Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When How You Look Is How You Feel

Image courtesy - stock-clip.com
When I was in school, I had this classmate who was spunky, fancied herself as a great singer, and was a bitch. As in someone who did an effortless job of hurting you with words. I still have this image of her, sitting on a hillock in our school’s backfield, with her head tilted sideways, singing ‘Dil ke arman aansuon mein beh gaye’ in a Salma Agha voice. Let’s call her B. B was a chubby girl with an infectious laughter and would often take digs at my skinny frame. In class IX, when a particularly emaciated lady was appointed to teach us Civics, B happily scampered up to me and announced I’d look exactly like her in a sari.
Despite being the girl who never made fun of someone’s extra girth, the Chubby Academy for some strange reason had appointed me as their ‘skinny bitch punching bag’. So, I was often compared to a hanger, my not so well endowed self, a fertile ground for jokes.

Whoever said that overweight people are generally happier and more cheerful was obviously not skinny.

It’s been long since someone has called me skinny. In fact, I’m the size that’s always out of stock and gets sold out first at a sale.

I met B a few years back. She hasn’t lost the extra weight she promised to lose all through her school years. In fact, she has put on so much of it that she can be safely called obese. But what struck me most about her that she’s no longer the B I’d grown up with. Gone was the spunk, her loud laughter, instead I saw a very quiet woman cowering in self-doubt, hiding herself behind the not so skinny bitches when it was time for group photos. During our talks, she told me that she paints. When she finally agreed to share her work on Facebook, I was stunned by its vividness and beauty.
An immensely gifted artist, yet she chooses to focus on how she looks, letting others’ perception of her overshadow her true-self.

Actually, how others see you has a lot to do with how you see yourself in the mirror. If all you see is your eye-bags, big butt, an expanding waist and wobbly thighs, that’s what your friends will see as well. If all you talk about is your extra kilos, the many diets that let you down and how slim you were when you were 20, you will continue to be perceived as just another fat woman. And God forbid, if an overweight friend drops a few kilos, it’s all she’ll talk about for months and expect compliments and praise.

Of course I get it, what a happy feeling it is to finally fit into a dress two sizes small! Your heart sings when you see a fit and toned woman staring back at you from the mirror. All your clothes sit better on you. You look fabulous and feel fabulous. I can’t claim to be any different. I work-out come rain, come shine, come knee-pain and fret when I put on a kilo or two. But if I don’t lose it, I do not let it affect my state of happiness.

My extra two kilos doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t make me any less intelligent, warm and caring. Neither do my lost kilos make me a better person or add to my IQ levels.

Then why is it we let our body image cast its shadow on our happiness? Why is it we refer to others by the physical attributes? Why, that short/ tubby/ beautiful/ dark woman? Why not, the lady with a tinkly laughter, lovely voice, kind eyes or that superb writer?

Beauty will always be skin deep as long as we refuse to see beyond the obvious.

Yet, as women we choose to focus on imperfections in us and others. So the first thing your friend, Mom or an aunt will point out when they meet you after a long time, is your extra weight, the dark-circles under your eyes and your lost glow! As if there’s nothing more to us than our looks.

If we start looking at each other as our men in love do, we’ll make it much easier for us and the rest of humanity. For them our extra chin or wobbly arms, doesn’t change the way they love us. Of course, I speak for the men I’ve known all my life. And if there are men who love you only for the way you look, they should expect to be loved only for their bank balance.

So, it’s time we accept that we are more than just our body weight, that we are all special and beautiful in our own unique ways. If someone doesn’t like the way you look, it’s their problem not yours.

What I’m trying to say is this – people who genuinely care for us, love us not for the way we look but how we make them feel. And if we don’t feel good about ourselves, we’ll end up becoming that crashing bore who makes others miserable with tales of her own miseries. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

The choice is ours to make. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Janaani, the story of a fearless cop.

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers
This is a story about Shivaji Roye, a fearless cop with a fear of cockroaches, who works for Haryana’s Crime Branch and drinks a lot of adrak chai but without sugar because it’s bad for his figure. Shivaji or Shhh as his wife of 3.8 years often calls him when he talks too much and bitches about his colleagues, is no ordinary cop. He’s sensitive, loves watching romantic movies on TV, hates cricket , loves buying shoes with heels and never refuses to file an FIR. A passionate cook, he often gives his wife, his junior, loads of work so that he can get home first and cook piping hot dinner for her. A few weeks back when he went for a vacation to Mussourie with his wife and his loving mother-in-law, he would wake up every morning in tears. How could he not! The sight of the sun popping out like a glistening egg yolk from behind the mountains was sooo beautiful!

