioned parking lot - more deserving of crawling the traffic in luxury than a multiple degree holder stuck in the world's lowest paying profession, who is a hard-working, wide-awake, caffeine-supported self-driven car owner traversing the long distance between the office and home in a car with the shortest distance between the wheel and the clutch? Design for the deserving destitute, for they actually drive these things! Split the costs. Anterior luxury interiors for the poor; plush posteriors for the shamelessly undeserving backsides. At no extra cost. Socialism with a twist, much like a certain view of the American bailouts. Fair play, i say.

And finally, the female form. And i don't mean the un-average type. I am specifically referring to the average one that, if left unattended, begins to self-destruct in no time at all. Men at least need to down a requisite number of pints to even get close to losing the battle of the belly, or cross a numerical threshold for the hairline to cross the danger mark, but we get hit with it the minute we take our eyes off the mirror. Wham! To top it all, the guys got the thick skin too, AND the confidence to live in the blissful belief that saggy or shaggy are mere synonyms for sexy. But no, no such luck for the other half.

Come now, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, what were you really thinking dude?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gimme five!

Top Fives of my (currently playing in a theatre far far away from reality) life:

  • Songs on repeat
  1. Love should - Moby
  2. Far away - Nickelback
  3. Here without you - 3 Doors Down
  4. Ahista Ahista - Bachna Ae Haseeno
  5. Nothing else matters - Metallica
  • Dream (filmi) getaways
  1. The house on the hill in the Thomas Crown Affair
  2. The old building or whatever where Keira Knightley's Elizabeth and Darcy kiss in yet another re-make of Pride and Prejudice
  3. The beach in From here to Eternity
  4. Casablanca, of course!
  5. The typical/standard Bollywood feel-good nachna gaana shoot route (empty beach, mountain, desert, city, tree, lake, snow in chiffon, whatever...)
  • Questions i'm asking
  1. Mithun Da kab retire hoge? (also, directed at Dev 'Saab' Anand)
  2. Citibank kab bankrupt hoga? (apologies to Mr. & Mrs. S!)
  3. Saala, India ko gussa kyon nahin aata? (sab kuchch chalta hai!)
  4. Where's the rest of my paycheck?
  5. Is it time to 'respectably' go home yet?
  • Causes to espouse
  1. Traffic Free Dilli
  2. More Chicken for my Sub
  3. Somebody... Stop Himesh!
  4. Goa not Gurgaon
  5. Five Day Week now (four, actually, if you consider the mounting arrears)
  • Things to do when in doubt
  1. Look in the mirror
  2. Call Oprah
  3. Vote Democrat
  4. Blame the "previous government" while decrying the "incumbency factor"
  5. Head for the drinks cabinet
  • Time-fillers
  1. Blogging on crap like this
  2. Intra-office 'networking'
  3. Coffee breaks and working lunches
  4. Making organised lists
  5. Meetings (especially with dazzling Power Point props)
  • TV series
  1. CSI- all
  2. Criminal Minds
  3. Coupling
  4. Seinfeld
  5. How I Met Your Mother
  • Ways to die (or survive to accost the cause)
  1. Drown in a vat of whiskey
  2. Drown in a cask of beer
  3. Drown in a tub of cream cheese
  4. Drown in a pond of maple syrup
  5. Get crushed in a blender making a banana-strawberry smoothie
  • Places to re-visit someday (i guess no separate section on fab foods/beverages needed!)
  1. Ladakh before snowfall
  2. London ANYTIME AT ALL
  3. Times Sq. NY in the fall
  4. Langkawi in winter
  5. Paris in summer
  • FINALLY: Favorite excuses
  1. I can't
  2. I won't
  3. I shouldn't
  4. Who cares?
  5. Are you out of your mind?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Another sunday cometh and sloth's back in fashion

i am in trouble. of the deep, deep sort. because i'm becoming lazier by the day and crazier by the night, for that is when i take stock of the day of a thousand procrastinations and enter my very own private hell.

As the unread newspapers pile up on my coffee table, random thoughts and article inspirations are jostling for breathing space like people in a DDA cheap housing scheme queue. Yet, i can't clear the backlog fast enough through the half-open window of my working side of the brain to prevent them from pushing up against each other in a desperate scramble for attention. Disheartened, many have left, and i am sorely tempted to put up a sign, true sarkari style, saying "Out to Lunch", to shoo off the stubborn ones.

Enter: sunday.

Another one to the rescue.

You can imagine the extent of my slothful transgressions when i tell you that it's taken me three whole sundays to complete one painful cycle of preserving what's left of my youth, and the tattered shreds of my vanity are highly offended. I mean, one poor Sunday and four limbs to wax, two eyebrows to painfully prune, two feet, a pair of hands and all of twenty fingernails to pamper, not to mention the daily ablutions that keep the rest of the 'best face forward' in working order!

