Feeling Right to be Wrong

                             Prejudice is as natural as sewage – Boris Johnson

It’s disconcerting to realize that years of first world existence, education, experience and travel to exotic destinations often do very little to open up minds. Once you decide what you think is right, is right, you will never be short of excuses to deride beliefs that are different from yours. Different is a concept that most of us are not comfortable with. We baulk at men dressed as women, find the sight of gay men holding hands hilarious, crack jokes at the eating habits of people from certain regions…In our little universe inside the well, we are perfect. So, when it’s someone else who ridicules our skin colour, customs and rituals, we bristle with indignation.

I grew up having to put up with “ami tomake bhalobashi” and “roshogulla” jokes. I took pains to explain that our cuisine is beyond “machh-bhaath”. But that didn’t stop me from making fun of my butter chicken loving Punjabi friends. In our limited perceptions – all Punjabis are crass, anybody living in the south of the Vindhyas is a brainy South Indian who licks sambhar off his elbows, North Easterners are Chinkies and Nepalis, watchmen.

We colour our opinions with many shades of prejudice.

We waste no time in forming opinions, castigating our fallen heroes, shaking our heads with disgust at the falling morals while safely assuming that there’s nothing wrong with us. It is as if we have never lied, been unfair, hurt our loved ones and been insincere.

The thing is, we expect very little from us and too much from others. We are never short of excuses to justify our failures but quick to condemn other’s failings.

So, if an employee gets chastised by his employer for not delivering – it is the boss who is nasty. If someone decides to be truthful rather than pretend to be nice, that person is hurtful. If someone’s opinion clashed with yours, she is dismissed as a troll. The girl, who’d rather immerse herself in her thoughts than indulge in inanities, has attitude problems. The guy driving faster than you is a show off and the guy driving slower is an idiot.

Everyone in this world is an asshole but you.

When Nirvana is Just a Bottle Away

Google Images

There was a time when we lived happily ever after with frizz, dandruff and split ends. A weekly dose of egg shampoo with a lot of bathroom singing and we were good for a week. The first three days were bouncy bliss while the remaining were a mousy mess, but we were okay with it.

One fine day someone somewhere decided that for their company to sell more shampoos they need to make their prospective consumers feel bad about their hair. It started with the hunt for models with luscious hair. They were made to wear turtle neck sweaters in black, before their head and shoulder were doused with chalk powder. The gorgeous girl with shiny mane was then instructed to turn around, notice the Milky Way galaxy on her shoulders and gasp with horror. Her boyfriend, her legion of admirers, colleagues mirrored her disgust and refused to talk to her till she started using Cynical antidandruff shampoo.

The dawn of realization hit millions of men and women worldwide. The white dusty thing, the giver of itchy scalps was evil and it was time to exterminate it. We set about it with a vengeance and shed much hair at the altar of dandruff-free existence. Rather have less hair than more dandruff and wear a black turtle neck with my head held up high.

Shampoo companies were getting ambitious. After all they had tasted blood. So they started packaging themselves as the nectar of joy. The banisher of frizz, split-ends, falling hair and the provider of happiness self-esteem and blow-dried shiny hair, enriched with vitamins.

Pretty girls endowed with abundant hair on their scalps were now being snapped up by advertising firms only to have their hair tousled, distressed, dried for the “before look”. Freed from the tyranny of turtle necks, she was allowed to wear vests, hold her tresses like it was a piece of dirty rag she had picked up from the floor, roll her eyes in disgust and then run into the nearest shower stall to work up a mountain of lather on her scalp. She would then go running to the fields, swaying her miraculously cured, smoothened and shiny hair. The look that took 2 hours and a battery of “hair-experts” to achieve! Too bad most of us were led to believe that it could be ours for a few hundred rupees.

Domestication of Spiderman

Courtesy - Google
It started when he read a joke that went viral. It was about him. Someone had called him the most stupid superhero of all, for wearing his underwear over his head. That state-of the-art mask took him 23 ½ hours and 18 bottles of Maybelline’s glossy liquid liner, to make.

Only a moron can mistake those carefully drawn doe eyes for leg holes!

Mr Spiderman had a mid-building crisis. He hung between sky scrapers for days, coloured his hair orange, waxed his chest hair, got drunk on Root Beer and tried hitting on Sarah Jessica Parker. Boy, did she have bony hands! That slap stung for days.

To think he had squeezed himself into lycra and spandex, crept up buildings, clung to inanimate objects, performed death defying stunts to save distressed souls, for no pay and just accolades?

After months of introspection and a vacation in Koh Phi Phi later, a tanned Spidey was back in his apartment to hang up his superhero costume forever. It took him hours of intense cajoling and buckets of tears, before an enraged Mrs Spiderman finally let him in. He had been an irresponsible and selfish husband and Mary Jane was not ready to forgive him in a hurry.

So he wooed her with all the skills he had picked up in Thailand. It was only when MJ burped with satisfaction after a meal of Chuchi pla kaphong, Kaeng hangle with steamed rice, could Spiderman sigh with relief.

Spidey had made up his mind. He would spend the rest of his life at home dedicating himself to housework.

It’s time you knew

For over a month I watched my blog readership plummet, much to my dismay. Plagued by self-doubt, I blamed my writing, my fickle-minded readers, tried harder and wondered what I was doing wrong. To put it simply, I assumed that I had been discarded like a soiled tissue paper.

I was dealing with my biggest fear – the thought that perhaps I had moved past my best.

Last week, Manu Katyaayan sent me a concerned message. He wanted to know why my feeds had stopped showing in his reader. My first reaction was of immense relief. I could finally blame something else for my dipping blog hits. Of course I had no idea what to do about it. So I did what I do best, send an SOS call to my friends. Those who took the bait, I latched on them like a hungry leech and chewed their heads off.

I must mention Subhorup Dasgupta and his exemplary patience. He would sit with me for hours and give every trouble-shooting tip that was ever devised. For me he was Sherlock Holmes, meticulously sifting for clues to solve the befuddling mystery of the missing feeds. I tried everything – from removing widgets, pinging manually, authenticating my feeds. You name it, I tried it. When everything failed, I did a headstand, hung from an imaginary bell in an imaginary temple and demanded justice from God.

Several frustrating days and Mark Miranda later (a Twitter follower and an insomniac techie from Mumbai) I was able to crack the code. I felt like Robert Langdon (okay not him, but his hardworking sidekick). In my nerve wracking thriller of an almost lost blog, I found the evil, scheming villain MS-Word, the comedienne – Purba Ray and the heroes – Manu, Subho and Mark. The funny Mrs Ray had been copying, pasting her posts from MS-Word, blissfully unaware of the unnecessary codes that were getting embedded in her posts.


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