Monday, April 27, 2009

Doc Dee

In the town of Pune, there was a doctor called Dee
Who single-handedly caused epidemic acideitee
His cure killed more
Than the innocuous throat sore
Not to mention his torturous consultant fee

Doc Dee was overly generous with the pills
He dispensed one for all the world’s ills
Shooting that one would strike gold
And in a week or two cure the cold
While his cash dispenser happily trills

Dee was an accidental doctor, but a wannabe geek
He wanted to be known as Doc Techno Freak
He carefully examines the blue tooth
But the wan patients, bah forsooth
That's just their way to attention seek

Ok. OKAY. I will stop now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Expressing Myself

Statutory warning: Random rant ahead.

Well, these days every time the hero and I have a spat, I like a good wife, give him a shraap – “May you have a wife like that Airtel Ad female in your next janam”.

Yes, that’s my pet peeve ad of the season. I have refrained for the last two months from saying anything about it because it’s too much shop talk. But I HAVE to rant now – because I see that dratted ad five times a day and it invariably and inevitably annoys the shit out of me as an individual, as a female and as an ex-advertising professional.

How can a brand which made the almost sublimely, poignant, minimalist, elegant, goose-pimples raising “Express yourself” come out with such utter trite, stereotyped rubbish? Airtel has always been a schizophrenic brand – it has the most sophisticated communication (viz the express yourself original campaign mentioned above or the football one ) as well stuff which is er..as basic as it can get .

But till this particular campaign, at least they tried to maintain a semblance of consistency within the executions. This one, not so.

Just to cite ONE example You have a woman who can call up her husband to ask him to make salads, but needs the husbands help for doing anything (paying bills, remitting money etc) – so the question is how modern and empowered IS she really? Then, which modern Indian urban couple BEHAVES like that? The cloying, sanctimonious wife. The coyly henpecked husband. The romance oozing saccharine sweetness. Calling sixteen times a day not to not talk?

Seriously?

That whole attempt to get romance in has gone completely haywire. It doesn’t look romantic. It doesn’t look aspirational. Period. It looks contrived and annoying as hell. To get the romance in dig into the archives and pull out something like Pond’s “Bas Yuhi”. The product bombed. But every single female I know across ages, across various socio economic strata got warm fuzzy feelings watching that film.

And who are they talking to? All men I know find that woman annoying as hell and the man a wimp. All women I know find that woman a shrew and the man a wimp. Women do like to hen peck their husbands yes, but this abla naara specimen is seriously no fun. One could argue that the message is getting across – viz the VAS features. And that is what is important in communication. But at what cost?

Ed note: Post written sometime back when the campaign was on, posted now

Monday, April 20, 2009

Doggone it!

Ed Note: Written in May 2007 -In the old house. Ah I miss them!

When I first got married and moved to this flat in Pune, I used to wonder at the completely eclectic group of individuals/families, which reside in this apartment complex. The first floor itself is shared between an orthodox Muslim joint family, an eccentric, sixty odd years old Rajnish Ashram American devotee who lives with his mistress -formerly his maid (As an aside, we always wonder whether the lady of the house has retired or continues to do her earlier job) and a penny-pinching, nosy, ISKON worshipping Sindhi family. (The third floor has a Tamilian priest living next door to a rich bloke’s mistress – how did they GET these combinations will remain a perennial mystery to me).

Anyways, this post is not about the residents in the flats, but the residents outside it. Amongst other things, the Osho gentleman, has decided to adopt three stray dogs – well, not adopt exactly, but he feeds them at night. So the first sight you get of this otherwise nice-enough building is three (one black, one white and one white with cream patches), mangy, slightly scary, flee-bitten, sick looking (and probably ill) strays lying on the passageway to the lift - usually just lying there sleeping most of the day. Rumor has it, that the other residents have tried many a times to rid the building of these dogs or get the chap to take them inside his flat, but have not yet succeeded.

For the first few months, I was a bit wary of them – all the warnings about rabies, strays and injections tend to float in the mind. But after a point I pretty much got used to them, and would pass by without taking a circuitous detour.

Forward to April, S’s sister was getting married, so we had a number of functions at his mother’s house (two buildings away). So typically, in the mornings, S would go on ahead to help with the wedding preparations, and I would follow later after winding down this house, along with my mother who had come down for the ceremonies. One day Ma noticed it. She said, “ Have you seen these dogs? Every time you dress up in a sari those dogs escort you to the other building (MIL’s house) and then go back to your building.”

