Has it ever happened to you that you wrote a decidedly awesome post, one that voiced your view on a hitherto not-much-debated topic, and just as you were wondering whether to hit submit or not, got into a conversation with a friend (who follows your blog), after which you would seem cruel and evil if you published that post?
Thankfully that didn’t happen with my previous post on the latest Aamir Khan flick, so you can go read that while I wonder about how this happens to me.
So Aamir Khan does it yet yegain. The farty-something shtar does a role that was originally done expertly by a twenty-something Surya. The crowd loves him, or so I hear, never mind that he’s atleast a foot shorter than Surya, atleast twice his age, and has house-elf-like ears.
I personally feel Aamir should start doing Chacha or Mama roles and stop going to college and romancing girls his daughter’s age. But before you can chide me for my tragic viewpoints on this evergreen ever-young thinking actor, let me tell you that’s not the point of this post.
So the Hindi movie is called Ghajini, just like the Tamil one. I haven’t watched the movie; so I first thought it ws some pidgin Sanskrit which meant ‘one who looks like an elephant’ or something. Shouldn’t that be Gajini, my sister asked. I said maybe the producer consulted numerologists or something.
But then, Wikipedia informs me that the movie is called so because the lead character is like Mahmud Ghazni, who tried, tried and tried again till he succeeded.
So, fine, Ghazni is suitably Tamizh-ized to Ghajini. And maybe they hoped to score some extra marks for sounding like Rajini. Quite normal in the scheme of things… Simran Bagga becomes ‘Simuraan’, Mumtaz becomes “Mumtaaj”… just like in Japan, they call a radio a “raa-dhi-yo”.
But what I fail to understand is why they retained the title in Hindi? It could quite easily have been Ghazni? ज़ exists in the Devanagari alphabet, unlike in the Tamil alphabet, where we have ஜ (ja) which is being considered ‘un-Tamil’, and so we are moving towards using ச் (cha) for everything from cha, ja, sa, sha.
Or is it the new norm to SouthIndianize Hindi? First you have Javed Jaffrey speaking tha ingleesh longvages like it is the spoken norms in the Bangalores. And now this.
What next, SRK saying “Call me Sarukkaan. Everyone in Kollywood does”?
I have a little cousin who’s just started kindergarten. So everyone she meets gets a dose of Teaching. Nursery rhymes, the alphabet, folk songs… you know the drill. And oh yes, the disciplining. I need to sit quiet for five minutes before her patience gives out and she proclaims me a good girl. And if I speak out of turn, I earn her wrath and she pronounces me a bad girl.
One fine day, she noticed my fingernails. And immediately proclaimed me a bad girl and rapped me on the knuckles. For I have well-maintained, long, long nails. I had to tell her I lost my nailcutter at home and immediately she proceeded to search under my bed saying it would have fallen just here… or just there.. oh thank goodness for my camera; she let herself be distracted by it.
But I guess the image stuck. Soon everyone got the story of poor me having lost my nailcutter and hence having to remain a bad girl. The comments I got ranged from “You should trim it, really… in the interest of hygiene” (I have long nails only on my left hand) to “Hello Kitty!” (Nah, they aren’t retractable). I’m so inured to these that it didn’t make a difference to me.
Not very long ago, I had an overnight bus journey I had to make alone. A single seat, that was no problem. Nor was getting to sleep. The cold would have troubled me a bit, but I wrapped myself up like an Egyptian mummy, except for my hand holding the handrest to prevent myself from falling off.
In the wee hours, I suddenly felt my sister waking me. It took me a few minutes to come to my senses and realize my sister couldn’t be here. Alien hand on mine… I let out a yell which strangely no one seemed to hear, cursing the owner of that hand to eternal damnation and calling him, among other things, an illegitimate offspring, a lecher, and of suffering from the Oedipus Complex. And then I did the first thing that made sense to me. I wildly clawed that hand with all the energy I could muster. The hand retracted. I should have probably raised a hue and cry, but I just went back to sleep.Besides, it didn’t seem likely anyone would even bother to get up and beat the handOwner to pulp… I’d yelled abuses so loudly and still no one as much as stirred!
