Friday, December 25, 2009

Raising Mama!

The following conversation between the hero and his mother (Fortunately, I was a fly on the wall!).

S has been on a movie spree these days, and he has a penchant for Clint Eastwood/War movies - grim, grit and gore fare.

Yesterday, after seeing yet another of those, his mother exasperatedly turns to him and says

"Can we please try and get some cheerful movies once in a while?

And then the afterthought "Also ones, without any f****** in them"

(Referring, we think, to the colourful language which peppers these movies, rather than the more literal intepretation of the same.)

And then she realized what she had just said...

P.S. I am on severely blogcked right now pliss to excuse. (17 half finished posts I tell you. Hmpf)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bedtime tales

One of the most unnerving ordeals as a new bride/groom has to be definitely the sleeping quarter allocation when one goes a-visiting with the extended outlaws and the laws.

No, I don’t mean the whole suhaag-raat deal, I am sure that is quite awkward as well – but this is slightly later version, long after the marriage frenzy and confusion, when one in cold-blood is expected to walk into a shared er...conjugal quarters under the watchful eyes of parents and/or other elderly relatives.

It is absolutely and completely disorienting – and certainly more so for the girl, if she has been brought up in the usual Indian family ostrich like style of avoiding anything remotely to do with “THAT" topic.

The first trip to Goa post marriage was therefore quite harrowing.

I went swaggering in to the uncle’s house assuming that everything was going to be like usual, with just an addendum in the form of the spouse. Maybe a little fuss about him, but that would soon fizzle out I thought.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Suddenly I found that by virtue of marriage, my whole standing in the house had shifted from just-another-head that needs to be shoved into whichever room/bed/mattress/floor space is available to the er...consort of the CHIEF GUEST OF HONOUR.

(Just to provide a context, in my growing up years, a full house was 25-30 odd people ( all talking at the same time). Sleeping arrangements meant a long room with four mattresses, and pillows which normally resulted in a free for all to get place or bed sheets. A charmingly democratic resolution to the sleeping problem)

There is apparently a rule book about the proper method to treat this CHIEF GUEST OF HONOUR who must not be offended which I had completely missed (the last female marriage had happened when I was about the two, and I am the eldest of the girls and the first to get hitched.)

This included fulfilling (and anticipating) every culinary wish of his, hovering around him and asking him whether he wanted anything every twenty minutes, scampering like hares to pander to every word which emerged out of his lips. (Bloody annoying it was – gave the hero a vastly exaggerated sense of his own importance. Also this overwhelming, gushing gratitude at having married me, wasn’t particularly good for my ego)

And the worst bit of all, the seventy odd year old uncle and his wife, self evicting themselves from the master bedroom and sleeping on the settee so that the Jamai could repose on the king sized bed.

And it was a awkward-as-hell. It takes cold-blooded nerve to confront a white-haired patriarch with conversations about beds and sleeping arrangements.

To be fair, the hero was more discomfited than flattered, but I had little sympathy for him at that point especially when he would talk about how he has saved me from spinsterhood and other lines in the same vein.

And somehow this whole thing followed us for a year or so, when we went to HIS uncles house. We were allocated his cousins room ( Daughter in laws are a much lower species than the sons in law ). We walk into her bedroom to see a double bed there. Hero, with his usual presence of mind and fetish for feet, asks, “But Maami, have you reorganized your house, weren’t these two single beds on two sides of the room?”. Maami blushes and mutters about kitchen and escapes. While I am left to pick up the pieces of my shattered self long enough to kick the hero really hard (He ALWAYS does that. The kind of sticky morasses which I have been subject to because he has a way of firing of his mouth is too awful to even list down here. )

One of the best anecdotes I had heard about this was that of my friend S’s eldest sister – let’s call her R. (Just as a context, S is the youngest of three sisters). R, and her brand new husband come for the first time to the house where she grew up. Come night time and S’s Ma is getting the guest room ready by putting fresh sheets and linen for the newlyweds.

Her dad traipses in, looks bewildered at aunty and says “Isn’t the J (the groom) going to sleep in the same bedroom alongside me – PUT HIM in there. Why are you putting him here?

I always wonder how poor aunty (the good wife and DIL that she is) explained to her irate spouse that his son-in-law could and should, share sleeping quarters with his now-grown-up daughter.

This post was written quite some time ago, somehow never got around to posting it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Almost famous

Well, I seem to have hit the blogging A-list or Blacklist or some-or-the-other list.

I have, hold your breath, been impersonated.

I didn't know what was the blogosphere protocol for this. Should I get angry or amused? Should I fire off emails to all and sundry administrators ? Should I enable comment moderation? Should I grovel to the other blogger who was getting a bunch of spam-virulent comments in my name?

But then I realized that this impersonator fellow/felli, had supremely developed histronic sensibilities. He was not content impersonating minor fry like self - but also donned KJo's persona. August company indeed.
Do not miss the offended, yet magnanimous comment (written by the fake KJo) is certainly worth its weight in gold.

For further details, see last post comment stream. (The only REAL comment of mine is no.18)

Wonder whether Page 3 will pay me for a low-down on this?

Edited to add: Have had to enable comment moderation now, been getting some vague-ish comments which are avoidable. Apologies to all the regular folks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Self-sacrificed in the name of Kurbaan

WHY did a movie which has the potential and the story to become a powerful social commentary become such a ghastly farce? Terrorism is a burning and complex topic. Why break it down to the lowest common denominator? (I suspect that it was shadow directed. Rensil D'Silva was a colleague of mine (look at the way I subtly name drop ahem. But its true for all that, I have sat across conference tables and swigged chai and biscuits with him). He is a bloody intelligent man. He has also written Rang De Basanti which was a powerful film - this one was a serious anti climax.

I think the fundamental flaw in the movie was the fact that it tried to appeal to everyone. A movie can either be a serious, real, topical and gritty movie catering to the intelligentsia - in which case, I would watch it a serious frame of mind. OR can be out an out a Hindi-film, which I can watch after suspending my disbelief. I cannot do both at the same time.

Why expect me to believe for instance, that a so-called professor (who seems to spend much more time drinking coffee and romancing than actually professing), presumably with SOME intelligence will go traipsing into dark dungeons in a place which she suspects of being dangerous. Why would anyone with half a brain DO that? Why would an otherwise supposedly bright reporter again NOT contact the cops after a message on the answering machine, and instead chose to go all swashbuckling solo ( and incidentally fall asleep on a stake out). Why are the neighbours especially the women so uni-dimensional, almost robotic–– whose only role seems to be to serve coffee while the husbands plot their nefarious deeds? (I kept on having the wall video in my head for some reason when they would file out with the coffee trays singing “We don’t need no terrorism”)

The folks behind the movie also seemed so reluctant to actually HAVE an opinion about terrorism – so rather than a story, it seems to be a composite of disjointed shots put together just giving random tidbits of information. An infomercial rather than an editorial approach to movie making as it were. And even the infomercial is quite tentative and full of backtracks, justifications and self-exculpating disclaimers. Thus, for a Muslim fundamentalist, you have the convenient counter of Muslim Liberalist. The accommodative Hindu who is not against his daughter marrying a Muslim because he is Muslim, but just because he is “different “and so on.

The acting and emoting was pedestrian and just diffused any impact the story could have. That of an ordinary woman who wakes up in a nightmare, married to a terrorist. It’s actually a plot with so much potential for taut tension - the conflict of the loyalties whether to sacrifice herself (and her yet-to-be-born-baby) for the greater good, or the greater folks for herself.
Kareena made an unqualified hash of it – NOWHERE does she appear torn, or conflicted or vulnerable or anything except whiny (All those dialogues about “So, after all, you were just USING me?”. Woman, the fellow is cheerfully contemplating mass terrorism. It is not about you, get a grip yes?). Saif again, was disappointingly bland – I didn’t find him particularly scary, ominous, dark, intense or “pathar eyed” (As Kirron Kher would say).

That famous love scene was such a complete yawn-fest. The camera panning up and down backs – so what?

The movie had some moments of inadvertent hilarity though. That breathtakingly insightful comment of Riyaz as he steps off the plane “Iraq is a mess”. This beautifully pithy and understated profundity had us all rolling in the aisles. Kirron Kher’s extraordinary Afghan- accent which brought to mind the atrociously bad Kabul Express.

All and all, the movie leaves one feeling rather cheated - that something that could be so powerful and moving, just ended up being such a damp squib.

Sigh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The goose and the gander

Let me illustrate by an example. Say a goose and a gander, try on a pair of jeans that don’t fit. This is sequence of events thereafter.

Goose
1. Starts minor hyperventilation
2. Tries to squeeze into jeans by contorting the body into weird shapes and not breathing
3. Examines the jeans to see if they have mysteriously shrunk and heaves a sigh of relief thinking they have indeed shrunk.
4. Tries on another pair of jeans just to prove the hypothesis
5. Finds out that the other jeans are no more accommodating than the first pair (pun unintended)
6. Minor hyperventilation progresses into medium sized hyperventilation
7. Goes through a mental checklist of what has been eaten in the previous two hours, wonders about water retention, salt intake, pms and other cheerful things
8. Tentatively (after wearing the lightest possible clothes in the wardrobe) climbs onto a weighing machine
9. Does an acrobatic back-flip in horror
10.Medium hyperventilation progresses to major hyperventilation
11.Calls best friends (2nos) and tearfully asks whether “Have I been looking fat these days?”
12.Hangs up after not believing them and sits in a corner brooding for the half hour
13.Goes through a check list of all meals and lack of exercise in the last three weeks
14.Curses Diwali, festivals and everything fattening
15.Kicks the offending jeans a couple of times
16.Make plans for drastic starvation and salad diet w/o sugar, oil, salt or anything edible in it
17.Curses genes
18. Make plans for rigorous exercise schedule
19. Make an excel sheet for diet and exercise tracking
20. Wallows in self pity

Gander
1. Waves the offending jeans at whoever is present and blandly and unconcernedly says “I need to get rid of all these jeans that don’t fit, they are cluttering up my cupboard”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sachin on a song

Dear Sachin,

I started watching cricket in 1991 or thereabouts - the buzz was around this fresh faced, young boy - a few years older than me, but certainly a contemporary, who was already been touted as the "One to watch".

