18 Jan 2009


by now you'd know the sort of filmy buffoon i am.....carried away by sushmita sen's saris in 'Main hoon na', Priyanka Chopra in Dostana [looking sexy in one of my favourite songs 'Desi Girl'], i attempted to be a heroine myself. I had this keeda to wear a sari since i was an infant, my seventh grade navari sari was kind of like cheating.....[it had a zip and was pre-folded] and wearing a sari for one of our casual 'dress as you like' days at school would be too much.....

then i was presented with this perfect opportunity......my uncle's 60th b'day puja!!! i was firm, i had strongly made up my mind to wear a sari.....if I couldn't wear one now, then i never would. mom tried dissuading me, "you won't be able to sit", "you won't be comfortable the first time", " are you sure you want to wear a SARI for the PUJA?" she tried to convince me into wearing an angarkar. now normally i'm not that stubborn [atleast that's what i believe], but this time i was. no one could drill their finger of sari-phobia in my mind the way they drill their finger into a firm idli! this way, mom was forced to wear a sari and so was my aunt!!!

i loved the colour combination.....a bottle green sari with a lovely, rich border [mom faked a heart attack thinking it looked too heavy] and a maroon blouse [thankfully not holding my arms ransom like hand cuffs]. draping it was difficult......you couldn't switch on the fan and you have to pleat it carefully and now which side becomes the pallu and how to drape it and make the pins stay in place [they're as disobiedient as Hari :P ]. mom did everything for me while i stood with my hands in the air [literally]. but it was confusing for her because its not the same as draping a sari on herself [or so she said] and i watched so i've learnt how to drape one [almost].....so don't u dare call me spoilt and born with a silver spoon and all that chiding nonsense adults blabber when they don't know how they can yell at you.

then putting on all the jewellery, delicate with millions of things to plug in and tighten and pull, the eye liner [with your eyes closed], cream and powder on my back [the patch my blouse would leave naked].......and then clicking all the pictures [hilarious ones of me looking like an air hostess in a namaste position, desi-girl step and sitting like someone's mom] and then.....the terror......tottering down the steep stairs which had gazillion stairs i normally skip or pace up. tottering in heels, lifting the sari, stepping out of the building with everyone watch......all made me feel too much like a heroine [arre, make-up man ko bulana! touch up! touch up!].

the puja was like a networking site, move around talk to relatives [some you haven't even heard of], smile contently when everyone says, "you've grown sooooo tall like your dad", "you look like a younger version of your aunt", " i saw you when your were a little girl/ baby/both". my cousins were the best, i saw them aeons ago and they're like cute stand up comedians......one will start their sentence, the other one will add a hilarious rejoinder......great flatterers too [which is why i'm promoting them here :P]

the food was excellent, the best South Indian food i've eaten.....served on banana leaves..... rice, saar [translation: yummy south indian thin dal], beans with coconut, chitrana [flavoured rice, nah! the translation doesn't do justice to it], sweet puri, sweet gravy to go with it, masala vada [like dahi wada, we were all betting its dum aloo or egg curry intially, but obviously thats not south indian and won't be served in a south indian mutt (temple)], laddoos, kheer, pickles, i bet i'm missing something.......and you could start after the bhatru [priest] bellows somethings loudly inaudible [don't ask] and his assistants run about serving from huge buckets, " anna solpa, solpa anna" [some rice, have some rice]

we came back exhausted from the Puja......not in a sari state......no pain at all......at first i thought the sari would rip if i take big steps, but when it didn't i was nice and comfy......i managed to sit, stand, walk with/without heels without falling/ripping/spilling [almost negligible amounts don't count right?]...... a proper desi girl! yah!

16 Jan 2009

the 'factors'

ya....sure.....go ahead.....be judgemental as usual..... u'll make this really grumpy face and shut your window [computer window ok!], put your hands in the air in defeat and say.....she's done it again.....she'll talk about one of those asine, utterly useless maths formulas..........well! ha! i proved you wrong AGAIN didn't i? i'm going to talk to you [ummmm......write to you?] about too books I loved......or liked.....or atleast appreciated [ya, definitely]......'The Zoya Factor' by Anuja Chauhan and 'Like Water for Chocolate' by Laura Esquirel.