Later in the morning light, I saw I’d lost a nail and there was blood and flesh under the others. I certainly hoped I had touched something rusty the night before, so that there would be one new victim of lockjaw now.
I’ve quit expecting others to stand up for me. Though, I do stand up for others when they are being harassed. I try my best to be polite, but sometimes it’s simply not reasonable. Balls to goddamn ahimsa. Gandhi should have been a woman in Noakhali when he so ‘heroically’ toured the damn place after partition…. and THEN if he’d spoken of ahimsa and godforsaken Satyagraha, I might listen out of curiosity. In the past, I’ve threatened to break arms, call my brothers, call the police, and occasionally shouted for all I’m worth, slapped folks a few times… oh, what the bloody hell is this society that it makes a violent girl out of a normally calm one?
I know the alternative – to ignore, to not react. But for how long? I’d probably consider that alternative only when I’m alone and outnumbered. Oh, and there are other alternatives too – never go alone, always go to safe places, don’t stay out late. I am more than just ashamed of such a society that denies me these basic freedoms. And the prize alternative that is the pet of hostel authorities, maiden aunts and assorted other MCPs – dress conservatively.
So the shawl I had on wrapped around me provoked the handOwner somehow? Or the salwar-kameez with a neatly pinned dupatta the other day on my way home was provocative that someone had no choice but to pass sickening comments? Oh, shame not all of us wear burqas.
Oh, and to learn self-defence techniques. Effective, but aren’t we descending to the law of the jungle again, that might is right? And now I have to beat someone into submission before he respects my basic rights as a woman. How brilliant.
A few of my female friends are so inured to such harassment they’ve even stopped fighting back. So some jerk can pretend to lose his balance and fall all over them each time the bus jerks, and they won’t say a word. They’ll try moving more and more away from him, but they’ll ask me to calm down and not make a scene if I ask the damned dirty dog to rot in hell, or even if I politely say this is the ladies side of the bus and no matter how much he pays for the ticket he can’t hang around here.
They are being shamed into silence, what with the whole stigma of “She also must have done something… there is no smoke without fire”. What saddens me the most is that the ones who spout such lines are mostly women.
The ancients decreed that women be treated with love and care, for they are the ones who nurture new life, and woe be upon all of us if they all are hardened and embittered by the harshness of life so much that they lose faith in living and in society that they do not anymore want to bring or nurture new life into this cruel world. Considering what most of us have to put up with, the world must be turning into a sadder place with every passing second.
So the Strand Book Festival is on, and I wanted to give it the once-over. A free weekend, the prospect of doing absolutely nothing the whole of Saturday loomed large. I didn’t seem to know anyone with as much enthu for Strand as me… or did I?
Chapter 1: The Strand DarkHorse-and-WhiteElephant Market
So my EvereadyToChillOut cousin and I found ourselves at Chinnaswamy Stadium wondering which of the three halls to check out first.
Big difference…. all of them were the darned same. For once, I didn’t feel like buying the entire bookstore. And no, that is not a compliment. The quality of books has dipped like crazy in my opinion. It’s full of crazy pseudosecular nonsense, the very titles of which have my blood pressure rising. Kancha Ilaiah has quite a few of his titles for sale. All Brahmin-bashing nonsense that wouldn’t stand scrutiny for a minute. C’mon, his logic is like “Hindus like cows. Hindus don’t like buffaloes. Cows are white. Buffaloes are black. Hence, Hindus are racist. QED”.
Apart from that, I didn’t think much of the quality of the fiction available. Most of it was racy pulp-fic-pop-lit that I really couldn’t justify paying for. There wasn’t much of Indian fiction, and most of the ones that were there were the NRI-rediscovering-roots types.
As for the title here, the prices were, like we say in Tamil, elephant-price-horse-price. The ‘Dark’ for the number of books there that had shot to fame after languishing unread for ages, like Holy Blood Holy Grail and the ‘White’ coz the eye-catching books were all these foot-long books full of awesome hi-res pics of people and places which cost a neat packet to buy, but served little purpose.