And for almost twenty years, the world has watched - poetry in motion, the cricketing God, the one-only-next to Bradman - the praises have been so many and yet, none enough to describe who you are and what you mean to the ordinary joe or jane in the street.

You have stood for hope, when the country had nothing much to look forward to. You have stood for purity and what is right and pristine in a chaotic time. You have stood for passion in a country starved for heroes. You have stood for perfection in an imperfect world.

I have felt so many emotions watching you over the years - heady exhiliration at a sweetly timed cover drive, I have wept tears of joy when you led India to yet another victory, heartbreak and anguish when you were caught behind, and vitriolic anger against the umpire who dared give you a dodgy lbw, the odd vicarious brag ("Oh Sachin's house is right next to my college in Bandra"). But I have never felt the exasperation which say a Dravid used to occasionally elicit ( though I am a big fan of his as well) and never, ever disappointment.

Yesterday, watching you yet again, on a song, I felt another emotion - privilege - that I was born in the same generation as you and that I could actually watch you through all these years as a contemporary. That my growing years coincided with yours - and therefore, I could watch it with the same intense passion with which you played ( unlike the detachment I feel when I see the cricketers today) . And privilege that I have indeed witnessed genius.

When you are on , the world stops to watch.
CiW

P.S. Very gushy,incoherent post aiyo. *Blush*. But got very senti last night.Pliss excuse

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Love of Books, and Books of Love

The big problem with being a bibliophile is that one needs regular shots of books to keep sane. The bigger problem of being a bibliophile is that the only way to get these regular shots is to buy the dratted books. Nice, neat solution you say? Not if you are almost permanently broke and especially not if you live in a house where it is almost impossible to walk for five minutes without tripping over books (I really don’t know why though. I think the books have little baby books in the nights. We can’t possibly have brought so many).

So what does one do? One trawls the area and joins the only library which seems to exist in the city. And so have I.

Now this library (and I use the term euphemistically) has been started by one fellow K. It is about the size of a large walk-in-closet and is bursting at the seams with M&B’s, Archies, Joan Collins and not much else. So I have been wading through this not-much-else’s of his (I had taken a diksha that I shalt not read MB’s when I was 14have stuck to it so far).

K unfortunately labours under the illusion that he understands his clients. Thus, every unsuspecting borrower is ambushed with what he thinks are great recommendations and he gets quite offended if one doesn’t borrow the said book. I tried his suggestions a couple of times – fairly innocuous sounding titles and synopsis. And then I found books rampant with “six foot of virile masculinity and rippling abs with ( or without) tight Armani T-shirts” and “women who had sweat drenched shirts tucked in and open to show delectable mounds of bronzed flesh” which has endangered a severe mistrust of his must-reads. (Yes K, there ARE females in the universe who don’t like books of lovin’ particularly. Interesting sidebar, noticed how male porn is always visual and femme porn is always verbal?).

Now having gone through most of the readable books, and quite a few unreadable ones, I find myself having to confront variations of these soft-porn and romantic thingummies.

M&B of course I have vowed not to read. Other books in the genre which I have picked up over the years in book-drought times have been along the following lines.
Danielle Steeles – read some of her stuff in my teens and came to the conclusion that all her books followed the following construct
1.A misunderstood and difficult childhood wali heroine
2.With a name which was usually Alexandra ( Alex for short) ( sometimes for variation the hero was called Alex)
3.The heroine lost her virginity at age 19
4.She went through 3 men – 2 of them who died in tragic and heartrending fashion and left the poor heroine destitute and/or pregnant and/or completely alone
5.Tears and crying in approximately 76.31% of the pages

Nicholas Sparks’s appears to the male equivalent of DS. Only with more muscular hero who dies in the end – the hero can either be a fireman or a cop or a recluse living on an island. The tough masculinity belied by the tender-easily-broken heart just aching to love and be loved.

Then there was one female called Judith McNought – who apparently tried to write historical stuff. But then her heroes had names like ‘Wolf’ and ‘Fox ‘or ‘Raven’ (NEVER ‘Crow’) who ravish women and then fall in love with the “innocence shining out of their eyes” (and also the voluptuousness shining out of their bodies), but they tie themselves into guilt-ridden knots since they have raped the said women.

The woman of course, has this rather conflicted view of wolf. On the one hand, she is horny as hell and wants to be er...taken again. On the other hand, the woman is passionately in love with the misunderstood poor-little-rich-boy-ignored-by-his-parents-in-childhood-and-hence-turned-into-ravager and wants to reform him. But then she also mistrusts him because he has the power to “shatter her heart into a million splinters”. And then all ends happily ever after.

Frankly, I think most females would have a strong distaste for anyone who rapes them – even assuming the said rapist is an Adonis look-alike. But maybe, that’s just my point of view.

The BEST plot however goes as follows (I had read this a dozen years ago and I still remember it.) I cannot for the life of me recall the name of the book or the author though. The story went something like this.

Starts with a suicide of a rich, successful, handsome (blah, blah) man. No one knows why this fellow should commit suicide since he is on the verge of a marriage with a girl of his dreams who happens to be also twenty years younger than him. So she (or someone else) starts investigating into the death.

Flashback time
1.Rich farmer A rapes next door neighbour’s fifteen or sixteen year old daughter B
2.B gets pregnant.
3.B’s parents coerce A to get hitched to B.
4.A and B get hitched, have a baby son C
5.Three four years of misery for B pass, while A continues to plant his seeds in the neighbouring lands.
6.B decides enough is enough and takes off into the sunset leaving A and C behind. End of B
7.Fifteen years later, C is hotness personified.
8.C goes to the Riviera or somewhere, and has a steamy affair with a Mrs. Robinson – let’s call her D. D is also married to rich fellow E.
9.Affair ends, D and E fade into the background
10.Twenty years further on, C falls in REAL love with F. They romance, they slow dance and they prance.
11.And then C commits suicide.
12.Why?
13.Because he finds out that a) Mrs Robinson (aka D) was actually B- his mother.
14.And he also finds out that from that torrid affair of his, this D/B/Mother had conceived a child – who, hold your breath turns out to be F the same person he has been having a romance with which of course involves sharing the conjugal bed.
15.F is essentially C’s child, conceived with C’s mother.

Do you feel like throwing up now? I did.

After that I have a mortal fear of picking up any such books.

Sigh. I need a new library.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alter Egos

One of the problems of social media is that two separate worlds and two identities are starting to collide these days.

When I first started the online avatar circa ~2000 in the chatting era, life was very simple. There was the real life me. And then there was the online avatar. The people who existed in both spheres were largely disparate – maybe one or two very close friends aware that I was on the chat scene. Consequently it developed into almost two parallel personae – the online avatar the almost crystallized, distilled version of the quirky, carefree, irreverent part of me. The real life was more diffused – with responsibilities, work and worries and what not.

A few years on, some of the folks from the chatting crowd went on to become friends –leading to an exchange of names and telephone numbers. But for some reason, the chatting scene (or maybe it was the early internet scene) seemed to attract a fairly anonymity obsessed breed of individuals so it was fairly easy to keep the two identities separate (the geographical spread of the chatters also helped – almost all were in the US)

2004, a fascinating new thing called blogging came to my notice. I had no social life – my time being largely spent at work. A lot of the chat crowd in an almost synchronized, lemming-isque fashion had stopped chatting. And of course, that latent writing bug in me. So blogging was manna from heaven – a place to write, vent and read some other people. It eventually led to a forum to meet new people – but that was an unplanned (albeit very welcome) side-effect.

But the bloggers, unlike the chatters (at least the early bloggers) all seemed to coincidentally belong to the same large fuzzy circle in which the real life people operated (a remarkable number of them from the marketing/advertising/MR fraternity - the no-social-lifers with the same bright idea perhaps). Almost all of them were contemporaries and from the same tier of grad/post-grad schools. And thus every other blogger was only one or two degrees of separation away from me.

And thus the overlaps began – some meetings, some phone calls, many mails, chatting –the earlier purdah of real life versus online life just wouldn’t work anymore.

At the other end of the spectrum, the REAL life people started popping up with rather alarming regularity in the online life –, the boss on blogger, the client on twitter. And then chatting folks started blogging. And the blogging folks started chatting. And everyone and their mother-in-law started twittering and facebooking.

Very disconcerting to my poor alter egos. Should I continue with the online avatar in the online world irrespective of the fact that offline people (who had seen only the stone-cold sober side of me) or should I not? Would I like to show the blog/twitter avatars to a few people from real life?

The other aspect is that of anonymity – I am yet to ascertain for myself what it means to me. When I started chatting it was clear that I didn’t want the online folks to know my name or any other aspect– the internet was abuzz with stalkers and perverts and hackers who could do unnameable things if they knew who you were. But over the last decade ( aiyo rama- almost a decade!!!), where my anonymity paranoia has relaxed, I wonder whether I am more worried about the real life acquaintances coming to know of the more carefree persona ( the in-laws and outlaws hobnobbing with the chatting crowd – now that IS a terrifying thought).

