Saturday, January 30, 2010

Performance anxiety

The buzz was that the Goa government planned to ban bikinis on the beach. No, actually they just want to ban ads that show all those bikini babes on the beach. But what people like me heard was "ban bikinis" and we chose not to read the rest of the story. Hmmm... Now I know that all the libertarians of the world are preparing to get together and frown down those silly people who think that banning bikini ads is going to prevent men from outraging the modesty of immodestly dressed women, or much worse, raping little girls.

Truth be told, to most rational people it would all sound very Talibanesque. What's going on? I mean, it's Goa, not Swat for heaven's sake. Goa beaches, they're our version of the Strip in Vegas -- the strip show to beat all stage shows. One that often inspires crash dieting and frequent trips to the mirror, often in the middle of the night.
It's Goa. The sunny spotlight's on you. Let's see what you've got.

There. Having said all that, I must confess to feeling a much larger than small measure of glee. Yes, glee. Why, you may ask, right before you decide to bring down that studded club over my pretty, medium-sized head. You see, I'm off to Goa next month and have been petrified of the S-word. Swimwear, people. What's wrong with you? Well, er... It's all very well to bundle up during Dilli ki sardi and then glide around wear pretty loose flowing summery robes in pastel colours during the summer looking all pretty and stuff (ahem!) but Goa? That place lays your soul bare. Among other things. So I have been busy building the whole "Oh, I'm not much of a water person" (and you're going to Goa, because...?) and "I'm just going to enjoy the beach from the appropriate distance. I'm shit scared of water, you know. In fact, this one time..." (Oh, we see where you're going with can't fool us, Pudgy!)

So, my most pressing question for the moment is: is it just going to be the ads. And (with hope...) will the ban extend to 'real life'? If so, then will only those obnoxious, skimpy little bikinis be banned or will this monstrous idea extend to maillots, the frock-wala costumes that you get in the Gujju-Maru shops of Mumbai, biking shorts-type Speedos and the like, as well?

I mean, given such a ban, will we finally be united by a truly desi dress code like those people we used to see in the Essel World ads? Or in the ones for Fun 'n' Food Village, which is a Rrrrrrrrrollicking water park-type place on the Jaipur-Gurgaon highway, all ye who haven't been fortunate enough to behold yellow stickers on many many NCR cars -- proud souvenirs of a Sunday well-spent with the extended family and colony wallahs?

So will we all have to then dress like those Auntyjis in all their Mandakini-in-the-Maili-Ganga glory or the we're-all-jolly-good-fellows Unclejis romping about in the shallow end wearing drawstring chaddis with stripes or paisley designs in psychedelic shades? Oh and, not to forget, the dark shades on their mugs too, if only to accessorise the dark, dark, dark, dark, dark (stop!) chest hair, in which gently nestled a gold medallion with religious alphabets or a horrified Hanumanji, dangling solidly at the end of a thick, thick, thick, thick, thick, thick (STOP!!) g-o-l-d chaineeee. But I digress.

So, it seems to me that, if we do get that ban, Goa might go on to resemble the Appu Ghar Water Park, which is good news for all those of you in Delhi & Suburbs who must miss it terribly.

As for me, I guess I can heave a huge sigh of relief and safely pack those demure shorts and loose tees for an unholy dip.

Don't want to break the law now, do we? Nah ji Na...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Are you hurted?"

Yes. Very much. You see, my tummy hurted from loughing outs lowdly (aka lolz. hw i h8 tht trm!) and my eyeballses had lots of waters from gapping aghasted at the nuclear de-coupling on the idiotic box.

Sample this:
A Smug Man and a Skeptical Man start the evening by watching innocuous shots of Smug Man and Girl Friend (recorded voluntarily by Smug Man, without knowledge of Girl Friend) watching the sunset and cooing sweet nothings into each other's ears on a dimly lit balcony....

Later in a studio someplace, Skeptical Man turns on a video as Smug Man relinquishes smugness to gradually become Stunned Man. Skeptical Man slowly transforms into new Smug Man, watching big sweat rivulets that soon begin to drip from the horror-stricken, crushed, confused and near-crumpled mug of Stunned Man.
Cocky hope gives way to reluctant horror...

Meanwhile on a couch somewhere in the bowels of Saddi Dilli, Skeptical Woman chances upon yet another reality show on TV, not prepared to give an inch. They all suck, don't they? Ahh. Clearly, she is not prepared for what follows, for little does she know, her life is about to change forever.

