Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Fever Called Exams


I woke up with a smile this morning, gently slapped away the mosquito singing the morning raga in my ears.  As I stretched out like a cat or so I thought I managed to topple a few jars on my bedside table.  I didn’t fret and no I didn’t frown either.  There was a spring in my step, a silly grin pasted on my face as I tottered to the kitchen.  Today is special, Tee finishes her exams.

For days I have been bubbling with excitement.  Even before my daughter’s exams could finish, I went out with my girlie gang to raise a toast to liberation which was just around the corner.  The bistro was brimming with women, the mall jam packed with even more women – all of them wide eyed, excited, celebrating their reunion with freedom with gusto.

When your progeny sits for the exams, it’s the Mum who breaks into a sweat.  Tee doesn’t get too bothered about such trivialities; she outsources all her worries to her Mum.  True, she has to bear with me in my truly annoying avatar.  It’s 10 in the morning, are you still in bed!!  (Insert eyes popping out, horrified expression)  Do you really have to watch Castle.....can’t you miss a single episode of Las Vegas!!   Gosh are you sleeping again!  When will you study? (My voice pitch is touching the 10th floor now)....It’s two in the morning when will you sleep!  (A mix between desperation and air of resignation)

I hate how the exam fever dents my chilled out Mom image! But what to do, my Tee makes up for all the sleep she lost in the year, during her exams.  And whenever she finds time between sleeping and entertaining herself, she deigns to pick up her books and studies.

Secretly I do not blame her. One look at her books and you know that it is enough to put even a confirmed insomniac to sleep.  The language is stuffy and unimaginative.  Imagine describing the big bang theory as a small dot that exploded!  If Stephen Hawking reads it, he will be banging his head in frustration.  NCERT books have this magical quality of making even the most interesting subject sound mundane.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Skirting the issue

Image courtesy : fotolia.com

Last month when Obama joked that his prayers tend to revolve around the length of his 12 year old daughter, Malia’s skirt - it triggered a wave-like effect on parents worldwide, with all of them nodding their heads in understanding.   Suntee ho Chinki ki Mummy...even the President of the most powerful country in the world has no control over his daughter!  And look at our beti, always in a salwar kameez.   Chinki blushes a beetroot red and hides her pile of minis deeper in her closet. Why burst Papajee's bubble? 

Only a man can understand how a hormonally charged teenaged boy’s mind works. And since he’s been there and done that, he has all the reasons to be alarmed.  What he doesn’t comprehend is, that it’s her way of asserting “I’m not a baby anymore and am ready to take flight”.   The poor Dad didn’t even realize when his baby grew up and now reality has hit him with a thud.

This sent me on a flashback.  My daughter insists that all this reminiscing for the sake of blogging is playing tricks on my memory.  Of late I have started forgetting things alarmingly.  The other day the husband rang the bell and I asked with a genuinely puzzled expression ‘You look familiar, do I know you”?   He of course wasn’t amused.   Agreed he works very hard and his face is mostly hidden behind his laptop, but this is unpardonable!  Damn, I’m deviating and will soon forget what I was writing about in the first place.  The point is I pressed the rewind button and stopped at my school girl days – the time when I was my parents’ worst nightmare.  But my shrinking skirt did not give them sleepless nights.  They were either too busy to notice or pretended not to notice and I merrily took advantage of it.  In school the length of our skirts was a matter of prestige - the higher it went, the more it upped our coolness quotient.  It helped that our principal was one those ladies who thought long skirts were meant for behenjees and even went to the extent of announcing her preference for short skirts in the assembly.  It was greeted with loud cheers especially from the guys and we girls did our very best to make her feel proud.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Tyranny Of Beauty......


Courtesy:Google Images
Do you know why so many of us love watching Nigella Lawson’s show on TV?  She may be a cooking show host but I for one never watch it for the recipes.  A strikingly beautiful woman, spilling out of her dress, she makes gluttony look like a form of art.  It is a sheer joy to watch her pour cartons of double cream, slabs of dark chocolate, a dash of rum – and as she gleefully adds a dollop of butter, you almost choke on your coffee.  Her eyes light up as she whips the concoction in a bowl and closes her eyes in ecstasy as she takes a lick.  Nigella takes erotic pleasure and delight in her cooking and eating.   Later as she opens her mammoth refrigerator to fix up a midnight snack for herself, you can feel her rapture as she puts a spoonful of bacon in her mouth.  You derive vicarious pleasure in watching her surrender herself to her gastronomic indulgences. You sigh wistfully as you munch your bowl of roasted gram.  Here’s a woman who loves her butter and carbs and is not apologetic about it.

