Sunday, December 11, 2016

Why the Hell Can’t I Remember If I Locked My Door?


Every time a space mission is announced and I am invited to be part of it because I am so funny, I have to turn it down with a heavy heart. Knowing that I can never be part of a mission to Mars makes my heart sink faster than the Titanic. Just as our spacecraft has crossed the 10 millionth mile, I’ll be seized by a doubt so terrible that I’ll insist we turn back immediately. The niggling doubt would have crept in on day 50 of the galactic journey but I’ll try brushing it off as irrational. But doubts are like faithful stalkers and refuse to leave your side. In fact they become nastier and more persistent with time.

By day 150 I will be a nervous wreck with ‘Did I lock the main door when I left my house’ echoing in my head in full Dolby fidelity. Of course I did, is how I will try to console myself. I am after all a responsible woman. I will replay the scene just when I am about to leave the house. I will recall locking all the balcony doors, checking the gas-stove for the 25th time, running upstairs to see if I had really switched off the iron.

The iron bit is really important. On our last trip to Kazakhstan I was a total wreck because I just couldn’t remember switching it off after I had ironed my favourite shirt that I wanted to wear on the flight. I spent the next week imagining our house being burnt to cinders, my 200 pairs of lovingly collected shoes gone. My saris that I never wear burnt to ashes, my measly 499 grams of gold melted. My lovely pair of jeans that makes my butt look like a million bucks charred beyond recognition. Damn it, I should have carried it with me! Will I ever recover from the debilitating guilt of rendering my family homeless! What if I can never laugh again? As I sat on the hop on and hop off bus trying my best to soak in the sights, all I could do was wipe my tears imagining our homeless, penniless rest of our lives. The stupid guide mistook it for tears of happiness. Idiot!

When I suggested to the husband that we take an earlier flight back home because the weather wasn’t suiting me, he gave me that knowing look. What is it this time that you think you forgot to switch off, my darling? The darling bit was dripping with sarcasm. I think this sarcasm thing is contagious. When we got married he was perfectly normal.

I don’t blame him. Initially he did indulge me. Like the time when we were watching a play and I turned to him in panic and said, I think I left the gas on. He drove his bike so fast, by the time we reached home, our hair was looking like The Leaning Tower of Pisa. And the gas was turned off.

Phew!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How Demonetisation Gave Direction To My Life


Till a fortnight back my life was as directionless and meaningless as Rahul Gandhi’s speeches. I was appalled by the lack of purpose in my life and couldn’t stop berating myself for not doing enough to stop the Polar caps from melting, bombing ISIS camps and stopping Trump from getting elected. Not anymore. My life feels like a Jan Dhan account suddenly flush from someone else’s desperation. And I have Modi jee to thank for this sudden turn of events.

I am ashamed to admit, when he dropped the D-bomb on us, it took me an inordinately long time to acknowledge his genius in smoking out black-money. Alas, my heart was busy feeling wretched for the unfair treatment being meted out to black money that chose to stay in the country instead of flying off to Honduras, Cayman or Panama and become an NRBM (nor resident black money). I cried buckets when I read reports about wads of patriotic notes that had said no whitening being abandoned near dustbins and drowned in river. This is how we treat our girl child and not ghar ki Lakshmi, dammit!

With 500 and 1000 Re notes declared invalid, I was feeling like a penniless pauper for no fault of my own. With demonetisation, Modi Jee first rendered us cashless and then helpless with not enough new notes to replace the old lot. It felt like we were being dragged back to our bachhe dins when we had to last an entire month on a meagre sum because this was our parent’s fabulous idea of teaching us the value of money!

Just last week when I told the beggars at red-light ‘paise nahin hai, baba’, they nodded in sympathy. A few kind souls even offered to lend me a few notes from their booty!

I cried, yet again.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Forward This At Your Own Risk

Image courtesy - Google images

Dear kids (PS - anyone younger than me qualifies), did you know when we were growing up, the only forwards we got on Diwali were Milton jugs and casseroles? If we prayed hard enough, the set of 6 melamine cups in cream and pink that Mom had gifted Mrs Ahuja 4 years back would land at our doorstep, just like a long lost forward. But Mom far from weeping like Nirupa Roy while hugging the cups close to her chest would get an eye twitch like Lalita Pawar (if you are unfamiliar with these names, just ask Siri).

As a reciprocal gesture, Mrs Ahuja was gifted a box of kaju katli that was only a month old.

In case you did not know, casseroles, thermos, tea-sets of yesteryears were the Soan Papdi of gifting. Nobody wanted them yet everybody gifted them. But those were simpler times. We would start bursting crackers weeks before Diwali without feeling guilty for fouling up the air. If we were chased by a jhadoo wielding Pammi Aunty for disturbing her afternoon siesta, we extracted revenge by bursting our stash of bombs in front of her house till Christmas. Festivities were more about stuffing our faces with sweets more colourful than Govinda’s wardrobe, and less about ‘OMG, I have put on weight! Now I will punish myself and have only lauki soup for a month.’ Phones were actually used to make calls. And one had to visit friends and family to exchange festive greetings. On the eve of Diwali, I was religiously sent off to our neighbours with a thali full of mithais, covered with a cloth napkin. And the celebrations would conclude with coughing all night from all that smoke.

You kids are lucky. You’re growing up in an age where you get more forwards than gifts on Diwali, unless you’re the son of the baap who owns the road you drive on. Nothing warms the cockles of my heart more than a forwarded forward that goes round and round like unclaimed baggage on the luggage carousel. In the age of HBD and thnx, only a moron will bother typing festive wishes. Since the flavour of the season is animated gifs, by the end of Diwali week I had collected enough to fill the Milky Way with flickering Diyas and animated Lakshmi jees showering me with blessings and teen patti winnings.

And I don’t even play cards!

Monday, October 17, 2016

After Every Durga Pujo A new Child Prodigy is Born

Image courtesy - SantaBanta

It’s that time of the yaar again when sweaty Bengalis converge under makeshift tents and try to clog their arteries with cholesterol from Moglai porotas, kobirajis, cutlets and bhaja bhuji fried in oil as old as the dinosaurs. Since it’s strictly for religious purposes, they expect Maa Durga to vanquish acidity, loose motion and clogged arteries just like that dark-skinned Mahisashura. As you daintily nibble off the meat from the kosha mangsho, you can feast your eyes on sombre looking men sashaying in panjabis embellished with smiling owls and boudis in stunning dhakais and blouses as deep as the Grand Canyon.

Durga Pujo is a Bangali’s own Woodstock. It’s a non-stop 4 day binge-fest where you sleep little, eat lots and hop from one pandal to another like a Duracell charged bunny. While evenings are a happy mishmash of hogging, ogling, lovingly pushing each other to get a closer look of the protima, soaking in calchaar as you tap your feet to latest hits by Miss Jojo and doing adda till the wee hours, mornings are serious business when you actually offer prayers to the Goddess. Also, this is when you get to observe the Bangali Maa (BAM) unleash the Durga(the warrior goddess) in her as she puts the chomchom of her eyes on the stage, where he can stun his paraa(neighbourhood) with his many talents.

