Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tryst with Terror

It was a usual day of chirpiness in the marriage house. One day after the wedding and a delicious spread of kashur wazvan, everyone in the close family including the dulhan (bride) now was just getting started to a very familiar routine of chitchat, jokes and teasing. Kids were running around in the garden playing games. Adults were discussing arrangements for the impending reception. Young guns were glued to their smartphones. The house keepers had just started to have their dinner when some policemen came outside informing them to shut the doors as there was some firing in a place less than 1km from where we were. It took even less than 1 min for the tempo to change in the room we were in.

Panic set like a wild fire amongst all. The cheerful mood quickly changed to an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. Children were hastily brought indoors. The gates were shut and wedding decoration lights all over the house switched off, so as not to attract any unwanted attention. While some were trying to find the remote to the up-the-way-hosted television which the cartoon watching children had misplaced some days back, others were impatiently trying to access TOI and NDTV on their 2G enabled smartphones (there is no 3G in J&K. Until now.) Since the firing incident was actually happening that time and the area where it was said to be is not a central location, there was no breaking news updates found anywhere even hours after the incident. Being a slow eater I had just taken a second helping of the kokur (Chicken) when this entire fiasco happened. Needless to say I lost my appetite within no time.

Some men folk tried to play brave hearts by venturing into the streets to check the scenario outside but were quickly (and angrily) rushed inside by terrified women. All the drama and worried look on all the adults really got to the children and many started crying. Little ones with no idea as to what was happening and older ones with a faint idea (having been brought up in the state where people are used to such happenings). Many decided to leave for the homes to avoid getting stuck should the firing continue and god forbidden curfew enforced. Guests from other states with no experience of such kind were petrified and rushed to their respective rooms bolting them securely. The poor bride already scared was instructed to cover up as much as possible because of different types of gold she was decked up with. The host of the wedding suggested all of us not to panic but not before informing us that usually the intent of such attacks is mass-killing and since we were a more-than-ten-member party, we needed to be cautious.

As the number of people reduced and with everyone struggling with the siege silently we could actually hear the firing shots. The people who left called saying that they saw a lot of police vehicles patrolling towards the site. With no concrete piece of information at hand, everyone was feeling helpless and not to mention tired, the wedding functions, sleepless nights had taken a toll on everyone. Staying out from Jammu for so long me and most of other guests there had no clue as to who to contact for obtaining a substantial piece of news. I somehow remembered one of my friend ~ with the right politico-socio contacts. Though he stays in Shimla I was keeping my fingers crossed and praying that he should be in Jammu. He wasn’t but he assured that he will check and update. He called back with the information that has some boy has opened fire but it’s nothing serious and we can go back home safely.

The piece of news bought a sigh of relief but we were still skeptical because my house is just a road cross away from where the incident apparently tool place. We reached the house, quickly locked up and went inside. But none of us could sleep. So we sat talking and discussing about the day’s events and similar events we had witnessed while growing up in Jammu. Once there was an attack at Jammu railway station which is again near to our house. There were no mobiles that time and we were just praying for our dear ones to be safe. Our school once received a call stating that there would be an attack when the school got over. There was an army cantonment near our school so this threat was taken seriously. Throngs of police and army were deployed outside the school. Though the call turned out to be a hoax, it did not stop the panic attacks amongst students, teachers and parents. Also an inclusion of what-to-do-in-case-of-emergency drill for us students. Then there was a bomb blast at Daler Mehandi’s concert which my father was attending. Bomb blast at M.A stadium on republic day where my sister and cousins were performing. This and many other instances but none of these match the predicament of what our parents had to suffer in Kashmir during the holocaust of early 90s.

Photo Courtesy - koausa.org

It was around midnight, our parents were rudely woken with loudspeaker calls from mosques urging Muslim youngsters to fight for jihad and Kashmiri Hindus to either convert or leave. Peeking through the windows, clutching their little ones close, everyone was terrified. Even their next door Muslim neighbours and friends with whom they had grown up were seen marching on the roads with Ak-47s shouting slogans – “Hum kya chahte Azadi”, “Kashmir main chalega nizam-e-mustafa”, “We want Kashmir with Kashmiri Hindu women but without their men”. This continued till wee hours of morning after which curfew was imposed. What was to follow would leave a huge imprint on all our destinies. Hindu homes were looted, women raped, children gruesomely murdered. All these activities were combined with a direct message to leave or bear consequences. Amid the lawlessness there was no upfront support from the government considering the fact that Kashmiri Hindus were a minority in Kashmir. Living in constant fear with no news of dear ones, in freezing cold of January with no proper food and little children, most families decided to flee. Not in their wildest dreams imagining that it would be the last time they would be seeing their homes, gardens and the city where they were born.