Very different from the woman of today.  Let me rephrase that.  Very different from the woman that society insinuates, directly or indirectly, that women be today.    

At one level, the new millennium femme has emerged triumphant after decades of struggle against a social order that asserted man as supreme. You are but a mere extension to him... is what she was made to believeSmothered by a long list of don’ts imposed by society and religion, her rights were denied, opportunities curtailed, her voice silencedNot anymore.

Courtesy :Mediafocus.com
I know what I want and usually get it – I have learnt my lessons from History.  She is now aware of her reproductive, marital and political rights and doesn’t hesitate in asserting herself.  She fights for what is due to her at her workplace.  She is unapologetic about indulging on herself.  She is focussed and wears her many hats effortlessly.  Yet, at another level, she struggles to conform to stereotypical notions of beauty imposed by society at large.  She toils at the gym, gets her hair re-bonded every few months, prefers French manicure.  She starves, goes under the knife, takes painful injections in her eternal quest for beauty.   As Germaine Greer has so succucintly put A woman lives in the terror of her bum looking big.   I hate my nose, change it please.  My laugh lines make me feel older, I want them erased.  Flabby thighs, crows feet, close set eyes....they all dent my self-esteem. With beauty, I have the world at my feet.

But how many of us can be that woman?   A friend of mine dreads meeting her friends from school.  Every time they do, all they can exclaim about is her post-baby weight.  Barbie with no individuality or character is the beauty icon of today, transcending the oriental and the occidental.  Teenagers starve themselves because they want to look like Katrina Kaif.   They want bikini perfect bodies and greedily devour their favourite star’s health gyan!  Ooh I love lauki, I snack on seeds, I meditate for an hour....A pack of lies if you ask me.  Most of them go on extreme diets surviving on just orange juice for days and work themselves to exhaustion with their fancy trainers.

But why blame them.  Sushmita Sen is ridiculed for her yo yo weight. The media derives sadistic pleasure in highlighting a celebrity’s cellulite.  An unwanted tyre on her midriff is captioned with a what was she thinking!!  An actress in her 30’s is considered past her prime.  Wrinkles, mismatched shoes, bed-heads are the new cardinal sins.  Kate Moss makes a reappearance on the catwalk for her friend Marc Jacobs and all the world can talk about is her wrinkly, sagging behind.  The world would rather go gaga over Demi Moore who spends millions on surgery!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mere Paas Maa Hai.....

People often tell me, I am a grounded person.  They don’t know my “ground reality”. 

Every time someone praises me for my looks or whatever talent I have, I turn around Exorcist style, to check if it’s really me. You know just to make sure.  Stage two is giving them an incredulous look and an unsure smile.  Stage three I protest loudly. It’s much later I realize I have completely forgotten to say a graceful thank you!  But I am human after all, I succumb.  Sooner or later I start preening & posing, flutter my eyelashes and pat myself on the back - then I go visit my Mum.     Look how fat/skinny you have become.  Have you been dieting/ eating too much?  You know I prefer you in saris, did you really have to wear those jeans! You never call me, you are never home.  Why aren’t you trying to get published, how many actually read a blog!   I land on the ground with a loud thud and everything becomes normal again.

A mother-daughter relationship is usually an uneasy one and only your Mum is legitimately allowed to drive you up the wall.  And she does a fairly good job of it.  I have yet to ask my daughter about my success rate but she did write an entire post insisting her Mom is a vampire.

Of course I cannot generalize, there are many who never let go of the umbilical cord.  Unfortunately I am not one of them. 

