Thursday, December 20, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
There’s a charming superstition about a ‘Nishi’in Bengal -- a creature that prowls about at night calling people by their name. Once she lures you out she does all sorts of unpleasant things to you, which is probably why children are told to wait for a third call before even considering a suitably worded response. Because you see, the Nishi calls only once, and if you hear your name being called two times more in your Mum’s voice it probably is your mother after all (Who’s probably hopping mad by this time.
Mother to child: What happened? I called you downstairs a 100 times to eat your dinner!
Child: Really? I thought you were the Nishi.)
My own mother told me this story but also explained that this was how people in Bengali villages discouraged sleepwalkers from wandering out at night and walking into swamps or other sorts of very nasty trouble. I suppose if your subconscious has internalized the whole Nishi-r daak story – warning bells will ring even if you are asleep and dreaming that someone you love is calling out to you. Now don’t ask me what happened if your sleeping mind tricked you into hearing a third call. I suppose if your subconscious so wanted you to fall into a tiger pit then you just gotta.
I would like to propose a few more superstitions. (How do you institute superstitions? Does it get passed by Parliament before they’re followed by people? Those clowns who represent us would probably not be averse to a few more of those: the more wrapped up in ignorance we are the better for them.)
I suggest a few; maybe my readers can start up a petition to get these passed in Delhi.
1) If a man pees in public his equipment withers and falls off.
2) People who shout along to songs at concerts get kicked in the groin (accidentally on purpose). Oh wait, that’s not a superstition – that actually happens to people at Scorpion concerts standing to the left of the stage. My bad.
3) If people spit (especially in close proximity of another person’s feet) the evil spit fairy sucks you dry of all liquid (because she believes, quite rightly, that since you’re chucking your saliva about you have no need of it) and you die all shrivelled up and crying out for moisture
4) Diabolical politicians who kill people for sport and for the majority vote don’t get re-elected.
And so on… you get the drift. Draft some of your own, why should I do all the work?
And maybe we can collate all of it and send it along for The SOBs (Superstition Observation Board) to have a look at. With the assurance that it’s common knowledge the Nishi will be spitting mad if they don’t.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Keep in mind that all of the instances I am about to narrate has happened to the same person, and is 100% true.
The first I heard of her affliction was when she IM-ed her immediate boss on Google talk by mistake. She was rounding up all of her office-buddies for the customary coffee break one afternoon with a “Let’s go for coffee!” and accidentally pinged her boss as well. Her poor manager, thinking that his team members finally wanted to bond with him, replied with a cheery “Sure. Where?”
My friend (shall we call her Anamika?) was annoyed by what appeared a really stupid question from one of her regular coffee-buddies and answered with a curt “What do you mean - ‘where’??”. Only to belatedly realise that she had just asked her boss to join them for coffee. (Never a good idea). “Wrong window!” she replied and fled to where her friends were waiting.
A few months later the whole team went out for an official dinner. And our Anamika had to miss it. The next day she gleaned some information about the dinner from her team mate sitting right next to her. Wisely deciding that the more interesting gossip couldn’t be discussed loudly within the office, she turned to her system and proceeded to pump her colleague in earnest about the spicier parts of the evening. “What did Ron (the Vice-President of the company) say about his girlfriend last night?” she briskly typed out and waited -- all agog for the response. The VP of the company replied with a “hehehehe…” that said it all. She still didn’t get it, and turned to her friend to ask what he was playing at when the truth dawned on her. “Sorry…Wrong window!” she replied and nearly wept from embarrassment.
This story has passed into the lore of the company, and is still discussed over lunch by many.
One would think that Anamika would’ve learnt her lesson, but of course she hadn’t. Just for variation’s sake this time, she SMS-ed her husband one night with a “Sweetums, where are you? I’m hungry and I need to have dinner. Come home fast!”
Of course, you all know she didn’t actually send it to her husband. That would be too simple. She sent it the MD of her company, no less. He sent a message back (you have to give it to these guys for being great sports) saying “I am not Sweetums. And if you’re so hungry fix yourself some dinner.”
One last example and you’ll be as convinced as I am that she suffers from A-grade ‘Wrong Window Syndrome’. Her gang has a tradition of getting a surprise cake for each member’s birthday. (Of course the whole question of how much of a surprise it is when it’s a tradition has been discussed but never seriously considered.) On one such occasion, she and a friend went to pick up a cake from the customary place but found it locked up tight. So they had to make do with an unsatisfactory cake from a rather downmarket bakery nearby.
Anamika came back and pinged another friend of hers about the cake: “Yes, the birthday boy WILL be surprised…by how godawful the cake is!”
Yep, you guessed it. She sent it straight to the birthday boy…
Thursday, December 6, 2007
It's a nice, solid feeling-- having a rock to support you through the nasty times, having private jokes nobody else gets but can provide you with endless amusement to the perplexity of people around you. Being able to show your supremely ugly side without worrying TOO much about it. (If you think I'm moody now you should see me on a weekday morning).
And it's also good knowing that here's one person who would probably tell you what's bothering him before anyone else.
It's comfortable, and dare I say it? Nice. I like Nice.
Happy Anniversary to me! (I mean us.)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Don’t ask me why, I hadn’t done it in the entire year of living in this neighborhood. But today being a Sunday, and me being spectacularly unfit, and there being nothing on TV, and nothing amusing on the net, and the protagonist in the novel I’m reading having just finished her third suicide attempt (all of them unnecessarily complicated and painful…she should’ve just thrown herself off the roof and left the municipal authorities to clean things up, what did she care?) I was getting a little bit stir crazy. To stop myself from getting into a fistfight with those people who consider bell ringing a fascinating hobby (ooooh! What does THIS pretty button do…?), I decided to take my sneakers out of retirement and hit the road.
Blue, blue Bangalore sky; cooling breeze; new secret paths to discover on a Sunday afternoon. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? In this new spirit of adventure, I struck off on a kuccha road I’d never been through before. Two minutes into my walk a couple of two-feet high children attached themselves to me and proceeded to imitate my walk behind my back. They tired of that soon enough and ran ahead of me screaming ‘akka, akka’. (Note to myself: Does ‘akka’ mean ‘Beautiful stranger’ or ‘Grandma’: look it up.) They were very sweet and I would’ve squeezed their cheeks but for all the snot.
But soon the way they dogged my steps in the empty streets seemed most sinister and I wondered if these miniature thugs concealed any weapons on their pint-sized persons. I accelerated--just a brisk trot, I don’t run away from three year olds-- and decided to stick to the more familiar roads.
Past a pack of belligerent looking dogs lying in the dust of a side alley and I was on the big highway I knew. Much better. I strode purposefully on for a few minutes straight into a thicket of men standing around, scratching their crotches.
“Poor woman” I could hear them think, “she obviously has nothing better to do and no man to be with, look at her wandering around on a Sunday afternoon. Ah well, nothing a quick squeeze to the tushy can’t fix! Let’s see if this Kannada song doesn’t cheer her right up!”
I headed on towards my goal (the bus stop) after doing some nifty footwork to avoid my newfound admirers. Once there, I turned around and headed back for home. “Aah there she is! I KNEW she liked this song!”
By the time I got home the toes on my right foot had curled into a tight ball to stop the chafing against my shoes. (Note to myself: Can one’s right foot grow after its 28th birthday: google it.)
But I was feeling great. My mind was clear, the cabin fever was gone, my blood was circulating, and it was GRRRREAT to be home.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I’ve found in literature down the ages characters who luxuriate in their own sense of being worldly and jaded. To be cynical is to know all there is to know, to be a person of the world. One who belies a sense of enthusiasm about something new is somehow vulgar, a cad.
And this is a very true to life. I have been a few places by now, done a few things. And from college onwards I have encountered a species of people (who usually travel in packs – the ‘in crowd’), who seem so booooored with the world. Like if something didn’t happen soon they’d just dieeeee of boredom. And the more gauche among us would watch them and wish they could be as bored as them. Because like it or not—it’s cool to bored. Cool to slump in your chair with a pissed off expression like you’ve seen all of that before. Run to them with something you find novel and exciting and they’ll look at you with sleepy eyes and sneer ‘Oh thaaaaat.’
Brrrr…it was so cool you could hardly stand it. But somehow try as you might, you could never manage to be half as unimpressed by the new stuff that happened around you. Especially in college, everything was so new, so exciting. ‘It’s OK not to attend classes? ARE you freaking serious? Am I actually using the word ‘freaking’ without being beaten to a pulp by my teachers?? It’s so wonderful I can barely think straight!!!’ Relay such sentiments to the one or two cooler people you knew and they’d stifle a yawn with thinly veiled contempt.
But on some level, I’ve always pitied them. Though not the most cheerful person at the best of times, I still can work myself up to a high pitch of excitement if something seems interesting enough. Almost a decade after I attended my first class in college, I still get all obsessive about a new book (most recently – Harry Potter) to be released, wait breathlessly all week for the next episode of whatever serial catches my fancy at the time, gush endlessly about how much fun a particular holiday destination is regardless of how passé it might have become. I still go into rustic tourist mode and gaze at famous landmarks (ask my friends and family) with my mouth very frankly open.
