The Indian man and his love affair with his boxers

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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.

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?

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

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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.

Gurgaon Gets a Behenjee Avatar – Gurugram

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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?

I shop till my mouse says, please stop!

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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.’

Are You a Hyper Tourist ?

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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!

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.


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