“Why do you go one week late? You should go on opening day! No wonder you’re disappointed”, chided my father when I called to ask if he or mum wanted anything. In the end, the only decent thing I found was a Japanese-English-Japanese dictionary my mum wanted. And an ‘Oils for Beginners’ book I found for sis, but in the time she took to make her mind up as to whether she wanted that one or the one on watercolors or the one on sketching, someone else filched it. Funnily, the exact same thing had happened last year. But then I’d returned later and found another copy of the book she wanted. I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon with this edition of Strand Book Festival.
I felt really insignificant standing in line to buy ONE slim volume when others were having basketloads of books. It has never happened before that I walk away nearly emptyhanded from a book exhibition… So on an impulse I bought Vikram Seth’s From Heaven Lake, a travelogue about his trips to Sinkiang and Tibet. Let’s see how it reads.
Chapter 2: A lot can happen over… Luchi!!
Cousin and I were rather starved, and had enough time for a small snack. So we hit KC Das. Cousin was rather sick of sweets for some reason, and we decided we’d order savouries. It’s quite a crowded place, where you don’t get a table to yourself. You end up sitting wherever you find a couple of free chairs, and no one minds. We ordered Luchi after deciding Sev would be an overdose of good stuff. At our table were a couple in the last stages of their meal, and they soon left.
While we were wondering if we should order a sweet to go along with this, this lady walked in. I assumed her to be Bong, because of her large, large eyes. Her eyes were rather shifty, and her body tense. Her manner was confused as she asked us if the seat opposite us was taken. We said it was not. She was in the last stages of a phone conversation as she put her bag, couple of magazines and a file folder on the table and proceeded to beckon the waiter.
Just then, a man came to her and said “Magazine”. And I thought her confusion couldn’t get worse. He pointed to the magazines in a cover next to her and said “Pay”. She said “But I paid!” and proceeded to hunt for the bill. This man then reached under her file folder and withdrew a blue glossy magazine. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I got a call and I walked away with it”, she said, more to us than to him.”I was calling a friend, had to meet her, and my cellphone battery was low… my cellphone battery is low…”. I told her it was nothing to worry about and that I walked away with the pen in the NITK library so many times (but mind you, I alwasy returned it when I realized I had it) that the librarian tied a string around it; such things are normal.
“Are you guys from Bangalore itself? God, after a point this city gets so boring!”. She seemed to be talking to herself. “Yeah, it’s rather boring for folks who don’t have a family here”, I said, after ascertaining she was indeed talking to me.”Where do you normally hang around? I live in Lavelle Road and so I hang around here… it’s so boring, nothing new here!”. “Oh, CMH and Indiranagar, South Bangalore…” “Oh yeah, CMH Road… I used to have… I have a friend who lives there, and we used to hang around at the CMH Road Coffee Day…. but that was two years ago. I haven’t met him since TWO YEARS! Oh God, what is happening??”.
“Egad, what’s happening” is what we were wondering too. “You seem rather tense… are you going to write an exam or something?” I offered. “Oh, no, she said, in a confused, distracted voice, “I’m just feeling rather lost. I seem to have lost it in life *nervous giggle*”.
Our orders arrived and we dug in. (On an aside, I now know after that meal why Bongs all eat meat. If you butcher vegetarian preparations like that with only a modicum of seasoning and spice, it is but natural that even Hitler would have taken to eating meat). She enquired whether we were students or professionals. We told her. I have no clue as to what she does, coz that bit was a hazy blur of college names, course names and place names, interspersed with enquiries of other totally unrelated programs. There was something about Mounts, something else about Christ and Josephs, and then something about Coimbatore. And then something about Geneva.
“What are you guys doing here?” she asked. We told her. “Oh, books… somehow I’ve never been able to understand how people can read such big books. You’ve to follow some goddamn long story also along with all those words.. I prefer magazines”. To each his own, but keep away from me with a ten-foot broomstick, girl, was what I wanted to say, but instead I said, “You can read travelogues also.. there’s not much of stories in those.. and short story collections are not so demanding on the attention span”.