We Bangalis are not content with being good at just one thing and this is firmly ingrained in us right from the time we are born. As a toddler if you loved tearing pages of the books from the shelves, you were promptly declared a Tagore in the making. Your baby gibberish was unlike anything your parents had before – it had a haunting lyrical quality to it. Your Thamma had the gut feeling that you’ll be as graceful as Ananda Shankar as she bounced you on her tummy while chanting dhei dhei nachhe nachhe. By the time you picked up the pen on your annaprashan, it was a forgone conclusion that you’ll be a world renowned scholar. Then they name you ‘Hablee’ ‘Godon’ ‘Natoo’ ‘Goga’ and you have no choice but develop a sense of humour to survive this cruel world.

How long can you hold back this child prodigy who can paint like Jamini Roy and lisps the most profound observations about life! So, he takes his first baby steps dressed as a clock for the fancy dress competition on shoshtee during Pujo. His Mom who spent days foraging for cardboard and turning into a grandfather clock is an anxious wreck as she watches her Hablee recite tic toc, aami clock that she composed especially for him. She’s always known he’s the best. It’s time the world accepted it as well. Just like her own Mom had known. She spent her growing up years proving her right, bent pensively on stage as Chandalika, reciting Nazrool’s poetry in a quivering voice and won the first prize for it.

Now here lies the catch. All BAMs are convinced that the chomchom of their eyes deserves to win a prize if not the first. After all she has been preparing him for months! By the time Hablee finally learns chronicles of Hatimatimtim by heart, the whole house including Cecelia, their hired help from Jharkhand can recite it in her sleep. If you dare deny his Mom the coveted prize, you risk having her do a surgical strike, her eyes flaming with unbridled fury, her back glistening with sweat from the exertion of having to push so many women to grab the second prize at musical chairs. The last time Rana Chatterjee, cultural secretary of Pujo committee tried to reason with her, he saw her explode like Samsung Galaxy Note 7 right before his eyes. He could sleep normally only after several visits to his therapist.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bharat and Pak – It’s So Damn Complicated!


It’s complicated – the relationship between Bharat-Bhushan and Pak Begum. It’s been over 67 years since BaaP broke up, yet Begum Pee continues to behave like a jilted ex. Guess, Pee never forgave Bharat for getting custody of their beti, Kishmish even though it was she who chose to stay with Pitajee. You can call them the original Brangelina, all jaanu-shaanu when together and throwing bartans and belans at each after they went their separate ways.

Bharat’s ex has made it her life’s mission to raise his BP to Himalayan heights by engaging in a bitter custody battle over their love child Kishmish, each accusing the other of abuse and neglect. Interestingly when they meet they behave as if they’ll patch-up any minute, going mwah mwah, singing ‘aman ki aasha’ in dulcet tones. But the moment Bharat turns his back, Pee turns into a demented chudail, constantly orchestrating covert attacks and creating pressure in BB’s nose (naak mein dum). B Bhushan responds with lots of angry condemnations and running to Uncle Sam to complain. It’s the same story every time. Pee continues to attack Bharat and his brood grievously while he’s all kadhi ninda and no action. These days Begum has become even more daring with the backing of her new boyfriend, Mr Chin Chin. Even Kishmish has also been acting all angsty like a pimply teen and constantly throws tantrums because she wants azadi. Kids, I tell you!

Sadly for Pak, the same story decided enough is enough and refused to repeat itself. This unusual occurrence was triggered by yet another behind the back, sneaky assault that had Bharat’s brood led by Angry Goswami (his favourite son) and social media warriors baying for her blood. Fierce battles were fought on Twitter and Facebook. Cunning war strategies were formulated on Facebook walls, nuclear submarines were deployed and fighter aircrafts roared out of hangars on Twitter timelines and brutal jokes were made to shame Begum Pee once and for all.

Bharat Bhushan goaded by the bloodcurdling cries of netizens FINALLY decided to retaliate with a stinging counter-attack that’s so covert that even his bacchas are not aware of it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DJ wale Babu zara volume badhaa do!

We Indians love noise as much as we love our gais and demonstrate our dogged devotion to both by driving others mad. Why, we are even ready to kill if someone refuses to share our fervour for our object of affection with the same passion! Wasn’t it in Vasant Kunj where a gym owner killed his neighbour because he complained of the loud music playing at his gym?

One man’s headache maybe another man’s music but how dare he point that out and spoil the fun!

Well, I’ve often felt like killing myself at the gym instead of waiting for some irate Jaat to do the honours. Especially when I’ve heard ‘clap your hands now, you motherfucker’! at least 5 times during my workout interspersed with grunts from the hulk next to me trying to lift weights double his own. Thanks to this elevating experience, I’ve mastered my Nagin look, the same one that Sridevi gave Amrish Puri.
Google Images
But only after I’ve whined about the limited, unimaginative playlist to the management. They as usual have no clue as to what I’m talking about. I’m often brushed off as a pesky fly.

The scary bit is that the same playlist is shared by the world and its aunt. So, you get to hear Honey Singh woo his kudi namkeenaa, ambraan di queenaa, at the Pub, club, blaring from the water-park in the vicinity, neighbourhood shaadi sharing their joy via loudspeakers, and the party hosted by a dear friend. Sometimes I get so confused that I actually jiggle my hips in a drunken stupor at the gym and try to do push-ups at the hottest new brewery playing stale hits. By the end of the year, I’ve intimate knowledge of Mr Singh’s weird notion of romance that entails meeting kudi namkeena’s daddy so that his future son-in-law can tell him ‘Bas jitna aapki beti ek mahine mein udati hai, ek hafte me meri gaadi utna tel khaati hai!’ (keep your daughter away from me because I’m an asshole) Wow, how can any woman resist this charmer!

But isn’t that the beauty of music that catches the public’s fancy. It’s not a superhit till it drives you to the brink of lunacy. The first time you hear it, you nod your head with approval, much like a Kathakali dancer. The next few times you enjoy it and even try humming along with it. But when it starts stalking you wherever you go, whatever you do, you scream nahiiiin like a Bollywood Mom of yore who has lost her sons at a mela.
Google images

Friday, September 9, 2016

An Open Letter to all by a hurt Ms Baigan

Not so dear all,

Till a few days back I was just a Baigan, sitting on a rack, waiting for you to take me home, mash me, pulp me and devour me with relish. I suffered in silence even when you rubbed me with oil and put me on fire to roast in my own juices. I even put up with smelly onion and too-much-blusher-tomato because I wanted you to like me the way you like that squishy paneer. Oh, don’t you for a moment think I didn’t notice the look of tenderness when you picked her up and surveyed her lovingly, your drool moistening your lips! Yet, I looked on stoically, with a stone placed on my heart.

I know I am no superfood. I’m dark, plump and a veggie with many names – aubergine, eggplant, brinjal, baigan, begoon… But tell me, what did I do to deserve to become the butt of your merciless jokes and bad puns!



Mind it, I will never forgive Durex for besmirching my spotless reputation by announcing ‘spicy baigan’ flavoured condoms. Just as Mother Teresa’s Holy Spirit was getting canonised at the Vatican and demonised by the republic of Twitter, Durex got this brainwave to sexify me.