Shivaji had become a cop to make his parents happy. But, instead of blaming them for ruining his life, he dedicated his career in ruining the lives of misogynists that blame women for all offences meted on them and sympathize with the hormonally imbalanced culprits – in other words, the geriatric Khaps. Every week he would go to villages force-feeding chowmein to the custodians of women’s morality. Anyone who dared refuse him was subjected to a heeling experience by Shivaji’s six inch stilettoes and made to read Arundhati Roy’s 69 page essay ‘Algebra of Infinite Injustice’ translated in Hindi.

Other than gastroenteritis, no one had any other complaints. The hormone levels remained the same but the Khaps were now grudgingly accepting that men could be responsible for rapes. Women were still getting killed for honour and lust but they could now die in peace without having to put up with the ignominy of being held responsible for their own deaths. Shivaji was now planning to urge all the Khaps to ditch their pagdis and dhotis for Jeans. He felt, with the right part of the body getting aired, he could usher in winds of change and put an end to love within your Gotra or else die mindsets.

Life was rambling along peacefully like a tractor on mustard fields till one not so fine morning it was toppled over with the news of Munni’s disappearance. Munni, a young spunky girl from Jharsa, had won Shivaji’s heart by tying a Rakhi. She was the sister he never had. Both would often go shopping together followed by golgappas and lots of selfies.

Shivaji was now a man on a mission possible, ruthlessly interrogating Munni’s friends and Facebook friends till he stumbled upon a lead that takes him to the many lanes and bye-lanes of Chandni Chowk and a quick tasty stop at Paranthe wali gali. Just as he was preparing to click photos of the yummy thali with its assortment of chutneys and sabzis, he caught a glimpse of a pair of embroidered jeans that it could only be Munni’s, hanging from the telephone wires overhead. In retrospect, Shivaji thinks that it was part of God’a plan to make his stomach grumble just as he was passing Paranthe wali gali. Had he not made that fateful stop there, he would never had caught Bangaali, the dreaded bride trafficker, who exported Haryanvi brides, a novelty for ineligible bachelors in Best Bengal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bharat ek Shauch, No More.

 When Shakespeare said ‘all the world’s a stage’, he’d obviously not visited India where the world’s an open air urinal. Strangely, for a country that’s a great believer of covering up its women and misdeeds with a shroud of righteousness, and frowns upon open display of love especially when it’s not approved by parents, we don’t even lift an eyebrow at the sight of bare bottoms along railway tracks. Every open-field, barren stretch, dimly lit by-lane and brick on the wall is opportunity knocking against bursting bladders and aching stomachs, beckoning them to to come and relieve themselves of all their tensions. This special indignity is reserved for our poor who are only treated as humans when elections are round the corner.

It helps that we have more temples than toilets and the few public toilets that we do have are a playground for germs and diseases. Only someone with a death wish will dare use it.

At a time when India was smoothly transitioning from Bharat ek Soch to Bharat ek Shouch, our newly elected PM, Narendra Modi decided to play the party pooper with his clarion call for separate toilets for boys and girls in schools across the country. Now, these are not private schools that urban folks send their children to but the ones where kids die after having mid-day meals. But, if they are lucky to end up with just loose motions, Modi jee will make sure, they’ll not have to run out their Math class and out of their school in search of the nearest field to relieve themselves of their agony.

Mr Modi’s belief that his dream of ‘Swachh Bharat’ will help girls participate in education for a longer period of time and play a larger economic role has been strongly condemned by Khaps who make no distinction between women and buffaloes. Rahul Gandhi, the greatest champion of women’s empowerment has yet to come to terms that his signature theme is being taken away from right under his nose.

True to our Indian ethos that comes up with 10 different different problems for every solution, a tussle has erupted between the Drinking Water & Sanitation Ministry and the Human Resource Development Ministry over who will fund the construction in state-run schools. The government doesn’t have a Corporate Social Irresponsibility fund to draw on. They may approach the Finance Ministry to introduce a cess for tax payers. The DW&S Ministry has humbly approached Ajit Peewar, Maharashtra’s State deputy chief minister, to fill water tanks and not dams with his honourable urine.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Social Media Etiquettes for Dummies

  Image courtesy - http://socialmediasydney.net.au/twitter-trolls-what-is-appropriate-social-media-etiquette/

We are living in an age when we lead dual lives – on and off the Internet, where our carefully projected online presence is way wittier, prettier, happier and has hundreds of good friends we’d rather not meet. It’s hardly surprising considering our single-minded devotion to social media which lets us Photoshop our lives to picture perfection. We’d rather spend hours scrolling up and down assimilating information that we never need, than look up the ceiling and count the cobwebs or get up from the chair to investigate where that burning smell is coming from. And why not! As opposed to our dull and dreary lives, inhabitants of Instagram and Facebook lead a Utopian existence where everyone is always either partying, vacationing, having exotic meals or sitting around tables laden with food and drinks while smiling charmingly at the camera. On the other hand, Twitter is a land of the idealist where everyone has a perfectly clear idea about how governments should be run, policies should be made and how others should lead their lives.

