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April 30, 2008

Glamour Bazaar, CNN-IBN, May 2, 10pm

So it’s official now, the promo for the CNN-IBN show I participated in should be up by the end of the day and those who have the channel at home – and watch it! – can perhaps catch it on TV. It’s called ‘Glamour Bazaar’ (it’s a special and airs on Friday, May 2, 10pm on CNN-IBN) and talks about a whole lot of things from the P3P phenomenon becoming a daily part of our lives, the changing priorities for the current generation, the dumbing down of the media (how about dumb audience expectations instead?) and if we have become more open in talking about certain subjects and if that changes things around us at all.

The panelists on the show were author and columnist Shobhaa De (her book, Superstar India released yesterday), the ad man with the mouth Alyque Padamsee, editor Screen Bhavna Somayaa, journalist and blogger Sonia Faleiro and yours truly. The fun bit was that I was the second choice for the show and a reluctant one since our channel does not believe in promoting in-house people. Was the debate worth it and did it really reach any conclusions? I will leave you to make those conclusions once you see the show (and if I am able to put up a video link for you). I am not too sure of how much of what I’ve said will be kept on air since I was one of the least known of the panelists. But what I can tell you is that I quite enjoyed finally meeting Shobhaa and Alyque, the latter since I have quoted him a few times in features I have done over the years and Shobhaa because… Aha. An anecdote.

First year of college – was studying journalism at the illustrious (or so I thought!) Lady Shri Ram College for Women – and one of the first writing assignments our class of 22 was given was to pen our thoughts on the man of our dreams. Most members of my class had fumed at the topic, after all this was the generation of female liberation, this was the college which apparently bred feminists in every corner of its red bricked walls and here we were being asked to write about our dream man. As if women only thought about men, horror, shudder. I don’t remember what the other chicks wrote, but my piece was titled, ‘My knight in a shining BMW’. That definitely was not my dream man but it sure was a fun way to heckle the righteous.

The class scoffed and the visiting faculty – despite three books out on How To Be A Journalist, was not too well known in the media circles – declared that I was going to be “the next Shobhaa De.” I had died laughing imagining my father’s reaction to that one: On discovering that I was reading Jackie Collins and De, Dad had threatened to disown me and had summarily banned both authors at home. And now this, my professor declaring I was on the road to doing a De! I happily narrated the day’s happenings at home and as predicted, dad was disappointed that I showed promise of the doubtful kind.

Anyway, that was in 1998 and 10 years hence, it was rather funny to be sitting on a panel with Shobhaa De on the eve of the launch of her 15th book. Actually, it was weird. I don’t consider it any “achievement” – given that my being called for these shows is more because I am willing to shoot my mouth off than any ‘talent’ or because they think I have anything important to say, also because I know how panelists are chosen for shows! – but just that, sometimes, real life can be rather strange. So now I am wondering… Who else did I read clandestinely and my dad banned me?
(Smirk, shakes head, goes to get ready to step out for a media night with Partner and colleague in neighbourhood pub).

April 29, 2008

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?

I have been to London to look at the fucking Queen. And how the fuck do you care anyway? Rude act for the day over, did you know that the Pussycat nursery rhyme has dirty connotations? Well, now you know and before you object/ support objections to sex education in schools, stop and think because EVERYONE has taught dirty things to their kids. (Neither did Jack and Jill go up the hill to just fetch water, ok?)

“I have traveled to a whole lot of places you know, but I’ve never felt the kind of pull I felt for this country… I have fallen in love,” said my friend as he grappled with a gruff Labrador with swollen testicles. There was a Lhasa Apso lying on the second table, wearing a depressed doggy-look that only dogs can have and with both its ears bandaged to its skull (friend’s not a perv, he’s a vet). Friend was speaking about Melbourne (Australia) and I don’t jest when I tell you his eyes misted over. I had felt something similar for Goa (south beaches, Palolem particularly) in November 2007 and would have chucked job and city to consider a little JB-shack-on-the-beach had I not been put off by syringes sticking out of the sands in the northern beaches. Some dudes also called me nangi-pangi – impolite Hindi word for nude, which I wasn’t – and that I greatly objected to. Not an ideal backyard and not the best of neighbours either.

On our weekend drive-down trip to Jaipur in early April this year, each time we passed a highway ‘resort’ – one of those fancy looking buildings with fancy names that stand in the middle of nowhere – Partner had regular fits at the idea of people spending money to get out of Delhi and then stay in bang-on-the-road resorts. “But WHY would anyone want to stay here? What kind of a holiday is that?” was his oft repeated, head-shaking refrain. Partner prefers gun-toting Pashtoons and eating rat-meat in Myanmar. For some, a holiday means a new visa stamp on their passports. For others it means documenting different landscapes, ethnic clothes and different cuisine on their cameras (and putting up on Facebook). For a majority it means going to your grandparents’ for summer or winter break (was so for a large part of my childhood).

Perhaps some prefer roadside resorts because not everyone can afford Rambargh Palace or a Neemrana or because some think a holiday is any place that isn’t home, even the neighbour’s house. Or when someone else serves you bed tea (meaning your wife gets to have her tea in bed too and not just bring you yours, ha-ha). For my mother a holiday meant when she didn’t have to wonder about daily menus. “It’s a holiday each time I don’t have to cook,” is what she said then. Now with kids and husband living away from her, she tries to usurp the kitchen wherever she goes, “But I miss feeding you all!” being her latest war cry. Mothers, I tell you and of course you can’t argue with them because all debates start and end with, “You will understand once you become a mother.” Whether it’s my mother, blogging-mother-of-two Mad Momma or society-mom-to-six, Shobhaa De; ALL mothers use that argument irrespective of the newness/oldness of their motherhood or their generation. I digress; we are talking travel today.