And it’s all very confusing keeping them separate. I am very sure I will sign off an official mail with CiW one of these days.

Maybe I shall flamboyantly unmask myself one of these days. Hmmm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Horn OK Please*

After five and a half years of writing whatever drivel I chose too, I thought it was high time I got some feedback from my dear readers. So dear readers, I have introduced the star rating system for my posts - where you can throw bouquets and brickbats ( the former, for a choice. We drivel-writers have rather thin, vulnerable skin). Any super enthusiastic folks who want to go and rate the archived posts are also welcome ( No? Well, it was worth a shot)

I also just got an invite to be a Desi Pundit contributor - and as you can see, I am being very modest and NOT putting it all in block caps and NOT writing about doing the hula hula around the laptop after receiving the mail. A very, very big thank you to the Desi Pundit team - I am very excited.

And in this spirit of feedback, dear readers and dear lurkers, I would like to put in a question to you. Which would you consider the top 3/5/10/Heck-as-many-as-you-like-don't-stint posts, which you think should be made into DP ? Please comment with whichever titles, categories you remember. ( I have been struggling with choice. Also with the temptation of marking ALL 150 of them.So am taking the easy way out and passing the buck hyuk hyuk.).

* Wanted to wake you up you, dear lurking readers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nothing official about it.

The hero seems to have acquired an office wife whose existence is causing much merriment in my life. AND she seems to keep hero in line without me having to do any work ( an ideal state of things,no?).

She is positively and definitely MUCH more wifely than the I am or am ever likely to be.

She tut tuts when he goes out for a lunch with the team the day after he has been sick (Keep him away from chicken when he feels like it? Very hazardous to health activity, that)

She cuts her hair and seeks his opinion ( I have come to the conclusion that unless I get a Mohawk cut, or get a tonsured head, there is very little actual chance of hero noticing.And if I were to ever ask him questions like "how is my hair looking", chances are that he will give some utterly inappropriate (and devastatingly truthful) response.)

She gets scandalized when he swears and tells him "mat karo" ( The official wife is proud of the fact that she has a better cuss-vocabulary then the hero. She is the co-author of that famous cuss-word dictionary after all).

And she, the unofficial wife calls him "Aeee"* in full marathi ayya-issha style( as oppose to "Abbe").

Poor fellow dreads work tete-a-tetes with her because he thinks she might start nagging about something.

I, of course, am shining in comparison.

So that philosophy that "If you want to look thin, get fat friends" seems to work here as well. If you want to be the cool wife, GET a scary wife.

* Closest hindi equivalent would be "Aeji" I think.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali

Wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali.
May it be full of light, and happiness and love and luck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Smell

I am always amazed at how much impact some smells can have on ones life and state of mind. I don’t mean common smells – good fragrance, bad odor – the perfumes and the rotten eggs which evoke that ah or ouch moments. I am talking about the scents which are much more personal- hardwired into some inner, unknown consciousness. Smells which spring up and catch you by surprise and have the power to suddenly and without warning change your mood, your outlook, your frame of mind.

Yesterday, I was someplace where the receptionist just switched on the air conditioner. It gave off that slight whiff of old dampness (of an air conditioner unused for a while). Almost immediately I felt a heaviness in my heart - (I have no cause to feel so right now).

Which set me wondering about what possible association it could have which causes this sudden change of mood. I have felt it before – that sudden sniff followed by the melancholy. I know that the predominant mental image I have of the smell is a wet blackboard on a rainy day. Me, clutching someone’s hand and climbing up this dank, dark stairway which comes out to a second floor landing outside an old classroom on the second floor (I clearly remember the second floor bit clearly for some reason). I even remember that the bottom edge of the blackboard is above my head. (Reason validates that, the only classroom which could possibly fit that kind of memory happened when I was maybe three or four years).

I don’t know what happened which caused that kind of oppressive subconscious association. I can’t for the life of me remember, and neither can my mother. But that is the odor I can smell (even when it’s not physically present) on late Sunday evenings in the throes of pre Monday blues.

Similarly I can’t tolerate the scent or rose-incense sticks – and the variations of that rose perfume, rose sticks, gulaab paani (not roses though) – that’s always associated with traumatic death. Easier to explain since that’s one of the strongest smells which entered my head through the haze of pain of my fathers death. But what is more difficult to understand is how my nose can locate that sickly sweet odor when I hear of someone’s death miles away.

There are positive associations as well – first rains on parched earth are always the smell of childhood. Whatever I am doing, however stressed I am, that fragrance always manages to infuse a little freedom, loosen some shackles and make me feel lighter.

The intensity of the negative associations is usually far stronger though – can be almost like a physical jolt. .

Hmmm.

Recyled from (12/05/2007)- Will shift a few more to blogspot. Pls to bear with me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wake up Cyn.

I normally don’t watch Karan Johar movies.

A few years ago, probably after K3G, I came to the conclusion that sugar-coated homilies which alternated with glycerine-histronishowers, are really not my fare of choice- I prefer something a little more pungent. So Karan Johar extravaganzas got relegated to the watch-the-version-on-cable-if-you-are-masochistically-inclined category of movies.

Yesterday however, I made an exception and went to watch “Wake up Sid”. Why?

Because I was in the mood for a movie and the choice was between – Wake up and Do Knot Disturb (KJo marginally beats the race – and well, one can at least be assured of some picturesque locales). And partly because the SIL’s husband had raved and gushed about the movie – and more specifically Bombay (Mind you, he might have spent all of twelve days in Bombay, he doesn’t know Hindi, and he has never stayed in India). So I thought it behoved me, as a dyed-in-the-wool Bombay snob (can one say the B-word??) to see what the fuss was all about.

Let me put a caveat now. The following is NOT a review – but is rather a random compilation of thoughts which were crossing my mind as I watched it. For those of you who don’t know, it is supposed to be the so-called coming-of-age movie. Bade baap ka bigda beta suddenly discovers his calling due to the love of a good (sic) woman blah blah blah.

Frankly, the movie left me cold.

I couldn’t bring myself to whip up much sympathy with the rather parasitic Sid or any empathy for his lack-of-focus, what I shall do with my life existentialistic angst unlike say, a Lakshya. In the latter, one actually relieves the same growing pains of cluelessness, lack of ambition or what have you. This what-next malaise was one which did plague my generation at least (not sure that its equally relevant to kids today who seem to be hugely goal-oriented.) Lakshya captured that beautifully – and the build up to the climax (replete with all the self-loathing and contempt) and the subsequent hope-affirming transition resonated with a lot of clueless folks. In Sid, this metamorphosis from the irresponsible lazy caterpillar to the butterfly is just far too glib.

I don’t think there was anything particularly wrong with Ranbir – but I thought that, to use a very apposite Konkani saying “he lacked a little salt”. It was mostly a pretty face, acting the role –NOT a good actor living the role. Could be inexperience, could be genes.

Konkona of course, I find hugely annoying in principle – so I can barely be a unbiased reviewer. ’Cept for looking old enough to be his aunt (see I am not saying Ma. Hmpf) , and coming across as quite a sanctimonious so-and-so. Also, after Luck by chance, Life in a Metro, Page 3 – isn’t she getting a tad predictable?

What did amuse me however was how quickly and conveniently both the protagonists discover a) their calling b) and get fame-glory-money in their calling without having to go through the pains and grind of us lesser mortals for people in the corporate world to even realize we exist (I KNOW it’s a movie – but seriously, the really pat way in which the whole thing was handled, trivialized almost, was amateur).

Having said all this, I really wouldn’t mind LIVING in a KJo movie- this fantastic dream-world, where life is all spun candy, and lucky breaks just happen, where chotu makes your morning tea , and the only work you really have to do is be in love.

Wake up!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Indian Mother’s Love Song.

He can be thirty five,
But he is the apple of my eye
He can raise my self-worth with a casual smile
He acts all adult like
But he’s always eleven to me

I have to chase him for food
And fuss over every mood
I have to dot every “i”’s
And straighten awry ties
Yes, he has a wife, but that is no relief
He thinks he’s all grown up
But he’s always eleven to me

CHORUS:
Oh, he says he takes care of himself
But I know that he wont
I have to remind every time
To comb hair, powder his nose
To not melt in two drops of rain,
Or leave his wallet behind

And he will get very sore
When I tell him my biddin’
Then he’ll carelessly tell you
That he has enough wisdom
But I know thats just a test
To see how patient I can be
For he thinks’ he is all grown up
But he’s always eleven to me

-Mhmm--

CHORUS:
Oh, he says he takes care of himself
But I know that he wont
I have to remind every time
To comb hair, powder his nose
To not melt in two drops of rain,
Or leave his wallet behind

P.S Sung to "She's always a woman to me"

P.P.S.This song, was brought about after closely studying the mother-son interaction of sundry males - viz. cousins (one goes in a motorcycle for a five minute ride, and his mother starts on the prayer beads ), friends ( one friends ma used to apply his toothpaste to the toothbrush in the mornings. When he was 30. Seriously.I tried to get Ma to do that for me, she threw the toothpaste tube at me. Sigh.)

Edited to add: Changed 'wee boy' to 'eleven'. Thank you shub, it IS much better!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Online Housie.

Another very random conversation with Mo, has led to this very interesting question which I would like to convert into a tag.

If this blog was a house, what would it be like?

Hint: I told Mo's that hers would be a sleek condo, all minimalist, black and white, granite and leather. I think mine would be a messy, scatty house. What is your blog house like? What do you think mine is?

P.S. Two posts in a day? I am rocking or what?

Baby Blues.

Yet another friend had a baby few days ago. I am hugely happy for her. And for the couple of other friends who have had kids in the last year.