“So what did you buy?”. We told her. Considering the amount of comforting she seemed to need, I think I would have told her the secret of the Holy Grail had she cared to ask. “Ohhh we share such common interests. I’ll be going to Geneva soon, so I’m interested in languages too”. Er.. Japanese… European… how common are we really? “So.. which do you recommend? Spanish? Italian? German?”. Instead of shrugging, I went on to elucidate why German was a better option. And I even happened to have a Max Mueller Bhavan handout in my jacket pocket, and handed it to her when she asked about the courses.
“Where are you from?” we asked her when she lapsed into a tense silence. “Coimbatore”, she said. “Ohh Tamizhaa?” we asked, with broad grins. “Yes” she replied and continued in English.
We were done with our meal. We asked for the bill. Oh WTH… they combined our bills!! We told her we needed to split it. She wasn’t done eating yet. She asked me to reach over to her bag, pick out her purse, and take out a Rs. 100 note. We paid our share but were still wondering WHAT was with this girl! Yeah, cousin and I are renowned for our innocent looks, but this really was careless.
After paying our share, we got up to leave. She said, “Stay till I finish, please?”. We obliged. She asked about trekking spots around Bangalore. We mentioned Muthathi. She was done. We got a call asking us where we were. It was time to leave.
We said it was nice meeting someone who was not a software engineer. We wished her luck with Geneva.
Out in the street, we wondered WHAT happened in the past half an hour. We’d never experienced anything like this before. (Oh, there was one incident where an old man suddenly called the same cousin and I when we were on our way home and ordered us to hail him an auto to Kamakhya, and was very very dissed when we hesitantly told him we had an appointment and gave us a dirty look as if we’d betrayed him or something). We didn’t know women naive enough to admit to complete strangers that they’re confused and are distracted or that their cellphone battery is low and they can’t make calls. We’ve never met anyone caught so off-guard. No, not even those middle-aged maamis on the Lalbagh Express who’ll tell you their life story at the drop of a hat and bitch about their mothers-in-law before you can say “maanga uruga” give an impression of this much naivete or helplessness.
It’s rather amazing to meet different sorts of people, and it’s comforting to know that you’re not the naivest person this world has seen… And it sure does feel good to speed up the return of people from extra-tense to normal, especially of people who don’t know you.
Oh, and it sure is nice to talk to strangers every once in a while.
Rash of that happening since Friday. I’ll probably do a more elaborate post as soon as I can. This is a placeholder… if I mark this a ‘draft’, it’ll never get done. Watch this space. And if you’re reading this from a feed aggregator, mark it ‘unread’.
I thought this will be the history of random lyrics you’ll find scribbled on desks at NITK… but I’ve lost track of what I wanted to write. So I’m just having you know that if you find seemingly random lyrics scribbled on a desk at NITK, you know who it’s by. And you can compliment the neat handwriting on the comments section.
I also thought I’d do an analysis of the catchiness of certain songs, but sadly now they are well out of my head and now I don’t know what the fuss was all about that I really badly wanted to write this post.
For the time capsule – the songs stuck in my head were Ragasiyamaai from the Madhavan-Jyotika starrer Dumm Dumm Dumm, Signore Signore from the Madhavan-Simran-Keerthana starrer Kannathil Muthamittaal, the title track from the Madhavan-unknownWoman starrer Jay Jay, Kadhal Sadugudu from the Madhavan-Shalini starrer Alaipayuthey, apart from the classical track Alaipayuthey renderd by Sudha Raghunathan… Oh pray, tell me why these! I don’t particularly find these lyrics meaningful or the songs melodious. And anyway if those were the criteria, there are many others which are decidedly much better!
I don’t anymore desecrate public property, mainly because I don’t anymore study in a Government college with wooden benches that are just right for scribbling on with a ball/gel pen. So… well.. I’m just scribbling the first random lyric that comes to my mind right here. And in keeping with the pleasant weather outside, it’s Parikrama’s Open Skies. It’s mainly instru, except for these lyrics in the beginning… it’s something like an ode to a nice day.
