Monday, February 29, 2016

My turn at being outraged

All these years, I read or saw with a silent smirk different groups claiming that their religious sentiments were hurt and demanding a ban on something. I looked at such people and thought, "Gosh, where do they find the time and energy to worry about something so irrelevant? Something that is not affecting their immediate future or connected to them in any possible way?"

But today, it's my turn. I was watching the trailer of 'Fan', a new SRK movie. Now, the premise is that SRK plays himself, a huge Bollywood star, and he also plays his own biggest fan, who, courtesy of prosthetic make-up (not very good), looks like a younger version of himself. This is what got my goat. Shah Rukh Khan is not Shah Rukh Khan in the movie. He is Aryan Khanna.

This has got to be a joke right? There are people in JNU getting beat up and kicked for demanding the rights of Dalits and Muslims and here we have a huge Bollywood star who is playing himself in the movie but called Aryan Khanna. ARYAN! Get it? I mean, the makers couldn't have given him a worse name to stamp out diversity if they wanted to.

Maybe I am over-reacting, like those very people I was smirking at some moments ago. Maybe, this was just a coincidence. But just like the recent Oscars were in the news for #Whiteout, I want to make a bold statement here. Bollywood is completely saffronized. And it has nothing to do with the current BJP government.

What reason did Salman Khan have to not just be Prem, but also a devout Hanuman bhakt who doesn't eat chicken in Bajrangi Bhaijan? What was the reason for Mathuny Matthews to be turned into Ranjit Katyal for Airlift? What's worse is that this is a recent trend. I think movies in the 60s and 80s had far more diverse characters, though they were no doubt stereotyped. Amar Akbar Anthony being a case in point.

Frankly speaking, I'm fed up of seeing the problems of Punjabi munde and how they get the kudi in the end. The kudi, who, almost never has a professional life. Unless the plot is an office romance, like Kartik calling Kartik. Or actually revolves around the heroine's life, like 'Piku' and 'Mary Kom'. Apart from the Hindu upper caste male, every other character, whether it is the Hindu upper caste female, or a caricatured sidekick, all work towards helping the hero achieve his aims. It's like the other people don't matter, or their stories aren't interesting enough.

Why is it important for us to see other stories? For one, it broadens our horizons and gives us a peek into how different people live their lives. It inculcates empathy and a tolerance for differences, something really needed in our country right now. Stereotyping does the opposite though. Showing diversity will also make films more relatable. All of us have friends from different castes, religions, even nationalities. Why can't this be reflected in films? Too much burden on the actors or the script writers? The sad part is, stories which have diversity are called 'arthouse cinema' or 'women-centric' films. Like 'Being Cyrus' or 'Kahani'.

It's not all bad though. We have the occasional 'Chak de India' and now Kareena and Arjun playing the gender bending couple in 'Ki & Ka'. Hopefully, change is around the corner.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

When I screamed in terror

I have a really funny phobia. I am scared of fish. My worst nightmare is to wake up and see fish floating around my room. Alive.

It all started with a dream when my friend gifted me an aquarium. I must have been like 16.

The funny thing is, when I saw those dreams, I found them amusing. I have no idea when they turned into a phobia. But once they did, I could never walk into a pet shop filled with aquariums. Hell, I couldn't even walk into the marine animals exhibit in Prince Of Wales Museum, Mumbai without pretending as if I am watching a scary movie. I was so sure one of those things was going to start moving that I just kept one eye open the whole time.

Taking me to the beach is an amusement in itself. I start shrieking if I think something brushed past my leg. "Ew ew ew something touched me!" I've said and it has turned out to be sand, or shells or something equally harmless meant to be at a beach.

Which brings me to my Krabi trip. Can you imagine a person so afraid of fishes getting mightily excited about going snorkeling and scuba diving? Yeah, I really didn't think things through. On our third anniversary, my husband and I booked a sunset cruise (the best, please go for it, even if you are scared of fishes or swimming) that promised to take us snorkeling twice and cliff diving. That was incidentally the last day of our trip and I was eagerly waiting for the big day.