A lot people ask me that whether I belong to the community who were driven from their homes, they somehow find it funny. What they don’t understand is the pain that simple comment invokes. Like anyone would just easily give up their homes, school, colleges, jobs. But what option did we have against the AK-47s, the ruthlessness and no support what so ever. Anyhow, after a night full of fearful dreams we woke up to the news of exactly what happened – a domestic help aged 14 years stole an Ak-47, burst into a slum near my house (also where our helper stays). He shot 2 people before getting caught by the police. It was that day I understood what a close contact with terror feels like. And how my parents and relatives would have felt on that dark cold January night and many other days and nights they had spent praying for miracles which never happened.

God bless all

Friday, November 14, 2014

To Pee Or Not To Pee

With the Swatch Bharat Abhyaan going about in full swing, every now and then some or the other celebrity is spotted on the page 3 with the long handled broom. Since our magnificent PM is driving this initiative, just like him this move has a lot of charismatic coverage on both press and print. The huge hoardings, the informative advertisements on television and in movie theaters is surely going to bring about atleast some amount of necessary change. But still the average Indian mentality remains to keep the home spic and span but to do hell with the roads, public transport, washrooms, historic monuments, gardens etc. We all have witnessed peanut shells on the train floors, banana peels on footpaths, heaps of garbage on roadsides, un flushed littered public restrooms, X loves Y inscribed on the walls of historic monuments. Visit Qutub Minar and you will be a witness to half of love stories of Delhi and the small caves on sides will smell like piss. Don’t know what they were used for earlier but visitors have probably found a good sneaky place to pee in them.

Photo Courtesy - thehindu.com
And let’s not get into the part of how our men attend the call of nature wherever they find place. Walls, bushes, highways just about anywhere. Moving traffic, dogs, cows, women nothing intimidates them. It is us women who are taught from childhood to control and be mature about everything, including the call of nature. Usually there are no public washrooms so on long distance travels you have to entirely rely on petrol pumps and roadside dhabbas or some really heavy bushy areas. I say this with experience, once on a road trip from Jammu to Delhi I was under siege of a severe bout of stomach infection. So the journey was prolonged by slow driving to spot prospective restaurants and havelis (Haveli is a popular chain of highway joints at Jalander, Karnal and Ambala. Designed and styled as to drown in Punjabi culture, they are a must visit for both intake and outtake) for me. Even if you are lucky to spot a surlabh shrochalay the smell flowing within the radius of 2 foot will make you forget the pressure you were experiencing and you will decide that teaching your bladder/intestines the art of control is probably a better idea.
Photo Courtesy - blog.coverall.com
Let’s face it, we all have at one point or the other littered the roads, wrote on rupee notes, spat indecently. I have on many occasions done the same (except the spit part). But off late I try my best to store any trash in my bag and throw it only when I spot a dustbin. However I do have a bone to pick up with people who dirty the place around them for no apparent reason. Don’t flush after using the restroom. I would be mortified to leave a restroom dirty, knowing that someone is bound to use it just after me. And mind you, this is done by Zara wearing Esbeda carrying ladies and they show no sign of remorse even when you give them a look which says ~ you are disgusting. Then there is my roommate well educated and arrogant. After shower she leaves a bunch of hair in the drain which I absolutely loathe. But this time I though instread of using the usual direct confrontation I will try something different. So I removed the hair every time thinking that she will get the hint. She chose to ignore my good gesture and continued to dirty the washroom. She is leaving soon and I am not keeping my fingers crossed for any last minute miracles. If you ask me, her post graduate degree, the supposed hi-profile job or the branded clothes all go to vain when you don’t have the basic civic sense. It just makes you uneducated and crass. At least in my eyes.

Tata Consultancy Services, the IT giant has pledged Rs 100 crore on toilets for girls across schools in India as a part of PMs Clean India Initiative. Here’s hoping for more public (and cleaner) washrooms. As much as I miss shopping in local markets I am also thankful for malls and the restrooms in it. Without them shopping for long durations used to be nightmare. Not long ago the trio, popularly known as the gossip girls went hobnobbing in the SoBo. After a (very) hearty lunch, drinks and way too many caramel custards at the parsi café we set off to Crawford Market. The office friend previously mentioned here and here was accompanying and wanted to buy utensils. Someone had told her that apparently the utensils sold here are of best quality and cheap. So off we went utensil shopping.

Entering Crawford market we spot myriad of stuffs – belts, shoes, fruits, showpieces, bags, toys but not a single utensil in sight. This is June and monsoon is delayed so we are just aimlessly waking in the scorching sun. After few inquires a kind man tells us that the shop is near a distant tree. That tree is so far and the heat has affected my brain so hard that I find it difficult to judge whether it’s real or a mirage. Amidst the walk and shouting abuses at the utensil-lover-friend all of us feel the need to pee. Now this is old Mumbai we are in and there is no restaurant or café or restroom in site. The bisleri's we have been drinking to beat the heat aren't helping either. Plus the tree does not seem to get any nearer. We do spot a dhabba but the conservative looking men in there do not seem too thrilled with us, dressed in all fashionable finery. So we contemplate going to some house and requesting them to let us use their washroom but then decide against it. While walking we somehow stumble outside a temple and rejoice at the sight. We ask the watchman of the washroom status, he nods in agreement and we are like hallelujah!