Travel for me has increasingly become an escape from ennui, from meeting the same people everyday (and on social networking sites), of doing the same things day in and day out (unless there’s a power failure when you don’t know what to do with your time) and a way to escape my regular self and make startling discoveries. And not all those will be nice ones…

Like I had not realized that I could look good smiling in pictures till I went to Goa and couldn’t stop grinning. Or that I could be a major whiner as I nearly killed our Jaipur trip by whining about everything from dog hair – Golu Dawg was with us and shedding kilos of hair – to no air-conditioner in the car. Or that I could relinquish control and NOT feel jealous when someone else did things better than me, Partner is a kickass photographer (and anyone else would have had me competing as well). Or that even when being an adventuress, I was bothered about how my hair looks (was in Leh in second week April and the wind there is SO dry, there is constant static in your hair, it fucking stands at ends at all times!).

Travel has constantly challenged and changed my perspective on a whole lot of things, inside and outside. Dad was in the Army and every two/ three years we changed cities. From the heart of India in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh, also my home town), to Agra the city of the Taj, to then-Calcutta now-Kolkata, Amritsar the abode of the Golden Temple and the beautiful state of camellias and gompas, Sikkim (rather Kalimpong, which is technically West Bengal); I don't think I’ve considered what it would mean to NOT travel, not change houses or not meet new people and new ways of life. Once settled in Delhi for education and subsequently profession – it’ll be a decade in June 2008 – I subconsciously replicated the house changing by moving homes within the city (16 homes in 10 years). Traveling and changing houses also taught me that it’s fucking hard surviving people and labels.

Some people and some places will welcome you. Everyone smiles in Leh-Ladakh when giving you directions and if you catch a stranger’s eye when walking down the road, you’ll be greeted with a hearty, “Juley!” (means Hello in Ladakhi) In the backyards of India, you’ll be met with curious stares. But if you can get over your skepticism and have a minute to talk, you will be offered chhaanch (butter milk) in the villages of Rajasthan. At times you will meet very proud people, some rightly so, some mistakenly so. Some might help push your car when the spark plug packs up while some will watch and jeer. You will also realize that the best food and service is not always at the most expensive place. A small bar on Colva beach (south Goa) will give you the best roasted fish and the most fun time of your life while a ludicrous hotel in ‘down town’ Ludhiana will charge extra for a 10 gram tube of toothpaste.

Some places will have nothing to boast of save friendly people. Others might have a fast paced life but not a single smile to spare. Some will give you two cups of tea free while another will overcharge for a bottle of cold water. Some places will have a unique way of dealing with traffic – people sharing autos – while others will have taxi drivers waiting to skin you. Delhi will always be labeled the aggression capital of India while Mumbai will always be the city of claustrophobic dreams. Or is it the claustrophobic city of dreams? Somehow I cannot shake this image: En-route to lower Parel from Mumbai airport, two towering, under-construction buildings, with two, towering powerful cranes on their under-construction terraces lifting concrete slabs and between the buildings, a double storeyed church with stained glasses and a crumbling crucifix. The church looked scared. The image is affixed in my head and bothers me, but I don’t know why…

City of Dreams, Mumbai like City of Joy, Kolkata? Labels that are smart marketing ploys or labels that are inescapable truths?

Speaking of surviving labels, I started writing this post from Mumbai – rather from our channel office at Lower Parel – I was there to participate in a show as a blogger and someone who "writes on sex". (smiles) (More details on the show once I get official clearance).

Somehow the word "orgasm" overpowers every other word and no matter that you might be writing other words like physical abuse, rape, child sexual abuse and even office politics or boob jobs, a sex writer is what you become. Why did I say yes to the show? Because strangely, after participating in Barkha Dutt'a We the People episode on blogging, the nasty comments on this blog slowed down. The hit counts did not really change or not as much in comparison to the hits I get when say Mad Momma links to some posts of mine. But it's getting interesting… The more we talk about sex, the less difference it seems to be making. And yet apparently/ allegedly, I write about sex. Why? Simply put, because I love a good orgasm and because it shocks you.

PS: Check the slide show for some pics from Leh, point on pic with cursor for caption.

April 22, 2008

Seen that life jacket anyone?

So I vanished for a bit. Actually I don't know if I am back even as I type this. Bluurrggggh would pretty much summarise what's happening here and what's happening in this old head of mine. There is much to write but a) not much time for it and b) not the right frame of mind either. This seems to be the season of life lessons. Rather whatever you did NOT learn in the last 10 years will be forced down your throat in two days kinda thing...

1. Humility: No matter how much of a cannon you think you are, keep your mouth shut and your attitude to yourself. It really does not matter if you WERE right, when it comes to getting reference letters, you never know who you will have to contact after ages. Ditto for that boss you really do not like. You don't have to suck arse, but you don't always have to call a spade a spade. In fact it's better if you don't call the spade anything at all!

2. Patience: I hate that word. You cannot, I repeat, cannot have the world responding to your whims and fancies. Even if said whims and fancies are based on assurances from others - that they will deliver - be prepared that just when things seem to sort themselves out, you might have to really grit your teeth and wait.

3. Waiting: Someone said that the sweetest fruit comes to those who wait. Well, they either lied or they didn't know what they were saying. What if you are not waiting for fruit?