It came soon enough and with all the innocence (or should I say stupidity) of a three-year-old, I took my snorkeling gear and jumped off the ship. I refused to take any watermelon for the fishes, because hello! I didn't want any near me. So I was going to see... what? I forgot in the excitement of snorkeling.

Needless to say, when I first put on that mask and peeked into the water, I screamed with terror. There were tiny yellow fishes all around me and touching me! I screamed and screamed and my instructor laughed and laughed. I said "I DON'T WANT TO BE NEAR ANY FISHES!!" as if my life depended on it and he laughed and said, "Don't worry, they won't do anything to you." Like that was supposed to be any consolation.

I must tell you, it is very difficult to scream with the snorkeling gear in your mouth but I did a pretty good job. Running out of breath after all that shrieking and trying to breathe through my mouth, I convinced myself that the snorkeling mask was unnecessarily magnifying images and the fishes weren't really THAT CLOSE. When I went back on the ship though, I realized how silly I was being. I could almost hear my mom saying to me, "Kahi karat nahiyet teh tula!" (They aren't harming you).

So, I resolved, not to be so silly on my next dive. And I am proud to say, I did not scream. I pretended as if they were coming to greet me and were kittens, not fishes. It worked! And I actually enjoyed myself.

Scuba diving is next. I'll pretend the tortoises are golden retrievers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What is home...

तिनका तिनका जोड़ के,
मैंने अपना घर बनाया,
ना आंधी से दरी,
न तूफान मुझे रोक सका,

I searched high and low,
For the perfect brick,
The most beautiful wall,

To build my warm nest,
A home I could call my own,

My blood and tears,
My sweat and fears,
I poured all these into
My beautiful treehouse,
My castle on the clouds,

But then what happened,
This heaven, this place I call my home,
Began to feel like a cage,

A cage that boxed in my thoughts,
That kept captive my heart,
Where I could no longer spread my wings,
No longer dance,

And so I picked a stone,
And shattered a window pane,
The wall went next,
Not a tile was spared,

I broke and broke all I could break,
More blood, more tears,
More sweat, more fears,

But oh! What a relief it was,
As I once again spread my wings,
And I once again lifted a leg,
And did a chicken dance,

I flew, flew far away,
To a land where it never stops raining,
Where the sun shines its brightest,
Where flowers do not shy from blooming,

Where greenery does not wrestle with the concrete,
It's time for a new home,
तिनका तिनका जोड़ के...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Burning it up in the Pink City!

With rains and God playing havoc with my plans of escaping from hot and humid Delhi and going to cool Mussoorie, the destination of choice for my birthday was Jaipur. Stupid decision? Probably.

For starters, it was hot as hell, though not as humid as Delhi. Rains were predicted but did not come to our rescue during sight-seeing. But enough with the cribbing. There is a certain charm in walking through the forts and palaces of the kings and queens that were, wondering why they had separate bedrooms and imagining how their 'spas' worked.

The biggest surprise though, was the Pink City tag. I mean it's more like Brown city. And worse, freshly painted! I don't know what these guys are doing in the name of conservation, but I'm seriously concerned that the city is just going to be white-washed instead of "preserved". Initially I thought they had painted over with a totally different colour, but turns out that brick colour is supposed to be Pink. Go figure!

I broke out into peals of laughter when our guide showed us "sheesh mahal" in Amer fort. Oh it really exists? Sheesh mehel mein rehne wale blah blah.. my father says :D Did not know it is a real thing! And contrary to imagination, it is not made of glass, but mirrors! Not the whole thing of course. Tiny mirrors are stuck in different formations on the walls and roof of the mehel. Something to do with mirrors acting as reflectors to keep the positive energy (according to guide no 1) and the heat (according to guide at a different touristy spot) in.

Anuj and I also got our fair share of cheesy pictures clicked, in a mirror of the sheesh mehel, through a hexagonal hole in a structure. I really wanted one clicked in the Rani's spa, but then I wondered who would pull me out of the 6-ft deep marble square hole! Hey, I totally forgot the picture clicked in front of a huge photo of City Palace with Anuj wearing a turban and me demurely standing with a dupatta on my head. That pic is a keeper as we both look like something the cat dragged in. And it is photo-framed in a cutout of the City Palace. Phee hee :D

Then of course there was the wild-goose chase for a beaut set of bangles that I had seen in Amer fort. I should have bought them there, I kept thinking to myself as Anuj and I, getting scorched in the sun, walked for what seemed like hours for the 'lac choodi bazaar'. Which, incidentally, didn't even have the bangles I was looking for. Credit goes to Anuj for not just leaving me there and going back to the hotel. The REAL shopping started after that!

