Monday, December 21, 2009

Please do stop the music


Last night, I was at this Indian-Mughlai type restaurant and they were playing some saxo-phony music. At least it sounded kinda like Kenny G having a bad hair day... well, strike that. When doesn't he? So, I am at this restaurant trying to gently wrestle with some burra kababs and I can't help but feel a little uneasy about the music.

I mean if it was Pankaj Udhas asking you to drink moderately in his wet tissue paper-like voice, while you doled out generous quantities of dal makhni onto your plate, you could go on and tackle the kababs, no doubt about that. By the way, you should know by now that Mughlai restaurants and Mr Udhas probably have some kind of deal goin' on. If you don't believe me, answer this: Have you ever been to Moti Mahal and not felt his looming presence, right from the warmth of the tandoori platter, all the way to the icy tingle of the kulfi falooda?

But the sax is another matter altogether. Thanks to sleazy libido-enhancing ads and clumsy seduction scenes in Indian movies, this wonderfully uber-melancholic-or-ultra-tectonic instrument -- that Great Mood Enhancer of B-grade ventures -- automatically makes me feel a little queasy. I expect the lights to dim further, and the scene to change and cut across to two feet squashing each other at the edge of the mattress, before the scene cuts across to a fencing match between two palm trees or pollen-rich flowers, and then cuts right back to a risky-after-being-frisky Navin Nischol with a smug look on his mug. And that does something to my appetite. Seriously.

I wonder if Kenny G and his apostles are aware of the crucial role they have played in ruining one Indian appetite at the cost of fine-tuning another. But given the popularity of instrumental music at family dine-ins, perhaps they should swap a deal with Mr Udhas. But then, while you could guzzle to 'em, can you imagine getting raunchy to ghazals? I didn't think so.

Anyway, there goes quite another appetite.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Countdown to conformity?



Nothing inspires the kind of frenzy that the evening of 31st December or Valentine’s Day do in this city, with the attached pressure planning or of being seen at a “happening” place/person.... even as all I feel like doing is vegetating in front of the television with a crisp pizza and some gooey chocolate cake for company, watching half of Bollywood shaking a leg on screen on NY Eve. Well, having made the usual rounds of New Year’s Eve “events” (farmhouse dos, fresh off the block nightclubs and sundry 'private' parties), it's exactly at the stroke of midnight during times like these that I've wondered what I was doing hugging complete strangers when I could be cozily swapping channels in the familiar environs of a warm home, or exchanging warmer bear hugs with mom and dad/ siblings/ select best friends. OR watching soapstars or Bollywigs shout out the new year amid lots of falling, glittering confetti. It's a recorded show, of course. They're all off to shinier places as well.

So, the strange thing is that, these days, simple pleasures are a hard commodity to sell. I remember a television advertisement for a popular shampoo brand, aired on a 31st December evening long ago, which had the following tagline: “…and all you losers who are sitting at home and watching this -- go out, get going!” One particular bunch of losers -- yours truly included, of course -- who had decided to stay at home that night and ring in the new year with faithful friends and finger food, felt rather sorry for themselves before making up their minds to accept their loser status and get on with it. So, we took off our high heeled shoes/ handmade leather shoes, and whiled the night away. It turned out to be one of the best New Year’s Eves in recent memory.

But there’s no escaping the fact that extravagance is the order of the day: Big and brash is beautiful, simple is simply not suitable. I am so tired of questions like: “Oh, where are you planning to go this winter?” simply because if I were to say Jaipur or ‘nowhere’ I fear that I’d come across as hopelessly un-cool and inadequate, as compared to those whose answer is “Uh, I’m just hopping across to Dubai for a weekend” or “the kids want to go to the Disneyland in Florida this year”. So, during conversations that usually follow such questions, I try not to glance at my modest red strap wali Titan ki ghadi, and smile politely at their dazzling Diors instead. Still, in all fairness to people I actually like to hang out with these days, such conversations are few and far between, and usually involve second-hand narrations. Mercifully.  

So, when a friends enterprising eight-year-old son tried to sell me a handmade card with big red hearts on it last Valentine's Day (he also gave me a neck massage for 20 bucks, including a ten rupee tip, a while ago while telling me to do something about my lifeless hair), I couldn't help wondering: a handmade card? Really? These days? That used to be the stuff of painstakingly sweet gestures born of excess time to kill or art and craft classes at school, anachronisms both. Oh, and just a card? My goodness, how very plebian! Oh, and not just any gift would do. The bigger the brand; the better its value. But I like to think that's not me, missing the designer-wear gene as I do along with the one that inspires a great affection for jewellery. Well, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t secretly appreciate the designer perfumes I got for my birthday this year, or the stylish winter wear and home accessories, or the lots of books that made me rub my hands with glee, or the chocolates, flowers and wine. But what really cracked me up was a small packet that a much younger friend gifted me with, containing some headache balm, crepe bandages, vitamin tablets and general old-age stuff to help me ‘cope with my advancing years’.