4. Constipation: Will get you when you least expect it to and it has no correlation to hitherto perfect bowel movements.

5. Xerox: Will save the day. Documents have a strange way of disappearing when you most need to find them. Or if mailed, some documents can mysteriously never reach an organisation. Missing documents are second after mysteriously disappearing socks, both pairs were in the washing machine but when take them out for drying, there's one gone missing. You cannot xerox socks, you can xerox documents. Do it.

6. Marriages: Never promise that you will attend a friend's wedding, till as such time you are there holding her hand. There will always be strange things happening that you will have to attend to that will make you miss the wedding. It's also harder attending weddings in the same town as you live in, somehow something always comes up...

7. Hair cuts: It's not just humans who look weird after a new hair cut. Dogs look bloody funny. Golu Dawg had his first hair cut and looks like a cross between Milo from The Mask, a shortish Grey Hound and that neighbourhood mongrel.

8. Plans: Are the single most scary thing we humans could do to destabilise ourselves. We never know if those will work out, but we still make plans. To deal with it, have a contingency plan ready and be prepared that it might not work out either.

9. Introductions: It's far easier writing an introduction for a blog or an opening para for an article than it is when formally introducing yourself.

10. Time: Flies REALLY fast when you REALLY want more of it... You wake up on Sunday and realise that it is Friday for the next week, two months later.


PS: 18-21 April, three days without cigarettes, didn't smoke any. For those who asked, I did say I was going to quit, I did not say when. I am trying, ok? How about giving me some credit for TRYING? No one bloody appreciates me.

April 15, 2008

The will to won’t

A ‘habit’ is a peculiar thing; you never realize when you start on it and yet soon enough it becomes a thing-you-always-do. Then there’s the bit about how it’s much harder to keep up/ start on a ‘good’ habit and how it’s tougher to let go of a bad habit. WHY is it so difficult giving up a habit we picked up in the first place? It’s not as if we were born with it or would die if we don’t do it. Why is it so tough to have the will power to decide and stick by “I won’t”?

Have you ever realized that the more self-destructive a habit, the easier it is to pick it up? Whether it’s smoking 20 cigarettes a day or constant self-analysis that only leaves you with guilt for being a certain way or not being another… I do both: Smoke like a shit-brained maniac and analyse to a point where I begin to bore myself (and then worry as to why I am so boring…). Self-analysis only shows you what you lack or what you are doing wrong, with no solutions on how to stop it. Of course you could let another analyze you; it usually involves paying big bucks. You analyze day in and day out, even when you are asleep (they call it the subconscious) and only end up realizing that you are on a suicide mission of self-destruction.

“I am not a man, I am dynamite,” wrote Nietzsche. I would agree. Human beings are genetically wired to self-destruct in 60-70 years and medical science at best manages to push that limit or delay the inevitable for some decades. Don’t quote the number of humans who touch their 90s or beyond, like every other program, they are an anomaly. If left to our own devices, most of us would kill ourselves much earlier in life. Why do you think kids need watching all the time?

Infants will willingly crawl off their beds/cots, toddlers will happily run on roads and get under cars, or stand under windows and other pointed stuff that can pierce their skulls (have done both as a kid), five-year-olds are adept at throwing things at each other meant to seriously injure… I know of a three-year-old who managed to climb atop the kitchen slab, SIT on the hot plate and turn it on and was saved from toasting his balls by the timely appearance of his mother. Please notice that babies have to be TAUGHT how to kiss, but slapping comes naturally to them. “Give Aunty JB a kitchie, not like THAT, that’s slobbering over her cheek, be a good baby, give her a chweet kitchie now…” And THWACK. Have you ever been slapped by a baby? They slap REAL hard and it hurts real bad. Who taught them?

Post infancy and er, toddler-hood, we become adolescents; if you survive that unscathed, you reach adulthood… Growing up is NOT fun. For one you have to start paying taxes. Two, you cannot get away with half the things you did as a child (try slapping someone). The whole point of being ‘an individual’ is lost because you are supposed to behave in a prescribed manner, which is basically like everyone else. And you realize you have to unlearn every goddamn thing you were taught as a child. Like perhaps the fact that love is not enough, love is never enough. “The idea that love is not enough is a particularly painful one”.

Of course you can make this entire Journey of Realization a fun one, but you usually need a lot of money to make it fun. Depending on varying degrees of individual resistance to all these disturbing truths, we all end up being ticking time bombs; some go off early, some voluntarily, some are forced into it but eventually, we all meet the same fate. Some of us expedite the process by smoking out our lungs, or snorting coke, poking needles into us. Some do it indirectly through constant poisoning of the mind with negative thoughts, comparisons, refusal to give up the past and constant self-analysis that just makes matters worse... “I am not a man, I am dynamite.”

As author Richard Flanagan says in The Unknown Terrorist, “Everyday now somebody somewhere is a dynamite. They are not an image. They are the walking dead, and so are the people who are standing round them. Reality was never made by realists, but by dreamers…” Flanagan then goes on to define realism as, “the embrace of disappointment, in order no longer to be disappointed.” IF reality disappoints, what do humans live for? Why do they teach good things, why do they tell fairy tales to children? If reality disappoints, what makes us go forward without hanging from the ceiling the moment the first pimple appears? That's the reason I don't read Virginia Woolf and nor have I ever read Nietzsche: I don’t know how I will react to what they say. The Nietzsche quote is from the book I am supposedly reading except that I’m stuck on Page 86 because of a BAD HABIT.