Durex, do you even realize that this mindless sexification of the baigan in pursuit of fame and riches has ruined my life forever! Had I been an American I would have sued you for millions of dollars for emotional distress. My besties Tinda, Tauri and Lauki have stopped talking to me after my new found notoriety. The other day when I accidently brushed against Tinds, she spat out – Who do you think you are, Sunny Leone! My sweetie pie, potato no longer responds to my loving overtures. Not even when I croon, aloo, is it me you’re looking for? *Please insert a plaintive wail here for added effect* Heartbroken, I tried line-maroing cauilflower who I had bro-zoned recently. When I whispered 'gobhi gobhi mere dil mein khayal ataa hai', he pretended to de deaf. Only that luchha lafanga Karela sent me a sext that read – aati kya Khandala! Like any sanskari baigan I proceeded to feel cheap and washed myself in Dettol twice.

 Now even Kela and Kheera won’t talk to me for stealing their limelight. Le sigh!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Wrapped or Unwrapped, Women Will be Rapped Either Way

Image Courtesy - www.independent.co.uk


Till a few days back I was madly applauding the ban on Burkini imposed by France on its beaches in the Riviera. Since I fancy myself as more of a doer than a talker, I quickly started compiling a rather long list of unwearables that our junta insists on turning into beachwear that should be banned. For too long I have been traumatised by the sight of portly men flaunting their hairy selves in striped kachhas, snug boxers and demure women taking a dip in the ocean in their saris that promptly turn into parachutes. In fact, on my last visit to Hardwar which was a few decades back, I saw so many ladies bathing in just their petticoats tied over their ample bosoms that I exclaimed ‘Hey Ram’ and died. Haunted, I never went back for another pilgrimage.

Unfortunately my burkini ban euphoria did not last long. The ban was suspended by France's highest administrative court that’ll rather uphold fundamental freedoms than let the government go by its whims. Tcchh…had it been India, these men in wigs would have been charged with sedition and declared anti-nationals. Don’t they know it’s the state that gets to decide what should offend us? It’s pretty simple - what offends them should offend us and if that offends you, GO TO HELL, YOU SCUMBAGS! Oh, and the state also gets to decide what and where hell is.

After I was done with outraging, I changed sides since I prefer remaining on the right side of political correctness. The world is a stage and of what use are my acting skills if I can’t flip my emotions like an omelette on a pan. So, right now I am busy yayying for the French courts for acting in favour of liberty and equality. Why should only men get to decide that we are better off when covered up! Also, if women feel they should be free to expose without inviting judgement, they should also be free to slip into a garment that the world had no idea about till a ban was imposed on it. So, if certain femmes want to wear bikinis at hill stations, I will support their right even it means freezing to death. Don’t Delhi women dress in tiny summery dresses in biting winters and live to tell the tale? Or prefer death by sweating in black tights under a black dress in searing summers to save themselves from the ogle fest every time they step out?

Needless to say, this landmark judgement has come as a huge relief to a certain section of men who have always believed that an ideal woman should dress in a shroud to live a long uneventful life. Women who dress in flimsy, fashionable clothing deliberately provoke men into harassing them, who sometimes insert rods inside their vaginas and butcher their bodies for fun. So it is only natural that men protect themselves by banning women from their sight. Look what happened at Haji Ali. Women with breasts were deliberately bending over while praying, forcing men into having unholy thoughts and distracting them from their destined path of greatness.

What I don’t get is, if men are so fascinated by breasts, why don’t they try growing a pair of their own!

Had Dipa Karmakar attempted the death defying Produnova vault in a demure salwar-kameez and not that shameful one piece garment, she would have felt more comfortable winning a bronze. Had PV Sindhu smashed her way to the Badminton finals in a sari, and not that tiny skirt, she would have done our rich Indian culture proud. Does Sakshi know that by flaunting those amazing biceps, she has closed doors on lucrative matrimonial offers! Who will marry her now? Worse still, who will risk arguing with her? Tell tell!

So please instead of shooing off devout Muslim women in their Burkinis from beaches, let them feel comfortable covered from head to toe!

Monday, August 8, 2016

OMG, beta, you’ve become darker and uglier!


Growing up as a girl is tough. We have to fend off leery advances from unknown men in public spaces even though we don't fully understand what's going on. We are expected to be paragons of virtue because someone somewhere decided without even consulting us that women are meant to be the pride of the family. On top of that we have to face a battalion of aunties who constantly judge us as if we are part of a beauty pageant. God forbid if you're not fair and lovely, you are constantly reminded of it, as if it was your damn fault! They could be fat, ugly themselves but that doesn’t stop those aunties from passing snarky comments about your appearance.

Interestingly the boys are spared this agony. They could be gangly, pimply, with a hook nose, yet they were handsome princes according to their Moms. We had no such luck.

As you would have guessed by now, I was thin, dark, gawky and not conventionally “good looking” as a child through her teens. I hated the shape of my nose. My brother would often make sketches to illustrate what exactly was wrong with it. I wish I had thinner lips and would often experiment with ‘pursed lips’ look hoping it would make me look pretty. Everyone around me seemed prettier. Unfortunately I was not even spectacularly good in academics to make up for my lack of comely charms.

I had a mirror at home. I knew exactly how I looked and tried not to be too bothered about it. In fact I was a pretty happy child. It seemed it bothered others a lot. I had no dearth of concerned aunts who’d fret about how tanned I had become and how beautiful my Mom was and then glance at me in meaningful silence. Since this was a yearly ritual, I tried my best to turn into carbon. People often ask me where and how I got my sense of humour. Well, it’s time to reveal it all. I developed it at a very young age as a defence tactic. I used it to counter hurt. When on a sunny lazy vacation afternoon an aunt told me that I’d get married only because I had beautiful feet, I told her I’ll ask a burqa to adopt me and make sure the world wouldn’t have to see the rest of me. She of course didn’t get the joke.

As a gawky adolescent still hungry for approval from strangers, I believed every single one of them. Each snarky comment disguised as concern stung like hell. But I made sure I never gave anyone the satisfaction of knowing that they had managed to dent my self-esteem. Sometimes I felt there was a contest going on amongst Moms, each trying convince others that their child was the best thing to have happened to humanity by putting the rest of us down. As usual, we kids were caught in the crossfire. So, when a colleague of my Mom would rue about my lack of height, ma would enrol me for swimming or make me hang from a cold iron rod first thing in the morning, hoping I’d stretch like chewing gum. I spent most of my time at the pool chatting with hot didis lamenting about their voluptuous thighs. I refused to hang like a baboon from that rod after the first day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dear Gurgaon, It's time you accepted your fate and drowned in a pothole



Also published here 

Residents of Gurgaon took to social media to vent their anger after the city and its millions cars came to a grinding halt to a gridlock that lasted 20 hours. Triggered by heavy rains followed by flooding, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook were full of horrifying accounts of thirsty, hungry and angry commuters stuck in an ocean of muddy water and bumper to bumper traffic.

Predictably everyone donned their Grrgroan avatar and took to blaming civic bodies and the Khattar led government of happening Haryana. Haryana government took instant action and promptly blamed Kejriwal government for its watery woes. The CM went a step ahead and announced 1812 projects, that he has no intentions of implementing, to make Gurgaon great again. The civic authorities as usual had no clue what they were being blamed for. Especially when a lot of them are supposed to be doing the same job yet no one has a clear idea about the exact nature of their responsibilities. The sweet fellas they are, they promised they will make sure this will never happen again, like they did in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012…..

