Thursday, December 27, 2012

Honey You Kid Yourself!

So I had ranted against the annoying habits of women in this post, but it seems I left out one very important trait, which leads to potential misunderstandings and often leaves perfectly innocent men at the receiving end.

As women, we have this compulsive instinct of being suspicious, at times to the extent of being morbidly imaginative. Yes, we all believe that we are the next Aishwariya Rai in the making, that our breath-taking beauty and keen intellect leave all the men around us spellbound, so much so, that they simply have to have us, RIGHT.THERE!

Thankfully, being neither beautiful nor intelligent, I have never had any problems with the “male gaze”. If anything, given my miniscule presence and a complete lack of personality, most of the time I go unnoticed. But, having been educated in two of India’s so-called “happening” colleges, known more for their crowd than for their academic excellence, I have seen a plethora of paranoid girls, who, and I quote, “cannot help being hit on”.

So, imagine this situation: a bunch of girls, including me, are sitting in the cafeteria, gossiping about clothes and shoes. Suddenly, one of the girls gnashes her teeth, and whispers, “I am going to slap that guy one day”. Since she clearly wants to talk, we are obliged to ask, “Who? Why?”, though we aren’t particularly interested. Apparently, there is some guy at the cash counter, who was staring at us, not to mention he almost bumped into her near the water cooler the other day. Now, as irresistible as we are, I can vouch for the fact that more often than not, it’s our imagination at work. We WANT to believe that the guy was staring and that he bumped into us, DELIBERATELY, when the truth is probably that he is just an absent-minded toad.

Or as another girl would brag, with an air of irritation, which was just trying to cover up the pride in her voice, that some guy had been calling her at midnight, EVERY night and would insist on speaking for hours. Now given the enormous propensity of girls to go on and on and on over the telephone, I would be extremely skeptical about who was actually driving the conversation! The poor guy was probably too drunk to even listen to what was being said.

And the worst of them all: I don’t know why women make such a big deal when guys (even familiar acquaintances like colleagues/batchmates) add them on Facebook. I understand that every man on this planet is dying to get hold of our pictures where we are drunk/hugging friends/dressed for a party and superimpose them on Pamela Anderson’s body and repost them, but if we are so conscious about our privacy, why put those up in the first place? Or have a FB account for that matter? Instead of letting the world know how stalker-worthy we are, isn’t it easier to tweak the privacy settings, or simply NOT add the people if it makes us so uncomfortable? But no, we would insist on telling every human being who is unfortunate enough to cross our path, that so-and-so is “harassing us online”.

So here is to ALL women, honey, you are kidding yourself! He is simply not that into you

Monday, December 24, 2012

The End of an Era

I was looking forward to this weekend with a lot of hope and expectation: may be Mayan WAS right, may be the world WILL come to an end and may be I would finally make peace with the world and the director of the movie 2012 for scarring me for life…

But no, it wasn’t to be: I woke up as good as new, as fresh as ever, with a slight hangover, but nothing earth shattering: the world was calm, the world was its usual languid self, the world was all set to screw me over in 2013, again…

Until yesterday, when Sachin Tendulkar finally announced his long-awaited retirement for One Day cricket. Now, personally I found it nothing short of a tragedy that someone as legendary as him would wait for being forced out of the team rather than bowing out gracefully when he was at his peak. For all his contribution to the game, for all the adulation that he deserves and for all the years of entertainment he has provided, it was a sad end to a glittering career.

I can’t help wondering why would anybody of his stature drag the fairy tale to an unhappy ending?

Wouldn’t it have been infinitely more memorable to have retired on the eve of India winning the world cup, playing his last match on his home ground and hoisting the trophy?

Is that what makes the difference between a great player and a great leader?

Is that why I have always been a staunch Dravid loyalist despite the fact that he almost drove me to death by boredom when I was younger and more impatient?

Is that why while I am supremely grateful to be born at an age which saw the Little Master at his peak, I would never tell my kids that he was the cricketer I idolized?

But with his retirement, an era does come to an end, if not the world.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crime and Punishment

The whole world, it seems, is talking about the Delhi gang rape case: the incident has managed to attract the attention of a thick-skinned, usually indifferent and often insensitive generation, caught up in their smartphones and iPads, too busy making money and spending it. Yes, it includes me too.

Now that it has made both the national and international media go hoarse, now that students and citizens have taken to the streets and now that everybody born with a keyboard have expressed themselves on twitter/blogs/facebook, our usually indolent government has also been hustled into action, albeit through some token measures and platitudes.

A few months back, I had written about violation of women in this post. Now, as we witness yet another barbaric act, I am left to wonder, rather helplessly, if at all, there is a solution. You can talk about fast-track courts, death penalty, sensitization of police force, deterrents or even awareness, but it still leaves the issue of the social and cultural norms, which cannot be dismantled so easily.

