Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Ode to Friends.

My husband always wonders at my addiction to Friends. “You’ve seen this episode 12 times before!” he’ll cry and change the channel to a music video he’s watched …12 times before. He watches as much as he can, that is, before I clobber him with a chair and retrieve the remote from his unconscious grip.

It’s an addiction that comforts and cheers at the worst of times. I was bereft when Friends ended, and think nothing of watching reruns of the same episode as many times as they show it.

I know every ‘Oh-My-GOD”, every “How YOU doin’”, every “Could you BE more …” in the 10 seasons of Friends. Yet I laugh when they laugh, shake my head patronizingly (“that Joey”), and hope Ross and Rachel won’t break up; like it’s…maybe not the first time…but certainly only the fifth time I’m watching that episode. I feel like I’m sitting on that couch with them in Central Perk, ribbing the others (sometimes cruelly) about some trial they’re facing at the moment.

Sad, I know.

I think it’s because it takes me back to when people had time to be friends in my own life. I’m particularly attached to this sitcom because it reminds me of my gang back in college. We were a mix of girls and guys (apart from three of us the combination changed when we graduated to Masters Degree), and we would hang out all the time. We would sit on the back staircase on our floor in JU and pass the time of day just like the characters in Friends. Of course we weren’t half as good looking, and were students rather than working people alone in the city -- but it was much the same.

Just like them, we would josh each other about sometimes sensitive things (I got no end of grief for my Bengali. I thank God I wasn’t overweight at the time, the teasing would’ve been merciless!). We would just be glad to be in the company of like-minded people and laugh uproariously at each other’s jokes. Conversation used to be stimulating—we would try to outdo each other in wit; sometimes there would be flashes of profundity in our na├»ve exchanges that I find SO hard to come by in my “adult” conversations nowadays.

I guess when I watch Friends all of that comes back to me. That feeling of belonging, of wondering what madcap thing your friends will come up with next; of that sudden flirtatious spark with one of the gang because you’re young and happy and attractive and everything is right and fun.

Now I’m still friends with most of the group from that time, though except for a few who I consider my closest friends still; everyone has got on with their lives and rarely get a chance to catch up. Not one is in the same city as the other; and I doubt with the sundry trials and tribulations that a near decade can bring, we could ever share the light-hearted banter that was at the heart of our closeness so many years ago. I know for a fact that we’ll never ALL be in the same room together, and in fact, there will be some who won’t even agree to it.

Now, 8 years down the line, some of us have done better than others, some have got married (not to each other; none of the Monicas and Chandlers made it oddly) and had kids, others haven’t. I find it strange that a group of people who shared such a close bond could be so different now. Yet, I feel confident that however happy or busy our lives are now, every one of us have a flash of nostalgia when we think of the staircases and window ledges we used to haunt for hours every day, chattering about everything and nothing.

And that’s the time when I switch on the telly and watch Friends re-runs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In case you were wondering if I'd chickened out of putting in my two cents about this one...

I’m angry.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that 2008 had been a GodAwful year, what with the Financial disaster (Capital F), bombings and what-have-you that wiped the smug ‘India Shining’ smiles bloody straight off our faces. Now we have complete lunatics entering our pubs and beating up women for “going against Indian culture” (yes, THAT again.) and giving quotes to the papers to the effect that they’ll beat up women in jeans and noodle straps (these thugs seem to have a keen eye for fashion, I thought men didn’t know the names for these things) and that they’ll forcibly marry off any couples they see on Valentine’s Day.

Of course very few people condone it, but the very fact that such mad men are allowed to run amok like this and clearly state their intentions to disrupt the peace and inflict bodily harm on peaceful citizens disturbs me. And obviously they have taken a huge leaf out of the book of ‘More ignominious chapters in Indian culture’ in this idea of forcibly marrying people off, ignoring the fact that a marriage wouldn’t even be legal if it’s done under duress by some gundas who come along.

Here’s my advice to such weirdos. Get A Life. Maybe you’ll be able to BEAR seeing other people happy or having fun then. Get a JOB. Maybe you won’t have to accept money from politicians for politicizing total non-issues and disrupting the peace then.