Courtesy : Google Images
You may be a no-nonsense woman, with the world at your feet.  But for your Mum, you are still the little girl in pigtails who never got it right.   She will forever leave you in doubt about your parenting skills, your style quotient, your choice of career, friends, food....And she is never short of gyan.   So what if you are always in the wrong, trust me your Mum is always right!   She is the only person in the world who can berate you, have you hang your head in shame, drive you to tears.  And for a moment you forget if you ever grew up at all.    

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where the mind is without fear


The husband is coming back this week. I have already fixed up our weekend plan – we are going to Tihar Jail and yes we are going voluntarily.   I need to check out the complex, their living quarters (cell sounds so uncool).  Are there any shops there, especially Body Shop? The toilets, I hope they are clean.  I am very picky you know.  I just read in the papers, the government is planning to offer a free stay in Tihar for Bloggers.  Not that it’s a swanky resort but at least I won’t have to pay rent.   I’ll get to eat very healthy food which I might not want to eat at all.  I’ve heard they make you work really hard! Goody! It almost sounds like a health farm.  If only they won’t make me wear that boring uniform with a number printed on it.

You see, our Sarkaar in its humble attempt to become tech-savvy has accidentally stumbled upon a Utopian land called blogosphere.  A strange place whose denizens are free to speak their mind, are quick to point out injustice meted out, boldly express their rage at the sorry state of affairs, they question, rationalize, debate, and worse, spread awareness on the world wide web.   Our Netas are in a tizzy!   I beg to state but this shall not be tolerated. Why don’t we pass a bill in a language that no-one understands and shut them up for over. Let’s create confusion and chaos. Let’s have them cower in fear.  Citizens who walk with their head held high, who dare raise their voice, are a threat to democracy. We don’t want an Egypt on our hands do we?

We are living in strange times. With the advent of economic liberalisation we are zooming in the fast lane.  Our buildings are getting taller, cars swankier and our clothes slinkier.  We huff and puff to Lady Gaga singing I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.  We speak accented English, sip coffee at Gloria Jeans and swipe our multi coloured credit cards at Armani Exchange.

But has liberalization made us more liberal?

Someone somewhere was hounded out of the country for his “blasphemous” paintings.   In a desert country the revered artiste pines for his motherland. 

Someone somewhere just got shot at point blank range by the grandson of ex MLA of Jatavpur. He didn’t like her face.

Someone somewhere was lynched by an angry mob for trying to steal a rusty bicycle.  Our ministers embezzle crores of public money – we tch tch, shake our heads in disgust and crack a few jokes at their expense.

Someone somewhere was dragged out of the bar and beaten up by the watchdogs of morality. How dare the great Indian Naari strut around in jeans, hold hands with a man and enjoy her beer.  Look how education corrupts!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do me a favour, let’s not play Holi

There was a time, not too long ago, when I used to dread Holi.  We were staying in this busy locality, located in the heart of Delhi, where everybody took more than a healthy interest in each other’s lives. Kitnaa kaa liyaa was their catchphrase.  The boys loitered on the streets, trying to extend their hand for friendship to anything that walked by in a skirt.  Yes, they were a friendly lot and I don’t think they ever passed any exam.

And there were kids – lots and lots of them.  They would spend most of their afternoons outside in the gullie so that their Mummy jee could sleep in peace.   Come festival time (especially Diwali) and the kiddos would be seized with festive fervour that would start weeks in advance. You didn’t need reminders, you could trust them to drill it in your head. The bachha party would go phaat...phut...phit all afternoon with their strip of cartridge.  But instead of the damn thing going into the pistol, the kids would burst it one by one, in slow motion, till one got a splitting headache.  My expressions of rage were apt enough to get me the lead role in Anaconda (no, not the Hindi version on UTV)!

If Diwali was a headache then Holi was the time when our neighbourhood would turn into Disneyworld’s Big Splash fun.  The air would be rent with loud screams, with the Tom and Jerry chase enacted live. Come March and I would start dreading the newly-acquired hygiene fetish of the kids.  They were intent on giving me a bath, every time I stepped out of the house.  On my way back from school I was like a Ninja warrior, ducking balloons and water pistons from all possible angles. I am convinced Keanu Reeve copied my moves for his Matrix series! 

