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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When Beauty Comes At A Price.

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

Courtesy - Google images

Back in India, a visit to the salon meant being plied with concern for my thinning hair, calloused feet or my unwhitened skin. I’d go into a daze as the ‘beauty expert’ would wax eloquent about the benefits of Morocco returned sea-kelp that would have my pores break into an aria or the ultra-luxe herbal holistic pedicure that would make my feet soft as a baby’s bum.

I get it. It’s your job to make me feel ugly and it’s my job to dig deep into my pocket to have you beautify me. After all discontent is the mother of all enterprise. Imagine, if women one day suddenly decide to be content with their body size, skin tone, wrinkles, greying hair, and the size and shape of their nose and breasts, entire industries would collapse!

Fortunately for the beauty industry, most of us are rarely happy with what we have. We are all waiting to be lighter, thinner, softer, shinier, clearer, spotless versions of ourselves. It helps that we are constantly bombarded with images of women Photoshopped to perfection.

We can thank our lucky stars that we live in a world where there’s a fairy godmother waiting to wave her magic wand for every Cinderella distress. In fact, she’s so earnest that even if we’re perfectly happy with our reflection in the mirror, she will take out her magnifying glass to make us feel terrible about our sun-spots, dark-underarms, not so taut skin and hair that doesn’t glow like a 40W bulb. She comes with an array of sparkly bottles and jars that promise us a happily ever after with skin pumped with vitamins and minerals whose names we can’t pronounce. All we need is a dollop of that “Sea of Spa Black mud shampoo Enriched with Obliphica Oil” to transform our shamefully dry hair to salon perfect bouncy tresses. What’s more, with our underarms smelling like roses and skin fairer than your judgement, we also get to land the choicest of jobs and men.

Who doesn’t want happiness that can be bought over the counter, that our mundane jobs, demanding family and an exhausting schedule seldom provide!

But trust these doomsayers to deny us our little joys. As if knowing that millions of monkeys were stuffed with lipsticks before they were declared safe for womankind’s lips was not enough, we have to put up with annoying findings that rubbish the tall claims these potted miracles make. It’s distressing to know that it’s our shampoo that’s causing our hair to fall and hair dyes are carcinogenic. The toner that claims to deep cleanse is in reality making our pores look like moon’s craters. The box of cornflakes that promised us Lara Dutta’s waist was simply bluffing its way to the cash registers. Why, just the other day I broke down into tears when I read that the expensive creams I had been using to look like the 20-year old promoting it was in reality as ordinary as the modestly priced over-the-counter moisturize!

Another study suggests the habitual use of facial moisturizing creams and lotions is not only unnecessary, they could be doing skin more harm than good. Most creams simply sit on the surface of our face, encasing it in a layer of cream that gradually blocks pores and glands, and prevents them from functioning efficiently. In fact, we are better off simply increasing our water intake.

We are filled with disgust when we discover that our tube of exfoliant that promised us dewy fresh skin in reality contains plastic beads which in turn is contaminating our water bodies. It makes us wonder what stops manufacturers from using natural ingredients like apricot kernels like they used to!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Adam and Eve: The True Story


He is Doctoratlarge,Twitter's most controversial tweleb. Feminist hating, boobs loving, yet utterly sensitive - he's bitter, he's sweet and scathingly honest. He may have his fair share of worshipers and haters but everyone will agree that there's no one like him. A practicing Doctor, he sketches, philosophizes and waxes eloquent on his blog Bittersweet Pills

He unleashes his wicked sense of humour in this retelling of world's oldest story - Adam and Eve.
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Year: 50,000 BC. Setting: Eden, the garden of Paradise. And Eve is sitting beside a lovely deep blue lake with deep blue mountains silhouetted by the rising sun in the distance. A mild, salubrious breeze is blowing, bringing the sweet mixed scent of a million different perpetually blooming flowers to her nostrils. The grass is as green as envy, and as soft as the air. In fact, everything, including Eve herself, is very beautiful – more beautiful than everything else in the Universe. And yet, Eve is not happy. In fact, she is downright sad.