We are let through some dark stairs into an alley with rooms full of saree clad women busy with their rosaries. The place is eerily quiet and little scary. Somehow we reach the restroom and lo and behold what do we spot! It’s more like an array of changing rooms. There is no drain, no hole but its smelly proving that it has been used before. Desperate and left with no other option we decide to go ahead and do the business. Even after scrubbing our feet with water and wet wipes we felt dirty. Just talking about it makes me wanna have a bath. After unsuccessfully trying to forget the dirty episode we finally made it to the tree and thank heavens the utensil shop. We also decide to forgive the utensil buying friend for making us walk 2km after she promises to feed us pomfret fry made on her newly bought aluminum tawa. Needless to say after that day she has never mentioned the pomfret fry. Ever.

We had a similar where-to-pee incident when on a trip to Alibaug and a trek to Bhimashakar. We had to find some heavy bushes and keep two girls out on watch for infiltrators. There is a reason girls avoid eating and drinking on long distance trips. Now you guys know how difficult it is for us girls. I am awaiting the day when we don’t have to fret about this and will have easy access to clean public restrooms. Till then we will drink less on outings, exercise bladder control and fully support & participate actively in Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan.

Photo Courtesy - financialexpress.com
Jai Ho! 


P.S The title of this post has been “inspired” from SATC Season 3 Episode 2.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When are you getting married?

Is it just me or has the standard greeting changed from “hello, how are you?” to “When are you getting married”. I suddenly have a new found respect for Salman khan. With the entire nation going crazy over his marital status. And the sheer volume of marriage questions he is asked, I can imagine how he must feel. After a certain age people just automatically start excepting things from you.

The moment you pass your 10th standard people want to know the subject you elected for. Then after 12th they are keenly involved with you in the college selection process. For another three to four years they won’t give a damn about what you do (except for the result days). But as soon as you graduate they will be back, wanting to know about your plans for future. Further studies or job. If its job they will ask you whether or not you got it every time they see you, even if it is consecutive days. Once you do land a job, after a peaceful tenure of two to three years they will be back and this time with a more ulterior motive – Marriage.

You know you are in trouble when your Facebook page start highlighting your friends changing their relationship status from Single to Engaged on a regular basis. The time of your doom is not far away. In no time your parents will start to approach you for that special talk and required qualities. Before you even realize what’s happening there will be tons of prospective profiles thrown at you with the intent of you choosing them on the basis of overtly edited picture and highly technical (and bogus) qualifications. Then there are ever friendly and helping auntyji’s who will leave no stone unturned to find a perfect match for you. They will sit will chai-biscuit turn their entire family (and extended family) tree upside down and draw out atleast two to three ideal matches for you – with money, looks and property.

Things start to get scary when people apart from your parents, friends and the auntyji’s start taking interest in your marital status and when your friends start to post updates of their first kid. I am in that scary place right now. In the last few weeks people ranging from random colleagues to acquaintances to housekeeping people have asked me when I am getting married. When I refused to meet an old friend multiple times, he automatically assumed that I am engaged. It’s like wherever I go there’s going to be some or the other marriage talk. My office consoling friend, previously mentioned here does again nothing to sooth my nerves. In fact she tells me that in Maharashtrian society a girl of 25 has to marry a boy of 32 because a guy of 25, 26 will always want a girl of 22. In the IT sector where 24 year olds have pot bellies, image of a 32 year old with 5 month pregnant belly and male pattern baldness gives me creeps. Also she adds that when you marry at the right age, which is 24 you have proper time to enjoy for 2,3 years and then plan for a baby at 28 which again is the perfect age for the first baby. Then by 32 you would have the second baby and be absolutely free to “enjoy your life” by 35.

I was at this crossroads few years back as well and that too has resulted in a very frustrated blogpost. I can’t believe I am back there and this time with a situation graver than the last. What scares me more is that back then I could atleast imagine myself doing something ~ studying in a MBA college, working in some software company or helping my mother by washing utensils/clothes. But in this case I just can’t imagine myself married, living with a guy, cooking and cleaning his stuff. My imagination just stops at the wedding dress, shopping and jewellery after that it’s all just a dark black hole for me. This just indicates that I am mentally not ready for marriage. Being the youngest in my family for a long time, I was always dependent on my parents and sisters for all my critical life decisions. So somewhere down the line I just did not grow up, in my head I am still a little girl. I am still into hairbands and funky jewellery. Marriage therefore scares the shit out of me. I start getting panic attacks the moment anyone utters the M words. I am waiting for myself and my brain to make peace and take its time getting used to the idea of being married. I am ok with this but I guess society is not. That can be the only reason for people going bonkers over my non-married status.

All this got me thinking to whether we marry because we are ready and want to or just because people expect as to. Do we marry for the society? Buckling under the pressure? Because after a certain age it just seems normal to get hitched and avoid questions or raised eyebrows? Do we just settle down to avoid being alone at gatherings and weddings? To present that picture perfect image of ours to people…however blurred or distorted that image maybe from inside. I for one feel that marriage has been given way too much importance in our society. Let people be, they will get married when they want to. And that’s not all, even when people do get married the very next thing people expect from them is the inevitable “good news”. So overall it is just a vicious circle.