What’s perplexing is this lashing from the public. It’s not as if the city that fancies itself as millennial hasn’t sunk in murky waters before. It’s not as if countless articles have not been written about a nightmare called Gurgaon and promptly forgotten the next day. It’s not as if promises have not been made and then broken. In fact we love this predictable pattern so much, we make sure we repeat it year after year. Who doesn’t love driving gingerly through swirling waters and miles of honking traffic in the company of irate drivers with murder in their minds after a stressful day at office! It gives an adrenalin rush that no bungee jumping can match.

This time though was slightly different though. The traffic refused to budge, like concrete with more cement than sand. But what is shocking is that Gurgaon residents who are still not sure whether they live in Gurgaon or Gurugram expect accountability from those supposedly in charge. They felt let-down when they saw no help in sight. Silly people, all you had to do was call a cow helpline and say moo and the gau-rakshak squad would have appeared miraculously and given a sound thrashing to everyone responsible for your plight!

Or better still, followed the traffic police advisory offering a simple solution to Millennium city’s woes - ‘Don’t come to Gurgaon.’ If you are unfortunate enough to be in Gurgaon, don’t step out, dammit!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Death by Humidity

Courtesy - Google images

The last few weeks my hair has been behaving like Salman Khan (and his many controversies). It simply refuses to settle down. On a good hair day I look like Sai Baba (the one who dazzled his devotees by fishing out gold chains from his armpits). On a bad hair day I look like I have been freshly electrocuted. In fact if I can perfect my roaring skills, I can be easily mistaken for Lion King.

Gurgaon weather has become a copycat. It has started mimicking Kolkata’s horrible humidity. The type where there’s so much moisture in the air that you start resembling an Amazonian forest in full bloom. Your back hasn’t seen a dry day since May and you alternate between taking a shower in salty water that your body generates and water from the showerhead. Even the tiniest physical activity like a walk to the neighbourhood veggie store makes your body weep and you leave behind not footprints but tiny puddles. Unfortunately, Gurgaon is yet to adopt Kolkata’s lack of work culture where everyone treats work with disdain and prefers engaging in heated debates about Spain’s economic crisis in between sips of chaa and leisurely naps.

The good thing is that this muggy weather has taken care of my vanity. I avoid looking at the mirror at all costs – don’t want to see a hair-framed glistening blob of oil staring back at me. I’m not exactly doing my heart a favour when I scream a loud nahiiiiiiiiin and it races faster than Usain Bolt. Sometimes I have so many oil deposits on my face that I fear the all new fearless America led by Trump will invade me.

It has also turned me deeply religious. I am either praying to the Rain gods to relent and wash us away with its bounties or turn me into a plant so that I can soak in the joys of humidity.

Even god prefers multiple options.

Since I have started resembling a leaky faucet, I have decided to put myself to good use. If I have to move furniture in the house, I simply sit on it and wait patiently for my sweat to start working its magic. Ten minutes later when I get up the chair is firmly stuck to me a like a baby kangaroo to its mom, ready to move to newer plains. If I spot stains on the glass windows of our 16th floor apartment, I hang upside down like a bat and start rubbing my back against it till it becomes squeaky clean. I no longer reach out for the salt shaker when I discover our cook has forgotten to season the dal yet again. I simply stir it with my little finger. I have offered my services to Moms who are looking to scare their kids for not listening to them. I discovered this hidden talent when I semi-glared at a kid who wouldn’t stop fiddling with the control buttons inside the lift. One look at me and he clung to his Mom like fungus, his eyes shut in fear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hello beautiful, you sent me out of control!

Also published here  

Courtesy - www.mensxp.com
Indians often take flak for being among the least friendly. This disturbs me deeply because it’s far from being true. Granted, most of us would rather stare intently at our phone than make polite talk when in close proximity with strangers. If an unfamiliar person smiles at us, we immediately start speculating about their mental health. It’s more a genetic thing. Somebody forgot to tell us smiling is not taxable. Pushing, jostling and snarling come naturally to us. When we are driving, our middle finger is permanently raised and our cuss vocabulary will make even hardened criminals turn a deep shade of beetroot red. But in no way does it reflect our lack of friendliness. Okay, maybe not all of us are walking embodiments of congeniality. But our men more than make up for it with their friendly overtures towards the opposite sex.


Ask any woman and she will vouch for it. The time she made eye contact with her colleague as she laughed at his joke – and he promptly started making plans for their weekend getaway. Or the slightly tipsy woman at the pub who smiled at the wall and now it won’t stop pestering her for her number. Or the man she met at the party, enjoyed talking to him, even shared her number and now he texts her, ‘Sweeties, I miss you, lets meat!’ 55 times a day. Grrr!

Interestingly the not so single men she encounters are invariably the sweet ole chap victimised by the shrewish wife. By some strange miraculous coincidence ALL of them claim to be married to a woman who does not understand them at all. He’s just a lonely hardware looking for a software upgrade. Tch tch..

So now you know why the Indian woman is a tad grim-faced compared to her male counterpart. As a girl growing up, we felt the pinch of skewed sex ratio in crowded marketplaces, in the first bus we took, at the local tailoring outfit where our 13 year old self felt puzzled by the elderly darzi’s strange touch. Pretty soon we developed a snarl, a well-aimed shove with our elbow, a dead fish look to keep strange men’s unwanted advances under control. We discovered that the male has a strange manner of appreciating female beauty. When we walk on the road, we realise we are more effective than the traffic light at the intersection to make cars and scooters slow down. The helpful Samaritans they are, they offer us a ride not once but again and again. Dear Delhi police, I’m not sure why you’re wasting money on traffic lights, when all you need is a comely femme preferably in shorts, to bring traffic to a grinding halt. Some men become so consumed by passion that their grey cells trigger an avalanche of emotions and send furious signals to important body parts. Their hand reaches out for the motherboard, their genitals and they start scratching violently. Their mouth starts generating copious amounts of saliva which they respectfully direct at our feet. The vocal ones prefer making strange noises that closely resemble the mating call of chimpanzees. Good to know they are in no hurry to forget their ancestors! But this is also a highly evolved species that does not let a woman’s age, weight, skin colour, political leanings, dietary preferences, schooling, family background or the lack of it, hold them back. In fact they treat all of us with equal lust and are in turn treated by all of us with equal disgust.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Unbearable Burden of Being a Class XII Student in India

Image courtesy www.careerindia.com
If you are a parent of a teen who has just appeared for her board exams, you will know exactly what it feels like when the results are about to be declared. It’s like waiting for your own results. Only this time, you are not a carefree teen but a worry-wart adult plagued by ifs and buts and what will the world and its aunt think if your child scores an abysmal 85%. Even Mrs Chatterjee’s useless son scored a 97%! Oh, the triumphant look in her eyes when she distributed sweets in the neighbourhood. Too bad she got the mithai from a third rate halwai.

The thing is, we all seem to think scoring in 90’s is a breeze, till it’s your own teen’s turn to appear for her boards. It’s then you find out how much pressure we put on our kids by making abnormally high scores the new normal. Fact is only those who score high share it on social media. The rest keep mum. Consider this. Out of a total of 1,067,900 candidates registered for this year for class 12 exam, 89,000 students scored more than 90% in aggregate. Which means only 8% managed to breach the 90’s barrier. 

