Friday, August 31, 2007

The Vitening Rewolution.

Since we’re on the topic of TV, I thought I’d train my crib-gun on Indian advertisements.

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

Stupid things people say on American TV

I hate it when people giving advice on TV sagely say “Just be yourself.” What if a person isn’t really too great when he’s being himself? Has that struck these bloody “be yourself” fanatics? I bet Eva Braun told Hitler to be himself every morning over a cup of tea. We all know how THAT worked out. It would have done the West a lot of good if he had been a little less himself.

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

Burning Bright!

This week, friends (Diya and Shaun) who had come a-visiting and I went to the Bannerghata National Park, a forest reserve outside Bangalore. There, we went on a safari in a caged bus. The funda is that the animals are loose in woody enclosures several kms across, and the humans are in cages on wheels. The animals think we are rolled in for their entertainment at certain times of the day, while we think it’s the opposite.

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


Back from Calcutta. Will write soon everyone...cheer up!

Theeeeeee sun will come ouuuuuuut Tomorrow!

bye bye.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Old Age.

I was chatting with a long-lost college classmate a few weeks ago. She happens to have the same birthday as me (12th October…make a note of it), and she was saying the big 30 that looms ominously in front of us is completely freaking her out.

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?

Hit me baby one more time!

My friend Nisho just pointed out to me that I’d crossed a 1000 hits. I, of course, was counting every hit until the day before yesterday - it was 980-ish then if my memory serves me correctly. Typical of me to abandon the count right before the milestone was reached.

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

Wild Thing!

It is quite unusual for hordes of monkeys to swing from the banisters and pooh in the balconies of fairly upmarket apartment complexes in India, no matter what the Western perception is.

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.