Wind blows through my hair
Right in the morning sun
And the breeze just passin’ by,
Oh, free as a bird
Moonlight in my eyes
And stars to fill my dreams
That’s the way I wanna be
Clear blue skies
Oh, and for some reason I like this random quote I came across “It feels like Deja Vu all over again”. I like the self-reference here… just like “If Murphy’s Law can go wrong, it will”.
FUD. FUD. FUD. For three different reasons.
In the recent past, that seems to be my emotional range.
Oh, and terror attacks have nothing to do with this.
I won’t be very surprised if I find this on a Tshirt soon.
The attitude of the media and the people they interview these days is, to say the least, despicable. Yeah, fine, a lot of things went wrong due to which the tragedy at Mumbai occurred. But is it right to go for every politician’s jugular now?
For starters, who votes these guys in, or does not vote against these guys? The only solution these upper middle class folks can think of is to not vote. Is it that they don’t realize that it doesn’t make too much of a difference if they don’t vote, or are they just too lazy to vote?
Politicians have realized there’s no point of trying to woo this part of the electorate. No matter what a politician does, he always has a ‘hidden agenda’. A politician can never be right. These are people who don’t even read political news; how are they going to know who to vote for? Oh, and they are the last people who’ll think of attending election rallies. “Because it’s all lies and tripe anyway”.
Snobbery, fine. Everyone shows some – folks who think Bollywood music is infra-dig, or those who don’t watch hockey coz it’s not cool enough. But taking it to such extremes is like refusing to get out of your stilettos even when the arch of your foot is broken.
“Voting is like choosing the lesser of two evils”. Well, yes. But you do need to exercise your choice if you want to make a difference. Yes, some politicians are criminals, but you need to factor that in while making a choice. And no, education, doesn’t do away with corruption, ask anyone who’s worked on Incineer. All education does is help YOU make the better choice – seeing through the lies, the corrupt schemes, and informing you on what to do in case you come across inconsistencies and corruption.
Another thing that constantly comes to mind is that a corrupt official is not necessarily an inefficient official. Honesty and efficiency are two independent variables as far as an individual is concerned. But when you take it over a larger whole, it is better for the officials to be honest, as it enforces predictability and faith in the system.
“Politicians, get out of my city. I don’t need you to make things worse for us here”. Oh, and who is going to manage things for you, lady? Who will you blame the next time things go wrong as they surely will?
Why don’t people understand we need politicians? And frankly, you need to a ruthless, thick-skinned person to be in the profession. You need to play ‘politics’. Sure, it might be unpalatable for some, but it’s inevitable when so many compete for so few.
“Make it a meritocracy”…. well, you can. You are the ones who judge who would do a better job. So choose the right person. Don’t attempt to outsource it to some other agency by asking for restrictions on this and that. It’s hard on you, but that’s the price you pay for being able to choose. An honest matric-pass or a dishonest PhD. An inefficient honest man, or a get-things-done guy who occasionally asks for favours.
People go on the extremes – only old fuddy-duddies who are so out of touch with the pulse of the youth form the government. Can’t help it, can we, if you have to work your way up the ladder? And a young man or woman doesn’t have the requisite experience in public life to know about consequences of actions that impact an entire country. More so if they are urbane elite who haven’t worked at the grassroots level, be it in a rural area or an urban area.
“How come Raj Thackeray didn’t throw the non-Marathi NSG commandos out at the airport itself?”. Now you can say that arbitly, randomly, but on a news channel?! When you are supposed to be a top reporter? He has a weird way of expressing it, but his point is that outsiders do not learn the local language when they make Mumbai their home. Keyword ‘home’. Valid point in itself, though it needn’t have escalated to the heights it has. Why drag him into this? He doesn’t have any power over the security apparatus of Mumbai, does he? And if the commandos decided to live in Mumbai, maybe he’d've raised an issue, but they didn’t, so what are you talking about?
Having said that, I’ll add that he could have helped, by atleast providing chai-pani to the crowds outside, or taken care of crowd security…. or found some way to make himself useful. And relevant.
Then there are those who want war with Pakistan. Understandable anger, but we need to take a cold decision on that. Then there are those who don’t. Because they say they don’t want innocent people to suffer due to the war. Er… how about the innocent lives lost in these attacks? And there are some who say “Why can’t the governments of India and Pakistan arrive at a solution together?”. Because one of us is the problem?