My future plan does include marriage but I don’t want my life to revolve around it. There is just so much I still have not done. I know I sound like a wistful teenager but it is the truth. There are so many things to be done, horizons to be reached, places to go, canvases to be painted, shoes to be bought, book to be written, revenges to be plotted, experiments to be done, get drunk and what not. Lots of what nots.

Heres raising a toast to not getting married.

Pssssst ... This is a picture free post, the absence is attributed to laziness.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Note to self - 10 things I simply cannot do

Dear Future-Me,
Please take note of the following points.

1. Wear white – Although I love the colour and the grace that flows out of it, I have my issues with it. There is just no way I can wear it without spilling food, dripping it in beverages or brushing again dirty walls and stuff. Even if I don’t dirty it, after 2,3 washes I don’t know why but it just starts to look like a rag cloth. So thou shall never again buy white unless it’s expensive enough to mandate dry cleaning.

Photo Courtesy - elle.com

2. That perfect hairstyle – My hair has a life of its own. It just starts to come out of random places however neatly I try to wear it. I leave home looking like Miss India pageant and enter office looking like a gypsy who hasn’t combed for days. I go green with envy every time I spot these ladies with perfect glossy hair, not a strand out of place. Carrie Bradshaw rightly said, some women exist in this world merely to make us feel bad about ourselves. I have to make peace with the fact that I cannot be that perfectly hair styled lady, because any how after a few hours of fiercely pinned up hair, my head starts to ache like anything.

Photo Courtesy - dreamstime.com

3. Let Go – If ever I suspect/find out someone bad mouthing about me or passing a comment of me, my clothes basically anything remotely related to me. I just go crazy, simulating the entire thing in my mind. Why the thing was said, what could have been the possible reasons for saying the same, how could such a thing be said? Till the time this war is waging in my head I am unable to talk properly to that person. I do forget it after sometime on face but in mind I have a list and a motto of forgive but never forget.
Photo Courtesy - polyvore.com
4. Not wear Kajal for more than a Week – I have been applying kajal since my college days almost regularly except for a few off days. My face has become so accustomed to kajal, that without it I look weird. Not weird but sick, dull and sheen-less. The number of health related questions I encounter from people on non-kohl days is frustrating. I have tried to break away from the shackles of mystic surma but not more than a week. Who would have thought that I simple kajal can make so much effect on your look. Some definition to the eyes and a jab of lip-gloss has been my standard makeup strategy since ages.
Photo Courtesy - magicvalley.com
5. Diet – I have tried various types of diets ~ the salad diet, the smoothie diet, no-carb diet, lean protein diet and the just-drink-lime juice diet. The one that lasted the longest was about spanning around 1 week and I was at my crankiest best. What helped was the fact that I was in morning shift with comparatively lesser human contact and sleeping early helped in skipping dinner. As soon as I shifted back to general shift, the food habits kicked right back in. The only think these diets have given me is a very nasty temper. The only way I can work these diets is with a strict helper/ training who will prepare small portion foods like sprouts, brown bead sandwiches, nuts, cut fruits and salads for me. Because let’s face it, diet food is way elaborate and tiresome than our normal daal chawal, khichdi and instant noodles. And me being a lazy bum, well, there is no way I am going to do so much of work!
Photo Courtesy - bestfunnyjokes4u.com
6. Sneeze like a lady – They say my sneeze has the power to bring people back from death or even make them dead with the impact of it. My sneeze is like a mini thunder. I get baffled by ladies who sneeze ever so lightly and then mutter an excuse me. It’s actually with that “excuse me” that you actually come to know that they have sneezed. I can never be that lady. I can never get satisfied with a teeny tiny sneeze, for me it should be full of drama – sharp inhalation with head jerked back and then full speed come back with huge exhalation and sound effects. Aaaaaah the relief!!

Photo Courtesy - dbuster.com
7. Eat Cheeku – I have unsuccessfully tried to like eat this fruit several times. People have gushed about its sweetness and forcefully fed me. But however hard I try to like it, to be it just seems like eating sand. So granular and tch tch noise making.

Photo Courtesy - flickr.com
8. Speak out – I cannot just go on spilling details about me to anyone. That has never been me. My father taught me early in life, the more you speak the more trouble you are likely to get in. It’s always better to be a person of few words. I won’t say I am secretive, just the non-spilling type. Because the thought of people juicy gossiping over my heart-shared details with their other friends just makes me red with anger. And calling people telling them details of my mundane life is another activity out of my bounds. After a tiring day spent in doing exactly the same things I’d rather spend my day curled up in bed with a nice book.
Photo Courtesy - gizomodo.com
9. Live without Maggie – I am in love with this 2 min magic. So versatile. Make ‘em with veges, bits and shreds of chicken/mutton, chat masala or amchur, fry it up with onions, or just make it as is. There have been times when I have thought that I have had enough and can never eat a morsel of Maggie. But I have faithfully been back to it. It has saved me from dying via hunger. After all there is nothing much to be done – Just add garam pani :-)
Photo Courtesy - timescity.com
10. Drama-less – These just has to be some drama in my life. By means of clothes or a funky piece of jewellery, I just have to be different. Period