And now, another NY Eve is upon me and the advancing years have done nothing to quell the dread of that old, haunting question: “so, what are you planning this year?” But this time I’m prepared. You see, I’m planning to stay on the couch, with a pile of cushions to prop me up; watch silly TV stars dancing around like wannabes on popular Bollywood tunes; right after ordering a big fat pizza and washing it down with a glass of wine or two. And at midnight I will call my family and promise to be a better daughter/sister/friend in 2010. Tell you what, I feel better already. And if any of you don't have much to do (yeah, as if!), feel free to drop in for some fermented grapes from vineyards far away and Italian imitation food. Have a happy NY Eve, folks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jolie well, i say


I want Brad Pitt to dump Angelina Jolie so hard that the collagen in her lips spatters all the way to Africa.
just because...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't be a chicken... cross the damn road, will ya!


A few answers to that eternal question "Why did the chicken cross the road?" from the men and women working towards making the world a better place for all creatures:

  • Rahul Gandhi: I have asked our state units to induct chickens en masse into the party, so that they can take my message across the street after they have crossed it safely. No, there are no Dalit chickens that I know of. I love cuddling them all.
  • Mayawati: I am ordering my men to erect my statues on all busy thoroughfares, so that the chickens may hop from (my) handbag to (my) handbag till they have crossed over safely.
  • Raj Thackeray: Chicken is an English word... I will NOT have these alien creatures hopping across the roads of Mumbai! Jai Balasaheb.... err, i mean, Maharashtra!
  • Karan Johar: I apoliogise to all chickens who have been offended by anything I might have said that might amount to their motives being called into question. My next movie will be a heartwarming story of a chicken's undying love for the road. It will be set in "Mumbai". (Did you guys get that?) Rajji will be there to bless us at the muhurat. Only chai will be served. What's Koffee?
  • Maneka Gandhi: Karan Johar is making a movie with real, live chickens! Is the cast vegetarian?
  • Shilpa Shetty: I'm a veggie, and can balance a bhindi on my washboard tummy. I would like to invite all you chickens to participate in a new reality show being produced by my bankfriend... uh, I mean, my boyfriend...uh, fiance... Raj Tundra... uh, Kundra. In the end, the chicken that can cheer the loudest for Rajasthan Royals will be ferried safely across the road in my new car.
  • Ratan Tata: For every 100 Nanos I sell, I will give one to chickens so that they may never have to cross roads on foot again.
  • Medha Patkar: Dam the chickens! Uh, I mean don't build dams... so that all chickens may swim freely to the other side.
  • Shah Rukh Khan: Kkkaunsa chicken? Kkkahan?
  • Salman Khan: There's a chicken on the road? Screeeeeech..... Oh shit!
  • Aamir Khan: Chickens sometimes cross roads. DON'T KILL THE CHICKEN. It was SRK all along. Don't kill.....
now I'm bored and there's work to do... ok, end of timeout... so, over and out. More later if I feel inspired (or bored) enough.

PS: Look at Aamir's glistening six-pack, and remember to drive safely, y'all!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tattle for the sexes


Who can forget Meg Ryan's very real tribute to the fake orgasm in When Harry Met Sally, or its slightly varied encore by Katherine Heigl in The Hard Truth? Now, if that wasn't enough for men and women to sit up and take notice (for different reasons, obviously), here's something from The Guardian today that made me smile -- nay, giggle -- while primly pretending to read the NYT on weather forecasts...no, atmospheric pressure rules... no, climate change negotiations, methinks.

A rather hilarious article about a new, (revolutionary?) book tells us Why women have sex. And the reasons, girls, are a total of 237 (an odd number and, yes, like the author of the delightful piece, I gave up trying to decode its significance).
Here's a sample (lines in quotes are hers, the rest -- all brackets included -- is just me):

  • for "genetic" and "resource benefits" (so you'd sleep with a misogynistic hot dog and, if his boys don't swim fast enough, you're likely to run off and marry a celery stick of an accountant with that mansion in the suburbs)...
EXHIBIT A, my lord: "Jane Eyre, I think, can be read as a love letter to a big house." and B: "that is how Bill Clinton got sex, despite his astonishing resemblance to a moving potato. It also explains why Vladimir Putin has become a sex god and poses topless with his fishing rod."

(Yessss, of course... that is why you don't hear starving Russian matrons complain, do ya?! The men? They's still taken to gulags)
  • for charity... "women 'for the most part, are the ones who give soup to the sick, cookies to the elderly and . . . sex to the forlorn'."
  • (Ahh! men are still milking that lost-puppy-needs-a-warm-bed-and-loving-care routine! did i hear you say dog?)
  • for love... "Love is apparently a form of 'long-term commitment insurance' that ensures your mate is less likely to leave you, should your legs fall off or your ovaries fall out." (sigh! how romantic...) simply put, "if people don't have love, terrible things can happen, in literature and life: "Cleopatra poisoned herself with a snake and Ophelia went mad and drowned."
  • to spread the joy... give men who might have/have the potential to break their hearts... STDs! and sundry other reasons to remember us by...
  • for loose change... promotions, money, drugs, revenge, a new car etc etc etc
  • to even the odds... Well, since "there isn't this huge pool of highly desirable men just sitting out there waiting for women", we girls make do somehow.others "liberate desirable men from other women? We 'mate poach'." and how do we do that? "We "compete to embody what men want" – high heels to show off our pelvises, lip-gloss to make men think about vaginas, and we see off our rivals with slander. We spread gossip – "She's easy!" – because that makes the slandered woman less inviting to men as a long-term partner."
And then here's a line that might make sense... or not: "Take that, Danielle Steele – you may think you live in 2009 but your genes are still in the stone age, with only chest hair between you and a bloody death."