Apparently, a decoy ("That Lucky Bastard", as some men might prefer to call him) has been sent to lure Girl Friend (in true MTV Bakra fashion), solely to convince all those poor sods who believe in happy endings that they are truly, and sadly, mistaken.

Now sample some sordid snatches:

That Lucky Bastard (in a car with hidden camera): Well, what am I to you?
Blah Blah Bakri: Why, you're my coochie coo, puppy doll, cho chweet baba.
TLB: So will you go to Dubai with me?
BBB: Abhi nahin.... do char mahine baad. 
TLB: Ok. So then, what do you want to do right now?
BBB: I want to [bleeeep] you.
TLB (with a leery smile, making sure the hidden mike catches it): You want to [bleeeep] me?
BBB: Yes. Why, you want me to say it again and again? I want to {bleeeep} you, I want to [bleeeep you]...come here nah, baba. 

She then proceeds to open his shirt buttons and kiss him lustily...
Well, I am no Mills and Boon fan or else this might have come out as "She drank in his musky scent and undoing the buttons on his crisp white shirt to reveal soft curly hair that only enhanced his rugged masculinity, ran her hand over his gleaming torso, raining sweet kisses that left a trail of fire in their wake...awakening long-buried feelings he had safely kept hidden in a dark corner of his shattered heart... ")

Ok, now hole on to that thought you sappy types. Real life doesn't work like that. Just to make sure we're clear about that, we go back on screen, where...

Slightly Less Smug and Semi-Apologetic Man is stealing pitying glances at what is now Super Stunned Man as the latter's glistening face gets even sweatier (while feeling quite self-satisfied about the guaranteed-to-raise-TRPs "real-life" act that's playing out on the cam). Three days worth of pre-recorded flashback ensues, as Stunned Man's dying love life flashes before his eyes...

"PppChhh....PpppppChhhhhh.... " sounds of slobbery kissing follow, shot at venues ranging from an indisticnt pub-type place, the car and Marine Drive, we presume, as a pixelated patch covers point of impact.

Stunned Man looks distinctly like he's wishing he'd never been born, or at least had never made the call that is now changing life-as-he-knows-it right before his unbelieving eyes...
And just about then Smug Man asks him an oh-so-terribly-redundant question, which I catch as the flashing subtitles on my screen.

Three words that will ring in our ears long after the screen has faded to black: "Are you hurted?"

Meanwhile, back home, Skeptical Woman is slowly turning into Stunned Woman off-screen, for she cannot believe she is already making a mental note to catch the next episode. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

On screen, things are moving towards a shattering climax... people with hand-held GPRS monitors are closing in on TLB and BBB, who are, as we watch, locked in an amorous embrace behind a suspicious-looking statue near a deserted swimming pool within a gated community of sorts, one of them blissfully unaware of impending doom. Well, TLB -- the all-knowing one -- obviously wants to make the most of these last few moments before his cover is blown. He grinds his face into BBB's.

The marching army is almost upon them. It includes a purposeful (visibly hurted and thus, angry and confused) Stunned Man, along with GPRS-wielding Smug Man.
Confrontation ensues. And everyone asks everyone else what they're doing there. Err...

BBB (shoving the hell out of TLB): What the fuck is this, huh? Answer me, dammit what the fuck is this? (And then she S-LA-P-S Stunned Man, who's trying to grope her now, or hold her or something)
Stunned Man: (Clumsily slapping her back, having lost the element of surprise with her first strike)
[Some gobbledygook about 'you two-timing something or other']
BBB: You loser! How dare you make my personal life public!! Who the fuck do you think you are? 
(and then to TLB, who is just smirking dumbly, looking a bit doozy) What the fuck is going on?
SM: [Some more ygdhygfhvhcf about you... you... you something or the other]
BBB: You're such a loser! I can't believe this! You had to go and get your pathetic life on TV... you loser! Fuck off! 

She stomps off. He shakes his head...runs his hands through hair atop a stunned head.
But then, ladies and gentlemen, the show must move on. And it does. Cut to the anchor, aka the Smuggest Man. If you think your partner or fiance might be cheating on you, you can call/mail/write to us, or phone into blahblah radio station and we will....