I don’t even remember when I started on it or why. What I do know is that it’s completely taking away the satisfaction of reading books. Earlier I could go without food, water or conversation and finish a 500-pager in three hours straight. Now if I like the book, I tend to sit and mull over a line or a paragraph until I come to my own conclusion regarding whatever’s caught my attention and I just cannot read further. So a ‘good’ book now takes days to finish or hangs in the middle, unread, because there’s something I don’t agree with. Or consider the second habit: If it’s a thriller, I being trying to outguess the author and HAVE to turn to the last page to see if I was right… I do the same if it’s a particularly bad book and I can’t be bothered reading the whole thing.

So despite really liking the way Flanagan writes, I am stuck on certain lines and a particular chapter. Am typing out those for you all… Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I will try and break some habits that are threatening to destroy some very precious, beautiful things I have and need to nurture.

PS: Perhaps the only answer to read peacefully and perhaps live peacefully too (till the Eventual) lies in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Lobotomy. No brain, no pain, hmm?

Choosing some bits of this excerpt from The Unknown Terrorist... these 'spoke' to me, am nicknaming this passage, The Death Of A Lie… And it’s the closest I’ve come to reading anything that describes the end of togetherness so perfectly, so sadly…

Nick Loukakis had had an affair. Maybe he meant something by it, maybe he didn’t. Maybe he’d wanted a way out of his marriage. Or maybe he just wasn’t thinking. Maybe the affair ended the marriage. Or maybe the marriage was over when the affair began. His wife never found out. She always knew, but her knowing grew from a vague awareness easily put away, to a bitter knowledge she could still deny, to an enraged desolation when she one day told him she knew, that she had always known, did he think she was such a fool? And he felt his world collapse into a terrifying white hole into which he fell and into which he was still falling.

They stayed together and watched each other slowly become strangers, watched their love die as you watch a great old gum tree succumb to dieback. The affair was over for him but it was just the beginning for her. She never found out then, but it was as if each day now she lived another day of those years of lies and deceit; and his punishment was to witness her suffering. First just the leaf tips in the distant crown brown a little at the edges, then whole leaves, then a branch here and there. Still the tree lives, and everyone says it will be fine… But when his marriage began dying back, Nick Loukakis discovered nothing is fine,

Each day some small thing – a joke, a shared intimacy, a sweet memory – he found to have withered and died. Caresses fell like dead leaves. Conversations cracked and then broke. And in the end what remained, Nick Loukakis discovered, was nothing; nothing to keep it going, just a large thing still standing erect and proud, only everything about it had withered and died.

Nick Loukakis realized that for a long time there had been something about his life that he now saw as innocence… But then this thing happened – something broke and he came to realize he had broken it and that it could not be put back together, not his family nor his life.

And yet he knew his wife loved him and he lover her. But something had happened, something had broken and he knew neither how to fix it nor end it. The sex was absurd, pointless; an affirmation only of what they didn’t have – the affection, tenderness, hope and dreams that had once been theirs. It was a dismal affair of penetration and her body moving only where it was shoved by his thrusts… But the absence of sex he could adjust to as a price, a penance, perhaps. It was the absence of touch, of warmth, of animal connection… And yet he knew she loved him and would always love him.

How was it possible to live with another human being so closely, to eat with them, sleep with them, smell their breath, and yet be so unspeakably alone?

April 10, 2008

Oh how she cracked the whip…


How many of you read that headline and thought about a woman whipping a man? Mention the phrase whip-cracking-woman and the imagery is usually sexual, S&M and what not. If I were to expand that description to include gun-toting-murderer as well, at best most would think Demi Moore from Charlie's Angels. Somehow the association of power and women is either always sexual or clad in silk stockings and garter belts. Is it any wonder then that this world has NEVER seen a woman with absolute power over her people? Not a single female dictator. Don't women love/ want ABSOLUTE power? Do women lack the basic insensitivity (or skills?) needed to go from 'mere' politician to dictator and tyrant… Or is it because they can neither command the kind of fear nor generate the control needed to be a dictator?

I started thinking women and power and tyranny owing to a conversation I had last Thursday at a party. The question was, "Who do you root for in the US presidential elections?" Well honestly no one since I am rather interested in the next Prime Minister for my country, but instead I answered with, "Hillary Clinton, would be interesting to have a woman in power just to shake things up a bit." My answer was met with some incredulous stares. But perhaps Mrs Clinton is not the answer, what with her trading her 'soft' locks for a 'boy' cut and skirts for pant suits for her presidential campaign. The closest the world has ever had to a female despot was India's Indira Gandhi… and now Filipino president Gloria Arroyo seems to be following in her footsteps as well.

Perhaps it can be said that since most dictators have either had links to the Army – an allegiance from men with guns is usually a prerequisite – or been seasoned political players. Women-in-armed-forces has been a recent development in most nations and even there, women rising to positions of power (and not just higher designations) is rare. As for political participation, there's been much debate and discussion on the representation of the "fairer sex" in politics. Few women have risen to positions of command and some of the prominent ones who have, have not been 'liked' at all. But then dictatorship is not about being "likeable"; it's about having absolute power with a complete disregard for opinions other than your own… And for lives other than those you can use. And somewhere, it is also the ability to have others follow your command and fear you: Can a woman EVER do that? Genocide, ruthlessly thwarting opponents, suppressing freedom of speech or any other freedom that threatens her?

Yes we have had cases of women who have been remorseless and acted “like men” when it comes to murder or ruthlessness, but are women capable of it on a larger scale? Someone said that women HAVE enjoyed absolute power albeit using the man/men in their lives as a front, there have been women monarchs who have exercised control and we have all heard the oft-repeated “many a war has been fought over women”. But beyond collecting diamonds (Mayawati) and sarees (Jayalalithaa) and getting real-estate deals for her son (Sheila Dikshit), can women CONTROL and effectively subjugate?