Now, tell me, how many of you (women, of course) have sat wondering....why can't he see through her? She's just using him...? I'm guessing all of us at some point or the other...

But you know what? Men know they're being played, but the game is too addictive to give up. And why should they?

Its a neat little set up... the good girls get their heart broken by bad boys and marry the good guys. The bad boys finally tire of the bad girls, act all reformed and marry the good girls.
Then the good guys marry the bad girls, cos they make their bland life look cool...
Later, the bad girls and the bad boys sometimes break free from wedlock, get together again and in the end, the accountant FINALLY marries the behenji. THE END.

So, the bad boys and good girls and good boys and bad girls are back on the market and it all begins again....

Phew! That's all very well then. Now, before you start wondering about my affiliations in the story... don't. I'm still figuring it out for myself. Lemme see... hmmm... sometimes good is bad and the bad's the best.... and the bad is bad and the good beats the rest... or maybe not.. oh, forget it!

it's all good... who wants to know why?

But ladies, before we start celebrating these new revelations about our ability to be more men than men, (and men think they've finally figured out women), we should sneak a peek at the bottom line again: women still need a REASON to have sex.

Most men just need a woman.

PS: See, we had you all figured out ages ago :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anchors aweigh...


It's flashing on the screen, that frozen hue,
when new was old and the old anew.
The memory of a day long ago,
when about almost nothing there was much ado.

Skip to the part that I loved most,
when this silly heart ran from pillar to post;
and found the beat that matched its step;
swaying to song, more drunk than most.

The music's soured and so has the wine;
oh! my sorrow so sweet, my pain divine:
Must we part ways and not look back
to when I was yours and you were mine?

But the sunrise beckons, I must not stay;
let go, dark night, and don't think of me this way,
for I'll be leaving now and won't be back;
Anchors aweigh! anchors aweigh...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jo jeeta wohi bandar?


I remember the time when I was in primary school and the highlight of the winter term used to be the Fancy Dress Competition. While my mother strove, year after year, to dress us up in style, her inventive ideas never seemed to go down well with a small-town jury. So all those bandages, which took her hours to bundle me up in, and the
anaar juice that I was supposed to dribble down the side of my nervously clenched jaw through lips that had to open just the right amount for preventing the 'blood' from becoming a bloodbath, came to naught.

And that was because inventiveness never won a fancy dress. Real recognition and accolades lay only in conformity, which ensured that the competition would be between clones of Rama/ Sita/ Hanuman, the madari and the
sabziwali, diffident dakus or heavily made-up princesses and frilly fairies. The beaten path was where you would probably not be beaten. Really.

I mean, really?

In fact, the trauma of NEVER winning has made me suppress all thoughts of that (rigged, I tell you!) competition. I even forget what I was supposed to be doing on that stage in bandages with pomegranate
paan-type substance for company. Well, at least by the end of the show, I was feeling quite like the bruised-and-battered-got-hit-by-a-truck type person. Or was that what it was? Utter humiliation, I tell you, compounded by the realisation that I was unlikely to ever own a properly kitschy costume, other than a shroud conjured from a generous donation made by an uncle's nursing home. But my mom refused -- and I repeat, REFUSED -- to dress me up as a gopi or gowala, arguing that it was just too blah to be so predictable.

Well, to be honest, I used to often worry about being different from the
bansuri-dhari Krishna avataars and all those runny-nosed Radhas with the risque make-up, feeling like a misfit amidst all them clones and clowns. But as I reflect upon those awardless contests (rigged, I tell you!), and juxtapose and triangulate my mom's faith in the extraordinary with my now-practised ability to somehow fall off the beaten path, I think I was a bit too hard on myself.

But yes, it did help me get others things straight. Like hide my mortification in a crowd, even as I can't bother with hiding my age, while holding
the much-humiliated ol' head up high as well as that 6th drink... and I feel strangely rescued. From conformity. From anonymity. And from the fear of just being myself. Strange, but I guess I kinda' feel on top of the podium right about now :)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Shoe! Go away now...


Yes, yet another shoe post. There are a number of factors that conspired to lead to this moment. The one that refuses to shoo-off from my head is the deteriorating nature of political discourse in this lofty nation of ours. A few examples: the fluctuating age of the grand Old Party aka the Budiya-gudiya Congress; exploits of the Great Lotus Slayer and its thirst for chopped-off Islamic hands; doodh ka farz and mamta ka karz (or, if you're in Bengal, then Mamata ka curse!); lauh purush versus duh-uh purush; full-frontal assaults by shifting Fronts (and their sequels: Left, Right, Third, Fourth and so on...); all of which portend to the sad fact that, despite the multitude of issues begging attention, our politicians are beggaring off in a more personal direction.

