March-ing Ahead

The month started amidst much brouhaha. The nation expressed outrage at Hussain’s Qatarization. Why target Hussain? Don’t we have Raza in Paris, Vikram Seth in Salisbury and Amitav Gosh in New York? As Mondy Thapar rightly pointed out in HT , “All the shame and discomfort over the iconic artist giving up his Indian passport has little to do with Hussain no longer being an Indian passport holder and everything to do with him choosing Qatar as his country of abode”. Of all the gin joints in the world, Maqbool had to walk into a Gulf Kingdom!

March is also the month for the Budget. We Indians love our Budget and love analysing it. Actually, we love analysing everything. There were columns, debates and opinions galore, dissecting the how’s and why’s of the budget. I religiously stick to the illustrated guide for idiots with the up and down arrows; saves a lot of time and effort.

Women’s Day was observed on 8th March all over the world. Commercial establishments saw it as yet another business opportunity and wooed us with irresistible offers (free drinks, free makeovers whopping discounts). As always we were spoilt for choice. India got its first wine club exclusively meant for women. Wine, Women and Wit was launched is Mumbai this month. Hic hic hurray!

Battle lines were drawn for the Women’s bill ensuring 1/3rd reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The Kill-Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha amidst high drama. The house recorded a historic vote in its favour; Ms Mamata Banerjee mysteriously abstained from voting. But for me the original women’s Bill will always be Bill Clinton.

Katherine Bigelow made history after becoming the first woman to win an academy award for best director. Uma Thurman made history too, albeit of a different kind. Her latest movie “Motherhood” fetched only one viewer in London. It grossed a princely amount of 9 pounds.

A hot new profession is on the block. All you need to do is renounce the world publicly (what you do privately is entirely your business), sport long hair/beard/long flowing robes, claim to have performed a few miracles, get some sleazy politicos as your devotees (that shouldn’t be too hard) and voila you have a quick rich formula. You can grab land, run a prostitution racket and even get your devotees killed in a stampede. God will forgive all your sins.

Haryana cops on the other hand took professionalism to new levels. A bunch of them belonging to a Special task force created to counter terrorism and crime in Haryana were held for dacoity. Why let others do it, when we can do it ourselves. Good thinking there.

The craft of garland-making touched a new high. At a BSP rally held in Lucknow an anaconda-like garland made entirely of currency notes was presented to Mayawati, the party supremo. Speculations were rife over its actual value which led to CBI ordering an enquiry into her undisclosed assets. Behenjee, not to be left behind ordered an enquiry into the invasion of a swarm of bees which behaved in a most unbecoming manner at the rally; they had the audacity to hover around her. Apparently they found her too sweet and couldn’t keep off her.

Sheila Dixit, is making Delhites literally pay for the Commonwealth games. The government unleashed a tax whammy on its unsuspecting citizens: We will inconvenience you and charge you for it. The capital has been getting a drastic makeover for the impending Commonwealth games, rendering most roads and markets unusable. Getting stuck in traffic jams will now be so much fun, we can now happily observe our money going down the drain.

As we prepare for 250 days of summer the Met department made their customary prediction. When they say expect normal rains this year, you know exactly what not to expect. How the hell do they manage to unerringly err, each year?

Indian Railways has rewritten history and redefined boundaries. In an ad issued by the railway ministry, Delhi was shown in Pakistan and Kolkata submerged in the Bay of Bengal. First it was the Marxists, and now it’s Ms Banerjee who is taking the onus of sinking Kolkata to abysmal depths.

With the proposed entry of foreign universities in India we can expect a geographical shift of a different kind. We’re looking forward to an Oxford in Orissa and Massachusetts in Maharashtra.

Health experts have warned that chewing gum can give you wrinkles around the mouth. I am almost whooping in delight, not because my gum chewing neighbour will soon be looking like an old hag, but I will now have fewer of those on the sole of my shoes.

But the alarming news of the month is that men crave sex even in old age. The difference is most pronounced in the 75-85 age groups. Considering most of our politicos are in this age group, no wonder Mulayam Singh suggested that the Parliament will now be full of lusty old gents catcalling and whistling at the newly elected women parliamentarians. Maybe, the women can offer the ageing lotharios chewing gum as a placatory gesture? Just a suggestion 

Punctured Vanity

They appear unannounced, especially when you don’t want them to and exactly where you don’t want them. You try your best to make them go away, but the buggers seem to feed on your misery and multiply. You curse, you fret, you crib and just when you finally start accepting their annoying presence they start disappearing one by one. 

They are every adolescent’s nightmare come true. Skin care companies make their fortune out of them. When I was growing up, pimples were an alien concept. I did have many of my friends afflicted by this wretched syndrome. I would be privy to their sob stories, the various treatments that they had to subject themselves to. I would tch tch in sympathy and happily wolf down my bread pakora without a care in the word.

Fate, alas had other cruel plans for me. Here I am mother to a teenaged daughter, bemoaning my pimples, the resident evil. It’s that time of the year again; the dreaded season change and they are back with a vengeance. It usually starts with one attention seeking red dot, right on the centre of your cheek. Despite your various attempts to get rid of it, it becomes bigger and three- dimensional. Each night before you go to sleep, you swab it with an astringent which claims miracles and a rocking social life. You wake up in the morning groggy eyed and rush to the mirror to check its well being. Not only is it alive and kicking, the pesky thing has had the audacity to procreate. Now instead of one infuriating pimple you have half a dozen of them to deal with. You let out a blood curdling scream.