And now that your Mom and her Grandma are flocking to Facebook, sharing vacation pics and calling each other sweetie, it does make sense that we come up with a list of do’s and don’ts on how to conduct yourself on Social Media.

The first cardinal rule that every social media enthusiast must abide by is the belief that you and only you are the centre of the universe. The sole purpose of your friends and followers existence is to be aware of every minute detail of your life and applaud you and your achievements at every given opportunity. If you love me, you have to love my dog, baby, poetry and motivational quotes. Use every given opportunity to flaunt your Googled knowledge, workout regime and don’t forget to post photographs of you reading a book, cycling, trekking and gently wiping the sweat off your face and wait for the avalanche of compliments. If some of your friends and relatives are too busy to take note of your busy life, make sure you tag them. Only a moron has better things to do with his life than take note of your latest achievements!

The more you praise and click like, the more you’ll be praised and liked in return. Also, only those who call you beautiful and gorgeous deserve your admiration in return.

Remember, your life’s aim is to make others envious of your happiness and successes. And if you don’t have much to brag about, fabricate it, for God’s sake!

Don’t be afraid to show your emotional side to the online world and make sure you add as many emoticons and !!!!!! to your ‘feeling angry, hurt and sad :-(’ status updates. Don’t bother with details and deny your friends the opportunity of asking – what happened, kya hua, you okay????? Wait for at least ten minutes and let them stew in their concern before saying ‘nothing’ and keep the mystery intact. Keep conducting these experiments to find out how many are gullible enough to fall for your theatrics.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why Is The Fair Sex So Unfair?

Courtesy - Google images

Ever since man stood straight and ventured out of his cave, he has accused the fairer sex of being unfair. He claims she’s unfair by insisting on being so complicated. He wonders, if she has so many buttons he can push that make her fly off the handle or make her blush and mumble inanities, where the fuck is the instruction manual? He claims he became bald pulling his hair in frustration, wondering why her eyes became moist on their most romantic night and why she laughed so hard when he dropped the gravy all over the couch that she loves adorning with silly cushions and rugs. He was going to join in her laughter but stopped when he saw the maniacal glint in her eyes.

He thinks he’s manly, while she accuses him of behaving like a baby in constant need of her care. But that doesn’t stop her from mothering and fussing over his ‘bad habits’. What she thinks is mothering, he sees it as smothering. What he sees as protective, she sees as suffocating.

She never tires of complaining of his bad memory. But pray, why should he bother remembering when she has maintained a database of all his so called misdeeds. A database with unlimited storage that has no delete button but has an instant recall feature, which incidentally is very handy to leave him speechless in the midst of a heated argument! Just as he’s settling on the couch with Dorritos and beer to watch the most awaited match of the year, she chooses to recall in that annoying quivering voice of hers that fateful day, 17 August 2001, when he was glued to the TV while she was coughing away to glory. She has the memory of an elephant but when he tells her she’s looking like one in that new dress of hers, she springs upon him like a panther.

It’s as if they were born to disagree.

It wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time she was coy and had that ‘you-are-my-hero’ look in her eyes. She didn’t care that the toilet seat was wet, the drain clogged with his hair and the toothpaste cap was always missing. She used to call him the best husband in the world till she started comparing notes with her friends. Damn it, is it my fault that Latika’s husband insists on making the morning tea and gets flowers for her every Thursday? You can’t stop cursing Amish who serenades his girlfriend with poetry! But when you decide to turn the tables on her and gush about Smita’s gorgeous mane and Amisha’s sumptuous Mutton pasanda, she gives you the injured look that gives you no choice but to apologise profusely for your insensitivity.

It takes you some time to discover that while she never says no to your helpful advice and suggestions, she still goes ahead and does it her way. But if you decide to go against her wishes, she’ll sulk and make you feel guilty.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Management Consulting Gets a Makeover

This review by Trisha Ray was commissioned by Sameer Kamat who was kind enough to wait for months and game enough to allow this scathing review to be published.