But if truth be told, there is one small part of me which gets all freaked out every time I come to know of a baby-in-progress. The event forces me to take my head out of the sand and confront the brutal reality that time is passing by - fast. That it really doesn’t matter a jot what the emotional and mental age is- or whether, as in my case, that its 10 years behind the physical age. The latter is what ACTUALLY matters in the real world.

Also, nothing is straightforward or assured anymore. A generation ago, the jobs were more secure, the support system more solid and financial strength was linear and growing. Now, the first two are increasingly becoming a chimera, and if anything, the financial graph is flowing in reverse (monies are much easier to come by in the thirties/forties rather than fifties/sixties). All the more reason to have kids younger, so that there is some guarantee of being able to care for their needs, not to mention, the energy to enter into their pursuits.

It's not that I don’t want children. I do. But in the abstract.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that the life I lead right now (which is fun enough at this age) might start looking pretty sterile and colourless ten years hence. After all, only so much of movies, malls and travelling one can do before it becomes totally meaningless.

But the actuality of children - that’s a different story altogether.

Nothing actually makes one confront one's inadequacies as much as the thought of a child of one's own. It’s not even about being a perfect parent – I know that parenting is learning, growing process and no one is omniscient or right all the time. But inadequacies in terms of say, selflessness – voluntarily abdicating the focus on self, keeping aside one’s needs and whims for the good of someone else – always. I don’t know whether I can do that on a sustained and continuous basis.

I look at myself and S, I don’t think we are particularly selfish or self centered, or irresponsible, or cruel, or any of those things that make bad parents.

But I don’t know whether we have what it takes to be good parents either. We have our foibles, we have our moods, we can be quirky verging on eccentric, we can be abstracted and so inward looking that we lose sight of the outside world. We can be jaded, and unenthused. We cannot pretend - feign interest in things which bore us, or be social when we would rather be quiet, or display any extraordinary degree of emotional selflessness. Or allow anyone (including the spouse) to cross into the absolute core inside of that ephemeral concept of personal space

And one cannot get into childrearing with ennui and cynicism. A child does not have any definition of personal boundaries or limits and rightly so. But the thought of letting go, is what is so terrifying.

Or the thought of giving up that control which one has struggled to achieve in life -On one’s independence, on one’s body, on one’s sleep, on mental and emotional liberty. I know that people who are parents will rush to tell me that you can still do whatever you want to – whether its adventure sports or travel or whatever else. I am aware of that. However, one’s hold on life and limbs, has to be that much more tenacious for the simple reason that there is a kid depending on one – so there is always going to be that restrictive mental seatbelt. To paraphrase a quote I had read in some book “I cannot die now, I am a mother”.

I am not saying any of this is bad or something I don’t want to do – but the thought of doing that 24/7 for the next eighteen years without a day off, without margin of error, without a safety net – THAT thought is terrifying. I have seen a lot of people who were fairly irresponsible when they were single step up and rise magnificently and become wonderful parents. So I try and reassure myself with a “if they can do it, you can probably manage too” but somehow it ends up sounding like a meaningless platitude even in my head.

But I don’t know how some people do it – transition so naturally from one life stage to another. Marriage and then the maternal instincts come roaring in. I always seem to be in a denial –resistant mode about these sorts of things. Always seem to be fighting change, battling against growing up. And one cannot stay a child, if one has a child of one’s own.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dream Girl Kisi Shayar ki Ghazal (or Oh-hell-cant-I-write-a-random-post-instead-of-working?)

I had a rather vague dream yesterday - about Muslim fundamentalists’ (of all things). I am going in a car with Ma somewhere, and suddenly some very violent, virulent ladies start pelting us with rocks. One of these rocks hit’s Ma’s head, she starts bleeding, and acting very disoriented. So for most of the dream (or what I remember of it), I am trying to lob back some rocks (and doing so quite accurately), worrying about whether Ma has concussion and wondering how to get out of the situation. Somewhere along the lines, it morphs into a train scene then a dhobi seems to feature in it and some cops eating paan. Mind you, all of this happening to the background music of Salaam-e-ishq.

On a scale of weirdness, I would probably have given this 3.5 or so.

Well, I HAVE dreamt of dolphins speaking fluent, mellifluous Bengali after all – that’s a tough act to follow. Something about an office picnic on a beach and dolphin gets washed up ashore, and starts babbling. The admin fellow, in the manner of admin-fellows, tries to locate Bengali colleague to do the needful. This dolphin then proceeds to turn to a VERY ugly man in a wet white-kurta-pyjama.

Then there was the time, I dreamt of Prince William impregnating some chick and ending up in a UK tabloid (Mind you I hadn’t thought of the princes for years. No reason to no?) . For some reason, there is a vociferous discussion about hairstyles happening with William, and this again, has the background score from Neil and Nikki. (A movie which of course I hadn’t watched – I mean Uday Chopra? And had bombed miserably some two or three years before this dream happened).

Frankly, I LOVE my dreams. I have a much more rollicking time in them than I ever have had in real life. And it’s all Technicolor, there is usually background music in it (even if it is etcetera music) and there is normally lot of action and excitement in it.

Whether it is the time a couple of friends and I am smuggling doped-out-bodies ala jaane-bhi-do-yaaro and being chased around town by my friend’s octogenarian family-retainer-named-ajibai. Or watching completely coherent sequels to Fight Club. Or cowering somewhere because of Alien invasions, wearing a silver plated miniaturized chip on our necks for protection. Or running away from two-inch crocodiles (on a leash) that are hell bent on eating my big toe nail. Or watching a vague cousin-in-law turn into a cannibal in freezing Minnesota, who is ... okay, I will spare the details, certainly not suitable for the weak stomached.

Incidentally, I am so BRIGHT in these dreams it’s amazing. I solve complicated quantum physics problems, concoct delectable recipes, read engrossing sequels to books, watch very logical sequels to movies, and am generally so multitalented that I generally give the waking avatar , a massive inferiority complex.

The curious thing is that there is usually no, (or at best) a very tenuous link to what is happening in my life at that moment. I was reading about Wakf yesterday – so might explain the Muslim bit. But seriously, where does the dhobi come into the picture?
Most of the times I am left racking my brains wondering what on earth could have set it off. I wonder what Freud uncle would have made out of these. Hmmm.

P.S. I have forgotten a vast number of them, so the new resolution is to post them for posterity.
P.P.S Also this way I get to shirk working on things which should have been dispatched one hour ago. Sigh

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Question of Faith – 1

There is a new, well undertaking ( for lack of a better word) which I need to set upon next week, which has met with some stubborn resistance from the MIL – for no other reason than the timing. The inauspicious ‘Pitrupaksh’ fortnight devoted to ancestors where the so-called auspicious projects are avoided.

S, predictably enough, loses his temper, every time the topic is brought up. He had to pay a substantial fee a few years ago on some investment because of this, and consequently views the whole Pitrupaksh thing with an extremely jaundiced eye and gets exceedingly irate about what he claims is debilitating ritualistic superstition designed to stop people from living freely.

Having said that, I don’t think he is an atheist or an agnostic or a sceptic – or a believer for that matter – but somewhere in that fuzzy gray zone in between. I think that pretty much mirrors my views on faith and God too – but more on that later.

That is something that has intrigued me – how does one manage to separate rituals and superstition from faith. Rituals necessarily implies that the belief in a higher power, almighty force what have you – who manipulates your life as per the sudden whims and fancies. Thus the composite of rituals are in effect offerings or bribes or good-behaviour in exchange for which this almighty force doesn’t finger too much with one’s life. Which always seems to me of a very transactional relationship. A fasts on Saturdays and Hanuman will protect him from Marquis de Sadesati. X doesn’t wear a red thread and is asking for trouble. You cannot travel on an inauspicious day. If two bad things happen in a family, you need to do an elaborate puja to appease some God who has it out for you. By and large, if you look at it, they are all pulling you back rather than giving you that impetus to soar.

Somewhere the ritualism takes over coherent thought and becomes quite inextricably linked with faith. And rituals BECOME the religion.

The sad part is that even for a lot of educated people it is difficult to break away from these rites or practices of what-have-you. The eclipse a couple of months ago, is a case in point - I know a girl, who is extremely well-educated, independent and has all the exposure and worldly wisdom and cynicism one would expect - but because she is expecting a baby, she (on instructions from her family) followed a number of quite hare-brained rituals like not cooking anything that required cutting and eating only at certain times. She explained that she doesn't believe in these things in the ordinary course of things, but cant take a risk when it comes to her baby.

In spite of myself, I can grudgingly respect that.

These are the moral dilemmas about which I am not sure how I would deal with. If I was in her position I might have done the same - the illogical, fear factor overwhelming cold reason( of course, I would have despised myself for doing it too).The current quandary about whether to do or not to do is a bit of a foregone conclusion - as far as I can see, there is no leeway on the date - so that takes care of that. But there are so many other quandaries like this, isn't it?

That is the problem with these so-called rituals or superstitions or whatever - somehow its less about emotional anchorage and more about becoming an emotional millstone.
Pity.

P.S. To be continued
P.P.S I am not sure this post is particularly coherent or has a point. Hmmm. Disjointed thoughts being typed out. Ah well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Bored and the Beautiful

When uninspired, recycle from old blog and pretend it is for a good cause -viz. preservation of valuable literature for posterity. Hell. Its MY blog. I shall call it PRICELESS literature if i want to. Hmpf!(This is from Dec 05).