Of course, there are enough opinions and case studies against dictators, but for the sake of argument I would be mighty interested in seeing if a woman ever 'rises' to the occasion. And if I could make an uneducated guess (I am no pro in matters political), I'd say the Indian subcontinent could well be the one to give the world its first female dictator… Look at the political scenario today, women are steadily growing in number and in power and I don't just mean your Information and Broadcast or Social Justice portfolios…

Sonia Gandhi heads the Congress, Sheila Dikshit rules over Delhi, Jayalalithaa is enough of a pain down under and even Aishwarya Rai is making tentative forays into politicaldom. Those who laugh at Mrs Rai-Bachchan, please watch things carefully: From a swimsuit debut in movies, to winning a crown, to changing into the perfect example of the Indian Bahu, Ash seems to be making some VERY studied moves… With her campaigning for Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh (some would say that’s a family friend and all), I will be the least surprised if Aishwarya were to make a political foray: Beautiful, articulate and extremely scheming is how I see her. Much before new Mrs Bachchan though, there is someone else who has been shaking things up in the political field.

As I consider the whole woman-on-top scenario, my thought process freezes at certain posters. Posters that stare down at me from hoardings at the busiest of intersections, posters that deface road signs as directions are obscured behind congratulatory party messages, posters that share common space with dribbling spit and piss on walls that also declare, "Dekho yahan gadha moot raha hai." (Look, an ass is pissing here).

Posters that have one unsmiling face – unless a smirk that does not reach the eyes can be called a smile – and for once it's not Sonia Gandhi or Sheila Dikshit (perhaps because the Congress has a better sense of where they want to flash their party president's face). It's behen Mayawati, the Chief Minister of one of India's most lawless state, Uttar Pradesh (literally means 'northern state'). Mayawati, or behenji as she is called, who grew in political stature mouthing equality for Dalits and the ‘downtrodden’ while amassing Rs 52 crore (and more) as personal wealth (in diamonds and real estate that grew by 400% in three years). She who nearly sold off the Taj Mahal's backside and converted it into a shopping mall, she who won by a whopping majority in a male dominated state (like which state isn't!) and she who might just become the only other woman after the late Indira Gandhi to squeeze India by her balls.

It could be NDTV’s Barkha Dutt too (grin).I would be very interested in seeing HOW a woman “commands and rules”…in absolute terms.

PS: Would I like to be under a woman's dictatorship? Er, no, not unless I was either her primary aide or advisor, or for the sake of argument, the dictator. And of course I won’t ban blogs.

PS2: Partner who happened to read the earlier PS says, “Ask me, I am already suffering.” Point proven: The mere idea of a woman dictator gives nightmares to men. (Wink)

April 9, 2008

Shoot at Sight


Drunk sex is NOT honest sex!

"Have you written anything on women who date arseholes?" asked sexy Sheila* (not her real name, but says if she had a fictional name that's what she'd like to be called). I promptly sent her the link to 'Good girls and jerk-ing off' but was not too sure if that post answered whatever she had in mind. No matter what the reasons for women dating jerks and arseholes -- this blog has given reasons too -- I think it all boils down to one simple word: STUPIDITY.

While no woman would date a man if she knew at the onset that she was getting into a messy situation, what I FAIL to understand is WHY women (and men) continue in a relationship even when it becomes very obvious that it's a downhill road for them (a whole lot are already in the ditch and are in denial about it)... Or when it is VERY clear the other is NOT interested.

Some keep waiting for the phone to ring, some wait for hours even when they have been stood up three evenings in a row, some stew visualizing what the other must be doing when s/he is not with them, some will take rejection (no hugs, being pushed away etc) hoping it's a passing phase, some will ignore blatant signs (like lipstick marks or a raunchy email) thinking they're being understanding and are giving 'space' to the other and some will even overlook a sperm-laden condom in the dustbin justifying he must have been masturbating wearing a condom.

'Hurt' cannot be helped when the object of our affections turns down the affection and runs the other way. However, DIGNITY can be maintained if you get the signs and get on with your own life. It IS a cliche but unfortunately it's true: NO one can make us feel like a doormat unless we are lying on the ground and asking to be stepped over. We usually wear a sickening weepy, don't-break-my-heart look too. It looks UGLY.

If he says he will call and does not call back - repeatedly - get out. If he says he is in a meeting and you find out he was watching a movie with someone - get out. If he was supposed to spend time with you and instead runs for an "emergency" humanitarian meeting with the ex - get out. If he would talk about emotional things to the she-colleague/ Ex rather than with you - get out. If he hugs you only when he wants to fuck you and never else - get out. If he constantly compares you to the Ex and says she was better - leave him with the memories and get out. If he shags you ONLY when he is drunk - get out! Seriously, you are anyway being treated badly... How much worse will it be to walk out?

Confessions over Coffee: A Series

Coffee can cure almost anything – hang-overs, bad days at work, period cramps and even helps detox after some indulgent evenings.

As one downed the third cup of much-watered down, machinated Office Coffee – there's coffee and there's Office Coffee – Friend instant messaged and greeted one with a, "YT?", which in Internet chat lingo means 'You there?'

You get the maximum YTs on days you are the busiest and have a glaring Busy icon next to your name. Before one could respond to the abbreviated query, Friend continued, "Tell me if I should dump him: he does not want to commit, still talks to his ex girlfriend and sends me confusing signals." Despite the Busy sign, such peculiar state of affairs and persistent messaging had engaged one's attention. One asked Friend how long she had been dating her current cause for trouble. Apparently, one had asked the wrong question.