So, where does it leave the remaining 92%? Why don’t we talk about them? Why don’t newspapers follow their life journeys and come out with reassuring stories that scoring ‘low’ was not the end of their life? I wish more and more parents would tell their children that marks secured in exams do not define them. A child who obtains 78% may have a better grasp of a select few subjects and the ones who score a 99% may simply be able to memorise better. Many school teachers have mastered training their students in the art of answering correctly. Plus, the structure of the question papers is such that some students can work around the format and get high scores. Your exam score is certainly not the only indicator of your intelligence or the lack of it.

They will tell you high scores let you pick and choose the subject and college of your choice. Sadly this is not always true. When anyone who does reasonably well in exams opts for a handful of courses in a handful of premier colleges, there’s a mad scramble for their limited seats and not everyone manages to get in.  It’s quite likely that after battling stress and anxiety and studying for 12 hours a day for months, you secure 95% and will still not get into the college of your choice.

It’s not your fault. You did your best. But so did 7,000 odd students who scored above 95%.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Indian man and his love affair with his boxers


Also published here - >

Not so long ago the Indian Aunty discovered an unhindered, unclasped and drawstringless existence in her nightie. In this stifling world of patriarchy that’s constantly trying to suffocate her with its custom-made list of do’s and don’ts and only-meant-for-her morality, she found liberation in this one piece wonder garment. She boldly turned it into a cool daywear that smelt mostly of sweat and spices.

What the Indian woman does today, her male counterpart thinks of tomorrow. Even as she was outgrowing her fascination for this tent-like apparel and switching over to no-nonsense tracks and tee, the Indian man went ahead and found boxers. True, the lungi discovered him much earlier. But a garment that parts willingly at the slightest hint of a gust or lust can have hazardous consequences for the beholder, especially female. Unlike the male that gets excited at the slightest show of limb and imagines the rest of the anatomy, the female is more horrified than filled with desire as she espies upon his lush Amazonian foliage on his limbs and upwards.

The boxer in its cottony soft splendour is its perfect substitute. It comes with cute fly buttons that do a fairly competent job of containing his excitement. Unlike boring trousers, boxers come in bold colours, graffiti, floral and cartoon prints that let him express his naughty side. Its dangerously short length ensures it keeps the beholder’s pulse racing. You never know which part of his appendage will pop out this time.

Understandably, he fell for it hook, line and sinker and like his female counterpart set out to conquer the world in it. While mankind elsewhere continues to wear it as a roomy undergarment, the Bhartiya bhaisahab has turned it into a versatile pair of shorts that can fit into any role he wants. One day it’s a cool gym wear as he huffs and puffs on the treadmill in it. Never mind the incredulous look a certain lady named Purba running on the machine next to him continues to give. Perhaps he mistakes it for adoration. Ever since he was a baby boy his mother made him believe he was the best thing to have happened to womankind. And mothers are always right.

As he prowls around the gym constantly checking out his imaginary biceps and rotund belly, he realises the boxers need to travel more of the world with him. He turns it into resort wear, evening by the pool wear, ‘let me have breakfast in it at a public place’ wear. He knows his good looks and charms can turn even an ordinary chaddi into a fashion statement.

Don’t know why Adidas, Nike and their ilk spend millions on Climacool technology. The Indian man doesn’t need any technology sheknology. He can keep his cool in his boxers. No wonder he’s not scared of global warming. He’s ready to face it in his chaddis.

Monday, May 9, 2016

How to be a true Patriot

Also published here 
Image courtesy - Hinduphobe Purba Ray

With the advent of the great leader who can do no wrong but is always wronged, India’s timeline can now be divided into BAD (before acche din) days and SAD (super achhe din) days. During BAD days being a patriot was like being a blogger. Anybody could be one as long as you were Indian. It helped if you loved almost all things Indian, swore by Bollywood, supported the Indian cricket team by heckling Pakistani cricketers on field, looked for Indian restaurants (usually called Taj Mahal) when on a foreign trip and not complain when you ended up with diarrhoea the next day. Since we were governed by a corrupt dynasty, it was perfectly okay to fret about the country’s future which seemed to be wandering aimlessly like a cow in the city. We’d often critique the lawmakers who’d break laws with impunity and crack a few jokes at their expense even if it meant going to jail. 

Despite all misgivings, candle marches and angry Facebook posts against all that we felt was wrong with our country, we could take her love for granted. It was a ‘tedha hai paar mera hai’ kind of love.

Not anymore. Now that our great leader has banished all evil with a flick of his finger and even taken selfies while doing it, we are living the SAD days. This is the golden era where everyone’s tolerant towards each other and their beliefs, debate is actively encouraged and we can express what we feel without getting lynched by trolls online. Yet, there’s a section of ungrateful citizens who think otherwise. They create controversies by finding faults in our faultless leaders, return awards that nobody’s heard of and write scathing articles questioning our elected, to spread dissent.

This cannot be tolerated, especially by proud Indians.

So, they have decided to take matter into their own capable hands and made patriotism the new Maggi. Like Maggi, patriotism has to pass stringent quality tests, but can still be declared suspect at the slightest slight that can be imagined as insulting to Mata B. The MSG is clear, Mata’s affection cannot be taken for granted. It now comes with terms and conditions. We have to prove our love again and again to not one but a rising number of hyper-nationalists who are crawling out like termites from woodwork.

Mata is now behaving like a bombshell who demands unquestioning devotion while you place her on the pedestal and worship her. Like any complete package, if you adore her, it is your duty to pay obeisance to her Daddies in saffron and her many pets who spend an awful lot of time barking. Dare you have reservations against her many Daddies, you are obviously a moronic Hinduphobe traitor.

Beam them to Pakistan, Scottie! Or is it Satyaveer now?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Why Do People Find It So Tough To Be Kind To Others?

Courtesy - quickmememe.com 

A friend while driving got hit by a car that appeared out of nowhere. When he saw the car slow down he braced himself for a lengthy altercation; a norm in the NCR. People would rather kill or prefer dying than admit it was their fault. Just as he was rolling up his sleeves and taking deep breaths, the fellow got out and apologised profusely for his rash driving. When he offered to pay for damages, my friend couldn’t believe his ears.

A common courtesy in any part for the world but certainly not in Gurgaon.

In a city where everyone’s is always in a rush but no one ever reaches on time, we are forever engaged in mortal combat. We push, step on each other’s feet, honk louder, raise our middle finger and are ready to snap at even the slightest provocation. Rarely do we stop to let someone else pass at a busy intersection. We are like raging bulls, ready to charge at anyone who dares challenge us. When an odd soul does stop to let other raging bulls pass, let the hassled lady take the coveted parking-spot, all he gets is a dead fish look. The husband makes it a point to hold the doors of the elevators for women with kids in our apartment building, yet I’ve seen no one turn around to give him a grateful smile.

It’s as if saying thank you and sorry is a bigger sin than hurling expletives at strangers.

I get it, you’ve had a bad day. Your new boss is a fire breathing dragon and a blood sucking vampire rolled into one. The last time you got a bonus was before the big bang. And your girlfriend who can’t even spell loser just called you a looser. Of course you are &*%#&*)&$ mad! And the only way you can restore order is by making random people around you (usually lower in social hierarchy) as miserable as you are. Who in turn dutifully pass on their angst to yet another hapless soul. Sooner than you can say ‘tere baap kaa…,’ the world around you is like a cauldron of negativity. You hold your aching head in your hand and wonder, why is everyone one around me so nasty?