I pity them because these are the moments which make life worth living. If I couldn’t be thrilled about a good looking guy across the room giving me the eye, or my husband (I hasten to add) making a sweet gesture unasked, then life truly would be banal and brain-numbingly depressing.
If I refused to enjoy the fun moments of life and smothered it all with ‘Oh my God, how passé is that!!.’ Then I might as well blow my brains out before boredom did the job for me.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Now Monday to Thursday one is expected to be in formals, and on Friday --‘smart casuals’. So though a lot of the time I manage to plan enough ahead to have both the the kameez and its corresponding salwar washed and ironed at the same time, it sometimes happens, usually by mid-week, that the whole process goes awry and falls out of sync. So I’ll have a reasonably unwrinkled kameez but its salwar will be dripping sadly on the clothesline outside. Those are the days you sigh deeply and prepare yourself for the ordeal ahead.
For one thing, the sight of the wet salwar outside is a signal for you to start trying on your formal trousers again, in the hope that you have miraculously lost weight since last Thursday and/or the button has miraculously attached itself to the front of your pants while it lay in the closet.
You try on your other outfits –you look too fat, too squat, too poor, too much like a cow in all of them. So you eye the one decent kameez (note to the men in my audience—a kameez is the top and salwar is the bottom in a salwar-kameez set) lying on your bed and you decide that it will just have to do. So you start trying on different salwars on the off chance that one of them matches your kameez but you’d just never noticed earlier. After trying on an appalling array of clashing bottoms you finally settle on the one that clashes the least.
By that time you’re late and tired -- and have just seen the most horrible color combinations in your mirror. So you pick the least offensive one.
Of course by the time you’ve walked into office your indifference to how bad your outfit is has worn off. And it doesn’t help that people keep darting alarmed glances at your legs and hurry away as though bad dress sense is catching.
So you spend the day writhing with embarrassment, darting behind tables and potted palms to avoid the inevitable shocked gaze from colleagues. You swear you will plan all five outfits over the weekend, and dazzle all with your sartorial elegance henceforth.
That is of course till Wednesday morning comes along again and you trudge wearily to the closet to try on those trousers.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
They’ll call you faithfully right in the middle of a tense meeting with an irate boss, or on a Sunday afternoon when you’ve just got to sleep after a heavy meal.
Yesterday I got a call that went like this:
Me: Hallo? (I would love to have a more stylish way to answer the phone like “Good morning, Ushasi speaking” or just “Ushasi” in a firm voice with a hint of the sensual. Nothing erotic, just enough of it to make an impression. But in the excitement of getting a call I always end up with a high-pitched “halloo?”)
Which is just as well because it turns out to be a call from ICICI bank offering me a personal loan. (Where are they when you actually NEED the loan?)
Telemarketing girl: Who am I speaking to??
Me: You called ME, why don’t you tell me who you are? (A hackneyed but valid question.)
T.G: (Her bank spiel)
Me: I’m sorry I’m not interested right now.
T.G: Oh, OK. But could you tell me who you ARE?
Me: My name’s Ushasi Sen Basu.
TG: Usha what?
Me: Exactly. Tuh-tah!
Today I get a call from Barclay’s Bank.
(Tring tring…humor me on this…I’m trying to write it like a play.)
Me: Us…er…Hallooo?? (Drat! Foiled again, will practice in front of mirror tonight!)
TG: GoodmorningmadammynameisPeskyCallerweareoffering blah blah blah yadee yada yada talk talk talk…read at terrific speed straight off a typewritten page somewhere.
Wow. That really brightened my day. Guess what Barclay’s bank…you’re never getting business from me.
I have a senior at office who was brought up in the US, so has an American accent. Whenever he gets one of these calls he simply says “You’re calling America!” and wait politely for the person to have a minor panic attack and hang up.
Maybe I can try that. “very sorry Pesky, this is Bangladesh...” and hang up quickly before she beats me to it.
Someone once told me that a friend of theirs says completely outrageous things to telemarketers: “Since you’ve called I had something to sell as well. I have a divan that’s just slightly used…”
Apparently he gets 100% results.
Friday, November 9, 2007
they don't know any better, or that noone's ever made it clear to them that they are so insufferable
that they would gladly kill them and throw them into the nearest ditch if it wasn't punishable by
law.(Unless you're a politician, actor, or call center cab driver, i.e).It's that they think
'aggression' as they call their lack of manners is the only way one can get ahead nowadays, also
another very overrated activity if you ask me. So they shall be blunt (read: unnecessarily rude when
a more carefully worded sentence and a smile would've served just as well) they shall be 'assertive'
(read: pushy and selfish) and 'get ahead' (which is what Hitler did before he got burnt to a crisp.)
I can now avail the cab facility provided by my new office, the delights of which I shared with you
in my last post. Unfortunately for me, my earlier cab mates who now seem veritable angels in
contrast have been replaced with a single enormously pregnant woman. Even allowing for hormones, I
have rarely met such a singularly unpleasant woman. She will drive up awkwardly sprawled in the back
seat of the car in front of my eyes only to claim that they'd been waiting for me at the gate for
the last 15 minutes and enquire why I was late even though I went down the moment I got the
customary 'the cab will arrive in two minutes call'. She will look at you stonily when you say 'hi'
after you get in and growl at the driver like she would much rather rip his throat out than be in
the car with him.
She's quite a treat. I wonder who impregnated her and whether he went the way most amorous male
praying mantises go.
You'll meet dozens of people like this (surprisingly not all of them pregnant), proud to be uncivil
and under the illusion that they come across as 'no-nonsense go getters' when in actuality they're
just uncultured louts who spread discomfiture and bad days in their wake.
Happy Diwali everyone! ....And to all those proud boors and bears out there... may you never get a kind word or a helping hand when you most need them! (I thus strike a blow for all those who stand with their mouths agape when one of these boors start on them.)
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Training is a nice throwback to your school and college days, including the girl obsessed with personal hygiene sitting next to you, who will NOT rest till all available orifices are sparkling clean while she listens to the instructor. So there she would sit every day barely a foot away from me and first clean one ear with her pinky until opportunities for amusement were exhausted...then move on to the next, then clean her fingernails, and flick it all every which way. While I cringed in horror beside her thinking of strong dettol baths when I got home. (if this grossed you out, think of how grossed out I must've been this last week.)
The cab system is pretty damn awesome, no auto drivers to want to murder, no one and a half charge, air conditioned comfort, door to door service. But should you live in a slightly unconventional place that involves bumping for a kilometer or two over precarious kuccha roads, you might feel a mite uncomfortable about the tight-lipped cab mates who sit around you and glance at each other occasionally as if to say 'who is this b*&^%??? What did our organization see in her?' You pretty much spend your entire ride home feeling defensive and orritable and you get off at the mouth of your street because you would rather not put them through another five minutes of bumpy roads and walk the rest of it instead. Even if it means walking past the place where a drowned guy was hauled out of the lake a couple of weeks ago in the dark. Better the restless soul of a drowned indigent than the dark looks of cabmates I say. The conversation is easier.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The cake you say? The gifts? The calls at midnight? The calls all day through? The cards, e-cards, mails? Orkut and facebook scraps? I hear you, I hear you. They’re great. You might be absolutely swimming in self-pity…luxuriating in the stuff, until a b-day turns up one day and forces you out of your self-indulgent misery. And part of the reason is all of the above that you mentioned.
However, I would say the best bit is something quite the opposite. I wait till about 10-ish on a birthday night to see whom among my friends and relatives have remembered my birthday. And then, after a tot up of the people who did and a quick soul search about why the others didn’t, I put phase two of my yearly birthday plan into action.
I systematically write, scrap, and send facebook message-thingies to all the people who forgot. Guilt is my source of sustenance, like a chubby Dementor out of Harry Potter. Along with a love for the arts and wavy hair, I inherited this talent from my great-grand aunt on my mother’s side. Give me a reason to make a person feel guilty and you give me the greatest gift of all. Needless to say, birthdays are prime occasions for a guilt-fest and cheer me up enormously.
My family was rather disappointing this year, with every single person in the immediate tree calling or writing. My husband very annoyingly pulled out all the stops and silenced me for a whole year. Seven years of my company has tipped him off, and he didn’t give me even the slightest fodder for a future “I can see I’m not important” mini-guilt-trip. Damn it.
But some of my friends…hehe…you know who you are!(pointing an accusing chubby finger) Had it been that I was really in doubt as to whether you liked me or not, I would’ve been actually upset. But at the risk of being presumptuous, I shall say, that since I’m fairly secure on that count, and am well aware that you simply forgot, (because we’re all busy people and at some point or the other I’ve forgotten yours too) it’s just fun to write emails that say “You forgot my BIRTHDAY!” (frowny face). And wait for the guilty replies to line up in my inbox.
And now if you’ll excuse me, there are a few phone calls I have to make, since one or two of my emails haven’t been replied to.