Turned out that was true- specially the cream patch feller (and usually one of the other two)! When I went from this house to the other, the guard of honour would drop me to the other house and go back. The mother of course, was amused. Claimed they probably thought I looked nice with the sari and the jewellery so they were just making sure I reached in one piece.

Wedding happened, and I went back from saris to the usual jeans but the escort service continues. What amazes me is the fact that I go to the other house for lunch and dinner and they don’t bat an eyelid. But the minute I am going out, that’s a different story. They will (usually) make sure that I am accompanied. Even when S is with me. Even if they are otherwise occupied somewhere down the road. They will drop whatever is it that they are doing, come to the gate of the other house (where S parks his car), wait outside wagging their tails, and as soon as we are out of the building, they turn around and go back to whatever they were doing.

S complains that they don’t seem to give him that kind of attention, and there are many other girls in the building who don’t seem to have merited this either. I don’t understand how I have to be honest. It’s not like I give them food, or pat them or talk to them or anything of the sort.

Today, I realized just HOW much they have decided to adopt me. A friend of mine was staying over, and she was to leave very early in the morning. So we were waiting outside for a while to flag the auto. The black and the cream chaps came, tails wagging nineteen to a dozen, sniffed around us, yawned, stretched but generally sticking close to use throughout. After a while, my friend decided to go to the end of the road for an auto, while I was waiting with her bags. During this time, the cream chap had decided to go and investigate something inside the building. Suddenly, as I was standing, a slightly seedy looking man was walking down the road – before I knew it, both these dogs were standing flanking me from the front and right, hackles raised while this man passed by. They relaxed after he was gone but still stuck fairly close around me. Friend came, friend left, I went back to the lift, (chaperoned of course). Then I peered down from the gallery and I saw that my canine friends had gone back to their well-deserved sleep after performing their self-appointed duty.

Apparently knights come in many guises!

Continued here for those who are interested : Adventures of mutt and moron

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Rocking Horse

Ed Note: Shifting a few posts from rediffblogs over the next few days before they are gobbled up and lost completely. Please to bear with me! This one was written in May 2007

I was walking home the other day, in the twilight zone between sunset and night. The time of the day that occasionally evokes a sense of haunting wistfulness and inexorably reminds one of transience of life, mortality and vulnerability.

And as I crossed one of the neighboring buildings, I saw a discarded rocking horse at the foot of a tree. Cracked paint, chipped wood, some spaces polished from repeated use, all bearing mute testimony to a much loved childhood companion.

It almost seemed like a metaphor to the life of a person of that era, of a childhood ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.

The part in contact with the social world worn to a bright, shiny superficial polish. Brought to a high gloss by constant interaction with the world – the bright, social façade with infinitesimal cracks not visible at the first glance, or indeed, many glances.

The hidden parts, duller, quieter, slowly fading away worn out unheard and unsung merging into the homogenous mass of adulthood.

Like the rocking horse, so many childhoods dreams and held close, cherished, outgrown and eventually discarded and occasionally thought about with a half-embarrassed/half indulgent stance. And so often, the world/society/peers constrain us to throw away the rocking horse as they do the ardent hopes of childhood.

Some might claim, that that is the essence of looking forward, not backward. Of being able to walk and embrace the future unencumbered by useless baggage. Of being a doer, not a dreamer.

Perhaps, that’s true. Perhaps one does need to discard the past to mold oneself to the future. Perhaps one does need to don the shiny social persona and discard the real, vulnerable one. But somewhere perhaps one also discards a little bit of one’s soul?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Too many crockcooks....

...lead to http://bhajifried.wordpress.com
the latest and newest addition to the food bloggie scene. (Thanks to all that ..uhm tumultous applause for the culinary posts)

Collaborative effort of Mo, Shub, and Cyn with our version of food. 140 byte recipes that are under 140 seconds (Gulp!).

Bon appétit

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Borrowed time

Just came back from a quick trip to Indore to meet S’s grandfather on his 103rd birthday. Yes. Hundred and three it is.

He is a wonderful man – the grandfather is. And incredibly self sufficient for his age – mobile, coherent and only the papery bones and translucent skin actually give away the fact that he has been around since 1906.