Photo Courtesy - instyle.com


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Perfection Vs Imperfections

Whatever happened to falling in love with imperfections?  The pakoda nose, kajol like unibrow, the unconventional curly hairy, big black mole somewhere on the face, the crooked teeth, the love handles. All these things though considered to be a big no-no in the plastic world are very much a part of the real world. Accepting them as a part of a person should be easy or natural. But guess what, it isn’t. We make it a point to pin out these imperfections and divert out every iota of conviction and confidence inside that person. I say this with my great observation skills and well, sadly personal experiences.

John Gray, the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is a brilliant man. No wonder his book sold out like billion copies. The supposed inhabitants of Mars (which would be men) are so unaware what goes inside a fellow Venusians mind. They just blurt out anything without even stopping to think for a moment on what could be its repercussions. And don’t let me start talking on most Mars-ians obsession with perfection. Especially when it comes to the dream woman. The high standards and picture they have in mind is omg head spinning. Lustrous hair, clear complexion, big melons, slender waist, washer board abs, toned legs and of course shy and homely. That’s your average man’s fantasy women. There are definitely such hotties out there but they do not out-number us unlucky plain janes.

Girls will definitely agree with me when I list out the issues being faced by the likes of us – the non-fantasy-girls. Our hair far from being lustrous resembles a bird’s nest on bad hair days (which is 4 days outta 7). Our skin is prone to zits and flair ups due to adult acne. The food we eat automatically all turns to fat with a special affinity towards our stomach, thighs and bum. Every night we vow not to apply kajal and every morning swiftly change our decision when the mirror has a totally washed out sick looking image to present. We drive our roomates crazy every morning by asking them again and again whether the top we are wearing is making us look fat or highlighting the muffin top near waist. We hate the pain inflicted on our bodies by means of threading & waxing and put off the monthly trips to parlours. This is done till the time friends, co-workers and enemies (mostly males, at least in my case!!) start making fun of the fact that we have mustache and beard. And that our bushy eyebrows makes us look like aliens. Some have been pretty direct by saying that – Girl you need to wax. Now. 

Picture Courtesy - gettyimages.com
Although I am not a girl who you can place into the plain jane category but trust me, I have been a witness and withholder of all these taunts and jokes. None of these jibes, however matches the hurt and the pain felt when someone comments on the fat at some parts of your body or the lack of it at other parts. And as far as I am concerned the timing of these comments is so bad that it literally makes me cry. After a long break I re-join the gym, feeling fabulous after sweating it out on the treadmill. In my mind I am already size zero. Then while I am sipping my green tea (which has recently been swapped with coffee) a particularly pesky co-worker comes up to my desk and comments on how big my biceps look in the sleeveless shirt I am wearing and how my thighs are even bigger than his. This pesky co-worker works out and has a fab body so I am not able to use my signature You-Look-at-yourself-bloody-loser comment. While I was busy killing him in different ways in my head, another guy very subtly suggested me to "do something" about my dry frizzy hair. All I could do was just get angry, give him a dirty look and hit him lightly. Lightly because his muscular body bounces and hits be back.  But on my inside I had already murdered him with burning rage, spilled the hot stupid tasteless green tea across his face and drowned myself in dark chocolates while sobbing at the top of my voice.

I go crazy zooming in and out on pictures especially of events, functions and picnics. These mass shared pictures always have a particularly unflattering picture of mine. Taken from an angle that makes them thighs look thunderous. While sitting face all smiling the tummy area is captured to have multiple layers of fat of which by then I was totally unaware. Then there are always the mouth open, crazy smiling, red eye pictures which keep you awake in the night ~ the thought that you may delete them from your folder but they are there in everybody else’s. In times like this you need someone to utter reassuring words which will instil a beam of new confidence in you. Make your now reluctant feet to cross the threshold of this place called Gym. But my story is so sad that I am unlucky here as well. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a friend in office who plays agony aunt. But she has a weird way of silencing me. On Monday she comforts me by saying that I am not fat, it’s just that my arms are a little bit big for my frame. So far so good. On Tuesday she pacifies me by saying that in trousers my bum looks a little big. Ok. On Wednesday she soothes my tensions by saying that I just need to work on my thighs. Come Thursday and she tells me that if I work on my stomach, I will look perfect. On Friday she ends the week by saying that my double chin looks soo cute. On Saturday while lying on my bed I realize that she has officially, slowly, part by part called me fat without me even realizing it. Discreetly. Different yet not that different from the guys. 

Picture Coutesy - memecrunch.com
 Great, Makes me feel all the more bad (to put it mildly). I am not blinded, deep down I know I need to work on my body. But I want to keep it deep and bury it as far as possible. When someone just keeps on calling you fat in some way or the other, or jokes about it. Well it feels like someone sliced me up, sprinkled the wounds with salt & pepper and then just set me up on fire.
Now if you would just excuse me, I gotta go cry myself to sleep.