It’s like being stuck in traffic and complaining about it. Dude, you are the traffic!

Add to it a strange persisting mentality that equates aggressiveness as a show of power and niceness as a sign for ‘come trample all over me and take advantage’. So it comes as no surprise why people are almost afraid of being nice.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Gurgaon Gets a Behenjee Avatar – Gurugram

Image courtesy - Rapidleaks.com

For long Gurgaon was chhoree Gurgawan, a behenjee who loved spending time with buffaloes and her Jaat bhais. Once a year during winter, her glamorous cousins Dilli Billis would visit her and frolic away in her many picnic spots. She didn’t mind her uneventful life before fairy godfather DLF and her many cronies set their sight on her and decided she was their future bright. Thus began her grooming, intense sessions at the gym and shopping for a hip wardrobe. Before she could say ‘kay chal rahya se’, she had transformed into a glam diva with a BPO accent. She was now Ms Gurgaon who mwah mwahed with global Fortune 500 companies and sipped Chianti as she swayed to Yo Yo Honey Singh. Dilli Billis could not believe that their behen in two oily plaits was now being wooed by the rich and the famous. The same men who had sworn their undying love for Dilli a few moons back. And why not? Compared to the billis, she looked shiny, new and so full of life. She had willingly shed her rural past and turned up her snooty nose at her cousins Kaphasera, Dundhahera, Bhondsi and Jharsa. Her new friends had fancy names like Jacaranda, Veranda, Harmonica and Magnolia and looked like Victoria Secret’s willowy models from a distance.

Her mercurial rise took many by surprise. She was rich and powerful in no time.

Besotted by her good looks and flirtatious charms, many moved into her welcoming arms dreaming of a rosy happily ever after. Alas, the happily ever after lasted as long as a made in China product. It didn’t take long for them to realise, her glamour and sophistication was just skin deep. Beneath the layers of makeup and designer threads lay a pockmarked, misshapen, unruly, uncouth chhoree. Initially they dismissed her frequent blackouts, wild ways and almost non-existent hospitality as teething problems. They tried their best to ignore the heebie-jeebies she gave them when they were out alone late at night.

Like any loyal lover, they were not willing to give up so easily on her. She was after all their lugai who could not be ditched. They protested, fought relentlessly and demanded she be set right. They had after all lavished their love and riches on her and all they got was disappointment and stress.

It was difficult to come to terms with harsh reality. Was she was just a cauliflower pretending to be a flower?

Monday, April 4, 2016

I shop till my mouse says, please stop!

Image courtesy - indiatoday.intoday.in


Spending money is addictive, especially when you don’t have it. And who knows it better than Vijay Mallya! In this age of buy now, pay later or get beaten up by bank agents for defaulting, it’s tough not to succumb to the joys of shopping; the shortcut to instant happiness. It doesn’t help that the only thing stopping my impulsive buying urges is my will-power which is as weak as the Indian cricket team’s bowling order. I take solace from the fact that I am not engaging in wanton behaviour. On the contrary I’m fulfilling my social responsibility towards the downtrodden community of retailers and propping up the country’s GDP. The only way I can uplift them is by buying everything I don’t want. It’s easier to get Hrithik and Kangana to patch up than convince a woman that she has everything she needs for the next half a century. In fact the world of commerce thrives on our insatiable hunger. While the unevolved male of the species is content with a blue shirt in stripes, checks and plain, we cannot rest in peace till we have it in midnight blue, azure blue, navy blue, powdered blue, peacock blue and indigo. To make it worse, there’s the maddening variety of frills, snug fit, blouson, scoop-back, halter, polo, front-detailing to choose from. And the male has the audacity to wonder why we take so long to shop!

There was a time in my life when I thought I had achieved the unachievable. The very thought of going to a mall would made me sick. It wasn’t always like this. When shopping malls first started mushrooming in Gurgaon, they were the coolest place to hang out, literally! Rows of stores in swanky air-conditioned buildings with clean restrooms were a welcome change from Karol Bagh where you had to search for a deserted bye-lane every time your child wanted to pee. One could spend hours ambling through floors and floors of decadence and follow it with up a movie and dinner.

It didn’t take too long to discover, malls are like cathedrals. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. All of them have the same set of stores, the same aroma of stale popcorn and a sad corner selling donuts. Irrespective of the shopping mall’s location, its uppity quotient and parking challenges, there’s no way you can avoid the holy triumvirate of ‘Adidas/Nike/Reebok, Pantaloons and McDonalds.’

Monday, March 28, 2016

Are You a Hyper Tourist ?

Image courtesy - viewmixed.com

Travelling has the knack of bringing out the abnormal in us. It can either turn us into lazy bums or into the hyper tourist. Of late HT has acquired something of a badass reputation from the breed that prefers to distinguish itself from the hoi-polloi and calls itself a traveller. The traveller will try to immerse himself in the local culture. S/he shuns the comforts of hotels, bathes sparingly, takes a snooze in a cave and licks ant-chutney off the same plate with tribals s/he has just befriended. The HT on the other hand would rather stay in their comfort zone, on the beaten track and in areas where the amenities are similar to what they have at home if not better.

Unlike the traveller who takes off on a whim with just a backpack, the hyper-tourist plans their itinerary like a war strategy. The destination is selected after much deliberation, intense research on the World Wide Web and discussions with other specimens with ample experience of straying. This is followed by further research on familiarising oneself with the new habitation, usually by the female. Pretty soon the female has acquired a formidable collection of anything that starts with ‘top ten’. It can range from ‘must visits, must not visit, hotels – cheap and expensive, local food that give you stomach cramps, bargain haunts, hidden gems that’s public knowledge.’ The more adventurous the female is, the thicker the folder becomes.

Spotting this peculiar type is easy. They stand out like a sore thumb dressed in sneakers and anything that doesn’t go with it. The female carries a handbag large enough to fit a dead body. The male of the species lugs around a camera the size of a Mumbai apartment. They can be seen striking funny poses and clicking anything that looks remotely interesting. It’s only later they discover that the heritage looking building they captured was in fact a urinal.

The femme has the propensity to suddenly go missing and leave her mate in a state of panic. She can be invariably found inside a swish looking store, surveying dresses, shoes and handbags, surreptitiously checking their price-tags and rolling her eyes in horror. Soon she’s seen moonwalking out of the store.

Their favourite activity is walking with a map in hand, looking lost or standing in front of Louvre and asking passers-by where Louvre is. Despite the extensive research that included weather patterns for the next 5 years before packing, they are either sweating or shivering in weather inappropriate clothing. Whatever made you think, weather is like humans that reads its horoscope and behaves accordingly. Of course, it has a mind of its own!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Reluctant Teacher

Also published on Huffington Post India

I come from a family of educationists. My Mom was a high school teacher, my Dad principal of a reputed public school. Yet, I had no desire to be part of this field. Like many others I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in life. My parents would try their best to sow the seeds of ambition in my head and failed spectacularly. I found studies dull, Maths terrifying. Decades later while going through my daughter’s textbooks I found out why. Textbooks prescribed by schools are written by academicians with an expertise in making even the most interesting topics mind-numbingly boring. If I had to quote an example of how not to write, I’d use school textbooks as examples.