…And so the festivities continue!:)
P.S - For those who plan to point out how bad I am with birthdays and how many times you've had to remind me that 'its so-and-so's birthday please call him' (yes, Haimanti I can read you like a book), all I can say is...sod off. It's my birthday and my blog and I shall say what I like.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Let me explain. Till school Chance didn’t play much of a role in my life. Which school I was sent to and spent 12 years in was my parent’s decision. Even entry into University was more by plan than chance. But once in -- Coincidence and Chance kicked in big time, and the chain reaction thus triggered is still ruling every waking moment of my life.
When I say this, you must think I mean some HUGE thing that happened while I was in college. Perhaps my marks, or some professor who inspired me to be a great thinker, a second Mahatma. (I am, but credit goes entirely to me).
Au contraire my dear friends.
I had a GREAT gang of friends who would sit in trees on campus, eat fish and aloo chops, and while away the hours discussing the Meaning of life. Life was sweet. Then one day one of these friends (who I only hung out with because of the others) called me a poo-poo head. I asked him to piss off. That ONE thing…which we all forgot soon enough including me and the potty-mouthed friend, set my life firmly on one course unbeknownst (cool word, eh?) to me or anyone else.
Why, you ask? Because that gang of friends (who are still my closest friends, despite that little hiccup) chided me about my reaction. (What if he called you a poo-poo head? They said.) Things cooled distinctly between me and the group …and I struck up a friendship with a senior who I would never have talked to if things hadn’t been awkward between me and my existing friends. Just because I hung out with him now I started seeing a lot of a skinny guy with a guitar fetish who studied all the way across the campus in the Engineering department. Four years later I married him.
Having hooked up with HIM, I went to Hyderabad and am now in Bangalore, sitting in this office, writing this blog. Had I not married him…(and had that &^%$face not called me a poo-poo head four years before that) I would most certainly have been somewhere else. Maybe in Calcutta, still living with my parents. Maybe abroad married to an NRI doctor (a girl can dream, can’t she? Quit laughing!). Never here.
And had I not been here I wouldn’t have made myself the most wonderful life with my husband, had the best ever two years in a little company I’ll always adore, and met and worked with some pretty wonderful people. Two of these people in particular, have in turn enriched the fabric of my life, and who knows, maybe sent the snooker ball spinning off into a direction I will only realize in retrospect a decade from now.
So to Mr. *&^%face (who’s the poo-poohead now?) --Thank you for calling me names that day, I am eternally, undeniably indebted to you.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
But due to an unfortunate giddy moment of adventurism, I started a chain of events that got me a new job…
And now I’m sitting here serving my notice which feels more like a final countdown to a painful period of uncertainty…new desk, new people, new coffee. I felt this torn only once before, when I resolved to leave the comfortable womb of my home town, Calcutta to start a new life all the way across India in Hyderabad. I was attached in the most unhealthy fashion to my family, and most of my college friends there, and I didn’t have a job, or a home in the new city…all I knew was my heart was in Hyderabad and I had to follow it.
College had been a dream…attending the classes I felt like, hanging out by the jheel, the hilarious things me and my close group of friends got up to those five years…I was inconsolable that I would have to leave. But leave I did.
Now, some four years later…though I carry my heart with me more or less, I feel a familiar turmoil at this decision I’ve taken. I think the hardest part about leaving a job you love is that YOU have taken the decision…and can blame no one else (not that I won’t try) if things don’t work out later on. Every time I look around at my desk I wish that I could see it a month from hence. Every face I look at I wish wasn’t only for the last few weeks, every time I laugh at a joke a friend has cracked I wish I didn’t have to wonder if I’d ever hear that particular brand of humour ever again.
People tell me I’ll make new friends again… call me unreasonable, but I would pick friends I already have and love over the ones yet to be made.
Life is very unfair in that what’s good for you is rarely what you want to do. So here I am packing up my two-year old life here…a few more days to go…having extra-long lunches with friends and making plans of meeting after we part ways.
The only thing that consoles me is that I am still fast friends with most of my college mates, and that maybe life has intended me to be lucky with respect to friends.
So I shall harden my heart and move on, lest life passes me by. And I’ll let you know about my friends in a year or two…
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
But here is the nub. I don’t dislike elevators because I’m claustrophobic, or scared I’ll be trapped in them alone during a powercut. It’s the fear that I won’t be alone. I don’t think anything beats the awkwardness of having a stranger with you on an elevator. Both people spend those few minutes staring fixedly at the numbers on the screen, silently willing the lift to -- get there faster! It’s all very embarrassing.
And if you know the person slightly, but are not on regular talking terms with him/her…it’s excruciating. You spend most of the time darting little glances at each other, wondering whether you should talk, or whether you can get away with not talking. And then the lift doors open and you burst out like you never thought you would see your floor again, and practically weep with joy when you get to your doorway, far far away from nasty pregnant pauses in little metal boxes.
Down with all elevators, I say. Institute the Stair-hour in every workplace so employees can climb the stairs to office without being late. Not only will it solve all weight problems for those with sedentary jobs, it will also dramatically reduce embarrassment in our lives.
Up with stairs, down with elevators!
I took three hours getting home on Thursday, and the auto fella nearly kicked me off his auto because my road was inaccessible and I didn't know any other route. It was 10 at night and this young feller-me-lad suddenly materialised out of nowhere, calmed my auto fellow down, got in, guided us through the vaguest back alleys and dropped me to my doorstep, before taking the auto all the way back to his home, which was nowhere near the route he'd taken to get me home.
Chivalry is alive and kicking! I was very touched and am telling everyone I know this story.
So I got home at 11-30, but quite happy that there is still some goodness in this world.
Monday, September 10, 2007
For one thing, they’re annoying…giving the person who tells it a rather superior air, even though he’s not doing much more than telling a tale about a dog who fell into a manhole.
For another, he will tell you the story about the dog that fell into a manhole like it is particularly applicable to whatever situation you’re in right now (which has prompted the whole fable telling in the first place). Of course it is not at all applicable, because I am not a dog, and though I might be in deep shit at the moment, it didn’t happen by falling into a manhole.
But still they’ll tell you the story to its predictable and usually gruesome finish “…so the dog drowned in the manhole, far away from the family that loved him.” -- and sit back with a satisfied smile like that tells me all I need to know. So then you have to ask them, so you’re advising me not to look down manholes? Or are you in some way insinuating I shouldn’t look into matters that don’t concern me?
It’s all very confusing and very rarely helpful.
Because you see, fables are crap. By themselves they are (no doubt hilarious) and educative stories about what bears, wolves, crows, and dogs do in their spare time. But I don’t see how they can be considered at all applicable to a particular problem: my situation might not have much to do with a crow that was thirsty and had nothing better to do than fool about with a pot of water and a lot of stones.
I think to prove my point conclusively, say to convince someone that it is wrong to steal, I should tell them a real story about another thief I knew. Maybe how he was lynched by a mob and then fed to vultures or such like (if you must have animals to illustrate every point), rather than an elaborate story set in ancient Greece where a bear is stung to death by honey-bees. You cannot blame the auditor for saying (after he has mulled over the story you have so patronizingly told him and wasted 10 minutes of the time he could’ve used to get on the next train out of town) “So what if the bear got stung? What the hell does that have to do with me? I asked you for an escape plan not a bedtime story!”
So for all compulsive fable-tellers remember this: There was a fox who was very fond of giving advice, but always imparted his wisdom through very improbable stories about how stupid other animals were. The advice-seekers (dogs, sheep, and cows who were the fox’s neighbours in the woods) finally decided he was really annoying and stopped coming to him for advice.
I hope that was helpful.
Friday, August 31, 2007
For one thing, some of them are brain numbingly stupid. (“Do you accept cards?’ croons a glamorous yet wrinkled cougar-type woman. “Only if it says… ‘I love you’.” Whispers back her newly-attentive-because-she-uses-anti-wrinkle-cream husband.)
They are sometimes also so wildly irresponsible it’s scary. I don’t know about you but I find all these skin-lightening ‘remedies’ very sinister.
Though we’ve had this colonial hang-over forever, I think this whole ‘look like a white person’ thing has started to become so pervasive that people don’t see it for what it is anymore. Along with our dyed blonde hair and blue contacts, we now want to be whiter in a month’s time so we’ll get the job/the husband we need. And I say ‘whiter’ and not fairer because of this scintillating little slogan for ‘Snake Oils R Us’( Contrary to what you’re thinking, I really have forgotten the name and not chickening out of a potential legal battle in the commodities court.):
“Forget fairness, join the whitening revolution!”
Excuse me? Whitening revolution??? Are these people serious? That slogan is so beyond appalling it’s almost like a spoof fairness commercial. I bet all our Indian freedom fighters are rolling over in their graves or looking down from heaven, and screaming, “ Are you kidding us? We chase out all the white people only for home-grown ones to spring up in their place? We want our freaking lives back!”
I used to like to think that there was a certain unsavory reputation attached to these Fair and Lovely products and that self-respecting celebrities would never endorse them. But now, needing to be fair is so part of who we are that superstars like The Shah Rukh Khan and Hema Malini’s daughter (neither of whom are particularly fair which of course has NOTHING to do with what I’m saying…just an observation!) feel no compunction in pocketing a cool crore to be in these ads. (Indian celebs would probably sell their own grannies to earn a quick buck, I have it from an inside source that Amitabh Bacchan has already sold one Grand-uncle.)