We belong to a country which treats women as second-class citizens, which is unabashedly pro-men, which worships aggression and bullies the weak and which resists anything that threatens the established hierarchy. Till we become more open-minded as a nation, till we become more tolerant to differences and till we learn to accept the changing social and economic milieu, other measures would fall inadequately short of achieving the harmony that we are waiting for, hoping for, praying for…

Meanwhile, as our society gets educated, painfully and slowly, what are women supposed to do?

Wait for a cultural revolution, as we put up with the callousness in our daily lives?
Hope for a judicial reform, as we patiently look for justice?
Pray for a safe return every day, as we leave the house?

Isn’t it just easier to forsake the nation which has so easily forsaken us, the nation which is so careless towards one half of its citizen and a nation where crime is rampant, but punishment is not?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Fairy Land called Kolkata

One week of complete indulgence, one big fat Bengali wedding and one family reunion: that sums up my trip to Kolkata!

As always, Kolkata was home, Kolkata was warm despite the chill of winter, Kolkata was hope and Kolkata was family.

My parents showered me with affection and alcohol, literally. Don’t ask me what my mom reads, but apparently she read that beer is good for the hair, which is why she promptly gifted me a Park Avenue Beer Shampoo. My dad, appalled that his sweet little girl, no longer able to withstand the inflationary pressures, has now resorted to Signature as her poison, down from Jack Daniels, tried his best by making me drink Chivas Regal and Black Label on alternate days…

My mom, eager to cook all my favourite delicacies in the limited time, took a leave for four days, only to spend a major part of it in the kitchen as she pampered me with fish fry, chicken roll, puchka, mishit doi and chanachur…

My dad, no longer in touch with contemporary cinema, tried to prove that movies in his youth were much better, as he made me sit patiently through Cleopatra and Guns of Navarone. On the last day, we decided to call it a truce and watched Bombaiyer Bombetey, a recent Feluda movie, but written by Satyajit Ray in his heydays…

My mom, desperate to turn me into a ‘lady’, treated me pretty much like a doll, as she dressed me up in her colourful sarees and accessories for each day of the wedding, while I stood in front of the mirror, resigned to her enthusiasm…

My dad, cribbing that I am blind to the history and culture of Kolkata, accompanied me to the Light and Sound at Victoria Memorial on a journey to discover the rich history and culture of the city and the way it has evolved through time. He also took me on a tour to Budge Budge, where we spent the day by the Ganges, feasting on a delicious lunch, as we stared out to the serene river…

And then, of course, there were my childhood friends, a grand wedding, but most of all, a grander occasion…

May be, just may be, fairy tales are not for kids alone; they do happen in real life as well, especially at home, especially with people who love you no matter what and especially when you need them the most

Friday, December 14, 2012

Living Next Door to Alice

A few months back, I wrote about the engagement of my two close friends in this post. Now that I am in Kolkata to attend their wedding, I thought it’s time to bore all five and a half readers with the love story that started fifteen years back.

I had met D1 when we were all of five years old. She was this snooty girl studying in a girls’ convent and would insist on speaking in English, while I was the rustic wild child, comfortable with her equally rustic friends, and D1 was so not a part of that world. Suffice to say, we did not get along, and as far as first impressions go, it was the worst possible!

A few years later, we moved to this huge two-storey bungalow in Kolkata, and much to my horror, I found that D1 was my next door neighbour. But once the initial resistance was over, we discovered our common love for literature, and while I introduced her to the madness called cricket, she opened up a new world of languages, arts and the phase called, “it’s cool to dislike your folks” to me. And we also met D2, who came to live in the same bungalow. D1 and I took great pleasure in hating him with as much gusto as possible for two 11-year old girls, making fun of him openly. However, his cute kid sister won our hearts, and it was for her sake, that we would put up with him. The next few years were turbulent to say the least, as all of us battled against teenage, weight gain, pimples and parents, finding solace in our late night strolls in the sprawling garden, badminton games, discussions on cricket and our very own Saraswati Puja.

As we moved to different cities for higher studies, D1 and I managed to keep in touch, writing long letters, catching up during holidays and running up huge phone bills. While I stayed with D2’s family when I first moved to Mumbai, we laid the foundation for what is going to be a lifelong friendship. I remember it was D1’s birthday, when I casually cajoled D2 to call her, and there was no looking back. Eight years, a distance of 2000 km and several ups and downs later, they are finally hitched, and I can finally heave a sigh of relief, almost like a proud parent who has pulled off the impossible!

It was the grandest of weddings, it was intimate as family weddings are and despite my sheer distaste for elaborate functions and rituals, this one was close to my heart.

As we sat in the same garden fifteen years later, D1 looked every bit of the radiant bride and D2 was the calm, matured man, a far cry from the annoying, lanky teenager who got on my nerves.