"But I am not dating him. We hang out together, sometimes, talk on the phone, sometimes and even chat on the net, sometimes. Actually, it's always me who takes the initiative. So I am thinking if I should give this up... We also have sex, sometimes, usually when he is piss drunk," Friend paused. One instant-responded and pointed out that it was tough 'giving up' something you don't "have". The pointing-out was not appreciated.

"What do you mean don't "have" him? What does it mean if someone hangs out with you, calls you, chats with you too and even has sex?" One suggested meekly that it could mean either that the other enjoys your company, or that you are a good shag or he's too drunk to realise the difference; it usually works that way.

Friend replied, "What nonsense! It means that you Really Like that person, want to be with him/her, talk to them, SMS them, spend money on them... And don't they say men are the most honest when drunk?" One really wanted to point out that it could be real good marketing strategy to promote drinking but looked like one had got it all wrong again.

Friend continued, "But do you think someone could do all that without being emotionally involved?" One was considering writing ALL MEN in 72-point size but was saved the trouble by Friend's self-diagnostic abilities.

"But maybe I am being too hasty on deciding that he's the one for me... After all, he hangs out, calls and chats with other women too. I don't think he sleeps with anyone else because he says he can have sex only when he is drunk; and am usually with him when he is drunk or he comes and picks me up. He also made me meet his parents when we bumped into them at the mall. He also took me along for his office party. He even confesses that he can REALLY talk to me and that I am different from the other girls. You know HOW men are, always hinting at things... But I cannot take the suspense any longer... What do you think, is he using me? Should I dump him?"

Thankfully the Internet connection died at that precise moment. And Erica Jong did say that advice is what we ask for when we know the answer and wish we didn't...
Moral of the story? Coffee can cure anything, it cannot cure stupidity.

PS: Conversation 2-minutes after posting this...
Pirate: But drunk sex is fun...
definitely! :) the guy doesn't remember and the girl thinks it was great because he lasted really long...
(Published, Metro Now, New Delhi, March 13)

Blog for today (and no promise that I'll post one everyday!)--->
"I know cricket is an emotional game and millions cry when Sachin gets out at any point in the match. I also know that people want Mahendra Singh Dhoni to score at least four a ball and that a Pathan ball must both inswing and outswing and hit the middle wicket every time. That a foreign player abusing us is a monkey but our players can refer to be in bed with the other player’s mother and it’s a simple and innocent teri maa ki..."
From KaKiSi's World

April 7, 2008

Big boobs for sale.

"I hate my big breasts" could well have been my tag line two years back. And then I lost close to 30 kgs and literally shrunk in half... all over. Was I happier then or am I happier now...as far as my body is concerned?

Before some of you ask the how-did-you-lose-that-weight question please be aware that I don't think there is any quick, without-side-effects way possible. My losing weight -- after fantasizing since I was 17 years old -- happened by accident. The medical diagnosis was 'stress and starvation' coupled with hyperthyroidism. I was so unhappy that I stopped eating. I could go three days without food and not realise it. From a girl who breathed in air and put on weight to changing into someone who can eat more than Porky the Pig and it won't 'show', the weight issue is something I am still coming to terms with. I am talking weight loss here because fat or thin, big boobs or small, it all has to do with Physical Perfection. Truth be told, I don't think we are ever completely happy or at ease with our bodies...

As a 17-year-old who was an "all-rounder" -- I had fat on every conceivable bone of my body, even on the knuckles -- I often wondered if I would ever have the 'curves' I saw on posters and on models and actresses. When I say curves, I don't mean breasts because I had those in ample. I was a 36 D...on a five-feet-no-inches frame. Each time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was the head, BIG BREASTS, a gut, a HUGE bum and two stick-like legs. I had no 'waist', no demarcation of where the breasts ended and the stomach began, my body was a segregated blob of flesh. I could not wear anything tight because it would either stretch and highlight the rolls I had on me -- and accentuate the bloody breasts -- or be very uncomfortable and look as if I was trying too hard. I could not wear anything loose because then I looked like a tent.

We lived in Amritsar then (three years) and I studied in a school (grades 11 & 12) where there were two types of girls: The hotties and the behenjis ('sisters' but not meant politely at all!) The hotties dressed well with skirts folded at the hem to ride high above the knee, looked good and got much attention from the boys, both inside and outside the school. They studied 'cool' things like commerce or fine arts and were usually the ones to participate in sports and had the best-choreographed dances in school competitions. The behenjis were usually the science students with somber expressions, spectacles (it was supposed to be studious so some had them just to look the part), oil in their hair and no attention from boys. The 'hotties' we had in class tried their best to stand apart and usually hung out with the Commerce kids. I was an outcast in both groups -- definitely NOT a hottie what with oiled hair, a single choti (plait), unwaxed legs, caterpillars for eyebrows and a science student (PCB) at that. I wasn't even a behenji because I had way too much attitude ('cocky' was the term then, 'snarky' is the new one) to fall into that category. The more I felt I didn't fit in, the more defiant I got. That hasn't changed much; I don't know about others, but I don't react too well when pushed into a corner. Hmm.

I have always had male attention though... Some because I was good in studies, some because I made a good 'buddy' and was not 'girly', some because I had more balls than most boys, some because strangely all my female friends were drop-dead gorgeous (that hasn't changed, most of my female friends fall into the really beautiful category) and the boys wanted to get close to those girls and a whole lot because of the bloody breasts. When you are cute, fat and have big breasts men tend to think you would "appreciate" the attention. As you grow older and start fornicating, that ‘kindness’ is called a ‘pity fuck’. As I grew I realised that having a smart mouth and wearing "Fuck you" on your sleeve is taken as a challenge. But at 17 I believed that if I lost weight and looked what I thought I should/ could look like, I'd have the "kind" of man I wanted (or the one I foolishly thought myself to be in love with), wear what I wanted to, not be shy of getting into a swimsuit and looking like a mini blue whale... (shakes head, we can be so stupid when we are young, no?)

I hated my breasts. It was always as if they got the attention and interaction stopped at chest-level. I was banned from playing in school at age 11 because I was the first one in class to sprout breasts and the class teacher found it 'obscene' to let me run amok on the field with boys my age standing and gaping, albeit a bit confused themselves. Two years back when I reduced weight and shrunk... It was like an identity crisis. I had become attuned to making jokes about my breasts to avoid being too conscious about them. And since it was not a healthy weight loss, the breasts looked 'shrunk'...There was loose skin, no adipose tissue in them and they looked shrivelled. I was terrified and scared. And it didn't help that almost ALL women and men I knew started espousing epitaphs about my breasts. "My god, you had such breasts, now you look dried up." "Damn, you looked healthier then, what happened to you?" And so on and so forth... Funnily enough, these were the same people who'd say things like, "If only you'd lose some weight, you'd look SO good." "Damn your breasts are disproportionate to your height you know JB, try a reducing bra." Hah.

Now I am the EXACT image of what I'd visualised myself at 17 and had given up on by 24... Now my stats read 34-23-35. I love my hair, some fine lines and wrinkles have appeared but I know that quitting cigarettes will get rid of those. I have a chin now (earlier the cheeks masked it), I discovered bones I thought I didn't have...like the pelvic bones. But am I happy with myself physically? (Smiles)

After careful consideration, I would say it's a 95 % "yes". There are moments when I wish my hair was as lustrous as it was at 17, or wish the laugh lines around my mouth would go, or my skin wouldn't feel as papery, or wish I could have a slightly higher arch to my brows or wish my brows weren't as tough to give shape to, or wish I had perfect abs (now that it's an almost flat tummy) and want biceps and triceps and muscles... I am also finicky about the condition of my feet and can sit and scrub for hours. Then there is the paranoia about putting on weight and suddenly waking up one day and finding the 17-year-old is back. (I was my heaviest at 25 years, 68 kgs and at my lightest, a year back, weighed 35 kgs).

Point being: We CANNOT be physically perfect and the more we try, the more we keep trying. 'Physical perfection' is like cocaine, you start slow, enjoy it, indulge in it, spend more money on it and eventually you get fucked. Big boobs, small boobs, big dicks, fair skin, a higher brow arch, steeper cheek bones, a sleeker nose, flatter stomach, fuller chest muscles to no wrinkles... Anything that you don't like about yourself can be fixed. Despite the 5 % unsurity, I am done wanting more from myself. I am done criticising myself for not looking a certain way and for not pleasing everyone's eye.

PS: I shared all of the above for my friend who told me that she loved the post because for long she considered herself flat-chested. For another friend who went in for rhinoplasty (nose job) and eyelid operation because she got many stares from people. For one of my cousins who had one eye severely smaller than the other as a child and was the butt of jokes at school, he’s a guy. For the married lady I had interviewed long back who has had six tummy tucks so far and is still not happy. For another who thinks she needs an upliftment because her breasts sag. For the friend in grade 9 who had a huge birthmark on her left eye and it looked like an eye patch...and she refused to get it fixed. And more than anyone else... for the anonymous lady who wrote in saying she is going in for breast reduction. Please go ahead no matter who says what, but please consider whether you will really be happy with it in the long term: Small or not, your breasts will still draw attention. I can understand the TRAUMA of breasts that start to shadow your whole existence... But do be prepared that the comments and advice from so-called well-wishers will only get worse. Best of luck with the procedure once you have it done; hope the happiness stays.

April 3, 2008

A filled-out bosom or a bosom-filled with love...

....That is the question.
The headline is a translation of a Bangla movie's promo – Shunyo e buke – the story of Saumitra and Churni, two artistes, who meet through common friends, fall in love, brave displeased families and economic disparity and get married. On their wedding night Saumitra is shocked to discover that Churni is flat-chested. His shock then turns to anger and hurt with him accusing Churni of ‘cheating’ him since she wore padded bras.

Padded bras, under-wired bras, rounded bras, push-up bras, diminishing bras and a plethora of other ‘specialised’ bras are all designed for one purpose: To beautify the appearance of a woman’s breasts. As long as there are women unhappy with their breasts, there will be a market for products and procedures that remove that unhappiness. And going by given figures, there are many women unhappy with their breasts. According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the United States alone had 3,99,440 women going in for breast augmentation or enhancement in 2007. Another 1,53,807 went in for a reduction in their breast size. Those are the numbers in one country for a single year; the global figures are bigger and growing by the day.

While rising figures for breast augmentation/ reduction definitely mean more profits for the plastic/cosmetic surgery industry, do made-to-order breasts mean happier women? And why are so many women unhappy about their breasts in the first place?

The ASAPS breast augmentation home page says, “Women may choose to under go breast enlargement surgery for various reasons. These personal reasons may center around breasts that are perceived to be under-developed, or because of differences in the sizes of the breasts or from changes after pregnancy or breast-feeding. Some women may be happy with their breasts but just want them made fuller… Breast enhancement using breast implants can give a woman more proportional shape and may improve self esteem.”