P.S This is officially the first time I have used crass words like “bum”, “melons”. But I thought that if songs can be made on it (Engine ki seete main maaro bum dhole) I should be able to use it in writing without any filters. As far as melons are concerned I have tried all my self-control not to talk about the taunts about them in detail. Anyhow this is just a small preview of the fact that this good girl has gone bad.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stereotyping Much?

Stereotyping is a part of human nature. Period. Except for maybe Dalai Lama and other noble souls. We all have an uncontrollable urge in ourselves to observe people around us and make unrequired/unwanted/unauthorized pieces of judgement about them. Sitting in a food court with my friends, many a times we have passed comments on anything walking on two legs. A cute baby, the overtly romantic couple totally unaware of surroundings, the cola drinking dude, chicken leg enjoying fatty, the solitary eater and salad eating dressed to nines divas. With a single glance it somehow feels that we can predict and calculate some characteristic traits of these people. This is a universal activity which irrespective of the place is omnipresent. And while we are busy judging others there is a very positive chance that at the same time we are the topic of discussion/ridicule/judgement amongst a different group of people. This activity is pretty harmless and a popular topic of gossip amongst all.

The harm comes when we start to stereotype. Some are just etched into our minds from childhood, so even if our adult mind understands or recognizes the correct information our first instinct will always be to go with what’s been imprinted on our minds. Coming from religiously disturbed land of Jammu and Kashmir, the first emotion the word Pakistan derives from me is of strong hate, irrespective of the situation or circumstance. I can’t be in a same room with a person who praises a Pakistani cricketer. My mind knows and understands that its silly but I just can’t help it. For me its brings about haunting memories of migration, loot, gruesome murders, rapes and awkward years growing up in a place away from homeland. Like this we all have some or the other stereotypes that have been passed into our minds through our own experiences, portrayal on television/films, hearsay's, old grandmother tales or some due to sheer stupidity. But trust me, the list is huge.

I will try and venture into it slowly taking one popular stereotype at a time. Since time immemorial women have been the most popular victims of various sexist and stupid stereotypes. Blondes are naturally perceived to be dumb. A lady driving a car becomes a butt of jokes and ridicule. Smoking and drinking will put demeaning labels on you. Having a lot of male friends or ex-boyfriends will make you a slut. Being reserved, talking less to people will make you a snob and being friendly will make you a tease who is just out there to attract all people and attention to her. A well-dressed shoe accessory nail paint coordinating girl is termed as a wannabe. A tattooed girl is considered to be wild and one with wayward ways. Agreeing to a male friend or a colleague for a simple coffee or a movie labels you as easy catch. Strong career women is always considered to be unemotional, ruthless and the one wearing pants at home. And if you are over the ripe age of 26 and unmarried, well then god save you from all the allegations and inquisitive personal questions about your life. What’s all the more hurtful about all this is that it’s not just men but even women who turn up against each other. Which reminds me of another popular stereotype that two women can never be close friends without a fair amount of jealously involved. This is something I totally disagree with, I know we are a little bitchy by nature but there is no way that affects the bonds we have with our girlies. Well, whoever said that girls have it all easy was definitely drunk off his ass.

Picture Courtesy - herahub.com

Moving on to other stereotypes (most of which even I believe in):

1. Models don’t eat.
2. All south Indians are extremely intelligent and eat food cooked in coconut oil.
3. And put coconut oil in their hair always.
4. People from Delhi are over smart.
5. Punjabi’s drink and eat tandoori chicken every day.
6. Haryana is full of farmers and women abusers.
7. Goa is the great Indian party hub.
8. African Americans are all sportsmen.
9. French are Italians are great lovers.
10. Americans are obese
11. Arabs are freakily rich with all the oil money.
12. All Muslims are terrorists.
13. People from J&K have apples trees in their backyards
14. Vanity caring women are only fit for glamorous jobs
15. And don’t get me started on what we have about people from North East

Stereotypes have always existed and I am guessing will continue to stay for a long time. Old ones may die but new ones are sure to sprout. While their existence it pretty harmless to general public it really is a slap on the face when you are a direct victim of it. Over the years I have been stereotyped on numerous occasions. Sometimes it was funny, other times flattering. But mostly irritating and on more than one occasions downright hurtful. Since I am from a state that has been a source of constant trouble and various pre conceived notions, the stereotypes (or myths) are many. We will take them one at a time:

1. Stereotype: Militants and terrorists just roam out and about the city and I must have seen about two dozen of them.  
Reality: If they would have be so easily accessible to general public, there wouldn’t be lakhs of moolah riding on them. In the almost 22 years spent there I haven’t seen even a single terrorist (and boy am I happy for that or what!). Life goes on pretty normal out there, in spite of the unfortunate incidents.