Do you have what it takes to be rich and famous? Go ahead and take this quiz to judge whether you are a member of the Association de la Loaded

Tick the answer you feel is closest to your heart

1. A long weekend coming up, you…
a. Travel to Turkey with your husband for a romantic weekend getaway
b. You wish you had money to send your husband to Turkey so that he could be out of your hair for the weekend
c. Turkey. Delicious. Definitely better than chicken!



2. You really need to look good for an office party. You take care of your skin by …
a. La Prairie Skin caviar is the only thing you would apply on your skin. But it’s a problem obtaining it locally! There are only five packs sold in the country at any given point of time. Oh, the cost? You don’t really remember, about a lakh, but a complete steal for the price.
b. You had saved for a year and buy a face cream for Rs.25, 000 but not for an office party – what the use, the COO wont be there to see you and anyways much better to just occasionally take it out and look at the pack.
c. How do you take care of your skin? Huh? Wash it what else?



3. You have a meeting at a prospective new clients office. You…
a. Chose the Louis Vuitton bag that matches the mood of the day. You must look upbeat when you meet new clients, so the tan bag you picked up in Paris should be good.
b. You have Hidedesign bags which you thought were quite hep, but had to hide them under the table when you saw A
c. Who the heck is Louis Vuitton? Always thought he was a gay rights activist. Bag? Well, one got wet in the rains and the other got stolen. So you really don’t have a choice do you?


4. Time is of crucial importance and you keep track of it by …
a. Your faithful Rado watch because its scratchproof and quite functional
b. You tell your friends that you were planning to buy Tommy Hillfiger watches but didn’t because he is racist.
c. Rado killed the video star



5. The coming Saturday you plan to go rustic. You….
a. Go that that quaint retro store in Jakarta where you had picked up that completely darling antique Fossil.
b. Lifestyle darling! All those suburbanites shop there nowadays.
c. Linking road zindabad.


Your score.
Mostly (a):
You are right up there in la-di-dah land. You have so much money you don’t know what to do with it. And well, if you are male, will you marry me? Yes, you are quite obnoxious I am sure, but I really, really want to quit working.

Mostly (b):
Well, who knows about the money, but you sure have the pretentiousness all sewed up darlings!

Mostly (c):
Ah…!

Postscript.
(All you uneducated plebeians, a Louis Vuitton basic functional key chain is about eight grand.)

This post was brought on by a surfeit of type (a) and (b) people in life right now. HELP!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Right to Information

The following queries appeared on S's intra-office informal site the other day - authored by a young gentleman in all earnestness.

1. Do you have to register somewhere before you can start a live-in relationship?
2. How long can you live-in together before it becomes illegal?

So ladies and gentlemen, what are your answers?

P.S. I think I am in crush. Anyone who has posts stuff like this on the office intranet is definitely crushworthy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breaking (the) News (seeker)

The other day, there was a call for Ma from her elderly acquaintance Mrs. S.

Ma wasn’t around, so I took the call and spoke to this lady (who I meet @once in five years) after a fairly LONG time. So after exchanging the preliminary hello, how are yous, the next question was immediately *giggle giggle* "Do you have any news"
So I baldly said no and hung up.

Sometime later, my Ma returned the call and again this lady repeats the same question to get the same answer from Ma.
Then Mrs. S tells Ma "What do you mean there is no news. Tell her to MAKE news"

Ma, went promptly on the counter-offensive and started asking very pointed questions about HER son (in his mid-late thirties who is not married) and ended the conversation by kindly telling the lady that her son probably has some utterly ineligible girlfriend tucked away somewhere. (I LOVE my ma)

But seriously, "MAKE news?" WTF?

Wonder whether justifiable bumping-of effing nosy ladies would qualify as news in her lexicon.

I suppose after two and a half years of marriage, coy questions of 'news' are inevitable from random aunties. But one can get away with acquiring temporary deafness most of the times.

I am sure Ma gets attacked more than I do. I am notorious for turning into a short-fused virago and snubbing people quite ruthlessly if asked not-anybody’s-business kind of questions. So Ma usually doesn’t let them trickle down to me and to her credit, has forborne to ask, imply, hint or suggest anything to me.Ever. This also explains why my extended and normally inquisitive family has been so utterly circumspect about this.

Wonder HOW it of any possible concern of people WHAT happens is or does not happen in my life (or for that matter anyone else’s life).

That subtle and not so subtle once-over when you meet any married femme. Those elliptical innuendos. Questions about “Kuch hai” or the atrocious “Kuch gadbad hai” (Gadbad always brings to mind Jungle mein Mangal for some reason) or even worse, that absolutely preposterous, embarrassingly well-meaning advice on how to generate the said gadbad (A friend of mine was inflicted a spiel on ..ahem..best positions for a ghar-ka-chirag.She told me she wanted to take a bath in Gangajal and/or kill herself after hearing such graphic descriptions)

Bah.

P.S. Before the dear reader has any smart ideas about asking questions on presence or absence of news, you might pause a minute to consider the following. Such inquires will elicit the wrath of the powerful head of House-de-Cynics and MIGHT result in the dispensation of that, infallible curse. Viz “May you have news twice a year for the next fifteen years”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Peter Principle

In Mumbai this time round, I was rummaging through my dad's old books and came across two interesting ones - the "Peter Principe" and the "Peter Prescription" - both which I have been floating on the periphery of my to-read list for years now.

This time I picked up the former and am half way through it. Incidentally, I learnt from wiki, that it’s a fairly well known (which I was only vaguely aware of) and that that iconic pop culture like Dilbert and Office space has been inspired to some extent ( which I surmised).

It's a wonderfully tongue in cheek, satirical representation of office hierarchy – a book on hierarchiology. The underlying philosophy is straightforward – people in organizations rise up their level of incompetence. If you look at the corporate world through that lens, suddenly many bewildering things start to fall in place. Viz. policies which seem to favour mediocrity and stifle initiative or a top management which is singularly talentless and uninspiring, or the strange phenomena of working to please the boss, rather than the client, and many such others.

On a more personal note, what intrigued me was the timing. This was my father’s book and there is his signature and date scrawled in the first page – 1974, he must have picked this up as a bachelor in the UK where he spent half a dozen years before marriage. He would have been a couple of years older than I am right now, and it would be fair to assume ( since he has both the books) that some of the dilemmas I face more than thirty years down the line are ones which he did as well. That inspite of being from different generations, radically different career paths, different countries, different socio-economic generations that he, as I am, after 8-12 years of working, also apparently grappled with the same kind of questions I do.

I always wondered about that, whether this mid-life professional crisis where you start seriously retrospecting on decisions and recalibrating the importance of a career vis-a-vis other aspects of life – is a phenomena restricted to our generation. A generation which has had so many opportunities, that it is spoilt for choice – unlike our parents generations (seventies and eighties – could it even be called a career?) who had to get a job hold on for dear life till retirement. So was introspection even an option? Apparently yes.

It’s weirdly comforting this sense of continuity – the fact that my father was going through some of the professional angst which I face now, and yet went on to carve out a name for him. It gives me hope, that in spite of all reservations, in-spite of self doubts and insecurities, I might do so too.

P.S. Also quarter way through another book “And then we came to the end” by Joshua Ferris – corporate chaos circa 2007ish – much recommended basis what I have read so far. Also “e” by Matt Beaumont. Interesting side bar is both of these books are based in advertising agencies. There is something about agencies which bring out the cynicism in people I think. Or maybe people in advertising come to a realistic assessment of their/job’s worth( or lack of it)sooner than their corporate counterparts?

P.P.S Had written this post sometime back, never posted it. Seem to be having a rather dry spell just at the moment – so upsydaisy to drafts-old –ignored posts

Monday, August 24, 2009

The water carrier

We have got a new water filter installed in the house today.
There is a feature which allows one to fill certain quantities of water which seems to have enthralled the hero,rather.
He therefore, has been bhatkoing around the house cordially urging everyone to guzzle gallons of water so that he can fill them up again.
If I die of overdose of water, wonder whether he can be called Homicidal Hydrator?

P.S. Have been missing in action for a while, things were happening so was/am rather preoccupied. Will get down to replying to the comments soon. For those of you who mailed, and tweeted and instituted inquiries - muchly appreciate the concern and will write back individually soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Rakhi Vhar Crackter are you?

1. At a party with Rakhi, How are you most likely to behave?
a) Kiss her
b) Try and hog the camera
c) Look at her disapprovingly


2. At a romantic tete-a-tete with Rakhi, How are you most likely to behave?
a) Kiss her
b) Throw petals and try and hog the camera
c) Look at her disapprovingly and ask her about her past affairs


3. How do you like Rakhi dressed?
a) Anything as long as her forehead is free and kissable
b) Ghoongat and bare midriff
c) Burkha


4. What movie song would you like played every-time you come on screen?
a) Chumma chumma de de
b) Seedi Jalaile
c) Parde mein rehne do


5. What is the gift your mother, Rakhi’s sasuma is most likely to give Rakhi?
a) Hygiene Wipes
b) Gangajal and Sindoor
c) Chastity Belt


6. What flowers would you buy for Rakhi?
a) tuLIPS
b) Marigold
c) Gobi ka phool


7. What is your favourite game?
a) Spin the bottle
b) Snakes and ladders
c) Killer


8. What would be your personal ad tagline to woo Rakhi?
a) Mika Pheeka, Lav Khush
b) Baja Moneymohan
c) Girl Grill Giri


Your score?
Mostly (a)’s: You are the Kisser Crackter.
Mostly (b)‘s: You are the Ladderer. Crackter.
Mostly (c)‘s: You are the Clearer Crackter:

A CynaMon Quiz

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Lagi Hai

I read this book by Michael Palmer the other day. A decent enough book I suppose - the usual pot-boiler of good, evil, beautiful woman and Robin Cook meets Tess Geritsen meets countless other formulaic train reading.