And I am left with these thoughts.
  • I can't believe I enjoyed watching this. What's wrong with me? Maybe I'm just like everyone else, I feed off the misery of others. (But a battle rages inside my head) Oh, come on, that chick was right. What losers! Don't people like this deserve what they get? 
  • So many ways to contact the makers of a TV show. And just the one to deal with your cheating partner? 
Well, that's Emotional Atyachar for you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

That foggy, foggy bottom

If there's anything worse than flying into, or out of Delhi these days, it's crossing one of the three bridges that link "Jamnapaar" with the rest of civilisation. I now know this for a fact because I made the mistake of doing exactly that last evening.

Now, time is a treacherous thing -- almost as treacherous as the view of the outside world is from a window that hasn't seen a washcloth (much less a decent wash) in decades. So, while looking out, around the time I only know as 'early evening', at the deceptive view from the window next to my workstation (and being far, far away from, and hence blissfully unaware of, the mist that had started to gather on and around three bridges a few miles away), I promised a friend that I'll drop in for dinner. Alas! If, only I could have been 'dropped' in, literally, this from one of the scores of airplanes waiting for clearance to land at IGI/Palam that are per force circling the badlands of UP as a consequence at any given time, the evening might have turned out differently.

It was 8:26 pm when I finally steered my way towards the DND "flyway". Only to realise that, leave alone the unique pleasure of hitting the speed limit on my favourite toll road, even the slightest inattention of the tiniest second that it takes to change the track on my iPod, may really lead me to fly away into the Yamuna or into the backside of my fellow travellers. So I joined the slow crawl of bumper-to-bumper vehicles, a strangely subdued convoy of NCRwallahs inching their way forward in the face of something straight out of a John Carpenter movie. Or the "Aaaaaaaaaa Aa" version of the Zee Horror Show, if you please. I could almost hear a voice from the backseat whisper into my ear... "Montyyyyyyyyiiiiiiiiii..........."


So after almost bumping into the toll barrier and shelling out 20 bucks with semi-frozen fingers, my heart started beating even faster at the prospect of finding the second exit, while I nervously switched from my distress lights to the indicator, as confused as a man with Alzheimer's who can't remember whether he's put on his pants and diapers, and the order in which they're worn. And just when I thought I might have found the blessed road to my part of Noida, the track on my Pod threw everything but the memory of a lonely, rainy drive somewhere on an American motorway out the window... remember "Total eclipse of the heart"? More importantly, remember Bonnie Tyler whispering "turn around...." in Urban Legend? 

Sheer horror resulting in total eclipse of the heartbeat. Or maybe that had something to do with me being a pawn in the battle between the heat of the windshield de-fogger inside and the cold, evil, swirling fog trying to get in through the partially open window outside, the latter open in a desperate bid to navigate and judge approximate distance from nearest driving neighbour.

So, at the next complete jam, also known as invisible-to-the-fogged-eye traffic signal, I made a desperate call to friend for an alternate route that would help me avoid traversing the totally dodgy part of Mayaland in near-darkness and eerie special effects. And she, oh-so-very-helpfully, told me to ignore the next roundabout (Where? What's that round shape? Oh, it's just the sari-clad bum of a lady blindly trying to cross the road while totally giving my bonnet the shove.) and continue till I reached the fourth red light, uh...the major one not the sidey ones along the way. Ah, I think THAT distinction should be a piece of cake in frosted, unfamiliar Noida, especially while I try my best not to run into the stolid, grey Metro pillars along the way.

Uh oh. Another thought hits me. It's past 9 already on a Grey's Anatomy day. Again. Hrrrmph! Delhi roads are not Anatomy-friendly. So after carefully rolling my windows up and down to check out the stature of the traffic lights AND keeping count at the same time, I manage to finally navigate my way into my friend's freshly-mowed lawn, narrowly missing one of the dogs. Paneer-something-or-the-other awaits my temporarily vegetarian self, as do freshly-scrubbed children watching Roadies on the couch. Are they allowed to watch that crap, I ask? Ah yes, it's better than Splitsvilla. Duh uh! (Who are all these weird people, anyway?)

So, after deciding that I am NOT driving back home post-dinner but borrowing a tooth brush, we finally draw the curtains against that monster lurking on three bridges (and then some more), and bury ourselves in the warmth of downy quilts to talk of sunnier times; battening down the hatches, knowing we'll have to fight the foggy fiend yet another day.

Well, maybe... next time I think I'll just hang out at the airport.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Change is inevitable. Say, what?