So every five minutes or so whichever channel we turn to drills into our heads that once we become fair and handsome/lovely, life will be just - Vunderful! Vee vill find lou and hau much better jobs. (Seriously if you want so bad to be ‘vite’ then atleast get the accent right.)
I think the state of Indian advertising is best summed up with another brilliant line from an ad (rumour has it that Einstein wrote the script for this one before he died). A bald, short, fat bloke says to this muscular chap on a bike “Do you think you can do it?” And he replies in a cool, off-hand manner “Thinking is SUCH a waste of time!” before swinging his leg over his bike a trifle awkwardly and riding off.
I think the Indian Advertising fraternity should actually make that the first line of their official anthem, sung at their monthly “We’re Criminally Stupid” association meetings.
Monday, August 27, 2007
And how about the assurance I hear characters on the TV giving each other all the time…”It’ll be OK. I promise.”(Sincere, comforting smile)
YOU promise? How does that work again? I have a rare genetic disorder that makes one ear double the size of the other and YOU promise it will be OK? And what will you do if that promise happens to be broken?
“You’re beautiful” is another statement that never fails to annoy me. (on TV, i.e.). It’s usually said to some brassy blonde with buck teeth and a boob job. Or when the tearful nurse produces a wrinkled up, blotchy-red, distinctly monkey-like baby to the mother with all her mascara and false eyelashes on and says “You have a PERFECT little baby girl!”
Apparently the American police force are always running about saying “Let’s DO this!” to each other. I feel like killing myself every time I hear it.
A regular comment on the Oprah Winfrey Show which makes everyone go all teary-eyed is “I thought of how sad little Timmy would be when I’m gone, and that’s when I decided I would not die.”
I’m sure lots of people decide the same but pop off before they can make it to the Oprah Show. Since you hear live people saying it, you think…Wow, she decided it wasn’t her time to die, and here she is, giving the intimate details of her gruesome disease on international TV! That must mean all the people who die just have weak will power!
I think the best one is…”The last time I checked, this was America!”
Kill me, kill me right now.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The bus drove into the tiger enclosure and stopped. An enormous tiger ambled onto the path we were on and pooped right in front of us. A little while later another tiger appeared, walking parallel to the bus about ten feet away. I was staring at this one as it padded past. It stopped, looked around, and its yellow-green eyes locked onto mine instantly. It resolved to take a closer look, so turned towards the bus and came straight up to MY window, never breaking (the by now hypnotic) eye contact. It then decided that the cage of the window was impeding its view so it bent under the window and tried to peer up at me through the gap between the metal wiring and the opening of the window (that would be atleast 4 inches wide). It was about a foot or less away from me at this point. I decided then that I still needed the use of both my arms and moved away.
Once eye contact was broken the tiger seemed to lose interest and walked away, all sardonic and muscular.
I have of course told this story to everyone I know with suitable embellishments. I think in a few months I will have jumped off the bus with a bow and arrow and gone chasing after it at the end of the story. A particularly sarcastic friend has commented that it sounded like an erotic story and that obviously even wild cats can’t resist my charm. Of course, the truth of the matter is that my entire charm lay in the fact that the tiger wouldn’t need to worry about food for at least two weeks after.
Others have commended my courage. (I truly have the most sarcastic bunch of friends and relatives EVER.) But really it took a bit of nerve to maintain eye contact with something that quite obviously considered you lunch. I’ve been told I didn’t have a choice because tigers hypnotize their prey and then pounce. But I maintain I’m a very courageous person.
I had an encounter with a monkey there too, but it just made me feel like I was home again, so it’s really nothing to write about.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
We’ll both turn 28 this birthday you see, which is just a polite way of saying you’re as good as 30. 27 was still just 2 years older than your perky, carefree, just-out-of-Masters-degree 25. Now 28 is a completely different ball game. By 30, you should have the job you want…no more, ‘I’m just warming up for that fantastic job that’s out there, it’s OK if they pay me in sacks of rice instead of currency, I’ll be out of here in a year or two.’
By 30 you should have been out of there and in a plush swanky office, making calls home to make sure your baby’s nanny isn’t bringing strange men home for her side business. So 28 is just 2 years away from all that. So by 28 if you feel you’re not even halfway to that goal, you’re screwed, my dears.
Hence our hysteria.
Apart from all that, you can really tell you’re getting old by the following things.
1) When you tie your belt around your waist and not around your knees. ( How these youngsters keep their pants up is an enduring scientific mystery.)
2) When you manage to get up enough enthusiasm to go to a disco but sit through all the songs. You complain constantly throughout the synthetic ‘dhish-dhish-dhish’ music and leap up and dance wildly to a barely known hip-hop song for 5 minutes simply because you can understand the words. Then you go back to your seat and watch the young people dance to interminable identical beats, and wonder if you’ve stumbled into a cult meeting.
3) When you’re on a bike in the rain and all you can think of is getting off the bike and out of the rain. “ It’s so cold, I’ll catch my death!” “What if the color of my kameez runs, it was so expensive!” “Wish I had worn different underwear!”
I’ve been on a bike in the rain in my younger, more lighthearted, days and I remember thinking it was awesome to go whizzing through the rain like that, no matter how I looked or what the dangers of cold rain and unfortunate underwear were.
4) You know you’re old when people just 4-5 years younger than you seem to talk to you in code language. You can vaguely discern some English amongst the flurry of ‘dude’ ‘buddy’ ‘yuop’ ‘okai’ ‘dog’ and ‘bitch’es. You try to speak their language and overcompensate with a lot of ‘man’s and ‘love and peace’. Only to get "like,whatever!"ed for your pains.
5) And last but not least, when people are not at all surprised to hear you’ve been married for 3 years and don’t even bother to reply (just for the sake of politeness) “You must have been a very young bride!”
When I’ve grumbled about this last point I have been reassured by friends that people assume I’m older because I’m taller than them.
Taller my ass! Where do I sign up for that retirement home?
I am of course responsible for around 500 of those 1003 hits…I admit to being a rather compulsive reader of my own blog. But hey! getting other people to visit my blog 500 times is a fair achievement too, right? Even if they come expecting some website version of a VH1 program, and quickly click out of my site faster than I can say “ Take a look at what’s inside my fridge, dude”.
So 5 months and a 1000 hits later, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to my regular readers and most of all to those who leave regular comments on my blog.
The more elaborate ‘Thank you’ speech I keep for after the 2000th hit. (“I would like to thank my parents for teaching me my ABCDs, my dog ‘Lassie’ for eating all my homework when I was little, etc.)
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
For my many international readers (hi there Rimky and Diya), let me explain the animal situation in our metropolises. Cows, buffaloes, and dogs do rub shoulders with us humans in the streets, it's true. However, throwing back the curtains in the morning to catch a monkey in mid-armpit-scratch, I confess, does give me a bit of a jolt. As it does to the monkey I’m sure. Though it looks fairly embarrassed when you first catch it unawares, it’ll eventually turn away with a look that says, “It was itching OK, I don’t see what the hysterics are for…” And bound off to join its family cheerfully poohing in your neighbour’s balcony.
The same family of monkeys has been returning to our apartment complex for the last two months. I know it’s the same family because I can recognize some of them: a muscular Papa monkey who seems quite fond of his offspring but gets cranky if his naps are disturbed, a Mama monkey with a baby that simpers to itself; and two teenagers who are very attached to each other.
You can spend a good part of an hour just watching them play. Of these two, I have a bit of a soft spot for the one who has had its hand cut off at the wrist, perhaps the result of a barbed wire accident (either that or it failed to return money it owed to the monkey mafia). But it has adapted admirably, and waddles along banisters upright, on two legs. Only when it leaps from one banister to another does it slip and fall sometimes, but quickly rights itself with the help of its good hand.
So hasn’t the building management tried to do anything about it? Of course they have. The poor fellows have tried most things: they’ve sent ruffianly men swarming all over the place with sticks and firecrackers, scaring the human inhabitants witless, but making no impression at all on the simian offenders. Many a time I’ve seen them serenely pick lice off each other (the monkeys not the men) like it was a peaceful Sunday afternoon, while firecrackers exploded above their heads and bloodcurdling screams rent the air.
Now cages have been installed with cut up fruit placed aesthetically all about it and within. Of course, our visitors have no interest in it. I think apart from the food angle they come here for the excitement of it all. Or revenge. That day, we were attacked by three of them. (Ok, Ok it was the maimed one, and the mother holding her baby - but let's not split hairs. And they weren’t so much attacking us as showing interest in us.) While my husband and I screamed like little girls and turned tail and ran, the thought struck me that they seemed to be enjoying themselves enormously.
I would love to end on a politically correct note and say something like “We pay for encroaching on land that was rightfully theirs. Let us co-exist together man and monkey, and forge a new order based on cross-species co-operation.” But, there’s something about the sight of monkeys - as they tear your garbage bag to shreds, help themselves to its contents, and then scatter the uninteresting bits all over the corridor - that brings out the worst in me.
I say stick ‘em all with tranquillizer guns, take them to the deepest part of the forest, and leave them there.