I lived next door to Alice, and today, as she steps into her wonderland, I can only watch in happiness for two of my childhood friends...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Anon Comes to Town

Lately I had been bonding a lot with my OTHER women friends, and it has not gone down too well with anon, as she felt that her status as my best friend was being threatened. Hence, gripped by fear and jealousy, she decided to fly down to Mumbai over the weekend and put things straight. Or that’s the version that I would like to believe…

In reality, since yet another member of our CKB gang was getting married, this time in Mumbai, the outstation members had to come down to offer their condolences. While the wedding was a no-nonsense, one day affair and my first brush with a Maharashtrian ceremony, the rest of the weekend was about me and anon, making the most of our time together. Once more, it hit us, how different we were, once more, we wondered how we have managed to remain friends over the years and once more, we marveled how we resisted from killing each other in Room No. 213. Of course, now that we have booked non-refundable tickets to Cambodia, and would be meeting SH as well, there is much to look forward to!

Saturday night, we threw a bachelor party for the groom, but the only glitch was that the groom wasn’t there. So, the four of us celebrated on his behalf, as the LIT pitchers and the non-veg platters at Out of the Blue seemed strangely inadequate.

Sunday, we had a mini-CKB reunion, as the uncle of the group finally fooled a girl into marrying him before she could change her mind, and we all heaved a collective sigh of relief.

And Monday morning, we left: anon back to Bangalore and me for my one-week vacation to Kolkata.

She came in a breeze, she criticized me in a breeze, and she left in a breeze: mean as ever, annoying as ever and judgmental as ever

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Charge of the Light Brigade

As my love-hate relationship with the corporate world continues, it never ceases to amuse me that companies can stoop to any level to deny employees they “don’t like”. Mind you, here, “like” has NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING to do with performance, but everything to do with personal equations. Differences are NOT tolerated, despite all the rhetoric about diversity, and unless you comply to the narrow definition of “leadership”, you are left in the cold. SO, yes, you are not compliant with corporate culture, if you do not:

a)Waste a minimum of 1000 man hours in useless meetings every week
b)Mouth inane jargons and platitudes just for the sake of being heard and not listened
c)Circulate emails with links to WSJ/Bloomberg/FT/Reuters news articles in the name of ‘knowledge sharing’
d)Suck up to seniors and exploit the juniors/comparatively weaker people because they can’t stand up to you
e)Accept that men are a superior species because they are more aggressive, loud and hence naturally endowed with ‘leadership skills’

But now that I have rebelled against the system, now that I have taken it head-on and now that I have laid the cards on the diversity table, the probability is high that I am going to lose the battle, that I shall be back to the unemployment phase which strikes me every two years and I shall deal a further blow to my already volatile career.

And as I continue my eternal struggle to fit in, Tennyson’s words keep echoing in the background:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

The Light Brigade has no authority, but only responsibilities

Monday, December 3, 2012


This weekend Soulgoat was in town, paying through her nose ONLY to meet me. We hurriedly did a detailed calculation and spread her airfare over 3.5 days and came up with a figure of Rs. 125 bucks per hour for her Bombay trip. Now that put me under a lot of pressure to entertain her and make it worth her while and money. For instance, I would not even let her sleep/relax/watch TV as these are things she could have done at home in Delhi for free. To sum up, I was at my obsessive worst, while she patiently put up with me, cooked an awesome lunch on Friday and an equally yummy breakfast on Sunday.

Now I have been friends with Soulgoat for almost five years since we spent two glorious months in Hyderabad while interning with Company D back in 2008. But ever since we both graduated, we have been in different cities, meeting once a year, though we became the best of friends over emails/IM/phone and most recently, the annoying Whatsapp. Since we are cursed with similar personalities (or the lack of it) AND we are fellow Capricornians, we call ourselves Soulgoats. And now that we were meeting after more than a year, we did everything that two women could cram in three days: eat, drink, shop, watch movies and most importantly bitch about the rest of the world!

We ate till we threw up and continued eating: A Bengali dinner at Bijoli Grill, a Parsi lunch at Britannia, a Punjabi lunch at Urban Tadka, coffee at Aromas and Starbucks, snacks at KFC and Theobroma, Pav Bhaji at Sukhsagar, sweets at Bengali Sweets and yogurt at Cocoberry…

We drank till we were dehydrated and passed out: For the first time, we ventured to buy alcohol over the counter from a Theka, squirming in the maze of men, staring us down. But once were home and settled down on the floor with alcohol and snacks, there was no looking back as we abused the entire Universe, sparing nobody…

We visited all the clichéd Bombay places: Linking Road, Waterfield Road, Bandstand, Marine Drive, Churchgate, Gateway of India, Colaba Causeway and Fort…

We shopped till we couldn’t walk anymore: We scrounged through ALL the stores in Palladium, Skyzone and R City, and I HELPED her buy a pretty and colourful dress (a rare diversion from her usual black uniforms) for her upcoming party plans while I bought the MOST expensive outfit for myself, along with shoes, belt, earrings and bracelet for, well, for, MY.NEED.FOR.COMPULSIVE.SHOPPING…

And we also watched Talaash: I know we are not getting back the 700 bucks and precious three hours of our lives back and we are contemplating suing Aamir Khan for his temporary insanity when he signed a movie which had a script as bizarre as it could insult my intelligence more than my boss…

Today morning, when we finally bid goodbye to each other, I realized once more, why we were Soulgoats:

Soul sisters and soul mates may come and go, but soulgoats are forever