It’s actually surreal when you think about it- at a personal level; he has outlived four generations born after him (wife, son and son-in-law, granddaughter and great grand-daughter). At a macro level, seen two world wars, India’s independence, countries created, and countries disintegrating – and has moved from a time when the village was the world, to one where the world is a village so as to say.

And yet, he has a vibrancy and joie-de-vivre which I see very rarely in my contemporaries – whose average age is less than one third of his. And sometimes when I meet him, I feel ashamed at being so full of ennui and cynicism when there is life to be lived still.

This time round, I was looking at him and wondering about the longevity blessing which is such a part of the Indian cultural discourse – and whether indeed, IS a blessing.

Yes of course one needs to have enough life. To have lived as it were – the complete life.
But what is a complete after all, how does one determine it?

Is it on a numerical age? I have a grand-uncle who is ninety seven who has stayed in the same house for seventy years, had the same job for forty, did not marry and from all accounts is a recluse who has lived a sterile life because he was afraid of responsibility and commitment – it’s a long life certainly but is it complete?

Is it on life-stage? If one has a settled child/ren and a couple of grandkids, have retired from a job, and ticked off all the conventional tasks from some existential job list, does that mean that the life is over and that person should renounce the world and curl up the toes and die?

Is it the accumulation of experiences? Some people manage to garner lot of experiences in a short time while others exist with long periods of nothingness. Besides who determines what experiences constitute a full life?

So what does Ayushman bhava actually translate to? Somehow I suspect it is the numerical age – with the assumption that the others will follow naturally in the course of things.

Having said that, the fact remains that ageing strips you of your identity, your dignity and nothing can be more brutally degrading. Losing control over bodily functions. Losing the ability and confidence– is there anything more tragic then watching a strong, man growing frail? Or a brave one needing aid to cross the street? Or a woman who has stoically borne nine children defeated with bed sores?
And the all pervasive, loneliness of being the sole custodian of memories – which no one else will have shared.

And of living each day in the expectation of death. Living on borrowed time

And yet if you can be optimistic and upbeat in the face of that, it is indeed wonderful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Aqua di Zero

So I went swimming today.

“What is the big deal?” my dear reader might say. “I go swimming three times a day – in fact I am on land only for commercial breaks”, the reader might shrug disdainfully.

So dear readers before you scoff and wander off to someone else’s blog let me beg for a little time and backtrack to give you the context.

I, hold on to your seat, went swimming after ~20 years.

“Ah,” my dear reader will think, "than indeed, it is a momentous occasion". “And what led to this?” the dear reader might wonder.

So here goes the story of how the lost soul actually went from the fish bowl to the swimming pool.

S-fellow is a, well how do I say this mildly, abso-effing-lutely anal when it comes to fitness (for health more than aesthetics). Incidentally I am abso-effing-lutely anal when it comes to healthy food. These traits seem to be rubbing off on the other (un) fortunately. So we lead, disciplined, morally uplifting and utterly cheerless lives (the last time I put butter on a bread slice was in 2002. And the tragedy is we continue to be out of shape, and have low stamina – me at any rate. So much for the just rewards of virtue and all that. Hmpf)

So anyways, I am not a sporty person and S knows that. For example, the one and only time I attempted tennis, I threw the racket over the net instead of the ball. The only sporty activity I have done in recent years is lobbying insults with clients and running behind suppliers and playing work-volleyball with colleagues. S, on the other hand likes sports and is constantly exasperated by my er...low metabolism rate (which is politese for sitting like a blob of jelly and not moving unless pushed).

Ever since I have known him, it’s his single point agenda to make me fitter and all excuses of 16 hour work days and managing home and office which have worked in the past have simply cut no ice with him.

So after two years of being hounded, I find it easier to just give in and do SOMETHING. (Also, I worked for a year on health care brand, so that heightened the sensitivity)

I am NOT a gym person – I have attempted gymming on a number of occasions and I a) fall sick b) dislocate parts of my body c) drop heavy things on self. Also, it is difficult enough to be motivated without having to battle auto-walas and traffic, so it HAS to be in the geographical vicinity of 1km.

So I have been walking for the last year or two. The last few months I have also added a component of stair-climbing (but more on that later)

Coming back to swimming, in one misguided moment of sharing and trust, I happened to state that I used to swim everyday for some six years, back in the dark ages. And that as a kid I enjoyed it and was good at it (the operational term being “as a kid”).