'The Zoya Factor' is for any Indian who loves romance, far-fetched-filmy-ness and know about cricket [i won't say 'loves cricket' because i know terribly little about it: i know it has a great market in india, i can name a few players, IPL teams......but i can't fanthom the rules or what exactly we're meant to watch for! when i was in grade 5, our whole class was made to play cricket and it was my turn to make runs, so, being the 'ultimate cricketer', terribly flustered and confused.....i ran AWAY from the stumps instead of between them. ya, go one, choke with tears of laughter, call me an idiot.......Rheaa 'GATHER!' [courtesy Kate Winslet's terrible Golden Globe speech.....i'm straying now]

anyway, back to 'the zoya factor'.....i just remembered i was discussing a book and not 'the times, trials, tribulations and titrations [? ( i think i heard it in science, but oh well, starts with 't')] of Rheaa Rao'. the lead character, Zoya, her insecurites, her un-perfect way of life[ not shattering or depressing.....but just not.....complete] can be easily identifyed with, even though she's supposed to be a decade older to me: 27 years old in 2011 [set during the world cup year]. Nikhil Khoda the skipper of the Indian cricket team [in the book], handsome, exclusive, lean and mean [coincidentally (?) he's our Zoya's hero]. Khoda's character is based on Dhoni and the whole idea of him falling for her seems too far-fetched, too DDLJ types which makes silly teenage girls like Gauravi [my best friend] and me swoon with tears of joy and bubbles of hope.

the whole set up, the characters: assortment of media, PR, advertising people and crickets [some boorish, some over-punjabi], the story [zoya is presumed to be the lucky charm of the indian cricket team because they win whenever she has breakfast with them], the sequence is great for filmy buffs but may seem over baked for snobbish 'pure literature fans'. its like.......if you've had too much of swiss toblerones you wouldn't love Indian cadburies [they're still chocolate, so i still love them.... but you get the comparision don't you].....curious......food seems to seap into whatever i write......and think.....and [well, never mind]. the language, the tone is engaging......both G and me went through more than 500 pages without fatigue or the urge to put it down. the language has hindi, punjabi slangs, typical indian idiosyncrasies of talking......which makes it funny, and entertaining like i said......but it isn't what i'd call a literay masterpiece. but what's more important......the literary gyan or how much you enjoy......the latter obviously [though being a 'global citizen' would mean i'd say 'both]

Like Water for Chocolate.....yummy, yum. the way its written is what makes it a cut above the rest......the story may not be a great story one: opressions and traditions of a Mexican household where the protagonist Tita isn't allowed to marry her beloved because according to family tradition the youngest daughter is to remain a spinster and look after her mother till she dies. but the way its written......weaving in incidents with recipes and anecdotes till it sounds almost implausible.....like an ironical legend......like a fable.....thats what made G and me sink into the book [yes, we read several books together.....share a copy even! fight to read it (almost)]. its written monthly......every month there's a new recipe and a story [the continuing story of tita] in it. so everything is not written in a flow or in sequence, like a diary of recipes, tales and life. again....it may seem silly to people.....some IBs who have to study it in year 11 english say so too. but you have to see the irony, the woven fantasy with dreams of fanstasy in hope of a fanstasy.....if you get what i mean....well....if you don't.....JUST READ IT.....read both of them....

i'll be back with more scoops......if u grovel enough......

4 Jan 2009

ANNUAL DAY TIME [2003-2008]

from the left: esha, khusnum, me, aishwarya, utsav, binoy, parth [2005 annual day]: my bus stop buddies

from the left: utsav, me, aishwarya, aayush [2005 annual day]: my bus stop buddies

time....you can never capture it [only in your memories], you can never be its master, or even understand it or fanthom how it creeps up on you. yes, this is how anyone would feel at the end of a long christmas break.....mock exams *groan* and board exams *double groan* are not exactly what normal people look foward to. here i am....looking like Phulan Devi, clutching a weapon which freezes unsuspecting people....the weapon called 'Mumbai weather', something as ambigious as time, cahoots with it.....but not even this can freeze time! so i'm using my blog to freeze time, freeze my best memories because time while bribe my mind to give way ......muhahahaahhaa! fiend! caught you at last! you're trapped here!