But as I was reaching the close and climax of the book, I realized something which I found rather interesting about some authors in this genre. The book started out with reasonably etched out, well-rounded characters. There was the slightly do-gooder protagonist (the type who helps elderly ladies cross the street) and the slightly non-do-gooder anti-protagonist (the type who ignore their wives and philander a bit.).

As the book progressed, it seemed like the author, in the quest to heighten the differences between the two started emphasizing only that facet and consequently propelled the book from a decently layered, gray characters and situations to stark black and white, one-dimensional caricatures. (The philander blandly contemplating everything from mass embezzlement to murder, while the do-gooder appeared almost sanctimonious with his general benevolence.)

It was disappointing – as if one started watching say, a Clint Eastwood directorial venture, and somewhere in the middle of the movie, Ekta Kapoor took over.

This is a phenomenon which I have seen with a few authors of that particular genre though – and I wonder why it happens. I assume it is difficult to maintain consistency of characters through the plot, but somewhere in books like this, it’s as if the characters get subsumed by the frenetic pace the author is trying to create towards the climax of the plot.

Which raises an interesting point. If we divide the universe of books, and call them for the sake of simplicity, classics and pop fiction. The classics being the ones which one reads again and again, and store versus the one-read, use-and-throw pop fiction. The classics, by and large have such strongly etched out, layered, multi-dimensional characters which carry the tale on their shoulders, whereas the pop-fiction seem to depend on the convolutions and contortions of the plot. Almost as if the latter wants to keep predictable characters which do not allow the reader any margin for interpretation and thereby, the books become static and one-read-only.

That brings me to another point – something which has always bothered me about what I call the magnum-opus books which span a large time frame – whether it’s multi-generational books or books which cover the entire lifetime of the protagonist.

Why is it that such books, seem to have a very elaborate, very detailed very vivid descriptions of the first few years – which sometimes takes over the first half of the book. And suddenly, you find that the forty-fifty years get squashed in haphazardly into a few pages? As if the author ran out of steam or inclination and just wanted to wind up the book and go away? Whether it is something like Thornbirds, or Alex Haley’s Roots or even books like Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy

I know it is important to set the context and boundaries – but then it’s such a drastic change of pace for the reader, that it leaves one feeling disoriented and cheated at the anti-climax. As if the book got suddenly truncated in the middle ( except for Suitable Boy. After 1500 pages, I was hoping the damn book WOULD end somewhere).

I just shared this post with a friend of mine, and she came back with a theory that most author's would be in their thirties and forties and perhaps they don't have the life experiences to detail out the late middle and old age. I am not sure I completely agree with that - most fiction is stuff which presumably the author has NOT experienced - so how does one explain that?

What do you think?

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Rakhi phenomena

So I have been watching some of Rakhi aunty's Swayamwar episodes these days.

My whole attitude to the show (as I am sure has been many others) has been 'Bring it on'- I am more than willing to be entertained and amused. Get as tacky, as flamboyant, as unbelievably low-brow as you can and I will watch it. The same abstract fascination I would have if aliens were to invade the world perhaps.

And the reason for this of course, has been Rakhi herself - the queen of controversy, who by hook or crook has managed to keep herself at the forefront of the audience consciousness - you can love her or hate her, but you certainly cannot ignore her.

But, as I have watched a few episodes, I have come to sneakingly respect her astuteness – which I think is much higher than people actually give her credit for.

If we have to borrow from marketing parlance, she has understood her brand image and the consumer pulse very well – and some forays into understanding her brand equity would have thrown up a few insights.

a) That she is a fast coming to the end of her shelf life - a young controversial item girl - will be talked about, discussed, maybe lusted after, and tolerated - the same cannot be said for an ageing one - who will have to live out the rest of her life as a caricature, on the fringes of tinsel-world – viz. low market growth opportunity

b)Whatever she does, there is very little chance of it actually remaining private- given the stage-and-tele persona she has cultivated over time. Viz. A relatively high market awareness, knowledge, salience.

So we take these two coordinates – high salience and TOM and a low growth rate, she needs to capitalize on the former before the latter becomes a de-growth. In other words, take whatever momentum she has, build it up to a crescendo and leave with a big bang – precisely what she is doing with the Swayamvar.

Having said that, she has got her positioning perfectly. She knows that to the tele and cine intelligentsia, she will always be the tawdry item girl – loud, flamboyant, not someone to be taken seriously as an actor or any repute. She will become the one-night-stand girl, or the temporary girlfriend – but I seriously don’t see say a Ranbir Kapoor or any other upcoming star seriously thinking of marriage with her. For whatever reasons, maybe her more desi-origins or what have you, she will probably not even take the path Mallika Sherawat did - who seems to have managed to garner SOME roles and played down on that item-girl image she started out with. So instead of running away from this image, she is capitalizing on it in the best way she possibly can. Can you think of any other star or starlet pulling off a swayamvar?

My mother’s hypothesis, which I think is probably true – is that she will marry the Canadian guy and go out with a blaze rather than fading into obscurity as the wife of one of the others in India. Personally, I would have liked to put my money on that Manmohan fellow – I think his dramatic sensibilities are on par with her’s.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Designing the Designation

So I am in manically active job hunt mode right now.

I am pretty much always on the verge of quitting – but there is usually a continuum of urgency in the job search mode.

There is what I call the passively looking mode which pretty much starts on the second day of a new job – where the resume is updated and lovingly polished, where the head hunters are called and you do some whining ( and dining), and when you generally let the world know that you are quite available in the market.

The active job hunt starts immediately after the first contretemps at the work place – could be week two, or if you are lucky, a few months. That’s when you start actively wtf-ing the place and the people, and calling up placement agencies often enough to recognize the security fellow’s voices.

And there is the manic active job mode. Where you more or less lose all sense of perspective (also discretion) and distribute your resumes out in a manner which can only be described as cavalier (or if you want to be crasser – whoring). You give resumes to neighbours and their dogs, you give them, you distribute it to the milkman, your emails carry your entire CV instead of the signature and by this time the placement agents are cowering under their desks, you know the www.naukri.com listings by heart and you even contemplate all sites which promise fortunes sitting ‘in the comfort of your own home filling online forms at five rupees a form. (As you can see, a fair amount of time has been spent on this phase)

One of the things one DOES in the course of this manic hunt mode is frequent sites like Linkedin.com. This is what I have been doing as well. Of all social media thingummies - I think I find LinkedIn the most fascinating (and also the most useful. Colleagues remain that. Colleagues. They don’t throw online shoes or whatever it is they are throwing these days or poke you or pop up on the chat to chirpily ask “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii wat r u doing?. Okay rant over.)

Anyways, besides looking for jobs there, one also looks at the job titles and profiles of a number of people. Yes, I know it’s fairly common practise to pad your resume – but some of it is embellished so much, that its pure, unadulterated fiction.

There is this girl, with a year’s ex or so who has just joined my team. She sent me an invite recently. Her job title reads something like Market Intelligence Analyst. She er, reports into me, so I do happen to know exactly what she does. Viz. Market study of the cafeteria. Analyzes the contents of chick-literature and Archies. AND intelligently flirts with my boss every time he is within a five mile radius.To his credit, he sees through this little playacting, and will watch these attempts with a very sardonic gleam in his eyes. (One of these days I shall give into the temptation of making fun of him and will get sacked for my pains. But he more or less sacks me three times a week so it’s okay. I do need to stop cheeking the boss come to think of it. If I do get another job, it might not be the best policy hmmm). Anyways, I digress, I do happen to know that this female's designation is Executive -Marketing or something to that effect.

Then someone else, who is taking classes in a coaching centre – has a title called independent education architect. Somehow, when someone says education architect, the picture that comes to mind is that of a VC of a university, who is formulating policies for the country’s education system.

I suppose I can’t blame my friend the Market Intelligence Analyst. My company has about 23 Vice Presidents, 12 Presidents, CTO, CIO, CXO; (I am sure one day they will have CA-ZO’s: Chief Admin Off, Chief Bullshit Officer, Chief Copying Officer....Chief Hospitality Officer – we already have a Head of hospitality and travel – the most clueless chick in existence who always books the tickets on the wrong days) .There are VPS and MD’ and Heads and all combinations of the above – and believe me trying to figure out which one takes precedence is a diplomatic minefield - every time I have to mark mails to half a dozen of these fellows, I go and ask HR for the pecking order so that I don’t inadvertently trample on some sensitive egos. Mind you, 3/4th of these have no tails or body. So we have loads of strategic talks and ideation and other very high-falutin things, but absolutely no implementation.

I think I need to change my designation as well. Cynic, Chief Writing Officer and Chief Moderating Officer, Wonderland. How’s that for a start?

This post was written sometime back, and I had completely forgotten about its existence – was just reading the Peter Principle ( I have a half written post on that), when I recalled this.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dress rehearsal

We were watching TV the other day and caught that super annoying Appy-Grappy Fizz ad. S, after taking another look at them – the four boys, the girls and the bottles, had a minor meltdown about the unfairness of the genders expectations and roles – especially in the teens.

He claimed that the gaggle of giggly girls weren’t expected to do anything, but just sit around and blush and giggle while the boys posed, postured and tried to outdo each other in wit in some weird mating ritual to attract them. (I smell a story here; I should rummage a little bit in that closet!)

True enough I suppose, but I added a caveat. Told him, that this rule of just turning up and giggling was applicable to pretty, feminine girls. The not so pretty ones, the not so slim ones, the not so girly ones, had to resort to wit as well.