The less charitable among the readers will immediately say that that’s typically like a woman – to be unhappy, even when everything around her is perfect. But don’t be so hasty, gentle reader, to condemn her. She has every reason to be unhappy. And the reason for her unhappiness was the one person in the world who meant everything to her – Adam. And he meant everything to her, because he was the only man in the whole wide world.

Eve wanted to be with Adam always. She wanted to walk besides him, stealing ardent glances upon his rugged, handsome face. She wanted to hear him speak lyrically about the unspeakable beauty of Paradise in his deep, mellifluous voice. She wanted to comb his thick unruly hair with her dainty fingers, to see him childishly exult in his victory as he outraced her swimming in the deep lake. She wanted him to leap up in the air to pluck out the sweetest fruits off the trees, which were always to be found on the highest branches.

But to do all these things, Adam had to be around her. And that is why beautiful Eve was sad. Because Adam showed absolutely no interest in doing all these things with her. In fact, he behaved as if her very presence in the Paradise was an inexplicable piece of mild nuisance, which he had to just shrug and put up with.

He was much happier spending his time with the dumb brutes of paradise – cuddling the wolf puppies, tousling the majestic mane of the lion, racing with the swift stallions on the wide grassy meadows. But most of all, he liked to run around with the apes. Disgusting creatures these apes were! Always running mischievously around, jumping from tree to tree, often startling her with their sudden leaps close to her, and sometimes even daring to pull her lovely flowing tresses.

Adam and the apes played several games together, the whole day long. But their favorite game was with that something which was shaped like a moon. Adam had fashioned the thing using some thick leaves and tying it all together with some thick supple roots. The apes had helped him to erect a pair of poles on each end of a fairly large grassy field. The apes then divided themselves into two groups and each group tried to kick the ball in between the poles at their opponents’ end of the field. The team lead by Adam they called Man United, and the other group of apes was called Ape United. They kept at this game for hours, kicking the ball and each other, pushing, shoving, snarling and growling – and all the while thoroughly enjoying themselves. Eve found all this completely silly of course, but when she expressed her thoughts to Adam, he just said that it was a man thing which she won’t understand. He also tried to explain something which he called the “Offside rule” to her, and became surprisingly irritated when she failed to grasp it.

Eve would’ve been desperately lonely and bored, were it not for dear Serpent. Serpent was a rather thin and ugly looking fellow, who waddled rather than walked on a crooked pair of legs. But he had some agreeable qualities, chief of which was that he could sit with Eve for hours, listening to her complaining about how little attention Adam paid her. He also climbed the trees and brought her the highest, sweetest fruits to eat. In fact, she found him to be a really nice guy.

“Oh, thanks for the rose Serpent. It’s so lovely!” She’d say in her sweet voice. “Would you mind sticking it into my hair? Thank you. You’re such a sweet fellow. You care for me so much. I wish, Adam cared even half as much as you care for me. In fact, he doesn’t even take care of himself. His hair is always an untangled mess. And he just about puts on any leaf he can lay his hand on, not caring whether it suits him or not.”

While Eve thus presumed that Serpent was content to be friendzoned by her, Serpent of course had a completely different view of the matter. He was completely in love with Eve, and nurtured a secret desire to replace Adam in her affections. He thought that by paying attention to her and taking care of all her little needs and fancies, he would finally be able to impress upon her that he was a much better choice than thoughtless, careless, stupid Adam. He harboured such hopes for many, many months, until one day, Lucifer the devil, cleared his mind of such silly misconceptions. Lucifer was the bad guy of the Universe, of course – but like all bad guys, he had a soft corner for a nice guy who was obviously going to be heartbroken over a girl who was way above his league. So one day he took Serpent aside and after a long heart to heart talk over a bottle of wine (an intoxicating liquid invented by Lucifer himself), he was able to convince Serpent that his present course of action was as likely to win Eve for him as the Sun was likely to come up in the night. Serpent of course, burst into tears, like any nice guy does on having his heart broken.

“There, there, my friend,” Lucifer soothed him. “Don’t worry. I’m your friend. I’ll help you get Eve. But you’ve got to do just what I say. Do you know about the forbidden tree?”

“Yes. All creatures are forbidden to eat its fruit”

“Exactly. Now I want you to convince Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Tell her that it will make her skin glow even more and make her look even more beautiful.”

“But what will that achieve?”

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