So now I've got 2 pairs of earrings, 2 pwetty kurtas, a Maharani skirt, and a mini ghagra choli (to be gifted to my niece) and a whole bunch of happy memories. Not to mention a PhD on Rajas, and why their bedrooms were separate from their Ranis.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pink birdie in the sky!

I just found this post, written over a year ago.. Wonder why I never published it..

Have you noticed, how when someone tells you about something, their excited tone can mask the most dangerous bits of information? For instance,

"Its fun to bunjee jump! Of course, you might get a headache or a heart attack while doing it, but dude, its so much fun to just let go and jump off and see the ground rushing towards you! Awesome feeling man! Out of this world!"
Something similar happened to me.

Dad: "Kite flying is so much of fun! We used to do it ALL the time! We used to have kite flying competitions and it was thrilling to cut someone else's kite and claim it as your own. The string that is used is usually coated with glass and can cut your fingers. Flying kites is so cool! I pity you children, you never had the kind of fun we did."

So there I was, with 10 colourful kites and a huge reel of glass-coated string, waiting to experience what it's like to fly a kite for the first time in my life. Several cuts and bruises later, I would just like to say, gosh Dad, you forgot to stress on the most important part! And that is apart from the strain in your neck from looking up at the kite for hours.

Despite all of that crap though, I must admit it was fun. It was like holding a very high balloon up in the sky, and controlling its movements with a string that appeared not connected to the kite. I was exhilarated when my friend managed to make it fly after several failed attempts. That was before I took the string in my own hands of course. After that I was just praying that the wind doesn't let up, lest I have to indulge in a series of acrobatics that include giving leeway and pulling the string in quick succession till it was up again. With loads of cuts and bruises along the way of course.

Fun fact 2: It's so much of fun to take a hot water bath, or cut chillies and ginger with cut fingers.

So yeah, I'm cursing as hell now, but my friend reminds me of the stupid smile on my face when I was holding the string and staring at my cute pink kite, way up in the sky.. The smile that refused to leave my face despite all the cuts and bruises.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the blink of an eye

Why is it that something we've been looking forward to for ages, rushes by in a blink of an eye? The wait is unbearable.. We plan a 1,000 things, imagine a million things that could go right and wrong.. Tear ourselves up with anticipation and pray that everything goes well.. But you blink, and suddenly its all over.. And you are just left with memories of what happened.. Did it really happen? Or was it just my imagination. What proof is there that it really happened? For me, I'll have an extra ring on my hand and perhaps some photographs. Oh but would it compare to my anticipation and my longing for my parents to get here, for me to look in the mirror and feel like the prettiest girl on the planet that day, to be surrounded by relatives who wish well for me.. The moment itself cannot compare to the anticipation, memories alone have no chance..

For now, all I can do is pray that everything goes right. And I will take a moment when its all happening, to go off silently to a side and say to myself, yes! its really happening and perha give myself a pinch...

Pic source:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The paratha paradox

I love parathas. They're roti and subzee mixed all-in-one! You can just roll them up and be done with dinner in a few bites. Or lunch. I mean, alu parathas are heavy, I assumed they're best for a good heavy lunch.

Boy was I wrong! As I landed in the land of Parathas and looked forward to filling myself to my heart's content with alu paratha, muli paratha, gobi paratha and even rabri paratha, I found out that looking for a paratha in the north after 10 am is like looking for water on Mars.

Plus if you ask any waiter or a street vendor for one, they look at you as if you've come from outer space. "Paratha toh sirf dus baje tak milta hai madam."

Considering how I'm never up at that hour, (dozing either at home or in office) I wonder when I'll get any parathas. I think parathe wali galli might be the only place in the entire Delhi where you can get parathas in the evening. I say lunch, they say snack! Jheejhus!

Image courtesy: