Who said to whom?

Posted on August 31, 2010. Filed under: Essay | Tags: , , , |

Below, we have excerpts from three conversations, each between two individuals. Let us call the first pair A and B, the second C and D and the last E and F. (Yes, highly imaginative names!).  Anyways, here goes!

A saying to B:

“You know the way he cooks potatoes. He does not peel them. Just dices them as is and puts them in the pan. At home, we don’t make them that way. We peel them carefully first ..” (What A meant: The potato peeler and thus his family are so stingy that to save a few slivers of potatoes, they don’t peel them and A’s family does not worry about such trivial details.)

C saying to D (D was soon to be married):

“So, (in your wedding) wearing a pure silk madisar and all huh?” (madisar a traditional nine yard saree worn by the bride in a Tamil wedding.) (What C meant: Apparently a pure silk madisar is the sign of great affluence. So, C wanted to find out if D’s in-laws/parents are rich enough to buy her one.)

E saying to F:

“Oh this t-shirt that you are wearing, is it new? I’ve never seen you wear it before. Did you buy it from Bebe?” (E asked me this, because the t-shirt that I was wearing had the graphic of sparkly stuff on its front, common to many Bebe t-shirts)

Now comes the question. What are the genders of A, C and E?

I am sure if you had to guess,

  • A would be a lady in her 20s-30s, probably dishing out the typical invective against in-laws.
  • C would be probably be in her 20s again, jealous of the ‘alleged’ affluence of D.
  • E would be one of F’s girl friends keenly observing F’s daily attire and drawing surmises.

What would you say, if I were to tell you all the above guesses are WRONG! Yes indeed they are all wrong.

B, D and F are one and the same person, and that person is me. That was easy enough. A, C and E also refer to the same person, but it is not a She. It is a He!  He is my age (late 20s). He is educated, works for a highly respectable software firm in the USA. He is not a figment of my imagination but is someone I know personally. The potato peeler in the first conversation was his roommate. All these are true conversations between the two of us.

So why were none of us able to hazard the right answer? It is because of the society we live in and because we are so tightly wound up in prejudices. A woman only talks about fashion, petty gossip and always is jealous. A man only talks about his accomplishments at work, trekking, gadgets and cars.  A person’s being spiteful, hysterical, gossipy, competent is not related to his or her gender or race or sexual orientation!

None of these stereotypes hold true today. Alas, we the people, are still wound up in them as before!

PS: So since I blogged this, many of my friends (needless to say male) are asking me if I have decided to take up activism to build a political career.  1 post about gender equality is enough to qualify me as a pot throwing, belan toting, man eating activist. Jeez!

PPS: Inspired by this post from IHM.

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Who Said It?

Posted on July 20, 2010. Filed under: Essay, Information, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Cut back to January 2010. A popular Indian super star made comments about India’s esteemed neighbors and their goodness and all hell broke loose. A right wing political party obviously took offense at the said superstar’s comments and as usual resorted to their half baked threats against the star and his upcoming movie. This episode had all the makings of a super duper hit – Bollywood, Cricket and Politics. At the end, the political party got face-time in all sorts of media outlets making their opinion heard. This political party has time and again lost crucial elections and their opinion basically amounts to nought, so this face-time was quite important to them, probably. The superstar got fokat ka (free) publicity for his movie (we all know how ‘good’ it was). And they lived happily ever after ..

Wait, still some players in the saga have to be discussed. The Indian media and Us . I am a part of the minority of Indians who watches English language news channels to get my daily dose of news. As this episode unfolded, I was flipping through channels. To me, all the channels seemed to converge into one. “Mumbai belongs to all of us“, who said it? Was it Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan? Or was it Pranoy or Rajdeep? Was it CNN-IBN or Times Now?

“Who said it? Was it Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan? Or was it Pranoy or Rajdeep? Was it CNN-IBN or Times Now?”

I could not distinguish Barkha from Sagarika from Arnab. Each and every channel was quoting oft repeated platitudes. The said political party was being made the punching bag, the star was being raised to pedestals. All the channels and their presenters professed the same opinion. Each of these channels featured an opinion poll on the lines of –“Do you support Sena’s bandh against the showing of My Name is Khan? SMS Yes or No“. Each of the channels were displaying the ‘Tweets ticker’ – displaying related tweets updated on the clock.  (Probably these channels do not know about Twitter Search, Trending Topics and hash tags). The same people appeared on every channel voicing their stale opinions. After all, there should be something to fill time when the channel’s claim is ‘News 24X7‘.

That leaves the fourth player – We the people. Or namely, Me (since the opinions in this blog are solely my own and not my employers’ or my relatives’). I am quite dense when it comes to really serious matters such as –

1. Whether the media is allowed to have an opinion? Whether the anchors should use their channels as platforms to foist their opinion on the public or whether they should portray truth in an unbiased way and let the public form an opinion of their own?

2. Whether it is okay to divulge information on national television that may threaten national or individual security because it sensationalizes news?

Nopes, these are weighty matters that better be left to those who are qualified to weigh upon them. But it never ceases to amaze me, how our news anchors, who are scholars from St. Stephens and Oxford, cannot see this glaring and blaring sameness in all the channels? The public is so immersed in ennui, that even blockbusters with Bollywood, Cricket and Politics do not excite us. I do understand that it is important to play to the galleries in this mad rush for ratings. However, I have to ask – Does boring to death sell so much? Well, yea, probably it does because we see Daya breaking the darwaza and Pradyuman twirling his finger every single day of our miserable lives.

Note from author: This is an entry for this BlogAdda Contest whose sponsors are Pringoo.

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The Battleship Battle

Posted on May 20, 2010. Filed under: Funny | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When we were young and carefree (sitting in the college canteen having bunked lectures), often we would wonder ‘who amongst us will get married first?’ I would always get picked last. Heck, I myself thought I would be the last. And then a few months ago, I had a Sheldon Cooperesque moment – “Bazinga! I am getting married first!”

I married #win on January 21, 2010. No, I did not marry a hashtag, I wanted a cool alias for my husband and this one makes me a perpetual winner (Tilo weds #win). Since then, my single friends caught in the conundrum of horoscopes and arranged marriages have asked me the question – How do you know he is the one? Well, to illustrate how, let me start by relating to you the tale ‘The Battleship Battle‘.

Once upon a time #win was at work and I was at home and I was bored out of my wits. Therefore, I reverted to my favorite pass-time (timepass) bugging #win. I called him.

#win: Hello?

Tilo: Hey, whats up are you busy?

#win: Yea I am a bit. Meeting with my advisor (Yes #win left his high paying corporate job for drudgery at grad school. All his friends thus think he is #nutlose).

Tilo: Well, I really had a very important thing to tell you.

#win: Ok tell fast fast.

Tilo: Wait a minute forgot! (Had not :D)

#win: QUICKLY (Almost at the end of his tether now)

Tilo: I had 2 important things to tell you – 1 was that your friend #ok was pinging you “Maga, did you see the race last night?” …

#win: And the other important thing .. FAST!

Tilo: And the second thing was (almost choking for trying to stifle laughter) can you get us some paper from office for us to play Name, Place, Animal, Thing or Battleship?

#win: (Hangs up)

At this point I am hysterical with laughter. Tears are streaming through my eyes. After a while, when I had calmed myself, I switched on my laptop. I had a feeling that this time I may have gone a bit too far. So I pinged #win.

Tilo: R u anger? (We dont use grammatically correct English with each other for some bizarre reason)

#win: (Unresponsive for 5 minutes)

Tilo: R u anger?

#win: Yes.

Tilo: How much lil bit or lots?

#win: Why don’t you understand that there is a time for playing the fool and that was not it. (Uh oh! Correct grammar = BAD mood!)

Tilo: (Bristling a bit, no one calls me a fool) Oh come on lighten up, it was not that bad.

#win: It pretty much was. My advisor just walked away, after all I had gotten a hold of him after a month almost. Now I have to wait  another month before I can talk to him.