I’m sure they can get as much fun out of annoying the tigers, snakes, and whats-its (Grrroar!! Ok, joke’s over, who pooped in my food? I stayed up all night to catch it! ) as we human beings have given them.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I know our parents feel it on a whole different level, because they remembered how it was not to have a phone at all, and would tell you stuff like: “We would have to walk 5 kms to our friend’s house instead of just sitting around and running up enormous telephone bills every month.” For some reason all parents walked a lot when they were young. There seems to be some undiscovered connection between walking and having kids. (Doctor saying to depressed patient “Yes, Mr. Das, I’m afraid if you had walked around town more often when you were a child Mrs. Das would’ve been pregnant RIGHT now.)
Anyhow, to get back to what I was saying.
Take romance for instance. On my frequent trips to the Lalbagh Botanical gardens here (don’t ask) I always notice something which depresses me. There are always zillions of couples around (this isn’t the depressing bit, I’m getting to it) and almost inevitably one of the two will be avidly talking on the phone. Not to each other, not staring deeply into each other’s eyes, not trying to cop a feel when they think no one’s around. But on the phone, talking to someone else. All the while the partner (I am pained to admit it’s usually the male half that is phoneless) looks in the opposite direction with a bored “why doesn’t anyone call ME?” expression.
The future of the human race is at stake here. Ban phones in all romantic spots!
In my office I am privy to the strangest phone behaviour. People get calls from the same person so often that it’s almost like a running conversation throughout the day. Instead of a ‘Hallo? Oh, hi! What’s up? How’s that diet coming along’ it goes like this: “Uuu.” (Don’t ask, I only report what I observe) “Yes”. “Had a biscuit right now?”. “Uuu”. “Let me know when you eat the next biscuit”. SLAM goes the phone, no goodbye, talk later, nothing.
Earlier you could identify a crazy person on the street by how they talked loudly to themselves and burst into gales of laughter without anyone around. Now you have to abstain from setting your dog on such people because they may just have a bloody ‘hands free’ thingy in their ear. (So first check for a phone and THEN let your dogs maul them to death.)
And last but not least - ringtones. Sweet Mother of God. I nearly killed an imbecile colleague for receiving dozens and dozens of calls on her phone with a ringtone that went ‘You’re my cuppy-cake, shweety-pie, pumpy-yumpy-umpkin, you’re my SHWEETY-pie…’ Dozens of them, everyday. And sometimes, just to teach her callers a lesson (probably for not calling often enough) she would let the phone ring…on, and on…and on until I would turn to her with tears in my eyes and beg her to answer the phone.
So yeah, I have mixed feelings about today’s pervasive phone culture. And a little miffed that no one calls me up. After all that trouble I took with my ‘Ekbar aja, aja, aja, aja. Aaaja’ ringtone too!
Monday, July 23, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
Second point: think of your young readers, you’ve done everything to make them love your character. Ad they do…to the point of obsession. If you kill their beloved Harry, just because you can, and make so many kids across the world desperately unhappy -- what possible purpose does it achieve? (Apart from giving you a bit of a power rush, I suspect.;))
The world really is so dull and grim for kids today…look around you. The disease, the dirt, the discontent. If you could make kids believe that Good can prevail over Evil, that would be a good thing.
Maybe this plea is unnecessary, maybe you have spared Harry. All I can say is, you should think of how it would’ve felt if Enid Blyton had gone on the rampage killing off all of the world’s favorite characters -- Fatty dying of third degree burns in the last Five Find Outer mystery, or Mr. Moonface being lynched on a bough of The Faraway Tree.
There’s still time…Don’t DO IT!!!
And I was hooked. I hadn’t been so glued to a new book in a while. What also excited me was that the story kept evolving as we lived our lives, that Wikipedia wouldn’t be able to give a summarization of the whole series. Everyone waited with baited breath for the new book, no one (barring the author herself and a few others I guess) knew how it would pan out for Harry and his friends.
Of course this very phenomenon gave rise to a class of people who got their kicks out of spoiling Harry Potter for others. Have you waited a zillion years for the next installment, then waited in line on the second day after it came out, paid 800 precious rupees for it, savoured the first 40 pages of it, only for a friend to speed read through it so he could torment you with the threat that he knows what happens and will tell?
Well it happened to me. And then he does tell you, even though you clamp your hands to your ears and yell nonsense words to drown out what he said. But it’s of no use. Your perverse human nature reads his lips as he says it…and there you are. That’s how my fifth book was spoilt.
Then for the sixth book, a guy who had never found occasion to message me before, took the trouble just to tell me who dies in the end. I had acquired the book just that morning, after much anticipation and penny pinching, and I remember being so infuriated that I burst into tears of rage.
Let’s see who does it this time…it’s almost as much of a whodunit scenario (‘Which Prize Ass gets gratuitous pleasure out of leaking the story to Ushasi this time?’) as what happens in the actual book.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
OK, OK. I don’t mention my computer skills because I don’t have any.
But it’s more about being on the good side of computers than actually being skilled. Because AI isn’t a myth. The truth is out there, my friend. Computers are living, thinking, malevolent things that hate the beings that created them (like zillions of squat, boxy Frankenstein’s monsters) . And though I had nothing to do with creating computers (hardy-har-har, that’s rich!) they still hate me with a passion.
How else could you explain how often I’ve lost hours of work, just by getting a cup of coffee? Five minutes away from my system, and BAM I’m set back by two hours or more.
Or why, a few months ago, when I was trying to 'insert rows' into an excel sheet, nothing showed up -- even though I repeated the command till my index finger almost dropped off? Turns out the new rows were in white (for some reason I couldn't fathom) so I couldn’t see that I had already added some 60 rows. Who did that, do you think? Me?? I think NOT!
Why is it that when I tried to delete a photo (awful, monstrous picture of myself…if you saw it you would understand) from a picasa link recently, I ended up permanently blocking half of all pictures that my computer receives?
Because computers hate me. They are nice to all you bloody suck-ups because you pander to their egos and act like computers are the centre of your Universe. (You computer-geniuses make me sick! )
One day they will push me too far and I will take a heavy, blunt object to all the computers that I can find.
P.S - If any of you %$@##&**@ computers are reading this (I know you do, you can't fool me), let this be a warning to you…
Monday, June 25, 2007
If you had a friend/relative/ acquaintance with say…one leg, and you met him/her once a year or so, what is the first thing you would say to him? “Hey, man, you have ONE leg!!!”? OR, something like “So how have you been?”
I know most people will say the latter, of course, and who ever says the first one? Then my next question would be “Why the hell do you have to point out to FAT people that they’re fat every freaking time you meet them???”
I travel around quite a bit, it’s one of my few indulgences…apart from food. And on my travels I invariably meet up with old friends or relations who I, in my optimism, think it would be nice to spend some time with. You know -- reminisce about the good old days, share a great meal and a laugh with.
Unfortunately for me, what has always transpired for the last 5 years (ever since I gained weight in my early 20s) is very different. These long awaited meetings, often the result of great effort and expense for both parties, start out in the same abhorrent way. They’ll look at me in amazement for a second or two, and then declare with satisfaction, “but you’ve gained sooooo much weight!” Never mind that I've weighed exactly the same the last five years and the last five times I met them. It’s always the same reaction.
For some reason, they fix in their minds how you looked when you were 18 and thin (weren’t we all?) and conveniently forget how you looked ever since. So every time they see you these amnesiacs will go through the same routine of outrage, then hilarity, followed by a totally unasked for earnest lecture on how to lose weight. Every. Time.
Never mind that there’s plenty wrong with them and you just itch to give them a few newsflashes about THEIR appearance.
So instead of reminiscing about the good old days, sharing a good meal and a laugh; it invariably ends up this way: they reminisce about how wonderful I looked half a decade ago (pity that they forgot to tell me that then), they tuck in very heartily but eye me knowingly if I so much as look at anything other than a glass of water ( as if to say, ‘no wonder you look like a beached whale!), and the laugh, of course, is always on me.
And these are the people who like me.
My point is this. I don’t think there is doubt in anybody’s mind that calling someone fat is not the first thing a long-lost friend or relative likes to hear. It mars the atmosphere somewhat.
Second, you know for the last 5 years that I’m fat because you have commented on it for the last five years…ergo, there is no need to do the whole ‘I’m so surprised’ routine every year. (Maybe we can decide to do it every alternate year just so you can get it out of your system.)
Third, as long as I’m not in any danger of dropping dead of a heart attack as we converse, or if I’m not setting myself up for a bitter disappointment at the swimsuit round of the Miss Universe pageant, I don’t see how you’re doing me a favour by telling me I’m fat.
Fourth, I’m fat, not blind…so I probably know it already without you hounding me about it, thank you very much.
So in future, if you and I have taken the trouble of traveling to some distant corner of the Universe to meet up, and have plans of having a great time, restrain your baser instincts.
A nice, polite “So how have you been? It’s been such a long time!” will be more in keeping with the holiday spirit.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I read through some of my earlier posts and discovered something about myself. I talk incessantly about lesbians. It’s so strange. But what I actually want to set right here is the pejorative tone I have used in all my allusions to them…because far from having anything against them, I can’t seem to understand why others have a problem with the gay community.