And as such conversations will, it degenerated to him turning to ask me “Well, were you pretty or were you funny?” (Sigh)

So I wryly thought back to my teen years – through late school, and early college, and suddenly realized how many people I know from that era were...er funny ( many of them have subsequently acquired prettiness or handsomeness, and forgotten that funniness).

When I looked back of acquaintances from that era, I remember some with good features, other’s with reasonably good figures – but I can’t for the life of me remember anyone who jaw-dropping, traffic stopping hot. That itself is rather intriguing. Yes, one goes through that gauche, gangly, acned teenage phase – but not for a decade. Probabilistically speaking, I ought to have acquired at least one hot acquaintance during that time, no?

And I had an epiphany – the clothes!

I grew up in a generation with fashion dyslexia. That's the kindest way to describe it.

I think back to the school and college years and what stands out is the terrible fashion sense, and well I suffered from it too. When I recall that hideous magenta skirt set, or that crushed crepe thingummy, I want to put my head through a wall (and this is coming from a fashion agnostic)

Many of memories of people are inextricably linked up with what they wore. If someone mentions a Mr. Sharma, to me, the first image that comes to mind is a vermillion shirt with big fat white polka dots. Or the Ms. Singh (who later became an international airline airhostess), is always associated with that bilious green sack-like, sack-material-like dress. Or even the more recent Mr. A with his brick orange shirt, with the er, brick pattern on it. Mr. A, I know for a fact has become quite trendy and has so many young girls buzzing around him, that we are planning to auction him off as a gigolo.

And it wasn’t only the designs – it was the material, the cut, the fitting, everything. I had a salwar suit in various shades of blue (which for some reason I thought was my lucky dress) which could easily have doubled up as a raincoat.

In undergrad, all the girls took to rather voluminous dresses (a couple of sizes too large- usually picked up from Fashion Street). Perhaps this was to cloak burgeoning figures, perhaps this was the modern avatar of half saris – but whatever it was, they looked terrible. I know I had this one white shirt, which reached halfway to my knees and could have easily be worn as a lab-coat. Or that other tee-shirt which was so huge, I could have worn it as a dress (this particular one was subsequently passed it off to my male cousin who is roughly twice my height and girth). Or those oh-so-ghastly checked umbrella cut skirts in towel-like materials which ended as dead-weights after a bout with the mumbai monsoons.

The best that could be said of most people’s fashion sense was that it was consistent. People stuck to their types – my friend S had a wardrobe which consisted exclusively of south cottons in shades of dark green, dark maroon, and dark rust in college. My other friend B had a penchant for knitted tops. Other classmate BP had a couple of these bandhni red shirts which were a particular favourite of his.

It took a few years of working before most of us started dressing up normally and discovering that it is okay to buy clothes from shops rather than from footpath. That clothes need to be approximately the same size as the individual wearing them. That accessories and shoes exist. That brands are brands for a reason.

I look at all the college kids today and am amazed at how well turned out they are – rebonded hair, hip, designer clothes, stunning shoes. I think we all looked so well, raw!

Ah well, the old order giveth way to the new.

Next: Much ado about Mouch ( Ever noticed how ALL boys went through growing moustaches as soon as they could and shaving it off once they hit 25?)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Some potter patter in the monsoons.

So after threatening to do it for two months, I finally went and enrolled myself (and bulldozed the hero) into a four day pottery workshop. And it was frickin’ awesome.

I am on a bit of a lets-gather-new-experiences trip these days – don’t know whether it’s the bucket list phenomena or the fact the weekend routine of movies-malls-eating-out is seriously losing its charm. Also, I might not have quite lost my preteen fascination with clay ( and this was like rediscovering an old flame and finding that the spark still burned)

It was split two days for clay modelling and two days on the wheel. Clay modelling is fun – especially when you have a running commentary in your head (with the stray thought escaping aloud) about the stuff that one and others actually manage to create.

But it’s the wheel that is utterly magical. When you put a lump of grey gooey stuff on a wheel and put your hands to it and suddenly it starts taking shape – whichever way you hold it – you can flare it out, you can thin it down, you can make it spherical, cylindrical, and circular, you can put little swirls on it, you can smoothen it . I cant think of anything which gets formed and destroyed so fast - and you have the power to make something beautiful in a few minutes - a huge rush.

On other side-notes, it’s interesting to see how group dynamics exist even in the smallest of groups – there will be the abrasive, aggressive lady-dog from hell, there will be the overgrown front bencher who goes “miss, miss”, there will be the nice-guy-Santa’s –helper and well, there will be back benchers.

Some snaps by popular demand ( mine. Hmpf) .

Check out the sheeposaurus. The floppy ears could double up as wings.Only the heavy bottomedness will probably keep it grounded firmly on Terra firma (Damn I need to stop thinking of that dratted heavy bottomed skillet). Ever noticed how sheep's always have a goshdarned silly expression on their faces?


This is Cyn Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I was actually trying to make a vase, but it ended up as a wine glass.
Ah well.

P.S. All these snaps are before they have been fired through the kiln.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vegetably Numb

I am having a slight domestic er..situation today.

I came back from a trip from Bombay to see that the stock of vegetables had been depleted to the bare minimum - viz. two potatoes, a stinky onion and some stray okra and orphaned beans lying around morosely in the tray in the fridge. No problem I thought to myself, time to call the vegetable wala.

A small sidebar: When Ma had come down to Pune, I in one of the more misguided moments of filial candour informed her about my vegetable-challenged-ness. Much melodrama and dialogues like "kala mooh" and "sasuma kya sochegi" and "that's the reason I should have sent you to buy vegetables" ensued which resulted in me being marched to a vegetable vendor and given a live demonstration (in fairly clarion tones) of each and every vegetable under god's own universe.

I did that for a while. But it was a struggle.
Standing in front of the cart and peering at the item in question, going through a quick check of my mental excel list was pretty arduous.

And then I had a revelation. The said vegetable wala home delivered. And that took care of two problematic birds with the proverbial stone - viz. a) the effort of actually going there to purchase something and b) actually identifying the damn things.

And this system worked beautifully. I would order some stuff which I know ( hmpf I have been married and managing a home for two and a half years, I can recognize some of the veggies, what do you take me for?) and bung in the odd tendla wendla for comic relief. When the tendla would appear I would, by elimination arrive at a proper identification and feel smugly complacent and quite domestic goddessy.

This useful tactic was also followed in the cooking process for the said vegetable. I would hand it over to the cook-femme and tell her magnanimously that today we would try her style of cooking and hmmm and haw very knowledgably as she explained the process to me. (Much as I do in office meetings as well.)

But now I cant get through his phones for some reason. So mild panic is happening.

I had a trial run at the supermarket today – sidled up to an aunty and tried to replicate her model of choosing the right vegetables, until she started to eye me suspiciously.

And what is adding to the confusion is the fact that I have been working on organic food for the last month. Apparently the vegetables with bright shiny faces are chemicals in capsicum’s clothing. It’s the sad, drab looking fellows who are good for one.

I wish someone would start personal vegetable shoppers. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dharam Sankat

So I just read a post by Mom Gone Mad where she jitterbugs to some eighties muzzic. She has infected me with an earworm yes. And also a dharam sankat which needs to be resolved NOW.

Which of the following songs deserves to be crowned as the MOST played, brayed, used and abused song of the nineties?

The nominations are
1. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for you - Glenn Madeiros
2. Careless Whispers - George Michael
3. Last Christmas - Wham
4. The Lady in Red - Chris de Burgh

Think back to those school and college parties. Think of all the, puppy eyed, tooth-brush moustached knights serenading blushing polka-dotted damsels. Think of those mardana zanana dances at someone’s house.

Cast your vote now! (Give reasons why)

All you post 2000 kids. Go away.

Edited to add: Please also give details about which songs you serenaded/were serenaded with. Thank you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Empty Nest

I was not all that close to my Ma growing up. Temperamentally I am completely my father’s child. She is social, extroverted, garrulous, thoroughly down-to-earth, street smart – the bindaas bambaya typified. I am/was shy, quiet, reclusive even (it’s a bit of mystery where I got this reclusive gene from – my father was also quite social), imaginative, moody and quite a space cadet.

It’s only in my twenties that I have learnt to understand, and more importantly appreciate the strength and courage she has. Through these years, after my father’s very sudden death, the relationship has evolved into a partnership – of sharing decisions, worry and responsibilities – and a united team against the outside world. And in the process I have learnt to value her judgement, recognize her mettle and admire her indomitable spirit. And I know ( I hope rather) she is sure of me, my involvement and my love as any parent can be.

But somehow an infinitesimal change seems to have come in post marriage. Somehow I think in her mind, she doesn’t have the sole proprietorship of my life anymore.

I do exactly the same things I did earlier, say the same things, behave the same way (God knows, there are enough disapproving people telling me that “you haven’t changed at all after marriage”). But I sense that things which would have been taken in her stride earlier or shrugged off in the spirit they are meant, hurt her a little bit. For instance, if I cut off a conversation while at work in Mumbai because I was occupied, that would have been perceived as exactly that. Now I sense a hint of disappointment in her tone.

The reality is I probably talk to her more now than I did when I was in the same house – where chaotic advertising hours meant that I would totter in past midnight, too tired to speak and sleepwalk out again the next morning.

I am pretty sure it is not S either. She is certainly not intimidated or threatened by him (touch wood), they have a comfortable relationship where he goes and turns on the charm at full blast and gets her to cook all sorts of things for him. They also derive a lot of entertainment from ganging up against me.

But still that sense of wistfulness. The wistfulness which I hear on Sunday dusk phone-calls when she nothing to do.And however much I call or speak to her on the phone or get her to come and stay in Pune that sense of wistfulness doesn’t seem to go away.