Annual day rehersals, [ie, night school, ie, no classes or school in the morning for a whole WEEK!] top my chart of 'top ten best memories' [because i have to think what the other nine are :P]. we've had an annual day from when the school first opened in 2003....i was in grade 5 then and I remember those horrendous sadhu-orange costumes with giant slits all over [i'm not exaggerating, yes, they were way bigger than your piggy bank slits]. they had constructed this stadium like ambience and we'd sit really high up, watching the show, gossiping, cheering, clapping. after being a part of the suns rays for the 'surya namskar +sun dance', i was also in the taekwando item. i looked absolutely asinine fighting with an imaginary partner [my partner was absent in the last minute], but Shah Rukh Khan- who was the chief guest then- flashed me a smile and gave me a thumbs-up signal making me feel all better [people still insist it was a figment of my imagination and that he must have just smiled looking at the item in general.]

next year, we had our show called 'Jivtara' at Sharmukananda hall. when the other scenes were being rehearsed, we would sit in the dark upper stalls exchanging ghost stories [courtesy Alric, Ishita, Rishabh]. we'd have food on the stairs where the younger kids could come running out, point out at us and shout, 'Joker, Joker', giggle and run helter-skelter [no, this wasn't because of my mango nose, we were supposed to be jolly jokers from the 'land of colour']. since it was so dark in the stalls we were seated, we'd also use the opportunity to stare at the cute guys from the higher classes. the older 'prince of perfection' and the 'shadow weaver' were the top favourites of girls from all classes that year! ;)

ohhhhhhhh! 2005 was the year night school actually started. all these years, we had rehearsed during the day [or sometimes during weekends]. this year, we seventh-grade girls had to wear 'navarri saris', the ones which traditional maharastrians wear, which are pulled from between your legs making you look like an insect [if you aren't used to wearing it]. i remember feeling all pretty inspite of my nerdy glasses and fake mangalsutra, but amongst all the fuss and chagrin and dismay and moaning and groaning and hiding by the other navarri ladies......no one paid much attention to me......and now when i look back at the picutres, i did look like a house-maid ;) [check the pictures attached with this entry].

when i was in the eighth we had this mini-olympics in our school ground. schools from different countries visited our school and took part in sporting events. grade eight was also made to go for a movie with some of our guests [optional]. we were shown 'lage raho munnabhai' with english subtitles and we were to sit in another block in the theatre, away from our guests, so there was no interaction. the atheletes of our school did get to interact with them during work-outs and given got to where a decent looking sari and dance to vande mataram with the indian flag. the rest of our class were the 'evil elements' who wanted to snuff out the olympics flame but were defeated by the peace dove. so we were involved in this very complicated dance+ making evil faces. our make up was a lightning scar and braided hair [decent], but....uh-oh! since i was also singing the school prayer with the indian music group in a chikan salwar [oishika: "its made of chicken! i'm not wearing it!" haha] much before our dance.....our music teacher insisted on taking off my braids and make up [which i didn't allow her to do, i spent so much time and money getting it braided].
so for the pooja, i was in a chikan salwar kameez with braided hair and evil make-up [no, i don't have pictures for you to laugh at]. during the dance, we had to move in circles of three, and since i was bigger than the other too and we had to be fast, i found my partners almost flying. on stage we collided into another circle, got hit on the head by one of those wooden lightining bolts and almost got skated on [thats how crowded the stage was]. no one knew of this though, even though there were huge screens, they only showed our formation from a top view.....so we were saved.
being a secretive black sheep, i also gave my teachers a slip [they didn't think I could do such a thing] and ran off with my friends to sit in an empty lab and sip coffee [strictly for teachers], almost getting caught by our head teacher [no comments].

every year, at least one class has to do the vande mataram dance [from what i've observed].....last year, grade nine [that's us] had to do the honour. initially there was a strange group who tried to teach us puppetery, walloped us, attacked a few boys, bragged a lot about the break up of every single theatrical action and expression in each minute of theatre and how they had mastered it and we couldn't but had too [?]. they finally left defeated [or were kicked out] and replaced by another group, an extreme who knew little about these 'expressions of theatre' and tried to make us dance to 'mumbai meri jaan'. then finally we were given 'vande-mataram', transparent white salwars with blue duppattas deceptively pinned up so they wouldn't slip off and electric diyas.
during the rehearsals some of us even sang and danced to 'silsila yeh chahat ka' [from devdas] with these diyas. this was the year of pagal-panti. we weren't small now and didn't get dinner bags to eat quitely in class, but instead were allowed to use the dining hall like we do during the day. we were also allowed to romp about the school......so we raced off to the 'social area' in the girls toilet [a huge dry area+ a comfortable marble bench] where we acted scenes from om shanti om and saas-bahu serials on camera.....NAHIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!