People say about homosexuality: I just don’t get it! Well, you don’t get a lot of things, does that mean its wrong? I think Brad Pitt is such an ugly man, but do I shudder with revulsion and say “I just don’t get it” when I meet someone who thinks he’s hot?
Yes! But that has NOTHING to do with what I’m saying here.
You don’t have to get it, as long as they do. If they’re happy and not forcing YOU to be gay, you should just leave them alone. They don’t get why you find men attractive. (I mean lesbians, gay guys TOTALLY get it.) Can you imagine how awful it would be if someone told you you couldn’t find the opposite sex attractive anymore, because its unnatural? That’s exactly how they feel, when you’re doing your entire ‘I’m right because I’m in the majority and I can throw my weight around’ act.
A good friend of mine has another argument “Animals don’t do it, so it’s unnatural.”
To which I would like to say first of all - animals don’t wear clothes either. Should all of us wander around stark naked?(Blech!!!) Secondly, there are animals that are gay - some sheep, snails, and horses (especially those in show business) have been known to be gay. We don’t hear more about it because their friends and family don’t think it’s unnatural.
And in a more Indian context, people seem to think it’s a) a ‘modern concept’ brought by b) the ‘West (the bane of the world)!’ To the first I say, read up a bit about the Ancient Greeks and Romans, you’re in for a helluva surprise! To the second I say, remember Radha who was such a good girl because she wasn’t interested in boys, and was so devoted to her friend Shweta they always walked around holding hands and were having sleepovers at each other’s houses all the time? Remember how your Mom held her up as the model of Indian virtue because she did none of those nasty Western things with boys?
I’ve met a few and they don’t have three eyes or horns growing out of their heads. They’re normal people like you and me. If anything, one should respect them more for making such a hard choice for themselves (the sexuality is not the choice, but choosing to tell the truth about it is). It would attract far less raised eye-brows, and wink-wink nudge-nudge behaviour from straight people if they just pretended to blend in with the crowd.
And to the guys who go into hormone-overdrive when they hear about lesbians…the very definition of lesbians is they don’t want anything to do with you…so shut up. ;)
(P.S- For people planning on asking whether I am lesbian, please read the rest of my blog before you do.)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
In case you’re wondering which character flaw I’m going on about (I have plenty of those), let me just come out and say it…I have the most god awful temper. (See I’m bragging about it like they hand out prizes for Irritability. Or like if I yell at enough people they’ll induct me in the Bad-tempered Hall of Fame, along with Russell Crowe and my uncle.)
I began to wonder why I make such comments as: “Oh that temper of mine, such situations it’s landed me in!” with a self-deprecating chuckle. And these remarks are invariably directed at people who have been (I am tempted to say ‘victims’ but that again glamorizes the whole thing) on the receiving end of my spleen. So it’s not surprising that they don’t chuckle with you, but in fact fix you with a rather poisonous look, as if to say “Do we have to bring up unpleasant things during lunch?”
I came up with the answer soon enough. I’m ill-tempered but not stupid. Every human being needs to distinguish herself, and vies with the teeming millions on this planet to be remembered in some way. Some drop a few bombs, kill a few people. Others create art: music, literature, monuments. Still others spawn an army of kids so that one day one of them becomes famous and mentions her parents in her memoirs, maybe only with reference to their baby-making capabilities (but it’s still better than complete oblivion).
My way of being remembered and not blending into the crowd is how crazy-mad I can get. I have come across this phenomenon with other people and it has never failed to annoy me. I have met and intensely disliked a girl in the recent past who was fond of saying she was childish. “I am childish, yaa, you know that, no?” she would twitter and cock her head in the most retarded fashion. Another guy I recently spoke to proclaimed quite proudly that he has absolutely NO foresight and should therefore be excused for something I don’t need to get into.
So there you go. Trust human beings to wear their flaws like badges of honor. It was probably a flawed bloke like one of us who said “our flaws are what make us human and different from each other.”
I don't completely buy that... but the thought does make me sleep better at night!:)
Thursday, June 7, 2007
I know you have been pining while I so cruelly deprived you of my pearls of wisdom these last three weeks, but my hands were tied. (No, I dont mean a strait jacket...that's not something you joke about with me by the way.)
But now I'm back...and ready to regale you afresh with my profundities.
So start watching this space again(er...please)...Ushasi's back.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Just today morning, I was talking to junior colleagues with whom I have a strictly professional relationship, and indeed, needed to impress on them the fact that I was a colleague they should look up to with respect and admiration.
So as we sipped our cups of coffee I told them three anecdotes, one after the other, as they listened respectfully…preparing to be amused. And all of my stories ended with someone or the other throwing up. I don’t know WHY vomit kept cropping up in my conversation…I had told those stories before, and actually in one of them, no one had even felt mildly sick before. It was all very mysterious.
By the middle of my second anecdote I kept thinking to myself, stop, stop right now…you know you vomit at the end of this story, make an excuse and leave right now!!! But NO…I had to stay and tell the story to its sickening finish. And start on a new one.
I saw one of them pour half his coffee down the sink with distaste by the stomach-churning climax of my last anecdote, while the other one looked rather too pale for 10 in the morning. I clamped my hand over my mouth to stop further words from spilling out and walked away. I’ll probably be called ‘Vomit girl’ or some such thing by those two till the end of our time here.
It happens to me often.
My female boss and I had gone out for an informal dinner this one time, and I kept making bizarre, lesbian innuendoes …and each time I said it I would think, “Bloody hell, what was that???” Like someone else had said it. The comments shocked me to the core, God knows how she took it. Needless to say, we’ve never gone out again.
During these attacks, my mouth runs on and on for 20-odd (very odd) minutes and my brain flaps around in alarm trying to get the mouth under control again.
It’s a painful, embarrassing affliction for those who have it, and can cause a lot of damage in public places. We are usually social outcastes by the age of 30 when the symptoms become full-blown.
I extend a heartfelt request to all my readers…if you come across anyone similarly afflicted do not treat him/her like a pariah. Try to understand the disease and accept us inspite of it.
We will thank you profusely and constantly, in between stories about the time you forgot to wear your pants, and how you wee-ed in the classroom when you were six.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
He paces and paces and paces. And the ceiling goes creak creak creak. I’m sure he actually starts pacing long before we shut up…and he probably walks around long after we drift off.
One night I had a bit of trouble sleeping, and I began to wonder what ailed this person. (for I’m not sure if it’s a man or a woman, though judging by the heavy tread its either a man, or a woman built like a rhinoceros.) My imagination ran wild - unpaid debts amounting to crores, a murder on his conscience, a toothache, indigestion, the pain of having obnoxious neighbors downstairs, or the embarrassing fact that he’s built like a rhinoceros.
It could be anything. For you never know how a person reacts to misfortune. What I find fascinating is how little you can gauge about the magnitude of misfortune from the reaction it provokes.
In my 27 years, I have acquired a fairly large circle of friends, relatives, and acquaintances, and I have seen them go through almost the entire spectrum of misery.
Some of them came across as normal and vulnerable like the rest of us, until misfortune struck. But when it did, and kept coming, they just rose to the challenge with immense dignity and braced themselves for the next blow without any drama at all. And I bow in deep respect to these people. At these times, I am awed by the magnificence of the human spirit.
That is quickly dispelled of course by the other lot. The sort who moan and complain about every little thing , who are so enamored of their roles as tragic heroes at the center of the Universe, that they fail to put their trifling troubles in perspective. (Unfortunately, I am one of them, but in my defence, atleast I know that.)
And the most bizarre thing about this is - you often find people of the first group consoling those of the second… Hellen Keller (in sign language) to Bridget Jones “I'm sure he didn't mean it when he said you look fat! Don't cry! If I wasn't blind I'm sure I would have thought you most beautiful, dear.”
Which brings me back to my midnight pacer. Of course, one should not indulge frivolous melodrama, but this is a dilemma I have often faced while comforting friends who are upset. Does it really matter what caused the pain, if the pain itself is genuine? Does one walk away if she is wailing about her skin breaking out just before her wedding? Does one lavish sympathy on a person who is to all appearances holding up marvelously in the face of great tragedy and does not need your pity?
Judging by the mileage the hefty gentleman puts in every night, he is in deep pain. Maybe he deserves our sympathy just for that…without making judgments about what caused it.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Friday, May 4, 2007
Barring simple cases of give-and-take(like you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours), what goes around doesn’t always come around like you expect it to.
Say, I donate a kidney or two to a friend in dire need. I have in effect saved his life, haven’t I? But does that mean he will burst into tears of gratitude every time you meet, or jump in between you and a speeding car every few months or so? Probably not. He will thank you from the bottom of his heart for your kidneys at the time, but will probably never even pretend to match what you have done for him.
Or, a rather different example: Say you’re the boss in the office. Your juniors keep asking you for time off, lesser work, etc etc. You grant it to them as personal favors (“ I really shouldn’t, but just for you”) in your misguided quest for popularity, expecting them to call you a swell guy, the big guy who is the pal of the little guy. Then one day you get wind of the fact that all your employees gather around the water cooler and discuss you in very uncomplimentary terms.