Keen watchers of action replays on TV channels might have observed that, as a seemingly direct result of this, the means of protest in this country are roughly keeping pace with -- and thus deteriorating in direct proportion to -- the intellectual level of our leaders. In other words, its all down to ground level and we're merely lifting things off that ground to throw in protest. In the last few days we have seen the shoe, like a heat-seeking missile, being lobbed off in the general direction of our Men in White. But, even as we bear witness to the birth of a new form of political protest, somehow, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to make fun of what's going on all around me. (Including the slowly sinking reality of zero increments. Ah, but more on that some other day...)

So, while I can't help but admire the calm with which PC dodged the fallout of that flying Reebok, I can't say the same about young Naveen Jindal and his reaction to an old man's worn and dusty equivalent. Before I say anything further, I have to admit that though I ain't a great Congress fan, and basically keep an equally healthy distance from all things political, I have been keenly observing the Congress's youth brigade march to, what I was hoping would be, the beat of a hip new drum. Cool, calm, collected and above board: is that too much to ask of a generation of leaders who claim a certain sophistication in pedigree?

So, while PC sought moderation in his appeal to disregard "the emotional actions of one man", while promptly forgiving the shoe-thrower, young Mr Jindal's response can, for the lack of any sophistication on my part this time, be only called dumb. Or stupid, if you prefer. Also, annoyingly arrogant. Ok, so the poor old man had had a bit of his daily tipple. The fact remains: he was poor. He was old. And his son had just lost his job. So, he lost it. But what about Mr Jindal? I'd say he merely lost a bunch of votes, along with his perspective, that was hurled out along with the shoe that found its way back to the thrower.

Allowing party workers to beat up a poor old man, a retired teacher to boot, for an angrily flung boot that (SADLY) missed its mark, and then acting all prissy about it could certainly have been PC's prerogative -- since the shoe was flung directly at the Indian State, by virtue of its target's position as the Home Minister -- but in this case it reeks of spoilt brat behaviour. Whatever happened to youthful tolerance?

So, in light of all the above, I say... If the shoe fits, throw it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living in PC times aka Mera Joota Hindustani


The shoe was bound to reach Indian shores sooner or later and who better to pioneer this particular brand, in the mother of all adaptations (a cheeky sneaker), than that most enterprising of races: sadde apne Sardars!

In a characteristic move that is reminiscent of the waves that hit distant shores in search of a better life, a Sardar has, once again, gone and done what few have dared before. The joota is no longer Japani, Iraqi or Irani but unmistakably Hindustani.

But what I can't get over is the target: PC ?!

I would have expected shoe throwing in India making its debut with a Kolapuri or two being hurled at Balasaheb and his kin, by an out-of-work-and-threatened-by-extradition-to-the-Northern badlands-of-UP/Bihar job-killer cabbie;

Or, a heart-shaped silicon breast finding its way onto a stage hosting that seemingly heartless bachelorette lacking the mother's bosom - Mayabehn(ji);

Or, the reluctantly shaved off beard of Mohammad Salim, the schoolboy at the fuzzy centre of a 'Talibanisation' controversy, being tossed at that chikna chubby little national security threat - Varun;

Or, some tortured goat's milk splashing the ooooozing-with-motherly-love Maneka the goatherd Gandhi;

Or, even a previously-failed Agni miniature, with US spare parts this time, being nuked off to Manmohan;

Or, for lack of anything else, some pasta al dente daintily landing at Sonya Madam's feet...

But for a sneaker to whizz past PC's right ear? He didn't even have to duck, man! Well, the only thing I can say about why that able and willing representative of India's greatest martial race missed his target is because it was PC. I mean, the man does not inspire a shoe shower somehow. If it was his useless predecessor's well-oiled-and-combed pate at the end of the flight path... now, that would make for a fine landing! But dhoti-wearing, eco-jargon spouting, legal-eagle PC?

So, I'm thinking maybe this was just some harmless target practice, for which the 'braveheart' has promptly been bestowed with a hefty bounty, courtesy Siromani Akali Dal. Boy, they sure live up to their acronym! Anyway....So near, yet so far, so good. Which brings me back to the most important question: who will be next? Bets anyone?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Great Indian Vanishing Act



Hours would be spent rallying the parents for just one quick peek, backed by days’ worth of impeccable behaviour. Friends, neighbours and cousins would be enlisted to rustle up a respectable number. And finally the much-awaited day would arrive. Armed with various goodies (yes, we all did carry a mini-picnic basket everywhere in those days!), and wide-eyed with anticipation, we would make our way to the end of town, where a magical world awaited.

Upon entering the colourful tents fluttering madly in the breeze, the awful stink and jostling crowds would fade away, the half-opened bar of chocolate forgotten and the cold Gold Spot in my hand would just sputter and fizz out, as I watched the delights unfold within that cramped space. The stale air would resonate with the roar of animals, mixed with loud yells, whistles and hoots from the audience.