2. Stereotype: Since it’s a small town, education possibilities must be pretty limited.
Reality: Surprise Surprise. J&K boasts of many elite schools and colleges. Ok not as per standards with IIT but we do have our share of recognition. In fact very recently my Alma-Mater, Presentation Convent Senior Secondary has been ranked 10th in a survey conducted by Education World India School Rankings 2014. #so proud#.

Picture Courtesy - facebook.com

3. Stereotype: Jammu main Beauty parlous hai?  
Reality: The two things you will find in every nook and corner of the city are ~ beauty parlous and tuition centers. You would be surprised to see how decked up Auntyji’s are in my part of the world even if out to buy just vegetables or throw garbage. If you are spotted in a night gown outside the premises of your home, well it will be the catalyst for a mini scandal in the city.

4. Stereotype: You have a good dressing sense, why don’t you try modelling?  
Reality: I have a good dressing sense. Thanks! But why does that make me fit for just glamorous jobs and give me a very party going snobbish image. Even a simple girl in any profession of any background with any kind of hobby or something can be fond of dressing up. And has every right to be dressed elegantly and stylishly if she wants to. As long as it’s not vulgar, it’s all good. Even then it’s the girl decision and hence her problem rather than everybody else’s.

5. Stereotype: Girls like you don’t have such knowledge. {Such in this case being mythological knowledge}.  
Reality: This by far has to be the one that hurt the most because it was made by someone I consider a friend. What hurt the most was like people out there may speak trash, call names or categorize me into some type of woman that they feel I am. But when that same thing is done by someone close to you, a person you consider friend, the feeling of betrayal is unmatched. That’s when I feel that is always better to be a private person and not just sit and discuss every tiny detail of your life with all. You never know who is going to change sides and use that information to hurt you where is hurts the most.

Coming back to the topic of mythology, well girls like me (if you may say so) do know the basic things but if you go on about asking me details of it, I wouldn’t know Bhim’s son’s name from Mahabharata, not because I love fashion but simply because it’s something that doesn’t not interest me. Like chess. Or sports. Or cartoons. Or Sci-fi action films. That does not make me an alien or a different type of girl all together.

Picture Courtesy - www.entities-r-us.com
I for one feel that it’s really irrelevant to put labels on people. Lovers, show-off, wannabe, greedy, stingy, especially when you have no idea about them, the life they really lead. And the actually person behind that designer wear, those pointy peep toes, that stylish tattoo, those low riding jeans and that big long pricy car. But if you do know the real person behind all that junk, then my friends do keep the name calling in progress.

On a totally different note, have you seen this picture of ISRO scientists, after the Mangaalyan's bon voyage. Its speaks a thousand words, saree and gajra wearing scientists breaking stereotypes without uttering a word. And here I had to ramble on and on before getting to the point ;)

Picture Courtesy - www.dailypost.com


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nostalgia - 6 Things To Miss About The Good 'Old Days

Some days after a particularly shitty day, sitting with a cup of instant noodles in my hand, I sit back and reminisce about good old childhood days. The days of no deadlines and bosses, no fast food and cellulite, no fake friends who smile with you at one moment and bitch about you the very next. Someone rightly said, you die twice – once being when your childhood dies. When I look back at the golden era of my juvenile days, there are a special set of things and stuff that come to my mind. I fondly remember and miss some of these, have tried to go back in time on one particularly lonely night (with instant noodles) and listed the below thoughts and things that have been long forgotten and almost obsolete. But still manage to be close to my heart and clearly etched into my memory. Hero goes:

1. Audio Cassettes 

Photo Courtesy - indianexpress.com
 In the 90s cassettes held an important place in our hearts and homes. There was a huge drawer in my house which was entirely devoted for cassettes and strangely it still is. Any home party was incomplete without the latest cassettes of hit movies and pop songs. If you liked one particular song in an album to listen to it again and again you had to rewind the cassette, unlike today when the same is done via a click or touch. But there was something really special about that rewind thing, I feel. It felt like you really have to work to get something you desired. Rewind. Check. More Rewind. Ohh no. Too much Rewind. Forward a little. Yea, that’s right. Perfect.

There were too many options out there for but sadly money was pretty limited. On an average each cassette cost was around Rs 40 back then. My first ever buy was Sonu Nigaams very popular album with the hit song “Tu”. I was madly in love with Sonu . The cassette is still at my home, holding a special place with Sneha loves Sonu scribbled on it…Buying cassettes was a very big deal back then. Since we (me and my sister) received no regular pocket money it got difficult for us to manage buying all the latest ones. We had a very clear strategy though. Cassettes were bought only if all the songs (or majority) were good or else we spent our afternoons writing popular songs on papers and sharing it with our local bhaiya who recorded them in a fresh cassette. We named these cassettes with very cheesy names like “Superhits-Vol1”, “Ehsaas”, “Dil ki Baat”.

When we got bored of listening to same songs we recorded new songs onto it from the ever running radio. Vividh Bharti was the only radio station with Chitralok, Pitara, Meri Saheli and other awesome programs. Gosh, it was the best time ever!! It is so astonishing that how suddenly cassettes were wiped off from our lives. One day I was buying cassettes and then suddenly I switched onto CDs and then everything was online. Agreed that what we have today is good and very convenient but sometimes I do yearn of cassettes. I totally understand some people’ fascination with old gramophone records. When I visit my hometown I go through our old collection of cassettes. Each one has a memory associated with it, they make my heart swelled with emotions of nostalgia and longing.