Tilo: Bla bla bla … talk to my hand

And this continued. #Win got mad and I got mad. Then both of us got madder. And after half an hour the fight ended thus:

Tilo: Ok fine, henceforth I am not going to talk to you.

#win: Great, that is good to know.

In the evening, #win was about to come home. I was dealing with the situation in a very mature way by banging pots and pans in the kitchen. I heard the door open. I tried to feign more disinterest, lack of enthusiasm and anger by banging pots to the accompaniment of ‘Tum to thehre pardesi …‘. I heard #win‘s movements in the other room. I did not bother for a long time and nor did he. I realized that we had come to an impass. I finally went to the other room, in the mood for another battle. And there was #win sitting calmly with pen and paper in hand. Another set of pen and paper was beside him. He already had drawn a grid on his paper. He looked up as I came in and said – “Name place is too childish. Let us play Battleship.”

So girls, look for a man who shares your sense of humor (more or less) and even if he is quick to anger, he should be quick to forgive. That sure is a #winning combination.

If you liked this post, do share it with others for them to have a good laugh. If you want updates from this blog immediately, use one of these handy buttons on the right.

And if you have any stories of similar battles with your spouse or your sibling or anyone really, please let me know. Still looking for guest bloggers 🙂

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Mujhe In Aaropiyon Se Bachaoooo

Posted on May 7, 2010. Filed under: Funny | Tags: , , , |

07 50, 11 10, 1 40, 5 55 – I am not making up some mystical numbers a la Lost. Such numbers are important to each Mumbaikar. Yes, these are train timings. Only Mumbaikars have a special set of friends called train friends. Often I have heard ladies gossiping thus, “Tya 4:37 vaalya Joshi aahet na …” (Translation: “That Mrs. Joshi who travels in the 4:37 train …” I have generously used Hindi in this post, and wherever required provided translations, in italics).

Mumbai local trains have been called iconic, efficient, the lifeline of Mumbai etc. They are the butt of many jokes and were at the receiving end of one of the cities more gruesome terrorist attacks. Every Mumbaikar has travelled by these trains at some point in their lives. Disembarking from a train during peak hours is a sublime mixture of art and science. You need scientific precision and divine intervention to jump off at the right moment. If you jump early you may fall on the platform and break your neck. If you show a moment’s hesitation, off you go to the next station. It is a matter of practice, but definitely not for the faint hearted. My mom has thus given up. She’d rather be called a coward than travel by a train.

But I digress. The local trains are such a melting pot that you are bound to meet some ‘strange’ people if you travel in them daily. So, here is one of the strangest incidents that I witnessed during my train sojourns

It was a sultry afternoon (as most afternoons in Mumbai are) around 9-10 years ago. It was the Ladies 1st class (With college concession, traveling in 1st was quite cheap). A handful of women were present in the compartment. A Christian lady was horizontal on one of the seats and was enjoying a nice siesta.

The train stopped at Bandra station, in came a policeman. He was not alone, he entered with 2 men. Soon, we that that their hands were bound to each other with rope. We all looked at each other aghast, unsure of what to do.

A bit of background here about the protocol regarding gents admissible in the ladies compartment-

  • Son/brother of 1 of the passengers less than 15 years of age (at least who looks like it) – Allowed.
  • A man selling useful trinkets such as earrings, combs, purses – Allowed.
  • Old beggar man above 60 years of age (at least who looks like it) – Allowed.
  • Blind men – Allowed.
  • Police – Allowed.
  • All others – Not Allowed. (Includes men between ages of 15 and 60, maimed, burnt, injured not withstanding)

Coming back to our story, we were all aghast, unsure of what to do. A policeman for protection, allowed. A policeman along with two bound criminals? Apparently, this was a grey area in our protocol. We all kept mum for the time being.

The erstwhile dozing Christian lady had by then assumed an upright position, having been awoken by these new entrants. She started speaking:

Lady: Inspector saab, aap in aaropiyon ko leke utar jaao (Inspector, please get off with these ‘accused’).