Yes, ALL this in a country full of men who are back to balking at the word 'metrosexual'. The much-vaunted concept seems kinda on the way out, along with male manicures and papa pedicures. To be fair to the Indian male, he's retained some of it, albeit highly selectively. So, while pink-the-new-blue is here to stay, the candy coloured shirts are back to acting as windows to hairy souls infested with a tola of gold chainees, while the proud pappi in pink is back to prowling the streets in Papaji's Pajero with crusty soles.

So, i'm going all Euro-sexual this week. No visits to that high temple of superficial splendour, aka the neighbourhood beauty parlour. No desi homemade stinkies on the face a la facade al fresco... whatever that meant! Basically, i'm vegging out, (pun definitely intended, it is navratras!) and reading on and uglying in. I know i'll have to pay a heavy price for my reckless behaviour requiring some extreme damage control, but what the heck!

Vanity enslaves. And THAT is exactly the truth behind assertions that it's a man's world. They haven't surrendered. Thus they rule. And it's time for me to reclaim my tiny space. Not to mention my day job.

Oh, slothful sunday, here i come!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yes, violence. Seriously? On a day like today?

It's Gandhi Jayanti. Happy birthday, Bapu, but can you, like, send a message to the guys up there that we, like, really don't like working on your birthday... we sometimes don't like working on other days as well, but it's, like, your birthday today and all that, man! Makes me kinda all violency about it, this violent assault on our freedom to stay at home on a national holiday. They call this a "free" media! hah!

Gandhi said "Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy." So, i agree that it ain't a day to be lyin' around doin' nothin'. I mean i do want to, like, get up late from my extremely non-violent Caribbean dreams and eat some, like, organic cereal from the Khadi Gram Udyog and stuff, and then, like, meditate, ruminate and pontificate on loftier things... and languidly debate the merits of freedom (of sexual orientation), non-violence (when faced a sub that was delivered 15 minutes too late), khadi (of the non-scratchy variety) and purposeful walking (to the drinks cabinet), while trying very hard not to swat at the pesky fly that seems to be seeking refuge in my living room. All in the spirit of the day, of course.

While driving to work today, i noticed that even the doggies are off the streets, let alone patriotic Indians, who are probably ringing in the occasion with home brews on a dry dry day like today. D' ya think they'll really care if they don't get their newspaper tomorrow, groggy as they'd be from partying on a mid-week day off? But then with a sinking heart i remember what Gandhi had said once "I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers", and i know where the discrimination stems from.

But then my spirits lift a little when i recall what Gandhiji also once said "Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.". So here i am honestly differing with the management. Shall i expect a healthy bonus in the next paycheck? Oh, i'm inspired by his words: "You must be the change you want to see in the world.", so here i am putting my head on the block, all in the interest of the greater good, and asking the powers that be to please re-consider the six-day week! Just in case you were thinking it's all about personal gain, shame on you, you... you... non-believer!

Now i have come to the worrying conclusion that a lot of what the Great Man said can be misconstrued and applied to furthering personal gain. Like if we were to interpret "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it" to mean that stealing petty cash from a US investment bank predictably almost going under in a couple of weeks might be an insignificant folly in the large scheme of things, but that it becomes absolutely imperative for the employees to salvage all they can. Or, that when Bapu said "As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it", was not an endorsement for shoplifting Victoria's Secret innerwear!

But then, following some of his pearls of wisdom ad verbatim might just cost us more than a loss of personal pleasures. Like when he said that "I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life", he definitely did not mean that Vijender Singh stand tall and exposed against his most ferocious Cuban opponent in his Olympic boxing bout.

And then when he said that "Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right", he certainly forgot to add the caveat that the management might not be so tolerant of your expression of freedom. Err too often and they'll... errr... kick your butt! My defense against my various indiscretions at work is another one from his collection "Hate the sin, love the sinner".

Now this brings me to one that i use to sum up my life's failure to reconcile my existence with my destined place in the world, something that causes me eternal grief: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony". I think i can do with a little more of god's attention, but i say i'm content with what i have, and i do all i can to stay afloat. And then the trusty old man offers me a clue to express what it is i really want: " I want freedom for the full expression of my personality. "

But then at times when i am expressing a murderous thought, through the full force of my personality, to someone who has just appeared from nowhere, going the wrong way, in a one-way street, I recall his words decrying vengeance "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." To which he provides the answer "I think it would be a good idea. "

.... and THAT'S Gandhigiri for ya'!