It also makes you realise the importance of good teachers who rise above textbooks and ignite a passion for learning through inquisitiveness and exploration. Blessed are those to have teachers with the ability to think like a kid to get into their minds and make learning as exciting as it’s meant to be. Our children definitely do not need harsh men and women who never shy of castigating them for not being good enough. It’s not as if I did not have good teachers. In fact some of them have influenced me deeply. But I’ve also lost count of number of times when as a student I was shamed for asking a question that the teacher deemed silly, punished for arguing because it made her look bad in front of the class. I can still recall vividly the fear I felt in the pit of my stomach when my Math teacher approached me menacingly and slapped me on my face because I did not know the correct answer. I was in class V. I am sure she has forgotten me but I never forgave her.

Life has a way of making you eat your own words. Even though I was adamant I’d never get into this profession, I joined a school as faculty after my daughter was born. I’m not ashamed to admit that it was less for the love of teaching and more for the love of the work hours – because that allowed me to spend more time with her.

It’s not as if I hadn’t taught before but it was more as a hobby then. Just after I’d given my final year exams in college, I started teaching spoken English in a privately run management institute. As a fresh out of college girl, it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for my students. These were men and women eager to attain fluency in a language that’s an entry ticket into the swish circle of the corporate world. Walking up and down the classroom, I felt their exhilaration as I coaxed out their thoughts and views in freshly mastered words and phrases.

Years later when I walked into a roomful of 14 year olds, their eyes sparkling in anticipation of the many pranks they’ll get to play at my expense, I realised how much easier it was to teach students who were much older to me. Unlike last time, I could not take their attention for granted and had to work harder to get them as excited as I was about flowcharts and computer coding. Class after class as I shouted myself hoarse to be heard among students determined not to let the petite newcomputer teacher speak, I would recall my own schooldays when I did the same. This time I felt the new Economics teacher’s hurt as she ran out of class XII D that thought it was cool to rag her mercilessly and then brag about it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Frankly Speaking – the sure shot way of losing your social media friends

Also published on Huffington Post India

Sharing political and religious beliefs on social media is like airing your dirty laundry. It forces your ‘friends’ to show the true colours of their laundry as well. Once you wash your dirty laundry in the same lot as theirs, your pristine whites may get damaged for life. 

If you are tired of being a like enthusiast on Facebook and ‘hahaha good one’ samaritan on Twitter that everybody loves, I suggest you start sharing your beliefs on religion and politics. This is a foolproof method to awaken the dormant Arnab Goswami (ArG) in your dearest online friends. Beliefs, for the uninitiated, is like the softest, worn-out tee-shirt that you’ve held on to for years. All of us have one and we stubbornly refuse to let go of it even as it waits to be reborn as a duster or a mop. Slipping into its soft fabric is the closest we feel to our mother’s womb – where we felt safe from the heartless world of loudmouths. So, when an opinionated cretin’s grating voice such as yours infiltrates their warm, soft cocoon, their ArG comes out in full force.

Interestingly, this process will greatly facilitate in bringing out your own argumentative ArG as well. Pretty soon, we’ll be reduced to a hollering mass as we point fingers accusingly at each other, our eyes blazing with righteousness. Everybody will engage in the fine art of debating each other’s views by screaming more loudly.

The only way to counter your enemy is to behave exactly like them.


Before you begin this exercise, I suggest you develop paper thin skin by scrubbing yourself daily with dailies. The print media ensures we begin our day on a cheerful note by publishing reports on rapes, murders, ungrateful sloganeering students charged with sedition, Jats going on a rampage to show the government who the boss is. Once your skin has reached the correct level of bristliness, power your words with your supressed anger, imagine the audience as your spouse and start typing. Make sure each sentence ends with a string of exclamation marks longer than the Great Wall of China!!!! Be liberal with the usage of terms like pseudo-intellectuals, bhakts, right-wingers, anti-national, presstitute, or feminazi, depending on your favourite bias. Convincing yourself that everyone but you is a fool, helps greatly. Also, make sure you close your mind with a secure lock.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Decoding Amit Sharma, the man behind False Ceilings.




When you are part of the blogosphere, you discover a person through their blog. You end up associating them with emotions their words conjure. When I finally met Amit after years of following his blog, I had a stupid grin pasted on my face. Don’t blame me, blame him for writing a hilarious account of how a Gurgaonite enjoys monsoon amidst puddles and waterfalls while river-rafting in his car.

For those who do not know Amit, behind the easy humour lies a sensitive man with a dogged determination to bring his passion to fruition. In his case his first novel ‘False Ceilings’ that he wrote during his years in Manchester. If you are familiar with the functioning of the publishing world, you will be aware that the agony, heartburn, sleepless nights begins after you have submitted your manuscript. That’s when all the hard-work begins and only the fittest can survive the ‘agnipariksha’. I have yet to ask Amit if at any time he felt like Sita wanting the earth to open up and swallow him alive.

Good thing is, I have asked a few our friends to ask Amit a few cringe-worthy questions. I believe this exercise will help him trim down his list of Facebook friends.

Purba Ray: Once your book was out, you would have obviously asked blogger friends to review it. What were the weirdest reactions you got when you asked them?

Amit Sharma: To be honest, most of my Facebook and blogging friends were genuinely happy but there was an eccentric, unpredictable category. There was one guy who asked for a blurb so that he could decide whether he was interested or not. No congratulations, no hey-how-are-you? Just a cold reply. I sent him the blurb anyway. As expected, he refused as he didn’t fancy the genre. Then there were some who behaved as if I have asked them to kill the Queen of England. I was so amused by the airs and the noses pointed to the sky that I wanted to capture the moment somehow.

Besides my FB friends, I also approached a few bloggers unknown to me and book review websites. A majority of them never replied back, even after three follow-up mails. Piece of advice – If you are sending out your book to a reviewer you don’t know personally, read his previous reviews. A person who is physically incapable of moving his mouse pointer beyond a three star rating for any book on Goodreads (including the classics) will land your book in you-know-where. And some reviewers write such tacky reviews (and even have the audacity to ask for money) that you would be better off without them.

Kanchana Banerjee: Amit, you’ve dedicated your book to your demons. That’s quite a strange dedication, especially for the first book. Can you explain this? What are those demons and did writing the book exorcise them?

Amit Sharma: There is one character in the book that is based on my life experiences (clichéd, I know). But there is a point in the book where our paths fork out. He goes towards becoming someone that I always dreaded that I might turn into. And I go towards the real me who walked out of the abyss and refused the misery. It wasn’t easy to write him or any of the six main characters as the story is 60% true. Their relationship, their poison is true. I fought those demons to complete every page. And when I wrote the last page, it was like nailing a coffin shut. I always thought that I would never find enough courage to pull everything out of me. So, when I exorcised those demons, I laughed heartily and dedicated the book to them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why I Don’t Get ‘let us inside the Shani temple’ Kind of Activism

Also published on Huffington Post India
Pic Courtesy - IndianExpress.com

The last few years I have come across an evolving brand of feminism - women who are so proud to be a feminist that they’ll flaunt it like their newly acquired Birkin. Mostly hashtag feminists, they’ll mount the high horse of morality and slay anyone who disagrees with them. And then there is this other set that treats it like leprosy and cannot stop telling anyone who’s willing to listen - I am not a feminist, yaa. Please, please, don’t stop loving me! Here, let me post yet another cleavage shot to prove my point.