For such was the magic of Baby Jyoooootsnaaaaa! Now, till this day, I have no idea if the said Baby Jo (of Amar Circus fame, if I recall correctly) was the nimble little lady who comfortably fit into the mouth of the hippopotamus or Lady Hippo herself, but the name and the flourish with which it was announced are burned into memory, the words as clear as if it were yesterday. Sadly, though the memory survives, the origin of this childhood fascination is dying a slow, painful death.

For, almost 130 years after the circus as we know it first made its debut in India, it’s slowly fading into oblivion, hit by rising costs, ban on the use of wild animals, animal rights activism and the rise and rise of malls, multiplexes and amusement parks. Though it continues to exist on the fringes of some little towns or neighbourhoods, its days as mainstream entertainment are definitely over, barring a miracle.

I read somewhere that only one-fifth of Indian circus troupes are still around, and those too are barely hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Sadly, while we are enamoured by the latest state-of-the-art stunts in mobike advertisements, there seem to be no takers for those with the real josh who would spin their deadly motorcycles round and round in a metal globe suspended from the ceiling, while we craned our necks to marvel at this great feat that we would never get to see on any street. Suitably called the “Chamber of Death” or some such fearsome title, the guys who dared to enter it were the closest you got to cool!

In fact, it seems that this generation has no idea that King Khan was once part of a very famous circus group! On TV. Way back in 1989. In the hugely popular telly serial Circus, on Doordarshan. And the audiences lapped it up. Just like we slurped at our melting ice-creams, awestruck and trying not to cower as the lions and tigers were brought on stage, nearly jumping out of our skins every time the trainer cracked his whip nearby. There were no cages as the magnificent animals strutted their stuff, while doing strange antics with footballs and hula hoops and what not. And those growls...

Then there were the brightly dressed ladies with their sequined ballet tights and heavily made up faces, who swung with both grace and uncanny ease from ropes strung a mile high, or so it seemed to us little ones. The ease with which similarly bedecked male trapeze artists caught the swinging ladies brought forth gasps and claps in equal measure.

Now I often hear the same gasps from those who think that a circus is the greatest exploiter of both animals and humans. While that may be true in part, a circus troupe is also a great community –bridging the gap between master and animal in its larger-than-life magnificence. It’s sad that an art that has the potential to lift us above the ordinary – without any computer-generated tricks or big ticket stars – is slowly disappearing in India, while it continues to sizzle in newer forms in some countries.

The world-famous Cirque du Soleil (French for ‘Circus of the Sun’) has given a modern twist to the good ol’ circus routine. Without animals on stage or performing rings, it is a fusion of circus styles from around the world and its daily show in Las Vegas alone draws a crowd of thousands each night! Maybe I'll catch it someday soon, after having passed up the chance once... But how I wish I could magically transport half its success back here, and then maybe get to see a real smile on those sad sad clowns with the painted faces.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Holi-er than thou


Slippery stats, eh? Not as slippery as I was planning to be this Holi. Alas, it's back to the boonies after three long years, where the family awaits with open arms and an open-er bar, and bucketfuls of colour and melodrama. Tradition has it that to make a right honourable splash on Holi, all members must be truly sloshed! So, here I am, setting sail for yet another dip in the holy (vodka and tonic) water.

I guess I'll have more than my fair share this year. The fact is: I'm suddenly petrified of Holi. Yes, its the same me, who used to give the local pests a run for their pichkaris. I simply loved the darn festival! Come to think of it, what's not to love?

You wake up (sometimes with obscene drawings on your face, if you're familiar with boarding school rules), oil yourself up like the reigning champion of the akhara, check the ammo, attack first, at random, and make sure that the first strike leaves enough for the others to retaliate (poor strategy, but it's Holi dammit! How would you feel if no one threw anything at you?), then you run around like a headless chicken for the next few hours, blindly ducking missiles you can't see, briefly stopping to re-hydrate with some chilled beer and re-energise with sweet squiggly gujiyas (clean ones; we're bhang-averse, for some strange reason, the origins of which are rather hazy now), till you stumble into the shower in an exhaustion-cum-liquor induced daze, only to scrub and clean furiously/half-heartedly (depending on your state of inebriation), till your heavily-depleted sobriety helps you to stagger into a clean bed that's sure to later bear the scars of many an unholy ambush, as retaining traces of these are gonna help you stagger back to office the next morning, armed with tall battle tales of a wet'n'wild one...

Which would probably help to distinguish you from the pseudo-types, who ever-so-gently-profess: " Oh, Gawd! I just can't stand Holi... I'm allergic, you know... it's so rowdy and pointless... Diwali is so much more civilised... only organic, homemade gulaal for my little ones this year... we had a few people come over this year for a quiet lunch at our farmhouse... the city's maddening, with all those people running around drunk and uff, those loudspeakers with the rang barse crap... it's so scary and stressful... and people just don't leave you alone! Don't they know all that colour can make you go blind with cancer?? "

Phew! Just thinking about all of the above makes me feel old. Because I can't believe what a rowdy I once was, and equally can't believe the dowdy I'm turning into.

Holi cow! It's almost time for the office party in the "backside" parking lot. Now where's that excuse I was looking for??

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hey daam!