It’s been over ten days now. I have a school reunion party this weekend. I was planning to take on the role of the dazzling diva for the benefit of my ex flames. I still have a few days left and have been following a punishing regime. In fact, I have become a little desperate. I have ditched the astringent in favour of the toothpaste. My bedtime beauty ritual has become a tad longer now. I painstakingly apply toothpaste on each one of them. Yes, I look a little scary but I don’t care. I give them penetrating looks hoping they will wither away in shame. The shameless buggers are taking their sweet time. In the meantime I am practising my smart one-liners. If I can’t floor them with my beauty I can always fall back on my wit.

Love in the time of MMS. (Love Sex aur Dhoka, a review)

I rarely watch movies not because I don’t love movies. On the contrary I am a major movie buff. I plead guilty of being choosy; I choose to watch only those movies that excite me. Love ,Sex aur Dhoka held out a delicious promise of being different. Well, different will fall woefully short of describing this movie. In fact it’s not even a movie; at least it’s not shot like one. Shot entirely with a handycam the movie uses three parallel episodes to depict Love, Sex and Dhoka.

I felt like a peeping Tom getting a voyeuristic kick watching uncomfortable snippets from somebody else’s life. Very in your face, it presents life in all its rawness, sans the polish and finesse. Its liberal use of cuss words had the audience hooting in delight.

The first story spoofs Bollywood and its fascination for mush. A DDLJ obsessed debutante director falls in love with his heroine. What promises to be a sweet love story ends with a chilling climax. The humour is dark, almost terrifying. The second episode unfolds in a 24-hour supermarket with newly installed close circuit cameras. This time you almost expect a sinister story to unravel. The sensible female worker develops a soft corner for the smooth talking store manager. The boy, who is in dire straits, hits upon a plan with his sleazy friend to make a porn clip using her as an unwilling partner. Sex in the time of MMS.

The concluding episode is a sting operation planned by a down in the dumps cameraman and a wannabe item girl. She wants her revenge from Lukki Lukkka the reigning pop star who ditches her professionally because she refuses to sleep with him. Loki Local is a hilarious caricature who looked suspiciously like Mika(the Punjabi pop star). In fact, all the characters in the movie seem very real, not once did I feel they were acting. The flirtatious Punjabi salesgirl at the supermarket, the hennaed, unscrupulous rich dad, the shy heroine in all her innocence, all commendable performances. But the performance that stood out was the girl who played Mrignayanee , the item girl: a sassy desperate girl who ends up falling in love with a loser and ends up using him. Irony at its sparkling best. Hats off to Dibakar Banerjee(the director) for managing to extract such sterling performances from an unknown star cast.

Go watch LSD if you expect the unexpected. A hard hitting satire on a society that does not hesitate to lay bare its most private moments and puts it to display for public consumption, the movie is definitely not meant for the faint hearted.

Watch it to applaud a new breed of bold filmmakers who are redefining Bollywood.

Does Marriage Destroy Friendship?

Are you confused too? Wondering whether I am referring to friendship between the couple or friends in general who disappear after you tie the knot. Most of my friends were when I asked them. They were bewildered. Of course, marriage ruins friendship between the couple, most of them insisted.

So what brought this introspection on? A stray statement in the newspaper “Our friendship is so strong even marriage could not destroy it” grabbed my attention. It upset me. I am mostly a happily married woman. My occasional “tragedy queen” phases are entirely my doing.

As a young girl, marriage scared me. I had grown up seeing bickering couples, bored couples, dutiful couples, couples who were doting parents. Happy couples were far and few in between. This relationship seemed like a malaise. Thankfully my sacred union did not scar me. We were good friends and still have managed to remain friends. It is our friendship that has sustained our marriage. Then why were most of my friends adamant insisting that friendship should not be confused with marriage and that they are separate entities? Isn’t friendship the most common form of love! A relationship that entails honesty, vulnerability, companionship and mutual respect!

Spring-ing a surprise

Spring arrived without notice, sans any fanfare. Just a week back I was cosily wrapped in a shawl enjoying a night out with friends. It is another matter that I was the only one in anything remotely woollen. Delhi fashionistas are content shivering in their chiffons. And now here I am sweating profusely, complaining loudly to whoever is willing to listen as to how hot it has become. Gosh! I can’t even bear to look at my full sleeved tees.

A few days back, I went to our local shopping centre, “The Galleria”. The atmosphere was festive, with Holi just round the corner. I spotted quite a few people strolling around in their shorts and tees. My corduroys felt rather overdressed. “Why? It’s only February” I mused aloud to the husband.

Of course by now I was feeling mildly disturbed, I wanted to wear my shorts and tees too, weather be damned. So what do I do? I spent the entire weekend (two whole days to be precise) trying to unpack my summer wardrobe. Actually it’s a pretty complicated procedure. When you are living in a high rise apartment, space is the first casualty. My parents live in this huge three-storied bungalow and there are dedicated rooms and cupboards to store clothes that haven’t been worn the last twenty years. This is not an attempt to be funny, for a change I am dead serious. The kilometre long loft is used to store Diwali gifts accumulated over the last decade or more. Now that I have my own nest, I no longer have this privilege and my wardrobe has to be split according to seasons.


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