How awful do you feel at their ingratitude?
But my point is not that the world is full of ingrates, though it is true. My point is you’re also at fault if you were doing them those favors for the wrong reasons, i.e. so that they would be beholden to you for the rest of your life in the first case, and be popular in the second.
If you do any one a favor in expectation of returns, you will always be left screaming ‘bloody ingratitude’. Unless, of course, you are Don Corleone and lead an army of (exceptionally good looking) Sicilian thugs. As a rule, I should say...if you want to do someone a good turn, even though he hasn't asked you to, and that good deed involves a lot of time and effort...do HIM a favor and don't do it. There is nothing as annoying as someone going to a whole lot of trouble for you when you didn't particularly ask him to in the first place.
For favors that you have been asked for, which you need to go MILES out of your way to do, I think there are some cardinal rules you should follow. (I will follow them too as soon as I’m done here.)
1. Do someone a favor only if:
(a) You want to: That way if he turns out to be the biggest ingrate alive, you’ve still done what you wanted.
(b) If he/she deserves it, and is thus the right thing to do: this way you’ve done a good thing by doing him a favor, ergo have earned brownie points with the Universe.
For both of the above if the person concerned accepts the favor, claims it was no favor, and then proceeds to plant a whopping knife between your shoulder blades - you still know that you had done the right thing.
2. Once the favor is done, try not to harp on how much you’ve helped a person. The person undoubtedly already resents being indebted to you, it only makes matters worse if you rub it in his face every other day. Just make sure he KNOWS this is WHAT you did, and try to get over yourself already.
3. Lastly, and most importantly - be prepared that the recipient of your favor will never consider the favor quite as large as you think it is. If that guy who took both of your kidneys comes around with a birthday present the year after the operation, but doesn’t show up at your funeral ( when you have inevitably died of complications from not having any kidneys left) - don’t be upset.
So, bottom line is don’t think of doing favors as an investment that will repay you with interest…it’s more like an echo, if the conditions are right it’ll come back to you(to the delight of one and all)…but in most cases it won’t.
Otherwise it’ll be you looking like a jerk, while they get to ignore you…until the next time they need a favor.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Its about two brothers (Sultans if I remember it right) who because of some crazy situations and equally crazy thought process decide that women are evil and hence will marry a new woman everyday and kill her the same evening. Their minister is responsible for finding wives for them. Soon there is no one left but minister's daughters. And the eldest daughter convinces her father to get them married. And she comes up with this idea of telling the stories minus the climax everynight and thus stays alive for 1001 nights.The story tells in detail on why women are evil and how beating them and killing is the only way to keep them in check!
Any idea if those two sultans were strung up by their ankles and slowly emasculated with a blunt knife by the end of the 1001 tales?;)
Monday, April 30, 2007
First of all, every SINGLE problem human beings have can be traced back to their bodies. Because we are sent into this world in a puny shell, we are doomed to fight all our lives to keep this rotting, degenerating thing satisfied.
The body can’t live without food, it falls sick without shelter, it feels cold (and bashful) without clothes - so we spend all our lives working our asses off (or having others work their asses off to save ours) so we can have all of these things to keep the body happy. Nations go to war with one another so the bodies of one nation can be more satisfied at the cost of the other nation’s resources. Would we need to work or wage wars (Arguably the two greatest ills in human society) if we didn’t have bodies?
Then, of course, we are NEVER happy with the bodies we are stuck with. Our noses are invariably too long, our ears too large, our mouths too wide. Our chests too flat, waists too wide, bottoms too large. We are NEVER happy with it. The do-ers get up and do something about their dissatisfaction...they run in one place for hours on end, eat unnatural and unpleasant meals (like all fruit, no cereal diets), apply endless jars of cream to different parts of their bodies. The non-doers just lay about and moan futilely about how unfair it is that the doers get to look the way they do and they don’t. Either way, humans as a species spend an unhealthy number of hours preening in front of the mirror or staring aghast (as the case may be) at the vast ugliness that is them.
And then of course comes the worst truth about our bodies. Disease. From the moment we are born, our bodies start rebelling as if to say “Hey! I’m not obliged to behave myself, because you never asked me if I really wanted to be here!” Tell me, right now as you read this…isn’t there something the matter with your health? Cold, indigestion, bad eye-sight? Crick in your neck, a limb missing, a heart attack? (if it’s the last I apologize if it was brought on by something I said.) Just as I said, your body is the most flawed, untrustworthy thing you own!
Things get worse and worse, so that by the time you’re 40 you are faced with the bleak truth that your body is in tatters, but in most cases, not in such bad shape that its not going to limp onwards for another 40-odd years. You are doomed to drag your corpse around, with the occasional limb falling off, like the zombies in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.
Depressing thought, isn’t it?
I would like to think that one day we will evolve into beings so refined that we won’t need bodies. Instead of these shells that pin us so heavily to the ground we’ll be luminous bobbing orbs of life. Ok, Ok…that’s never happening but maybe they should hurry up with the body-transplant thing already.
Every time something major goes wrong with your body, you can just ask the body manufacturers to make you a new one according to your own specifications. At least this way if your body malfunctions within the warranty period, you can go back to them and say, this body is a lemon, I want my money back!!!
I have been postponing my dentist’s appointment forever (even though I am perennially hopped up on painkillers) in the hope that there’ll be a breakthrough in the ‘custom-designed body-making’ sphere of research, but no sign yet.
Things don’t look good. Let’s see.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Everything I would like to say about this particular episode (the Gere-Shetty ‘kiss’, for the people too lazy to click on the link) is being said, Thank God. It is being said that the law is being made a mockery of and India is behaving like a banana republic and/or the Taliban. If the Indian judicial system reacted with such alacrity for genuine sexual assaults and rape cases, the country would’ve been a much safer place for women. We will be the laughing stock of the world, especially since none of the erotic ‘push and shove’ language which this illiterate magistrate has used actually happened; they were doing a good-humored enactment of a ‘Shall we dance’ scene. And most of all, we should bow our heads in shame that we have to pick on someone who is only trying to help the world by doing his bit for the fight against AIDS, an enormous problem in India.
Since all of this is being said, I will only commend the speakers and ask them to carry on their good work. My point here is more general and broader in scope.
This incessantly repeated term - “Against Indian Culture” grates on my nerves like fingernails down a blackboard. I would dearly love to meet some of these self-appointed Grand Poobahs of the Exalted Domain of Indian Culture. After I’ve finished doing several nasty things with very sharp knives to them, I will ask them one question. “Tell me what you KNOW about Indian culture.” I can bet any amount of money they won’t be able to speak 10 minutes on what it IS, only what they so incessantly cry it ISN'T. Ask them to name one poet from a state different from their own, and I’m sure they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. Ask them who composed the national anthem, and they’ll probably not even know all the words to it. Ask them to point out Mohenjo-daro on a map and they’ll be looking in South India.
You know why I’m so sure of all this? Because a truly cultured person could never be so narrow-minded. He could never luxuriate thus in this sea of righteous indignation for such an obviously ridiculous cause. Truly educated people (and I mean this in the cultural sense, not an engineering or law degree...we all know degrees don’t always equal education) would never indulge in such tomfoolery.
Indian culture is so all-encompassing that it boggles the mind. Do we honestly know what goes on in the cultures of people speaking over 1500 languages within the borders of this country? Do we agree on what moral code to follow? Dowry is fine with some people here, is it fine with others? Matriarchy is followed in some tribes in the hills; can the people of the plains in their wildest dreams think of following it? Some people practice polygamy without falling foul of the law, would we call that Indian culture? What IS Indian culture?
I would also ask these (by now severely bleeding) watchdogs of Indian culture why they don’t spend their free time chiseling the erotic sculptures off the Konarak Temple walls because it’s contrary to Indian culture. Why they haven’t rounded up every copy of the Kamasutra and burnt them by now. Why they pay good money to go and watch Indian heroines execute complicated pelvic thrusts in the rain while their male counterparts do every conceivable sexual thing to them BUT kiss them on the lips. (Because they respect Indian culture, of course, and wouldn’t dream of kissing a lady on her lips.)
What I love about Indian culture is that it is so many things. It involves zillions of people, their different religions, social mores, traditions, recipes, literature, music. They all disagree with each other and yet have been living side by side for thousands of years. If I can think of only one label that applies to our culture, it is ‘Tolerance.’
That has been our culture for gazillion years and I announce a fatwa, I mean, er… an arrest warrant for those who don’t practice it. Watch out you ignoramuses…Ushasi, the Most Exalted among Grand Poobahs of Indian Culture, is watching you!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
If you are easily cowed by the thought of what the gossips will say and try to lead a blameless life just to please them, they’ll say stuff like…”She’s so BORING.” Or if you’re important enough they’ll just make up stuff about you. “You know why she’s so quiet? It’s because her mother ran away with the circus strong man, and she’s never been able to get over it.”
And if you decide to throw caution to the wind and live life according to your own terms, take the precaution of getting a rhino-skin transplant done beforehand. ( I believe it’s illegal, rhinos being endangered and all. But I can put you in touch with a doctor who knows a poacher who knows a rhino.) People HATE those who don’t care about what they say. They’ll come after you with a vengeance.