So, Gandhiji's glasses have finally found their way home and all true patriots are busy rolling out the red carpet for Bapu's chappals and feast the return of his katori thaali and what not. And here I am, indulging a rather traitorous thought. What's the big bloody deal?

Now, as for the rest of you who are true Gandhians, you must forever fly Kingfisher to repay your eternal debt to the Baron, its soaring prices and plunging necklines be damned. All is forgiven, brother. Much beer under the bridge. After successfully acquiring Tipu Sultan's sword, Vijay Mallya seems to have won another bloody battle by snatching joy for a billion plus, from right under the hammer in just a wee minus 2 million. Wah wah, Mallya! Taaliyan Taaliyan...

But the government, never missing the bandwagon, was quick to climb aboard, huffing and puffing, with some heavy duty self-patting on the back - the very same one it had almost turned against the Mahatma's memorabilia, for fear of being taken to the cleaners. In fact, I am quite surprised the bidding stopped at 1.8 million. I mean, Mr. Otis could have cleaned out our entire foreign exchange reserves if he so wished! What's a few hundred billion when national pride is on the line, man?! Won't you bail out your own father? And this little guy is the father of the NATION, duuuuude!!

Alas, my conspiracy theories have met a sad, lonely end. There was no mysterious bugger planted by the Pakis to proxy bid, no Zionist cabal to make a dog-in-the-manger India think that the Palestinians were rigging all counter bids, and (sigh!) no national crisis in which all the Indian maa-behens were asked to take off their gold and load it onto a ship leaving for American shores. No mass mela of charkha weavers who maniacally started weaving right into China's lead in textile exports. Life's so darn unfair! We're back to sqaure one and community service on Oct 2nd, on a holiday that still unfairly eludes a few.

Finally, I couldn't help but think that had poor Bapu's soul, may it rest in peace, been hovering over the auction somewhere, watching Sant and Toni bid away - the might of firangi butter chicken pitted against desi beer - might he not have gasped yet again and hollered "yeh daam????!!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Rah-Rah man!


So, we've lived through the biggest anti- anti-climax of the year, definitely bigger than when George W. Bush flew away from the White House in that chopper, without any shoes being rocket-launched from American porches at the departing bird. Though that is not to say that he didn't get the bird from all those on the ground and glued to their TV screens, who let out huge sighs of relief. Apparently, taken as a whole, they were loud and loaded enough to power our next mission to the moon!

More on that some other day. For now, its on to what is probably going to be the ass-saver of the day for the Indian media, most of whom had written their own scripts and acceptance speeches way before we grabbed all that gold, and by "we", I mean "we", Brit claims be damned.

What if Vikas Swarup had not writen that book? What if Loveleen Tandan had cast Johnny Lever as a "naye zamaane ke jailer" instead of the brilliant and suitably sardonic Irrfan Khan, or that eternally bugging Aditya Narain as senior Salim, or (heaven forbid!) Amitabh Bachchan as himself? What if Anu Malik had crooned a "baarish" number in his desperately smoky voice, set to a hat ke maha-'original' score, with Pinto and Patel getting jiggy with it at the suitably grand Grand Central or Paddington tube station? Actually, what if there was no Bollywood at all? And, WHAT IF there were no (at least a fraction of a billion?) Indians glued to their screens to boost the TRPs of a show that saw its lowest audience ever last year!

The strains of Jai Ho! are echoing through the entire floor I work on from countless TV screens tuned into a myriad channels and my brain's about to short-wire. How we hop skip and jump from event to event with matching anthems. If Chak De was the clarion call at the Olympics, and Singh is Kinng captured the short-lived triumph of a smiling, V-flashing Man-Mohan after he won/lost a few hearts with the nuke deal and the trust vote, Jai Ho! is our war cry as we get set to invade Hollywood.

Oh, I'm definitely proud of AR Rahman and all that, but he has set abysmal standards as far as acceptance speeches go... indirectly proportional to the magic of his music. I mean, Resul Pookutty is my man! Sweet little thing. He probably had less reason to rehearse his speech but definitely more passion than Rahman, who was a poor match for the elegance of his sherwani. And of course, there was Sean "almost-PC" Penn, and Danny "Pooh" Boyle, and Robert "I so still love you" De Niro with his crackling introduction of Penn's gay gambit for yet another Oscar.

I had some to drink last night so missed the early morning red carpet stuff and barely caught a bleary-eyed glimpse of Mrs. Mummyji Rahman. Cho chweet, bringing mummy to the Oscars and all that, nah? By the by, has Piranha Pinto let go of Poodle Patel's arm since the Globes or not? Oh, of course, she must have... for she was a presenter too!

And with kitschy pink ghagra cholis in the backdrop, and Rahman exhorting us all to soar, was it any surprise that poor futuristic Wall-E got trapped in Bolly-in-the-hood while his mushy anthem got lost in the cacophony of desi fushion cheer? And now I'm entering the ramble-strip of all blog posts... enough said. More when I recover from the shock of this anti-climactic, oh-my-Gawd-we so-believe-it orgy of celebration. Clap ya' hand over ya' mouth in shock and awe, y'all, and talk about dedicating your life to world peace... we won!