I've realised that no amount of sunshine /IT sops/ resigned ignorance of their itchy ways/ extra elaichi-adrak in their morning chai/ etc etc. will make men you pass along the short walk from parking lot  to work place abandon their morning dose of MC/BC. From the nukkad chaiwallah to the office boy, the parking dude with his long unwashed tresses and stone-washed jeans to the credit card "execs" in their subway-selection ties, to the patties-with-kaddu-ketchup-and-jam-topped-cream-roll man; from the men loading or unloading (offloading?) stuff in the building's 'backside'... to even (here we transcend gender) the lady who sells fruit next to our building (and fights with anyone who even dares to dream of parking their car within a kilometre of her stall), they're all at it. Like its Rig Veda chanting time in Aryanic Dilli. Well, of course, we're all Brahmins here.

So, with age -- or constant fuck-ups, depending on your mortal trajectory -- comes the knowledge that there will always be things that you cannot change. Here's a list of a few from recent life experiences, marking a brief (and pleasurable?) return to bullet points, like in the Friday Fundas of yore and more:
  •  Slow IT response times in office. Also the mysterious, Paranormal Activity-type occurrence that when you report a really "serious" problem, it somehow resolves itself either just after your tenth call or just before they actually get to your desk.
  • Genetically grumpy colleagues
  • Jarring 'hold' music on lines you are forced to hold the longest. Like Meru Cabs. Also, who can ever run fast enough or hide long enough from that tortured monotone of "iss route ki sabhi linein vyast hain..." Linein. Is that even a real word?
  • Practised ignorance
  • The Management's constant need to send reassuring emails of progress made and targets achieved, filled with jargon that bears no resemblance to sense and does not correspond, directly or indirectly, to even a marginal increase in the bottom line on your paycheck, which, incidentally, is indirectly proportional to the rising fortunes of the company, following encouraging quarterly results that are taking it from strength to strength while inspiring eternal confidence in the market and in the hearts of shareholders and is reflected in the gleaming steel 'n' alloy gracing the reserved parking slots of higher (than you) management.
  • Pompous verbosity
  • (seemingly, of course) the foggy conditions freezing, blinding and pissing-off Delhiites right this moment
  • People aiming for the right lane at a traffic signal, when what they really want to do is go left. It's like basketball. Or hockey. Or soccer. Don't drive here if you like cricket or golf.
  • Short tempers
  • Long pauses
  • Clothes marked XL, which wouldn't fit a chihuahua. What's with that?
  • Getting lost while taking shortcuts 
  • A long succession of green lights, when all you need is a bloody red to freshen your lipstick before a date.
  •  The exact position of the long-forgotten gym stuff in the locker day after day...after day.
  • Your mom's habit of discussing (at length) what you're having/had/will have/could have had/should have had/might have had for lunch/breakfast/dinner today/tomorrow/yesterday, especially when you're trying to keep your voice down and impatience in check while trying not to hurt her feelings-- all this in the middle of an open-plan office. And that too on a day you skipped breakfast and hastily washed down a McChicken (w/-cheese!) with a large Coke for lunch. Hmmm...What's a fruit, you  wonder, right around the time she gets to your daily vitamin supplements. 
  • the lure of bullet points every now and then....

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Jammin' in CP

    It's amazing how terrible situations become funny sometimes. Like the day before yesterday, when I was caught in a traffic jam near CP (do avoid it like the plague, all you who don't have to go to work there everyday - unless you have a death wish, that is). So I'm caught in this jam. No, it was complete gridlock. Nothing was moving. Nothing.

    And in a situation like this, you form this warm, cosy community of sorts with all those people in the cars in your immediate vicinity, some of whom you'll remember for a few days afterward. Like this guy on my tail, inching up right behind me. Cute. Specs. Probably driving his mum back from or to someplace, for I was happy to notice the advanced years of Auntyji in the front seat. Nice boy. Good rear-view mirror potential. Till some Aggro Uncles in an ugly WagonR booted him from view. Sigh!

    Then there was this exec-type in a Maruti SX4, that manly car for men, who was rather self-importantly peering into his laptop. Curious Benjamin Button that I am, I kept sneaking a peek on the right to see what he was so self-importantly doing. Nothing. Just switching windows from Gmail to some document. No new mails. No one to ping him. Boring looking document too, with self-important type highlights in pink. Pink! Yikes. I might have understood some YouTube surfing, say for the ND Tiwari-living-it-up video, or even aimless Gtalking. Or yellow highlights that mean business. But he seemed to be achieving nothing with that thing in his lap. Coolness factor of laptop-in-car-with-driver excluded, of course. From his self-important point of view, I might add.