Whatever might be the immediate stimulus, ‘may improve self esteem’ seems to be the primary reason for women to go in for these procedures. In a quick email survey of 18 people – 11 women, 7 men – it was unanimously agreed that while it was a woman’s personal choice to go under the scalpel, those who did were suffering from low self-esteem. They viewed themselves as lesser than the image of what a woman is supposed to look like.

There’s no denying the fact that breasts play a significant part in the ‘attractive quotient’ of a woman. Popular myth has it that most men prefer bigger breasts. Perhaps not Lolo Ferrari but definitely an Angelina Jolie. Flip through any ‘lad magazine’ and there are more pictures of women with big breasts – naturally or surgically enhanced – than those with small breasts. Think ‘hot woman’ and the most media-propagated, Accepted Image is of a woman with luscious, proportionate, anti-gravity big breasts.

So what happens when a woman’s breasts – whether bigger or smaller – do not adhere to the Accepted Image? She feels ridiculed, feels she’s lacking and thinks she is not as attractive as other women to the point that at times her entire personality suffers. Looking good is important in today’s world (and I daresay in the previous ones as well) and with women being constantly told they have to look a certain image, the numbers going to great lengths to achieve that goal are increasing.

Take the case of the movie quoted at the beginning of the story. Churni was born with small breasts and had to pad up to avoid jibes. Eventually her husband – who is in love with her – rejects her for not having his idea of what breasts are supposed to be. It makes one wonder: How do men react to the whole enhancement idea?

Read further: Killing themselves over breasts

April 2, 2008

F**k You TV and How to Find A Husband

There was a reason why for the last 8 years I did not have a TV at home, watching television depresses me. The TV and everything on it is designed to make you feel really bad about yourself, one way or the other.

Like the ads that show women with lustrous, beautiful hair that bounce more than their boobs do when they walk or run. (Majority hair ads have women playing, jumping, running, why?) Or ads where men are ALWAYS gifting expensive jewellery to their girls and looking happy about it, ads where Papas have loads of time to sit and chill with the family or ads that show how women with pimples/acne don’t get boyfriends. Or stupider TV shows…

I just got up after watching this series on Discovery Travel & Living called, How To Find A Husband (also shown on UKTV). It’s a pre-recorded show about Sally Gray (reporter and TV presenter for last 15 years) who dates 50 men in 10 weeks to find herself a husband. The promo for the show goes, “I am 37 and still single. There is nothing wrong with being single…but now I want a husband…blah…and I don’t want to be stuck wearing this fucking SINGLE ring for the rest of my life.” She wears a silver ring with SINGLE engraved on it. Nice start to finding The One.

I was watching the original 1978 Don when a young Amitabh Bachchan’s collagen injected lips and Zeenat Aman’s pointy bras (why did women in the 70s think that boobs were supposed to be conical?) got to me and I switched channels to end up on Sally’s show where the first thing I heard was, “If you want a husband, don’t sleep with a man on the first date, or the second or the third.” (How about fixing the hymen instead so that each prospective husband-material thinks you’re a virgin, eh?)

Then the various date gurus go on to tell Sally that she should be “demure” with her dates and not be hyperactive. Then she was advised to keep the first date a coffee-date and not a drinking one and if at all there was to be drinking to keep it to two glasses of champagne. “Remember, less is more” advised the guru. Funnily enough the same dating guru who had so far advocated ‘demure’ advised Sally to be sassy and bold with her online profile, even if it meant fabricating stuff.

As an example the dating guru said how her profile said she liked wearing men’s shirts (how chweet no?) and at the same time was open for a threesome. Sally’s response was a shocked, “But that’s not true…” The dating guru responded with a quick, “How do you know?” Basically Sally is an honest person while the dating guru is a fraud. And that’s what finding a husband is all about isn’t it? Making a/the guy believe he is getting himself a wife while you hide your true self – could be hideous, hyperactive, bold, fun-loving, smart, witty, whatever – behind this mask of what is supposed to be Acceptable Behaviour for Marriageable Girls.

Of course that rule applies to women like Sally – and an increasing number of you girls out there – who are smart, sassy, independent, usually smarter than the dumb jocks around and DON’T want to settle for just anyone with a bit of flesh between his legs. Strangely there is no Acceptable Behaviour list for what makes a man ‘marriageable’. All it takes for a guy – even if he’s passably ‘good’ – to classify as marriage material is “He should want to marry”.

A guy can want sex on the first date because “He’s a man, men always want sex” and of course women’s hormones are only meant for the period, they don’t make us horny. A guy can drink on the first date because testosterone and caffeine don’t go together, do they? A guy doesn’t have to be ‘demure’ and can laugh loudly and crack the funnies because if a woman does that, frankly the man will be threatened by her wit. A guy can spill his drink, burp, fart and be a clumsy clod and everything is acceptable because of course his mommy cleaned up after him. But a woman doing any of that is not-marriage-material because honey, you are showing that you will not be the Perfect Wife. Because only women want marriage, right? Fuck you.

What if the woman does not want marriage? If a woman is quite happy NOT being a Mrs Somebody… Can the guys handle that? (She’d most probably be called a slut)

PS: Anyone out there who slept on the first date and is (still) married to/dating the person: Write in, even if anonymously. I REALLY want to prove this shit-myth wrong. Why should only a woman’s character be judged for sleeping on the first date?

PS2: IF there are men out there who don’t believe in a woman following a list of Acceptable Behaviour, don’t fucking fight with me and write in saying I am man-bashing; write in to show you DO exist: Apparently there are many really nice ladies single out there because they couldn’t be bothered marrying an arsehole.