I realized that this lady had recently watched one of those 70s-80s Hindi movies, in which the judge will proclaim a sentence on the villain in the last scene – “Sabhi gawahon aur sabooton ko madde nazar rakhte hue, adaalat aaropi ko saza-e-maut dene ka hukm karti hai . He shall be hanged until deathhhhh!” (Translation: In the light of the witnesses and the evidence, the accused shall be given the punishment of death) One more reason why I suspect so, is that she directly called the cop an inspector.

Then Inspector saab, began to talk:

Inspector: Madam, baaki dabbon mein jaam gardi hai, main aaropi ko udhar leke jaaunga to yeh bhaag jaayenge. (Other compartments are crowded, if I take the accused there, they may flee)

I do not know, if the Inspector had himself seen the same genre of movies or was merely trying to use the same terminology as her.

Lady: Arre aise kaise? Aaropi bhaag jaayega is dabbe se aur humko gun dikhayega to? Humko yeh sab tension nahin mangta hai. (What if the ‘accused’ decides to flee here and holds us hostage with a gun? We do not want these hassles).

Inspector: Arre Madam, Inke paas nahin hai bandook. Aap chaahiye to inke jeb check karo. Kuch tension nahin hai! (They don’t have a gun, if you want check their pockets)

Lady: Arre aise kaise check karo?!! I will not touch them, I only touch my husband.

At this I had to burst out laughing. What more, even the aaropis started smiling to each other.
Some other concerned ladies started supporting the original lady, the instigator of the argument. Murmurs of “Haan barobar hai, Kaayko tension” started echoing in the compartment. The final straw came when the lady said,

Lady: Yeh ladkiyon ka compartment hai, aaropi ladki nahin hai! Ladies aaropi hota to hum log allow karte. (The accused are not girls. Had they been, we would have allowed them).

The inspector was flummoxed at this rhetoric and decided to wave the white flag. He got off at the next station (Dadar) with aaropis in tow. I also got off at the same station and saw him ushering the two in the ever crowded gents 1st.

I shall stop myself here, because I want to desist from making any politically charged comments about women or cops. This is a long enough post already.

Do you have a funny story that happened to you or someone else in the train or elsewhere? Do share it with me, I would love to have guest bloggers here. Also, if you like this post do consider sharing it with others using this handy link Bookmark/share a post or other gadgets in the sidebar.

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‘State’ of ‘No-bhook Hartal’

Posted on December 12, 2009. Filed under: Entertainment, Funny, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

My friend Mythili (name changed for safeguarding Sonali’s identity) has been married for about 5 years now with Rajesh (name unchanged, but you don’t know who he is anyways). As all other couples, many ups and downs (more downs than ups) do happen during the course of their marriage.  And whenever Myth is stuck in the downs, she calls one of her friends, relates to them the woes of marital life and thus heals herself. Don’t know what Rajesh does for his healing process. Personally, I think Rajesh is more in need of the heal, because he often gets the heel from Myth (figuratively, don’t think that she is a husband beater now). Myth can be quite a ‘formidable’ opponent.

So today it was my turn to play agony aunt to Myth.

Myth: I am sick of marriage, da!

Me: <uncomfortable yet knowing fake laugh> Hehe .. What happened now?

Myth: This Rajesh, da! He is bugging the heck outta me.

Me: What did he do now?

Myth: See no, he is demanding a state now.

Me:  <slightly confused> State?

Myth: Yea man, S-T-A-T-E.

Me: S-T-A-T-E???

Myth: Aeiyyoo … like New Jersey, California .. like that, ma!

Me: What do you mean, demanding a state? How can you demand a state?

Myth: See, no .. that’s what I told him. What he thinks of himself making such demands?

Me: Huh??

Myth: Arre, since yesterday he has started ‘No-bhook hartal’, unless I recognize the living room as his state.

Me: <Totally confused now> Mujhe samjha nahin … what is it you are talking about? Why is Rajesh doing hartal dude?

Myth: Aeiyyo .. don’t ask ma! It’s a long story ..

Me: <Another one of those long stories> Sigh!