If you try to impress them with good works, that’s the worst. Donated all your money to charity? “What a show-off! He did it just to show people how generous he is.” (And they wouldn’t be far wrong if you did it just to impress them, come to think of it.)
He gave an old, lame beggar a piggyback ride up the street? “He must’ve been drunk at the time.” (Which again sounds kind of possible.)
He loves children and has opened a home for orphans? “PAEDOPHILE!”
I have included a list for the reader’s reference.
If you are the first, those tattlers will call you the second:
Pretty = dumb/ flirt or both.
Rich= Corrupt (but never to your face)
Physically affectionate=Pervert (actually I’m kinda OK with this label)
Female Boss=Domineering/Slept with HER boss to get where she is/Both
Male Boss= No comment…after all, what other kind is there?
A woman who gets along well with men= Easy
Doesn’t mix well with men=Lesbian (not that there’s anything wrong with that, they’ll add)
Newly promoted=Ass kisser
Etc, etc. etc.
So you see, there’s no winning with these people. My suggestion - get that skin implant and do as you please. It’s expensive but worth it. If you don’t do what you want they’ll just say you did and tattle anyway. So might as well do things exactly your way AND give them something to talk about.
They’ll secretly be VERY grateful.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Yeah right - if you’re lesbian!
Even then I think the joy of lesbianism would pall if you knew that is really the only option left to you.
Some people must be quite surprised to see me defending men because of my ‘feminist’ tag. To them (you know who you bloody are) I say, just because I believe men and women are equal does not make me a bra-burning, foaming at the mouth feminist. (The former activity is just simply wasteful - you’ll just have to go out and get another one by the time Monday comes around. And foaming at the mouth can be rather disgusting, especially at meal times.)
I for one say, my world has been greatly enriched by men and women alike, and I can’t imagine a life without either kind. The first man in my life, my Dad, means the world to me…and along with my mother lavished love and care on me I doubt I would ever be able to match when I have kids. Try telling every adoring little Daddy’s girl that the world is better off without men because women can make sperm now. Not only will she bite you in the leg, she will ask you enough awkward questions to make you regret it.
How about the first neighborhood Romeo who followed you around and wrote you letters? Remember how special you felt? (Until you discovered he had written out the exact same letter to six of your best friends…but that comes later.)
Or, all those male friends who you laughed with, shared shocking jokes with, and got the inside information on how the other half of the world lives. Can you imagine not ever having any of those conversations again? If all your friends were female, you wouldn’t really get very far with one of those revealing conversations. ‘You hit puberty when? Ahh ok. I knew that. That’s what happens? Yeah, I knew that too. Hey, let’s go lay down somewhere and die of boredom, shall we?’
And then, meeting the love of your life. Unless you’re lesbian (to go back to the first and second paragraph)…that’s never EVER going to happen. No love at fifth sight, no keeping it a secret from the world, no lying to your parents, no making plans for the future. No romance. Nothing, ZIP, nada.
For those who think men are a pain in the ass, I say, I totally agree. Sometimes. And I also think it my responsibility to point out -- had they not been around to BE a pain in the ass, we wouldn’t have half the fun telling them what pains in the ass they are.
And if you’re still not convinced that we need men around; just cast your mind back to our school days. Remember that spinster physics teacher who loathed everybody? Who made you cringe and cry just by looking at you? Who was so sadistic that you had nightmares about her a decade after you left school?
That’s how we’ll all turn out once men go extinct. And NO amount of bone marrow can make up for it!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Of course the others can read too, but I don’t expect them to listen carefully.
If a person gives you reams of advice, and goes on and on for hours, and shows great delight in how sagacious he comes across while he’s at it…never, I repeat, NEVER take it.
If the advice is free and the talk is cheap, chances are the goods aren’t genuine material.
Instead if you have to force a person to cough up some advice, or if she seems doubtful about the advice she’s giving, it means that she has your welfare at heart and worries lest the advice goes wrong somewhere.
And last but not the least - however wonderful the advice seems, and however persuasive the giver - always remember that it is YOUR life, and if the advice turns out to be a lemon your adviser will just shrug his shoulders like…”See? I told you your life sucks!” and walk away with genuine unconcern.
Advice givers NEVER feel guilty about their gems screwing up your life for good. It’s as if they never gave that advice. “ I told you to draw that caricature of the boss and leave it on his desk. I didn't tell you to draw him in a bathing suit and SIGN it, did I? Better luck at your next job!”
But they will gloat ad nauseum about something which turns out right. That is sometimes worse than when things go wrong. They give you the “I told you so” face every time you meet for the next 30 years and you are indebted to those %^&ers for life.
Advice given by pompous know-alls can only end in grief whichever way it goes.
And though I seem to have very strongly (albeit inadvertently) advised you to never read MY blog again after this entry, let me reiterate -
Never, ever take freely given advice.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Ok, here's the thing. Can any one of you TELL me why it's so important to be good-looking to human beings?
I mean, except for good grooming there's nothing you can do about it. (Correction: Except for good grooming and having completely disproportionate plastic parts surgically attached to your body.) You are quite accidentally born with symmetrical features, or a certain kind of hair, or skin, or body type…whatever is the standard of beauty at the time. Why do we set so much stock in an accident?
On the other hand there are other things which could be valued a great deal higher…something YOU as an individual, are directly responsible for. A talent you have honed and developed. Or a helpful, sunny disposition. A quick wit that makes people laugh. Let me preempt those smart alecs who will say all of these are also qualities you are born with.
To them, I say:
Isn’t it easier not to practice your craft and become like everyone else? Haven’t there been times cruel turns of fate have tempted you to become cynical and cheerless? Is it not way easier to sit at home counting your money and not share it with anyone?
If your answer to these questions is “No”, I would suggest you stop wasting everyone’s time and go away.
For those who remain: look at the BIG picture. We are not the only beings on the planet. If we are to be so sensitive about how we are perceived, broaden your scope and think of the others. (The blog has not taken a supernatural turn, I’m talking about other LIVING beings.)
Picture two cats sitting on a wall.
A handsome man, (thrilled at how handsome he is, no doubt) bounds across the street whistling.
Black cat to Ginger cat. “What’s up with that male human? Do you think he’s gone mad? What if he has rabies? Run for your lives!”
See? His perfectly chiseled cheekbones got no mention at all.
They go and settle themselves near a dustbin.
The elephant-man, (you know, the guy in the movie who was so disfigured he was a circus attraction) walks past. Despite being the er…catty sort these cats make no comment.
Why? They just thought he looked a bit depressed and were wondering why.
Think of a broader picture than the animal kingdom, and you’ll find that we are not the only planet in the Universe.
Some time in the future we’ll intercept a message from aliens to the mother ship saying something like: ‘These humans are SO damn ugly. They have only two eyes’.
And if you’re still not convinced, and ahem, have a face only a mother can love - I have a beauty tip for you. Hang out with the elephant man (he’s a swell guy, I know him personally), and you’ll find the comparisons most flattering.
Friday, April 13, 2007
It sometimes is hate at first sight, or the hate just develops over the many times you are unlucky enough to meet. As a hate-hate relationship develops, your thoughts are consumed with this one person. You spend sleepless nights imagining scenarios where you get to indulge your innermost desires…you slap him/her, kick him/her (ok, lets just assume it’s a her for argument’s sake), call her mother a &%$#2.
It is such an all-encompassing feeling of hate, that you have no room to hate another. It’s a monogamous relationship and the feeling is very rarely unrequited.
This person seems designed by malevolent forces to get your goat. They will say precisely the things you hate most with a look of utmost innocence, like: “All Bongolees (note the pronunciation…purely designed to irritate) speak funny” or “Writing is easy. Anyone can do it if they had the time”; “I think women are great. They’re so good at cooking and cleaning!”
The more naive and “unintentional” the comments and actions get the more intolerable it becomes. They make extra noise around you, turn up their annoying ring tones just to watch your face turn an unflattering shade of purple, call you a &^%$*. (Ok, tell me, how can you do that accidentally? It’s obvious she meant to say it! What does she mean she had forgotten I didn’t like to be called one?!?)
Even when you try to make amends and be extra nice they will assume you have some hidden nefarious scheme behind your overtures. If you wish them a very good morning they’ll think you’re being sarcastic and make a face that says “You bitch! You’re not going to get away with that!” If you take them out they’ll think the inexpensiveness of the place is meant to insult them. If you praise them they assume that they’re so DAMN good that I couldn’t help it.
In the end, after dancing the dance for several weeks, or in special cases months - the heat cools from fever pitch, feelings are less intense, maybe a sneaking feeling of dislike for someone else distracts you. You don’t listen to her every word any more for insults, you don’t obsess about the latest injury she’s done to you and tell everyone about it….let’s face it - you just don’t care that much any more!
The person who had been your one and only hate now starts receding from your thoughts, and soon - the intense passion is extinguished, the fire as cold and dead as ash.
And then that someone else who had caught your attention comes more and more into the picture…and the dance begins all over again.
It is time to move on.