In a list of things that you would feasibly call ‘wild’, management consulting would rank pretty low, possible after pottery classes. With this prejudice in mind, I was a bit skeptical as I dove into Sameer Kamat’s thriller, Business Doctors: Management Consulting Gone Wild. The premise was intriguing enough. Woody’s Family Business is down in the docks, bleeding money and set to collapse in on itself, when the boss’s wife, Angie suggests an unusual remedy. Enter Michael Schneider, blue-eyed, Armani-clad, cool-headed management consulting wiz. The twist of course is that WFB is a mafia ring- with their fingers in a variety of pies ranging from pornography, to gambling, to marijuana. Schneider faces the unusual challenge of explaining to hard-headed gangsters how to run their business, while trying his best to dodge the mafia boss’ wife’s advances. WFB is something of an institution in the underworld, and even as they crumble, they send shivers down the competition’s spine. The best example of their ruthlessness would be the fact that their initiation ceremony includes a fight till death (or near death), which Schneider suddenly finds himself bang in the middle of. Reluctant at first, he discovers his flair for hatching nefarious schemes- including a series of outrageous jailbreaks, and a mafia boot camp
So far so good, but I missed out a key plot point here. The mafia boss’ name is Stephen Woody aka Woody aka Let’s Bring On the Penis Jokes. So many penis jokes, the most churlish of which is the name of the WFB casino…wait for it…Woody’s Pecker *cue adolescent giggles*. All this is at odds with the menacing figure that Woody is supposed to be- a rough, gruff ball of violence packed in a well-tailored suit. Humor is clearly not a strong point, most of which falls into a category I can only describe as dad jokes. The gangsters sometimes came across as Hindi movie clichés.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Where Small Homes Have Large Hearts

Google images

They say distance gives you perspective. It’s only when you move away from your parents, do you really start appreciating them. You discover your Mom’s quirks, your Dad’s annoying habits and start looking at everything you took for granted through a different pair of eyes – that of an outsider. Likewise, it was when I spent a summer in the serene suburbs of Chicago, that I realised how chaotic and crazy my life was back in India. Sounds of hawkers selling their wares, kids playing noisily in the neighbourhood, cars honking, ladies gossiping, and Mathur Aunty trying to buy veggies from the 3rd floor of her kothi. These were de rigueur till I encountered the silence of the suburbs. It took me some time to recalibrate myself when I came back to Delhi.

I lived in Delhi almost all my life, discovering the city through its many neighbourhoods we lived in. Each had its distinct charm, confused architecture, a Shambhu bhaiya (the much in demand MTLNL linesman) and a dusty kirana store – the favourite haunt of local kids for lozenges, nimbu soda and potato crisps.

In Delhi, you can calculate the middle class factor of each locality simply by observing its residents. The posher the locality, the rarer the sighting of their inhabitants who are either too busy or bored to be seen outside mixing with the hoi polloi. Hoi polloi are usually the ayahs huddled together at parks while the kids in their care scream like banshees. On their way back they will stop at Super Max grocers to pick up Quinoa for memsahib who’s always on a diet, unlike her middle class counterpart, a queer combination of fed-up and well-fed.

The avenues are wide yet empty. Each house grand and impeccably decorated and maintained by the many servants. Yet its occupants preferring to spend time outside its comforts either earning money or spending it.

The cattle class of Delhi doesn’t let its cramped accommodation deter it from enjoying life to the fullest and loves spreading itself out in the lanes and by-lanes outside their houses. It’s here you get to witness the true spirit of Delhi in its thriving gali culture. As you meander through narrow passages, hopping adroitly over puddles of water and narrowly missing stepping on dog poop, you see elderly ladies sunning themselves on charpais, gossiping while shelling peas with practised ease. Their daughters-in-law keeping the house spic and span by emptying all the rubbish outside. One look at the balcony and the rows of drying clothes vying for space with huge vats of pickles and you know the colours Sharma jee prefers for his undies.

Every hour of the day has its novelty. The loud clanging of the spatula on the iron griddle announces the arrival of the chhole bhature wala. The sing-song tune of Ramu sabziwala is the cue for the ladies to come rushing out in their nightie chunnies and start haggling aggressively. Come evening and it’s time for chaat. The men stare enviously at the gol-gappe wala surrounded by a bevy of women of all shapes and sizes screaming, bhaiya, aur aur aur!

The air outside is a heady mix of whistling pressure cookers, blaring televisions and impatient hormones exchanging furtive glances as they pace up and down their verandas clutching on to their textbook for safety from Mom’s inquisitiveness.

Even though the labyrinth of lanes and by lanes have no names, you can always trust your local taxi to find its way. Why bother naming roads when they can take on the personality of their quirky residents and acquire weird titles. All you need to say is Gol Aunty wali gali (the lady famous for her weight and her fetish for cleaning her courtyard with a hosepipe twice a day) and the driver will be there honking right outside your door.


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