Jai Ho and Rah-Rah man!!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

♪ ♪ Sab ne pehna di chaddi... ♪ ♪ ♪


I am not sending them perverts a pink chaddi.... and this has nothing to do with the fact that I am petrified of posing for photographs, for as I write, there is a photo shoot in progress where all our in-house chaddi chuckers are posing with the package.

Now, there is no way I am parting with any of my killer pink underwear for the under-developed morons that populate the over-hyped misogynist Senas of the world.... but to go all the way and buy one to send out? Well, now THAT is what you call a moral dilemma! What to buy? Cotton comfortables from your neighbourhood store or uber-sexy unmentionables from the lingerie store downtown? I know I speak for a lot of women who parted with their panties this week, for it all boils down to one thing: what does you underwear say about you?

Now, I am willing enough to wear my slip on my sleeve, but I am a bit petty about what I let peek. So, do I want to make a general statement or a much more specific one? Hmmm... now which chaddi to send?? The luxe, lacy one, or the one in the corner of the dresser whose elastic has reached the point of no rebound, but which survives as a sentimental souvenir? Do I inscribe it with little hearts? What perfume do I spray on it: the floral for the demure or the spicy for the saucy? And what should my message read like? Love you hamesha? Or... Kutte!! Mein tera khooooon pee jayoongi?

The problem is that the chaddi campaign seems to be taking on the avatar of a snob hit. Much like Dev D, the psychedelic psych-fest I quite enjoyed this past weekend. For there's a whole lot of grey amid the pink. I'm fiercely independent, jealously guard my privacy and right to be and love the odd pub-hopping night out. But do I think that the next time I have to leave my favourite watering hole well before the guys, as it is 'getting late and I need to drive home alone', the thought of Muthalik and his Morons sniffing a carton full of lingerie is going to make me throw caution to the winds and decide to linger? Or maybe that the next time I hear that old hat about "ladeej who drink and have cigrate", all I need to do is strangle the bastards with a pretty pink peignoir and all will be well?

Above all, what I find a bit baffling is that by christening the FB group that started it all a "Consortium of Loose, Pubgoing... blah blah", i.e taking two steps back in trying to take one forward, they might have lost the plot way before they hit the climax. I mean, isn't that the same connection those cretins made? So, are we throwing them the gauntlet or throwing away the game by beating the issue pink, instead of ignoring those ignoramuses and truly painting the town red?

Oh, its all very well, I suppose and maybe I am just pissed cos I couldn't strike a pose while finding the heart to part with my pretty pink polkas! So, for now, I'm holding on to my chadds and getting the hell out of here. Man, I need a beer. Aye Ganpat....!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tathastu!


Imagined conversation pieced together from what was supposedly overheard at a corner coffee shop today:

Dilli Billi One: Slumgod (sic) Million-air dekhi? Lots of awards it is getting, I tell you, it is being nominalised for Oscar too. Rahman is thee God.

Dilli Billi Two: And Anil Kapoor is so so ignored, and now he is all over the world as famous star. Look at what ae generous speech he gave at that Soggy (SAG?) award function... giving credit to the little childrens... so down to the earth, nah?

One: Did you see the way that Farida Pinto girl was sticking to that Jamal ? I think she is wanting to have ae role in thee haystack with him.

Two: But he is so little. She is like his big sister, and our Indian culture would not allow him to make hay with her.

One: Talking of Indian culture, what is with this Ram sena goondas beating ladies at bars? Thank thee goodness we are coffeetotallers only.

Two: But did you see the clothes those girls were wearing? In Delli you will not get antry into ae pub with so so plain tee shirt and pant. What pub was this??

One: Maybe this was media plantation to make some hype. They are very nosey peoples who keep filming thee people beating people, burning people, smashing window, breaking door, wagairah wagairah and just keep filming and filming.

Two: What do you expect them to do... They cannot put their hands into the law!

One: I don't know, no one seems to be putting their hands on anything (except that Pinto!), only their noses are going everywhere.. Anyway, why are we not attacking Pakistan?

Two: Because we are waiting for ae big country like America to take our side, so we can beat them together-together.

One: Oh, I suppose we have to collect more of thee evidences to convince Mr. Obama.

Two:I know! I mean just look at the bad luck of our country! On Sunday only they have catched two Pakistani terrorists who was asking for directions to India Gate to attack the camels and hathi in the parade. One had a big guns sticking out of their shoulder-bag which he mistook into a dhaba to ask for guide map from man who also was ae police informer and who sent the policemans to chase behind them, but the poor terrorist could not ask for help from Pakistan because they had forgotten to bring their pre-paid mobile! Oh no, I only wish they were having mobile with them and then we could have traced the calls to Karachi and give some more evidences to the America country.

One: But I heard that one of thee man made dying confession that he was Pakistani? That is proof no? I mean like it is happening in movies when dying mother is telling thee son who he is to take the badla of her death from? No? Anyway, I am saying we should just drop thee bombs on them and seal thee borders. All this frandship train and peaceful bus is making trouble... i tell you... bas!

Two: Tell me, do you think they have the girls who go to bars there?

One: I think they are not drinking country. So, tell nah, do you think Slumgod (sic) will get thee Oscar? I am praying in temple tomorrow for thee worldful success of our stars from slum.