Oh, and the “Do not Politicize *”. How can you not politicize a misdeed of the government? That’s just a convenient escapist statement. Here is a list of all the Do Not Politicize statements put forth by the government.
And “Terror has no religion” and “Do not communalize this issue”. If terror really has no religion, why do terrorist emails routinely cite religion as their inspiration? And the media that so easily came up with “Hindu Terror” even though there was no inspiration claimed from the Gita or the Rig Veda or any Upanishad, why can’t it for once say “Islamic Terror”? Isn’t this double standards?
American papers carrying columns by Indians about how dangerous Hindu fascism is to the rest of the world. First it was just a couple, but now it’s a whole torrent. I’m getting sick of even dismissing these as tripe; I’m that irritated.
I’m sick-to-dying of hearing all these cliches every time I tune into any sort of media – be it the feeds I read, or the newspapers or the television. I have moved beyond these hackneyed, ill-informed arguments which are fine, rather cute even, to spout in school-level debates but not elsewhere. I’m sick of having to correct people each time they open their mouths on current affairs. I’m sick of ill-informed people who consider it their prerogative to talk about current affairs without the slightest idea of what is going on.
Rest of the world, kindly give me a break.
I love the foodie shows on T&L and NDTV Good Times, though most if not all of the dishes shown are items I’ll never touch.
So we(sis and I) watch a Chinese lady with a Brit accent go through China, chopping tofu, cooking lotus roots… and then watch another lady whip up desserts all rich in chocolate, Kunal Vijaykar chat with a chef in Pondicherry as he buys spices, vegetables and meat and prepares a godawesome-looking meal, another guy sample street-food in different parts of the world…
And then we watch Vir Sanghvi. He doesn’t think too much of the Udupi restaurants in Mumbai. He doesn’t like the exotic seafood he gets in Kerala. He somehow manages to eat the fare on a trawler in Mangalore without making too wry a face. He doesn’t have too high an esteem of the Rajputs – ‘they were the stupidest in my school’.
Why, he doesn’t even spare the Udupi Temple. There they were, the temple staff piling his leaf with more and more, while he couldn’t manage past a few mouthfuls and rather disgracefully said he’s had enough.
In contrast, Padma Lakshmi did the Udupi temple too, and was excited as hell about the food, she went into the kitchen, showed us the spices they use, the wood fires… and even tried her Iyer Tamil on the folks in the kitchen.
Maybe I’d've not minded so much if he didn’t sound all condescending. His condiness knows no bounds. The Rajputs got stripped of their titles. They were stupid in school – bad at both sports and studies. So what sort of careers do they pursue? Why, they turn their palaces to Heritage Hotels, of course …And this is how you are introduced to Rajasthan and its heritage hotels.
All the other food show hosts seem to be adventurous in terms of sampling cuisines, open to new experiences, and having as open a mind as possible. And if they have reservations, they are careful to stick to their comfort zone.
And not just food show hosts are this accomodating.. I remember an MTV VJ getting a large tattoo done on her lower back just for the sake of the show. It was painful, but she smiled for the camera, and managed to even joke about it.
It’s painful to watch an old (he’s crossed the half century mark) man trudge over the country, sampling foods he doesn’t like, meeting people he doesn’t try to get to know, and passing through lands that’ll always seem inferior to him. A joke comes to mind:
When the lights in the cinema dimmed and the opening credits of the film appeared on screen, one of the viewers leaned closer to his neighbour and asked:
“Excuse me, but can you tell me what’s written on the screen?”
“The opening titles…”
“I see…can you tell me the name of the producer? My eyesight isn’t too good…”
“But the translator is reading them over the mike!”
“The thing is, my hearing isn’t what it should be, either. By the way is the film in colour?”
“Do you suffer from Dalton’s disease?”
“As a matter of fact — yes. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t see why you go to the movies, under the circumstances. What pleasure can you get?”
“Pleasure’s got nothing to do with it. I have to write a review!”