...and S had an epiphany.

And thus started the swimming propaganda – which ranged from cajolery to threats and always ended with the cryptic “you have a swimmer’s physique”

So after six months of evasive tactics, I finally surrendered and thus, we ended up at the pool. Assuming that once he saw me thud straight to the bottom, all his theories of “physiques of a swimmer” would be flushed down the drain, float away like flotsam, sink to the bottom of the ocean , ..you get the drift?

So I cheerfully went towards the deep end with this aim in mind, but unfortunately S caught hold of me and packed me off to the shallow side.

Since I was in the pool I thought I might as well attempt to swim so after the initial hiccups where all my limbs were simultaneously trying to go in four different directions, I managed to prove the theory that one actually doesn’t forget swimming.

And I was soon racing (oh ok, crawling) S across the width of the pool – of course he beat me but only marginally. This is when I realized that he really sucked at swimming and told him so. He agreed very cordially and again muttered about the swimming physique.

Further inquiries elicited the following profound theory of hydrodynamics ((Of course he said it less elegantly).

People with greater body mass have greater buoyancy

My husband, the scientist. Bah.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Random thought in the middle of the night: Digest 3- Whodunit?

If there ever was a thriller called the "The Mystery of the Reappearing Flab", what would the denouncement be?

"The butter did it"

SUPW

Ed Note: Now that I have a figured out how to beautify the template, I have been suffering from an acute-change-the-look itch the whole day, which I have been (wo)manfully repressing.

Instead, I will recycle a post.

I don’t think anyone ever read this particular one – it was written after a blogging hiatus sometime in Aug 2007. One of those drearily-lowering-periods-when-I-had-no-readers (Sobs!). So why not air it again –(this time hopefully to loud and tumultuous applause).

No particular reason to chose this one, but damn it I am blogcked. I have some fifteen ideas in my head jostling each other which refuse to come out on paper. Bah.

I was cleaning my cupboard the other day and came across an old SUPW project. A self-analysis that was written when I was in the ninth or tenth – hugely entertaining reading for me at any rate. But more on that later.

SUPW as a subject has always fascinated me – insofar as I can’t see ANY conceivable reason for its existence. I googled for the full form- turns out it is “Socially Useful and Productive Work”.

If my memory serves me right, there was absolutely nothing , which was even remotely productive that actually did take place. Some flirting, a lot of paper airplanes and of course some destructive stuff - chairs, tube lights and the odd classmate (though one could argue that the last mentioned was a productive excercise )

Towards the end of the year, there would be some harebrained assignment like knitting shawls (which in my case, unfailingly ended up as tea cosys (cosies?)) or making organdy flowers (which was upwardly delegated to the mother three days before due date). This er ..produce was graded, sent back home, displayed for maybe two days before falling behind some cupboard never to be seen again.

Occasionally you had projects like self-analysis (though how the self analysis of a fourteen year old is socially useful beats me).

I remember trying to bribe a friend to write my project. I also recall sessions where we got together in recess to ‘analyze’ each other viz.swapping candid insults in the name of homework - which would eventually end up in a couple of the boys rolling on the floor hitting each other with a handy desk or two.

In eight or ninth there was this other programme called EREWHON that I vaguely remember was similar to SUPW, only more painful, which I seem to have mercifully blanked out. The only remnant of it is an old grainy photograph of all of us as scrawny preteens with the course coordinator (a snap which looks like a bunch of street urchins with a social worker).

And of course the “Moral Science” lesson in 11th and 12th (anyone who has done time in a convent will remember that). Incidentally, the nun who taught us this, used to read Mills and Boons hidden in a notebook.

I wonder whether anyone does out more moral, socially useful or erewhony after these classes. If my classmates are examples, then I strongly doubt it - most have questionable morals, and are fairly asocial and useless ( which is their saving grace, and the reason we all remain great friends even now)

Do they still teach these in schools.?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Midlife Makeover

Two very important facets of my life celebrate their birthday today. My one and only husband, and my one and only blog (Half a decade, gasp!).

I thought it was high time we gave one of them a face-lift and a makeover to make it svelte and sesky (the blog, not the bloke).

So ladies, and gentlemen, unveiling the new look, design, what have you.

Also Happy Birthday to S and Happy Birthday to Blog.