this year, grade 10 did a broadway dance, armed with golden hats, golden tailcoats, golden pants [ringmasters from fairyland according to me]. my cheeks were flushed from the excitement of night school and all the make up made me look rosier [like Kareena Kapoor in chup chup ke]. initially, we had to all remain in class where we started playing poker [no, not strip poker!]. i didn't [and don't] know how to play this game, so i watched politely, commented, cheered. then the cards were confisticated and we weren't allowed to bring our ipods and cells [we did anyway for after the heads were gone]. our practise didn't take quite long, but the whole school had to remain in school till 9:30 so we crept out of class to watch the grandeur from a top view. of course we had our moments, i had got my binos [to spy on.....well.....you don't need to know] and we stood on the fifth floor, screamed out [name held for security reasons] and ran and hid and laughed when they looked up. we also made prank calls from our cells in the bathroom [heellllloooo, chunnu ji hai?], gossiped, gaped at the Michael Jackson dance and dodged footballs the boys of our class nearly hit us with. this year, we seriously felt grown-up, from having dinner in packets up in class, to dining in the hall, this time were dining in the front lawn! beneath the stars, in the open air out of close scrutiny! how romantic!

after both our shows got over of november 15th, i was feeling so low...both me and my friend were crying over the phone because annual day was over again......like a major festival was over......like time was speeding by while i'm standing and shouting at it to wait for me. during the night rehersals, we'd stand and watch the view from class.....the large football field glistening of night dew, the calm, calm hills, the starry Mithhi river, buildings glistening further away......i could even see this flame [HP colony flame, i used to live there years ago].....small, twitching in the dark......far, far away.......like something wonderful in the past.....glowing.....glimmering......always there......you're watching it but you've passed it and will never be back......the journey of no return.....YOU'LL NEVER BE BACK!

1 Jan 2009

GAY: the stamp.....the scar?

i wrote this article as part of the DAIMUN press application around four months ago..... i didn't get selected in press, but oh well! atleast i was in the SC! i decided to put this up because there was a comment on my blog which called both the films RNBDJ and Ghanjini 'gay' [meaning stupid and asinine] which another blog-reader didn't much fancy!

The word ‘gay’ has become a terribly ‘frivolous’ one in our daily speech. It’s often used as a derogatory term, almost a synonym for a blend of the words asinine and effeminate. We, as the youth, highlight human rights, like the right to freedom, life, work, education, expression, food, and life; make resolutions at prestigious MUN conferences against breaching human rights. But more often than not, we are the ones you use this word derogatorily or perhaps too carelessly, thus snatching the right of gays, the right to be accepted as a regular part of the society.

The Indian media dragged on the alleged gay relationship between Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan till it sickened the public and a section of people still abhor them because they’re allegedly ‘gay’. The word ‘gay’ has topped the charts as a reason to dislike and demean people; it has grown to be a ‘fault’ or ‘short-coming’ amongst us. People have even started being vary of friendship between people of the same sex, intimacy between friends is looked upon with suspicion.
Being gay has become tabooed, and sticks to a person like a tag, often growing into a cult and is not looked upon as a state of mind or a preference. How come straight relationships don’t form cults then? naturally, because they’re accepted by the society. This shows our society’s obstinate denial to make room for those in between. However, this is gradually changing, and acceptance of gay relationships and legality of gay marriages have become more common. Nations like Canada, Belgium, Norway, Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain amongst others have recognized gay marriages, and so have several American states. So, in this case, its not one but several countries that are fighting against discrimination of gays. On the other hand, it is strange that South Africa has recognized gay marriages, as the gay HIV rates have skyrocketed most in this country!

Still, in my opinion, gay marriages and relationships should be legalized all over the world, simply because being gay can’t be helped, it’s a subconscious state of mind for most, just like how liking a particular colour or a particular song is, you have no control over it.
However, I wonder if I’d be the same breezy, open-minded girl if my close friends or relatives turn out to be gay; would I be cautious, pretentious of what I say and do in their presence? Would I be more sensitive to gays, or would I be revolted? Would I be careful as to how close I am to them and intentionally or involuntarily distance myself from them? Would I subconsciously harp on the fact that they’re gay? These questions cross my mind, as our family friend, whose daughter is friendly with a gay keeps saying, “She has a friend…..and he’s GAY!” She personally has no qualms regarding gays, but it’s just engraved in her mind that it’s something different from what she is used to, from the regular norms.
The reaction is involuntary, just like being gay is, so we can’t actually blame the society for being intolerable and insensitive about this issue. It entirely depends on the psychological make-up of each individual....both being gay and accepting gays.