Myth: Arre last month we had gone to India no, I had a fight with Rajesh’s mom. <Starts relating conversation with her MIL>

MIL: What ma, how come Rajesh has got beer belly? Do you both go to what they call pubs? See what you were doing before marriage, is not my business. We are not what you call ‘forward’ a! All this you should not do after marriage and all.  You should behave in a way befitting a daughter in law of this family. We are not as liberated as your parents ..hmmph.

Myth: <Indignant> Amma, we have to drink sometime no with our colleagues and all. But Rajesh hasn’t got his gut because of that. It’s because he is a lazy bum and does not take an effort to be fit.

MIL: What are you saying ma? He used to daily go and play badminton with his friends. In fact, I was always telling him to gain weight. You should not put like that oil in your food, ma. Your parents place also too much oily food. That’s why he has put on so much. In fact, you can also start losing weight…

Myth: <The rest of the conversation was lost on Myth, as her MIL had heaped on her the ultimate insult. Myth follows all latest diets to remain fit ..>

Me: Then?

Myth: Then what, I put Rajesh on strict diet. I make him eat only oats, cereals, raw vegetables, spinach juice <rattles off list of healthy sounding foods> … in fact, Milk also we buy Silk now. Silk is soy milk ma. I stopped allowing him to eat curd rice and ghee also. White starch and saturated fats. Yuck!

Me: Well, it’s a bit much, to be frank. But what is this state business about?

Myth; He is accusing me of discriminating against him because of his gut. He is also accusing me of denying him the right to watch his favorite TV show.

Me:  Why dude?

Myth: Arre, that day na, Project Runway finale was there. Rajesh wanted to watch that dumb disgusting comedy about the dancing piece of shit, that South Park. So I forcibly sent Rajesh out for a jog. Rajesh was following his fitness regime properly until then. But a jog in -5 deg C was the last straw for him and when he came back and saw me watching Lifetime, something snapped inside him.

Me: <you go Rajesh!>

Myth: He told me that, the living room is his state and I cannot enter it unless he lets me <starts relating the fight>.

Myth: Get lost man, this is my house. I will do as I please.

Rajesh: OK FINE! If you don’t listen to me no, then …

Myth: What will you do? Give me a shove with that gut of yours?

Rajesh: No, I will go on “NO-BHOOK HARTAL

Myth: Whatever are you saying?

Rajesh: It means, 24 * 7, I am going to eat until you say yes to my demands. Everything bad and dangerous and gross. I don’t want anything that even contains 1% percent fiber. I want only 100% sat fats  and trans fats, based on a 20000 calorie daily diet. Now you just see …

Me: Oh gosh!

Myth: It is the 2nd day of his hartal, and he hasn’t stopped eating.

Me: How is it possible? Technically, kitchen is not in his state no?

Myth: Yes, ma. But he is ordering pizza and soda from living room. He ate all the veggie pizzas that Pizza Hut had. He has given me ultimatum now. If in 1 hour I do not agree, then he is going to order non veg beef pizza and eat that <breaks into uncontrollable sobs> … What am I to do? He will soon die of type 2 diabetes, maa <sobbing again..>

Me: Well, your diet and exercise regime was an exaggeration, Myth. He is not competing in ‘The Biggest Loser’. You are denying him several rights such as the right to a decent meal and right to enjoy TV after a hard day’s work…

Myth: <sniffing, pondering the weight of my words..>

Me: And you know what, it is his mom’s fault. She is so possessive about Rajesh that  she couldn’t see him enjoying his married life. A bit of a gut, never did any one harm. In fact, it is the sign of marital bliss.

Myth: <Indignant and elated that her mom in law is at fault> Yes, ma! You are abzolutely right.

Me: Don’t let your MIL destroy your marriage, ma. Go take care of your husband and concede to his demands. Let him have that occasional dessert and that occasional Family Guy viewing. What’s in it for you?

Myth: Yes, dear. You are right. I will go and talk to Rajesh ma. Thanks a lot dear.

Well, that was that! Myth and Rajesh are back on their up, having tided over another one of their downs. Rajesh has given up his demand to create another state. Moral of the story, It is better to blame it on external forces, rather than fight internally.

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