And also I sense a little bit of purposelessness now. Her whole life she has had to battle and plan for projects – whether it’s starting to work at nineteen soon after she graduated – to become the first working woman in her household, putting her elder brother through college in the process. Or getting married into a family where working women were definitely not approved, but fighting against conventions to provide my father with financial support as he had to fund his younger brother’s education and his sisters’ marriages. (Changing an auto + 2 buses while nine month pregnant each way and coming back, buying vegetables and coming home to cook? I get exhausted just THINKING about that). Or to the most recent project of finding broom/my marriage.

Now for the first time, there is no big project on the agenda. Nothing which requires planning, involvement or working towards – and this leads to loneliness .I have tried my hardest to get her to shift to Pune – but she has her friends and her activities there and beyond three weeks she starts getting restless. Pune also doesn’t solve the bigger problem of adding purpose to her life – God knows I struggle to find purpose in mine at half her age. So I really don’t know how to get her engaged in something else.

And I worry, nay am paranoid, that this drifting and loneliness might start impacting her health. I know she had started doing shortcuts with her food until I found out and threw the mother of all tantrums (no pun intended)

I know a few of my friends have also sensed this in the parents. This loneliness.
This empty nest phenomenon – but what no one seems to know is how to deal with it. It doesn’t matter whether there is a spouse or as in my mother’s case there is not. The last thirty years invested in their children, who grow up to start lives of their own. And sensitive people, intelligent people know that they need to let go. Need to allow their kids to test their wings and form new nests without interfering or involving themselves beyond what is seemly. Leaving behind a big void.

I wish I knew what to do.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Frankenstein

I shared a post I had written with Mo, and was wondering whether I should put it up on the blog. She remarked that it might evoke a lot of reactions, comments and opinions. Something which I enjoy in the ordinary course of things, but not with a post as personal as this one – hence, the delay.

So I wistfully stated that perhaps it was time to get an anonymous blog. Mo laughed and pointed out that “yours IS an anonymous blog” and then went on to ask whether I was also a slave to my blog.

And I realized that I probably was. A slave to my blog.

Despite the fact that it is anonymous (not shared by name or my mug-shot, and only a handful of readers might know those details) I have probably given a lot of my identity away (who I am rather than what I am called).

Thus, seem to have inadvertently created a framework for the kind of posts which I can or cannot write which I subconsciously follow. And that is the tonality with which I engage with all the readers as well. So unconsciously I have moulded myself into a “type”, as I am sure a lot of bloggers do ( at least those who have written for a while), of a style, boundary, tone or image.

Comfortable and comforting, yes, but also strangely restrictive.

How many times has one met a blogger and felt a slight sense of surprise – “Oh I thought he/she would be quieter or louder or funnier or sadder”. The point is the blog in essence one-dimensional (or at best) few-dimensional. But a person is a composite of many moods and thoughts. I might be feeling like Cynic in Wonderland one day, but some other day I might be feeling as irreverent as Austro, or subtly layered like Mo, or even as pun-ny as young Manuscrypts.

There was a time I would write melancholic posts here, or whiny ones or just an arbitrary collection of disjointed lines capturing the white noise in my head. Where the blog was in fact, the substitute for a diary. But somewhere along the way in morphed into an entity (?) with a distinct personality of its own (I do not know what that personality is, but I sense it has one) which is a part of me, but not the whole.

Have I created my own Frankenstein? Have you?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Some Romance Shomance in the Cynic Household.

So the hero had been battling a rather tough week at work, and I, in the spirit of providing some wifely support and encouragement decided to make him an some chicken dish (big fan of chicken he is), as a good prelude to a relaxed weekend.

Now the thermostat on the Cynic Cook-o-meter has only two settings – viz. Explosive (the cook) or Explosive (when the cook is the experimentative mode, and thus, there is high probability of the blender and the vegetables and the environment blowing up). Friday happened to be the former so a new a new dish was destined to be born.

So anyways, cooking happened – I have named it Braised Pepper Chicken* . Miraculously turned out quite interesting and I called up hero to apprise him of the fact. I have standing instructions to tell him important details like this – that ways, he can spend the entire day in pleasurable anticipation.

Hero came back from work, and the first thing he did was demand a sneak preview of the meal.

A little later, and I was sitting on the couch contemplating the meaning of life, when he came and sat next to me. He hmmed and hawed a bit, in preparation to telling me something important. After a while, he turned to be with an absolutely mush-oozing out, Bryonically romantic expression on his face and looked at me soulfully and whispered those magical words...

“I have been waiting all my life....”

I waited expectantly, thinking the way to a man’s heart IS through his stomach after all.

“....for this braised pepper chicken”

I did say, I was not even in the running against chicken didn’t I?

P.S.*I have just learnt the meaning of braised and I want to use it. Ha!

P.P.S. That sounds like a good title for a ballad no?

I have been waiting all my life for a braised pepper chickin',
So brown and crispy, it’s just finger lickin’.
The thought of it, makes my heart keep tickin’
My finger licking, heart tickin’, braised pepper chickin

I SHOULD write lyrics! Maybe I shall compose this, after I am through with Mary had a little lamb...


P.P.P.S Edited to convert chicken to chickin' at the proposal of young million-different-people

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Etude

GGAGCB GGABDC GG (G) ECBA FFECDC

After six months of knuckle breaking classes and exercises which involve contorting my fingers into un-genteel, unladylike claws (for purposes other than cattiness and/or Mumbai local trains that is), I have finally learnt how to play Happy Birthday on my guitar.

Am I rocking or what?

Keep an eye on this space, by December I should have cracked Twinkle Twinkle – and hold your breath, I might even be grooving to Mary had a little lamb.

* Deep bow * (Or should that be curtsy? Hmm.)

P.S. And to think I was taught Happy Birthday on the recorder when I was seven and played it by ear on the synthesizer when I was nine. I used pick up all these songs just by listening to them when I was a kid and play them. Somehow, I seem to have lost the knack. Hero's tone deafness must be catching. (Unfair you say? What is the fun of having a spouse if one cannot blame him for random stuff eh?)

P.P.S I KNEW I should have learnt the piano.Hmpf. After all, better a middling, middle aged Mozart than a swinging, septuagenarian Santana.

P.P.S Sigh.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Avalon

Statutory warning: Slightly self indulgent post ahead.

When I was about eight or nine, my parents got me the Children's Britannica encyclopaedia. I had already started my love affair with books and one of my favourite haunts at that point was the school library ( I was abroad at that time - so enormous school, grounds, libraries and the works) - sitting on the bean bag in the kids section and getting lost in some Enid Blyton or the other.

The encyclopaedia was quite intimidating early on - twenty glossy, crimson, hardbound books embossed with gold lettering and thus, were relegated to the highest shelf in the library where I could look at them but could avoid reading them. Then for some reason I decided I wanted to do a (self-motivated) project on France I clambered up on to the showcase using the lower shelves as foot holds and took out "P" to search for Paris and instead I found the other Paris (of Troy) thus starting off the other great love affair of my life- that of all things mythological.

Something about the whole Trojan War fired my imagination – a whole world full of gods and goddesses – colourful, flamboyant, manipulative, and magical – completely unlike the rather passive awareness of the Christianity which I had been exposed to at that time (did not have too much awareness to the Hindu pantheon beyond my mother's evening diya ritual).

And I devoured every single (extremely sanitized) article in sight in the encyclopaedia – the cross references, flipping through each page trying to find something I had missed. Looking at Roman mythology but slightly contemptuously (after all, it was but a copy of the Greeks, but with different names). I had favourites – Athena, Odysseus, and Artemis – and the ones I didn’t like – Aphrodite, Pan.

And eventually moving on to Egyptian (Isis and Osiris), Norse (Freya, Thor and others), Indian and my eternal obsession with Celtic and Arthurian legends – especially of the Avalon and the Lady of the lake. (Incidentally, my first choice for a blog name WAS Avalon – which was also my chat alter ego for many years. Unfortunately it was not available). The idea of a mystical, mythical island hidden to most, the tales of Morgan le Faye and the complicated relationship with her half brother Arthur, Nimue and Merlin - has just captivated me for so many years – much more than the legends of the knights.

What I find most fascinating about these is the fact that while they are so geographically distant – there are such recurring themes amongst all of them. The Gods of elements (which I suppose one could argue was inevitable – since the elements were what people were exposed to) but then you take the Gods like Pan, Loki and maybe a Narad - the mischief mongering theme? The ambivalent relationship between the king of Gods and his siblings and father? Athena and Saraswati- both goddesses of wisdom in a sense, would have an appropriately equal importance in their respective pantheons I think. The constant death-rebirth theme (Osiris, Persephone – and most interestingly the Jesus as well).

Maybe consciously or unconsciously all follow the Jungian archetypes – the hero’s journey, the patriarch, the maiden, the earth mother within the main and sub texts as well.

I suspect this mythological hangover from my childhood has also led to the curiosity about theology in young adulthood – whether it’s Hinduism or Christianity (never got any decent books on Islam though) and even medieval history. It’s a strange paradox therefore that I got terrible grades in more contemporary history which we had to study.

Some random trivia to end this post - most of the days of the week are named after these mythological Gods. Saturday, Sunday, Monday are easy but what about Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday?

P.S. Disclaimer: I have NOT researched this article. It has been written from whatever minuscule knowledge I have garnered over the years – and I have forgotten much more than I remember. This is not an academic treatise but rather, online musing about a topic which has enthralled me for many years. Any inaccuracies please excuse!
P.P.S. I might continue this post with Hindu mythology - some of the sub texts, symbology and rituals are very, VERY interesting.