Little wonder I feel like a borderline feminist. I don’t relate to either of them. I felt acutely embarrassed when I didn’t get women outraging about women who keep a Karvachauth fast to be able to remain a Mrs for the rest of their life. Had it been to protest against its blatant commercialisation, I would have happily joined in. I mean this is the time when salons, jewellery and sari stores do roaring business and women get to strut their stuff in embellishments bright enough to light up Times Square, right? But calling it a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women hungry and at the mercy of their husbands is a little too much to digest. If she can starve for an upcoming wedding, or to fit into her new skinnies, why not for a man and also get to make him feel guilty as hell!

If we expect men to respect the life choices we make, why can’t we respect another woman’s choice to starve for her husband’s long life! Remember, all good men are either married or gay and one of them happens to be your spouse.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Women are from the Kitchen, Men are from I-can’t

Also Published on Huffington Post India


www.nairaland.com

I love watching cooking shows on TV. For every Nigella who clogs a thousand arteries as she adds a mammoth cube of butter to the bubbling sauce, there’s a Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Vikas Khanna, Heston Blumenthal vying for our tastebud’s attention. In the world of star chefs with cult following, there are more men than women shining bright in the galaxy. Yet, in real life, men who cook (other than fixing Maggi) are as rare a sight as Modi in India. Imagine being invited over for dinner by your friends and you see the husband slogging away at the kitchen while the wife regales you with stories! In all probability your eyes will pop out in surprise, much like a champagne cork.

Of course there do exist men who love to cook for themselves and their family, but they are more an exception than the norm. I am lucky to be married to the exception. When I tell my friends he’s a fabulous cook and I get to have breakfast in bed on weekends, I get the ‘you must be kidding’ look from them. Interestingly, you’ll hardly hear any man say, he’s lucky to have a mom/sis/wife who cooks. It’s because cooking is still considered a woman’s job. In the age of equality where a woman is as busy as her partner, she may not have to see the inside of her kitchen too often thanks to her cook. But keeping the house clean and the family well-fed even if she’s fed up of it, is still her responsibility. Little wonder it’s the woman and not the man who gets into ‘deep depression’ if her hired helps ditches her for greener pastures.

Behind every successful woman is her hardworking bai.

Frankly I don’t blame men who can’t differentiate cumin powder from coriander and don’t know where the spoons are kept in the kitchen. I blame the women in their lives who insist on treating them like babies incapable of taking care of themselves. Why else would a wife who leaves for a month long vacation at her parents slog for weeks to cook and freeze meals for her dear husband? Why else would a man who’s on a work tour, buy new shirts instead of bothering to wash the used ones? Because all these years he’s gotten away with it!

Women have a perfectly logical excuse for this ineptness. His presence in the kitchen is more a headache than a help. If he cooks, he leaves the kitchen in a mess! A lot of women’s idea of bagging the ‘best wife of the millennium’ trophy is to make their husbands ‘the most inept man’ of the century. And they apply the same logic to their own kids as well. If I make my Twinkle cook a meal, I’ll become a terrible Mom. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to Martyr Yourself to Fashion

Pic courtesy - HindustanTimes.com



Once you start writing for pleasure, you get into the awful habit of observing people around you. You note down their peculiarities, eavesdrop into their conversations and get a glimpse of their exciting lives of truant maids and unfaithful husbands. An addictive pastime but sometimes you end up displeasing others with your not so flattering observations. It’s the same reason why some of us love reading advice columns (mostly concerning sex) in magazines and dailies where shy adults confide their love for masturbation using a banana skin. Or a gentleman complains about his wife who makes him wear lingerie and bangles and ties his hair into a pony, every time they make love. No, I absolutely did not make these up.

What I am going to write about has nothing to do with people’s bizarre sexual fetishes. It is about the Indian woman’s love for dressing not according to her shape, but just her state of mind. Go to any mall or multiplex and you’ll see a parade of jiggly bottoms and generous tyres spilling out of dresses two sizes too small. I’m always in a fix how to react. While a part of me says a silent yay for women who dress for themselves and not others, the other part of me wonders if they have a mirror at home.

I understand what a liberating feeling it is to slip into an apparel that makes you feel fashionable and sexy, the rest of the world be damned. But knowing what’s in fashion may not necessarily look good on you, is also a great liberator. Just like tights. Someone wise once said, drunks, children and tights never lie. In fact, they betray your secrets and indulgences in the most embarrassing manner. Just because Cheenu looked drop-dead gorgeous in that halter neck red bandage dress and got 450 likes on Facebook, doesn’t mean it will transform you into her glamorous avatar. What she didn’t tell you is, she only eats seeds and leaves and when she’s feeling adventurous, adds a pinch of sugar to her tea. And if your friends insist you look fabulous in that leopard print jumpsuit that makes you feel asthmatic, they are lying. While I understand girlfriends are meant to make you feel good about yourself and call you gorgeous even if you’re anything but that, an occasional dose of honesty is needed. It forces you to move your complacent ass out of your comfort zone.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Learning and Unlearning to be a Mom

Also published on Huffington Post India

It was just a few months back when I was tossing and turning, unable to sleep on my makeshift bed inside a darkened cabin, the sky an inky blue outside. I was feeling angry at myself. It had been two days since I had been crying non-stop. This wallowing-in-misery-woman was so unlike me. There’s no escaping misery. But it doesn’t take me too long to bounce back to my normal cheerful self – but not this time. 

For weeks I had been telling myself, I’ll be able to cope better this time. But as we got into our cab, ready to fly in a few hours to a country thousands of miles away from our daughter, my dam of resolve broke. The first time was when she had just started her 1st semester in one of the most difficult to get into colleges in Delhi. My husband and I flew off to Australia where he was to take over a new position in his company. Remember the baffling pain you felt as your pelvic bones contracted and expanded to expel your little bundle of flesh? As our plane took off, I felt the same pain but this time it was in my heart.

As a mother there are certain things you must learn. You have to let go of your child even if it breaks your heart. The sooner you do it, the better it is for her. Like the time she came back home crying, complaining about the bully in her school bus who’d trouble her needlessly. As much as you’d want to hunt that boy and beat him to pulp, you’d steel yourself before looking at her and saying – you have to learn to fight your own battles, my love! This is certainly not the last time when someone will try to make you feel weak, feel like shit, but despite the feeling of helplessness, you have to get up and fight.

When at times she’d feel wronged and blame others for her trouble, you had to be harsh and say maybe the problem lay with her and not with others. You cannot cluck protectively around her forever. There comes a time when you have to tell her, not everyone will love you and that’s perfectly okay! That it’s okay not to score top grades but not okay to not have tried your best. Every effort however herculean will not fetch results.

The first time she wanted to go for a late evening party with her friends, you had to put your fears aside and say yes and then overcome the urge to text her constantly to find out if she’s okay. I have kept awake all night, waiting for her to text and say, she’s reached her hostel safely. When I finally did call her, close to dawn, sick with worry, I didn’t know whether to feel angry or relieved when I found out she’d forgotten she was meant to text me! The awareness that she may not care as much as you care for her is heartbreaking. But you learn to live with it.

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