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


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. .


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!