All of us, in our heart of hearts, feel bad for you guys and the singularly joyless, perverse existences you live – where every woman is a sex object and thereby “provocative” unless covered up.

Oh and also, stop saying that you’re on opposites sides of the divide with your fundamentalist brethren from other religions, because from where I’m standing your little tricks the past couple of weeks, and what the Taliban does to women, are just different by a few degrees, is all. (You guys should have a fundamentalist convention and have team building activities like, “Shoot the provocative 11 year old girl in the legs” or attend lectures on “How you can enforce culture without knowing any culture at all”.)

Shame on all of us, for allowing such losers to grow on our soil.
And Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!:)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My attempt at a superhero story. :)

A bus full of ordinary office-goers (one of those red ones with the closing doors which charge a bomb) plunges into a suspiciously lumpy looking canal. Turns out that a multi-crore pharmaceutical company has been secretly (i.e at 2 pm on weekdays when everyone is at lunch) dumping their factory wastes into that canal. Among sundry gross things is a strong concentration of their experimental drug “Trait-R” which when tested on bunnies brought out and enhanced their dominant characteristic, that is, made them cute on monstrous proportions. It has sometimes unfortunate effects on humans, humans being rather unfortunate as beings. But if they’re dumped into a whole soup of this chemical the effect is disastrous.

Thus were born a league of superhumans, with their own dominant traits enhanced to the point of excluding every other trait (like a sense of humour or love for dogs.) In such a concentrated form they are:

The Fabricator (credit to Chris and Rema of office)

Clad in little white Lie-cra fabric, She saves the world one “You don’t look fat at all!” at a time.

Where the Fabricator is, peace and love and deluded fat people follow.

Blunder Woman

The antithesis of The Fabricator, Blunder Woman produces great unity wherever she goes. How you ask? Armed with her relentless faux pas (they’re smallish, blunt objects but hurt like hell if they’re hurled at you) she brings even the most mortal enemies close to each other in shared annoyance of her.

Not to be confused with, Cat Woman (alternatively called “The Bitch”)

Where Blunder Woman cannot keep her foot out of her mouth ( “Those allergies must be awful to make your face swell up like that! Oh dear…no allergies…you say…”) but is greatly pained by her super power to annoy and upset people; Cat Woman is greatly feared for her calculated and sometimes deadly blows to the human pride with her weapon of choice -- her hatchet Spite. (“Those allergies must be AWFUL to make your face swell up like that! Oh dear…no allergies…you say…” Walks away with a smirk.)

Super power: No Egos where she Goes.


The Incredible Sulk

More identified by the dark thundercloud hanging over his head than unconventional skin coloring and ‘fits all sizes’ underpants, The Incredible Sulk has the unerring power to feel affronted and victimized by anything people do. He will throw a hissy fit and then go outside and sit in a corner until people (who are usually the ones in the right, but ‘let it go, you know he’s like that’) search him out and insincerely apologize to him, so he starts acting like a normal adult again. This superpower helps people build extreme patience and tolerance; or alternatively buy a gun.

Stupor Man

The healer of all insomniacs and the bane of all others who already get their 8 hours and don’t want any more…Stupor Man will put anyone to sleep with his involved, self-congratulatory, and mind numbingly boring accounts of what he said and then what she said, and what he thought when she said that, and what he told her when she said that, and so on.

Superpower: An encounter with him, and you feel so much better about your own life.

Who is a close cousin of Direction Boy:

Armed with exhaustive directions to every place he’s ever been, in fact every place he’s ever heard of, and an eternal thirst to know directions to every place mentioned in every anecdote—Direction Boy has the superpower of interrupting the most interesting anecdote so many times for EXACT directions that people tire of the story and wander off. (“Hang on hang on; the cannibal bit you where? Papua New Guinea? Where in Papua New Guinea? North or South? Near that darling little shrunken heads shop on Eat Street?”)

Bag Lady

The whole world is in her purse, including a bill for a box of gum bought in 1973.

Super Power: Is guaranteed to root around in her bag and produce a half-crumbled stomach cramp pain killer when you have cut your finger and are bleeding to death.

And last but certainly not the least is

Fat Man

He can kill you just by sitting on you. However if you run away real fast, he’ll never get the chance – so it doesn’t really matter.