2. Summer vacations at granny’s place 

I am the little one in white dress :) cute no?
 For me a major part of the excitement about the summer vacations was attributed to the time which was to be spent with cousins @ nani-ka-ghar. We would pack our bags with pretty frocks and colorful shorts and scoot off. After waking up to a breakfast of butter smeared paranthas, we sat glued in front of TV for Chutti Chutti on DoorDarshan. Heavy lunch mandated a quintessential afternoon nap. We woke up to suck into juicy cold mangoes and run off to play cricket where all my cousins would bat/bowl and make me the fielder. My cries would force them to let me bat for few bowls but that was it. We also indulged in some healthy rivalry by making groups and teasing/irritating the hell outta each other. Studying and doing the holidays homework was the best part ever. Fighting, tearing each other notebooks, breaking noses and digging hairpins into thighs which caused hospital visits. We have done it all….

These days’ summer vacations of even toddlers are pre booked in form of dance classes, swimming classes, art sessions and loads of holiday’s homework. While all this is definitely important but then so is the trip to nani’s house. This practice needs to be kept alive as it forms an important memory growing up. I am sending off my kids to nani, come what may. Summer classes can wait!

3. Bring back Gold spot and Canada dry

Photo Courtesy - impactonnet.com
 Long before taste the thunder and Oh Yes Abhi Gold Spot used to rule the roost. It came in hefty glass bottles which you were supposed to return after consuming. I seriously don’t remember the taste but it was definitely not like Fanta or Miranda. It had awesome ads as well. I still wonder why they stopped making those. Another fab drink from those times was Canada Dry. It was a very controversial drink because of its objectionable colour which made it look like an alcoholic drink. But its taste was mind blowing and its ad was oh-so-sexy with a white tiger in snow and stuff. Canada dry was a favorite of me and my sisters, we were shattered once it was banned or something. There were others as well which came and went just as quickly. I particularly remember Crush because of its interesting pony neck bottle design.

I just saw gold spot and Canada dry ads on you tube and it was wow. So amazing how we forget something that happened yesterday but remember stuff that happened ages ago. I would just do anything for re-introduction of gold spot or Canada dry.

4. Old TV shows 

Photo Courtesy - abhisays.com
This is a huge list. Songs related - Rangoli, Chitrahaar, Superhit Muqabala. Mythological -Chandrakanta, Shri Krishna, Mahabharat, Ramayana. Comedy/Fiction – Ek se bhadkar ek, Shreeman Shreemati Samay, Tehkikaat, Shaktiman, Captain Vyom, Sea Hawks, Hip Hip Hurray, Just Mohabbat, Surbhi, Malgudi Days, Disney Hour. This and those old English shows like Small wonder, I dream of Jennie, Full house with Uncle Joey and cute little Mischelle.

5. Portable video games/Comics

I am taking about those adorable little devices which looked like mobile phones. Few buttons, some car racing, block breaking games together with lot of shouting in background from Mom. These are my memories of the portable video game. That and when ours got broken and my sister took it to her lab for getting it soldered. Needless to say, that was the last I saw of it.

Photo Courtesy - dvdtalk.com

Comics were a clear favourite. Being youngest for a long time amongst my cousins, I had an easy access to a myriad of comics ranging from Archies to Chacha Chowdhary. Tinkle and Pinki. Billu and Nagaraj. I loved all but I had and still have a super soft corner of Archies. It was just so fancy to me. Veronica with her awesome fashion sense. Betty with the perfect girl next door features. The cute freckled Archie, Jughead the foodie, mean Reggie and other characters at Riverdale. I was so psyched when I came to Mumbai and visited Pop Tate’s for the first time, in the comics it was a popular eatery where the Riverdale gang hanged. I still sneak in copies of Archie’s from crosswords, well some guilty pleasure.

6. Neighbourly Culture 

Photo Courtesy - therealdeal.com
Back in my childhood, neighbors were like extended families. My family is still in touch with neighbors we had in all our previous homes we lived it. I particularly remember Verma Aunty. Sometimes when I came home and my mother was not there, she used to leave the keys with Verma Aunty and I would go collect it from her. Verma aunty gave the keys but not before she fed me dry fruits and a chilled glass of roohafza. And neighbors kids were usually the ones you developed crushes on. Peeking from windows, behind curtains, eye contacts on the terrace, getting all shy and blushing in their presence. It was all so filmy and cute.
These days’ people are totally unaware of next door people, having any kind of relationship with them is totally out of question.

So many other things come to my mind that were an integral part of growing up, but yes a lot of work is involved in providing a description to them. Being an engineer I am not really a fan of one liners. I only wanted to include stuff for which I have big fat lines of description readily available in the Random Access Memory of my brain. So now over to you guys, please leave behind nice description of your childhood memories.