Two: I also am hoping to get ae Oscar final time! May be then we will get the evidences that we are great country and America can see we are being serious enough on the worldwide stage to attack Pakistan that is tormenting terror on our soils...

Hmmm......Tathastu!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Retro roadtrip


Long time, i know.

So, tell me, have you ever found yourself stuck in an elevator between floors labelled ‘their times’ and ‘our times’? Let me give you a hint. It happens when people begin sentences like “In our days….”, and you end by saying “But that is so retro!”, or whatever is the expression these days. As I inch towards the real grown-up-hood, I am horrified to find myself in unfamiliar terrain. A year ago, I had gone back to my school for our half century of existence. While visiting my old dorm, I discovered that it had become a holding house for the new kids. So, when I said hello to one of them sitting on the bed that used to be mine, she asked me what batch I was from. 1993, I replied. "Oh (she giggled) Ma'am, I wasn't even born then!" Uh, oh....

Suddenly, terrifyingly, after years of making fun of someone else's purana zamana I am smack dab in the middle of a triangle: two sets of yesteryears (shockingly, one of them is my own!) and the here and now. And for the first time I realise that “their” world couldn’t have been so bad. Because mine rocked!

The other day, while watching the promos of Chandni Chowk to China (shudder! shudder!!) where Deepika Padukone in her Chinese avatar as Miss Meow or something goes flying over the heads of a few dozen extras, I felt I could relate with some of my parents’ nostalgia for the good ol' days. In an age where most action movies are shot in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style, with action sequences involving invisible suspensions, I must confess that sometimes I miss the sound of the loud dhishoom dhishoom of Bollywood, which often came a few seconds before the punch or a wee bit after, and is now hopelessly lost in the glamour of gaudy gizmos and surreal special effects.

Well, thanks to dear old Doordarshan, my earliest memories are pretty much a jumble of bi-weekly Chitrahaar (kind of like half an hour of Channel [V] Zabardast Hits of today but only twice in a week and with no repeats); the original Mahabharata in which an arrow took an entire episode to reach its target; ad breaks that were actually more fun than the actual programme (really!), the melancholic DD tune instead of the dhinchak ....

This was what we called "popular entertainment" (though I wouldn't go so far as to count krishi darshan, which is when my educator-turned-son-of-the-soil grandpa hogged the TV!), till Atari video games came along and I lost my measly popularity due to extremely poor hand-eye coordination. Unable to make a snivelling chicken cross the road in one of the popular versions, I quickly becoming semi-famous as the ‘chicken killer’, baptised thus by mean neighbourhood car crashing champions. But then what seemed to me a most violent game in “those days” now seems almost like the Gandhian avatar of some of the more bloodthirsty digital games that are popular “these days”.

Here’s the thing. The familiar images have been switched and there’s change all around me, and I am terrified of losing the old impressions. Microwave cake-mixes are in, but I miss the messy, tedious and infinitely long process of baking one in the oven, along with my super baker sister (who has grown up to shun all culinary activities!) and tasting it all the way from the raw, eggy muddle till the gooey mid-bake version.

In fact, I can't fathom some recent phenomena. So, while reading about Barack Obama’s aversion to low-slung jeans, I wasn't not too sure whether to rejoice that I have something in common with the groovy US President, or feel sad for the poor dad who’s heading for a somewhere-in-the-future couture clash with his young daughters!

But I guess as far as fashion is concerned, “their” times continue to visit “ours”, what with wedge heels, tight churidaars and big shades flitting in and out of fashion. Pictures of my mother in bell-bottoms, and dark glasses larger than the flare in her pants, come to mind and then so does another thought. How, when I was growing up and arguing with the parents about dating and such like, I would try and imagine them on one. Yes, they did date in those days, but I guess it’s kind of difficult to imagine people who were once iffy about your dates going out on one of their own.

So, in my mind, it went something like this: it would begin with a Coca Cola (now better known as Coke) worth a few annas (which came in quaintly shaped baby bottles and not shiny little "my" cans), and zip around town on fuel worth… hold your breath… a single digit. This was followed by a movie in the “balcony”, or the “upper stall” if tickets were tight, and a quick lunch (dinner was perhaps off-limits), and probably rounded off with a hand-in-hand stroll in Lodi Gardens or any other not-in-the-neighbourhood green patch.

Now you may wonder why I would foist such a dull outing upon my parents. But that’s just it! All that surrounds us tints our reality, making it difficult to imagine another world, a world that can only exist on celluloid or in the fading images of a past we insist was just a teensy bit colourless than our own. So when young nieces and nephews ask me about growing up, they are often left stunned. What??!! No cable TV? No Internet? No emails? No malls? No PSP? No CCD or Barista? You’ve got to be kidding me! No mobiles either???!!!! And I say that some of this was a bonus really: no mobiles, plus landlines that seldom worked in the homes of a select few - not anyone I wanted to know - where we could be found by the hounds....So what exactly did you guys do those days?

Uhh... ummm.... we got along... well, kinda ;)

PS: How else do you think I have those great stories for the grandkids?!