    Vying for space on my right was also this big SUV-type something. Big, black windows. Mean attitude. Kept trying to push ahead of me and the Laptop. As impatient as a car in a non-moving, standstill jam can possibly be. So very Delhi. But then so am I. After losing the cute tailgater, I wasn't about to give up on my only other pastime on that horribly cold evening, with me trying to make it home in time for Grey's Anatomy. (I was kinda looking forward to seeing what Sloan and Little Grey are up to.) So I kept laptop and myself in the game. All by myself; thwarting all attempts by the SUV to get on my right side. Strange, you think. Weird. But try getting stuck in a jam on Ashoka Road, right in front of the BJP's headquaters with a huge ugly poster of Vajpayee and other nonagenarians for company, and you'll know why I did what I did.

    It was cold and Grey's Anatomy was starting to look like a distant dream...

    And just when I was ready to scream, I smiled. It was this topi-wala little boy in the Maruti Zen ahead of me. He kept leaping out of the car to check out the traffic situation, confer with some auto-wallahs about the sorry state of this, our Capital city (or something along those lines) and, when chided for doing so, continued to valiantly push himself out of the window. Like a wiggle-wormy thing trying to escape. And then he must have got cold, so he dutifully put on his topi and found himself something else to do. So, suddenly, there was this rainbow-coloured duster that appeared out of nowhere, brandished by a scrawny arm, which started to wipe the top of the car. You know, the kind of feathery duster that people sell on cycles in your colony for cleaning your jaalaas? That one. And it cleaned and cleaned. Every few minutes. Surreptitiously.

    And he made me smile. So, I changed the track on my iPod from a sappy ballad of no hope to some kick-ass Linkin Park mixed with Jay-Z and braved the one-and-a-half-friggin-hour drive back home, which usually takes me about 20 minutes and a bit. Such is CP these days. Don't come here. It sucks.

    That said, please don't come here. Really. It'll make driving there for real people doing real work easier. And if you must, do bring your  jaalaa cleaners along. Among other things like Tambola sets, karaoke consoles, Monopoly boards, Uno cards, maybe a badminton racquet or two, taash ka pattas. Preferably team games. Oh, and if you look to your left you might spot this curious-type staring into your car to check out what you're up to. Do roll down the window and say hi...

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Heyyyyy Mona....Oooooooh Mona!

    That Craig McLachlan song I liked. But I never did see what the big deal was about the other, more famous Mona, the one of the Lisa frame...uh, fame. Still, like any other normal tourist in the world, I remember resigning myself to a serious lookabout for her in the Louvre, only to realise that all I had to do was follow the jhund, which I did, and voila! It took me straight to that plump, over-hyped matron.

    It would be an understatement to say that it was disappointing to finally come face to face with her... more like glass to face, actually. For the Great Lady was enclosed in a special glass case which is supposed to keep her in optimal temperature conditions or something. And she's mobbed. Constantly. Persistently. Mobbed.  Which kind of makes it difficult to figure out whether things overheard in my childhood were actually true or not. One of the most cited reasons for her immense popularity, according to little children who had heard of Da Vinci's genius, lay solely in the artists's ability to paint a spooky woman whose eyes would follow you no matter where in the room you might be. Hah. Wicked...

    But, sadly, until I can find a way to break into the Louvre and get her all to myself, I guess I'll never know now, will I? For it's mighty hard to really check out the chick's eyes, what with all the Brads and Benitos and Buntys and Bwunonochakchakas in the world getting in your way, posing one by one in front of the unremarkable glass case. Which, by the way, hasn't done much to improve her health, we hear.

    So, while all these years imaginations have run wild to decode the great "Mona Lisa smile", which might have been, perhaps, covering some great angelic secret; an Italian scientist now tells us it was something much less romantic, probably the result of too much pasta in cheese sauce: known commonly as "very high cholesterol". Yes, the lady was suffering from something known as xanthelasma in which little cholesterol bumps start peeping and then popping out from where they've been sneakingly mutating under your skin while you gorge on all those carbs. Not very beatific now, is she? Well, I guess she was just this chubby ol' girl on her way to some serious hypertension and choked arteries.

    Come to think about it, that would be me a few years down the line. Paint that, da Vinci!