Water balloons filled with water and ready for...Image via Wikipedia
In the evening as I would go for my walk, I had to do a complicated hop-scotch-jump, to avoid the steady stream of water balloons. It more than took care of my warm-up.  On the way to the grocer, dry-cleaner, any damn place, my head was perennially craned upwards scanning for those watery missiles.  And the little devils had mastered their skill from Houdini – excited chatter – loud splash and voila the miscreants would disappear into thin air.  There were times I was tempted to give them a loud round of applause.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bring back the lungi I say...

Baba, this one is for you

In India, most of us sweat buckets most of the year.  Rivulets of perspiration, trickling down our back is an all too familiar feeling. In Delhi’s scorching summer, I start sporting the tomato-trapped-in-a-hot–sauna look. With my back permanently soaked with sweat, the face a flaming red and my hair frizzy beyond belief, I look quite a sight.  I refuse to meet most of my friends in summer – what if they start thinking I’m ugly? What if they don’t recognize me at all??

This is the season when I discard all my noble endeavours towards energy conservation, carbon footprints and gleefully help burn some more holes in the ozone layer.  I’d rather keep my cool than save the environment! But what gets my goat is when I see people attired in skin-tight summer unfriendly clothes.  As the mercury hits the roof, the last thing you need is squeezing yourself into your jeans or wearing trousers with full sleeved shirts. Just the sight of it makes me break into a sweat.

And this despite the many options we women have. Saris for the breezy feel, skirts of all shapes and sizes, sarongs for convenience and shorts if you don’t mind men gawking at your legs! Men sadly only have a choice of length – short, mid way or full length. 

A few days back as I was twiddling my thumbs and counting the cobwebs, I came up with a designer of an idea!  And believe me it’s far better than Baby B’s - the one that he keeps hawking on national TV.

Men-folk can now expect deliverance and break free from the tyranny of their trousered existence.  Guys!  time is ripe to go back to your roots and embrace the preferred attire of our forefathers.  It’s time to say yes to our desi lungi.  

Courtesy : Google images
Look how our Mallu brothers and our Tam uncles fearlessly show off their hairy legs in their mundus.  This one-size-fits-all-bottoms garment is simple, down to Earth and extremely pocket friendly. 

As a kid I used to find its north Indian counterpart, the lungi, truly appalling.  A lungi which usually comes in flamboyant floral or window-curtain patterns has an instant eww appeal.  Ask me, I know.  My Dad in his heydays had a vibrant collection, each one more colourful than the last and no amount of glaring or cajoling worked.  At home when he was relaxing, Baba was surgically attached to his lungi!  When my fiancé and I were courting each other, I was plagued with thoughts of my guy in a lungi.  One day I finally managed to stutter “I hope you don’t wear a lungi’?  Naah I prefer shorts.  It was only when we started co-habiting I discovered his stunning collection of shorts – each one more hideous than the last.   Why he even had a pair in red with something in French printed on it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Will-Kat need me....


The last few days I have been hovering around our letter-box.  Every time I pass it by, I look at it longingly, peep inside anxiously.  My tiny mail-box is tired of me.  Can you please leave me in peace, even I need my privacy!

Our building’s security guard has been eyeing me suspiciously.  Madamjee ka lagtaa hai finally dimaag kharaab ho gaya hai.  Waise bhi saraa din kuch na kuch likhti rahti hai.  Sahab bhi pareshaan hai. 
Courtesy -ohgossip.com

What he doesn’t know is, ever since I read in the papers that Will-Kat have posted invites (1900 to be precise) for their hotly anticipated royal wedding – I have been getting anxiety pangs.

My guest authors on A-musing have led me to believe that I am a celebrity blogger. Some even went to the extent of imagining an entire interview with me.  All this gushing has turned me to mush. My head has been looking a little swollen lately. 

But now I am plagued with self-doubt.  I am neither royalty, far from diplomatic - in fact I am too common for comfort.   What if I don’t get invited at all – what do I tell my million fans.  I am answerable to them, after all.  Weren’t they looking forward to my spicy coverage of this Royal event!  Who wore what?  Did Elton John come wearing a gown?  What is the secret behind Victoria Beckham’s pout?  How will the world come to know if I am not around!  Will-Kat need me, yes I believe they need me more than I need them.

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