Monday, October 29, 2012

To Hell, with The Good Indian Girl.

I was all of 22 when this question first arose. We had gone out to a nearby trek as a group and I chose to sit with a guy in a bus journey, who I was neither dating nor had any intentions to. Of course, he was not my brother or anyway related. Over the next two days, we spent time doing stuff together – waiting on each other at unknown bus stops, filling water bottles for each other, sharing one vegetarian dish over lunch ( cause we were the only two loners), being on one team in antakshari. He was also my personal photographer. The trip got over, and two days later I realized I had just stooped to an all time low from the good Indian girl I was.

Someone from the group assumed (rather stupidly) that I was trying hard for him and created an online photo album full of pictures of me and him.  Most of them were falsely cropped and edited as we did not take too many pictures together. This album was shared, rather secretly amongst the group until the guy in question saw them. He went berserk with rage and screamed choicest abuses. Of course we chilled it over with some good ice tea.

The good Indian girl does not have conversations with seemingly nice men and call herself friendly. She usually hangs out with the equally demented girls and is given wry and naughty eye stares, giggles and not mention flat, senseless comments when she does break the norm. She will call herself independent and will cross waters for a much rated elite education, however she will still be “at least hesitant” to go alone with a guy for a movie. It is to be understood that going to the movie is perfectly acceptable if initial hesitance is shown in melodramatic doses. A girl who refuses to be hesitant is usually labeled “loose” and more intensely called slut.

Her usual comments on love and relationship are heavily influenced from puke sweet doses of movies and any non-adherence to the usual map calls for a scrutiny on fidelity. If a couple break up, the anatomy of her relationship style is heavily examined. Not to mention, every one of her previous 9345 boyfriends become instantly lucky and the future 9346’s goat is a martyr. The first time I heard an account from a friend about how her roommate ditched her boyfriend (she was in a seriously depressing con called love) and got herself a “local guy”, I had doubts if the report was on a hooker. Oh no, if you call me exaggerated, I request you to email me for the whole story.

The rather demure girl has all her aspirations, dreams, hopes on a perfect wedding with her boyfriend (of course, only sluts or “impotent women” break up). Anyone like yours truly who has no ideas on her wedding is promptly ignored. I cannot remember the number of uninvited conversations I have been a part of, and the amount of vague confusion every conversation has led me into.  It is even more annoying when the said girl has interests in photography, design, sarees, mehendi, men ( in that order). All this pressure makes it harder to do simple stuff like listen to Adele without being questioned.

If I had to assume all this drama ends with the grand finale of a marriage, I cannot be more gullible. It almost continues all thorough her life with questions, wry glances, broken giggles, clandestine conversations, gossip filled pizza nights and transcends from the just graduate, to the new bride until it reaches the recent widow. And here, I am talking only about the peer group of women. They are mostly equally educated, equally fat with bank balances, and mostly of the same age. I am not taking the aunties who sit back home to gossip ( who, IMHO are more soft with thoughts/words), and I am not taking one whole half of the world into my observation.

This may be a rant to few but any woman who has nodded her head through knows what I am talking about. It is that unspoken worm, the creepy devil in every Indian woman’s head. That devil , which the society garlands and celebrates womanhood. To hell, with it. To hell, with the good indian girl. I am plainly sick of you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Golu 2012 - The Sundal'O Sundal Times

Navaratri wins hands down for my most favourite festival ever. It promises good food, enough holidays, pretty dresses, noisy (okay, and nice) people coming over and gorgeous goluWe always aim to have the best golu in town. That is how the theory of continuous improvement was taught to us. My mother and her team (me, the brother, household helps aka multitalented divas) wholeheartedly aim to get more besh-besh than the previous year. We start the planning process so early that we can plan a wedding in free time.True story.
Golu 2012. This is only a part of it. We had other arrangements around the living room. 
My mother’s ever growing appetite for pudhu-pudhu ideas never helped. There was a time she insisted on getting the entire ramayanam and we played along too. We went ahead and bought a couple of sets to support the idea. That is how the ravanan durbar happened. Another year, we were high on ramyanam and hanuman came home lifting sanjeevani et all. Over the nine days, loads of loud talking happened on how the next year would be and we conveniently ( thank god!) packed the ideas along with bommais into dabbas.
Golu 2010. The first one, I ever missed.
Don’t blame us. The truth is, golu is more than just an arrangement of dolls.  It is the stage Shakespeare spoke about; except this one is at a tambrahm’s place with extravagant amounts of sundal, filter cofeee and lambodara. Times like those, I realise there is a director Shankar inside every one of us.  When I was about eight, my mother got into this huge mission to dress me up every evening in a different costume. (did anyone think of a Shankar padam song, now. Comment it out, please) Me, being the chamathu ponnu and the narcissistic camera obsessed poser gave her the least trouble and was very happy to parade around. The idea was to have guests sit for “golu shows” with me and my cousin sing, dance or say suklambaradhaaram.
Golu 2011. This picture is my favourite. One of the kids :(
After some dog years went by, we went the intellectual way. Do not mistake me for the inquisitive child, I was more of the i-ask-tough-questions-terrorise-juniors kinds. We had laminated sheets talking puranams installed near dolls and made any brat below my waist length to answer questions. Once, me and my brother awarded one pattani to a child for pronouncing “dhritarashtra” correctly.
I tell ya, we really did it!
With all the emphasis on innovation, the families also get creative with sundals. Someone served sweet corn and peas sundal and another wrapped sundals in news paper for a beach effect ( please do facepalm and say ada, raama). My mom’s motto of devotion, prayer is clearly not cooking a dish so we do not have daily sundals at my place. However, thanks to crusading maamis and home-hopping, there is never a dearth of it during the season. I absolutely suck at this ritual of visiting homes during golu. I know it is all fun to drape in shiny stuff, but when you do the same thing for nine days, every year for twenty years, it totally fizzles out. Especially, when they serve oosi pona sundal or payasam-style tea. Me and my brother devised a ritual to behave at a golu such that everyone is happy.

·    Stare at the golu for two minutes.

·    Make a mental note of the pramadham features and try very hard to find ways to get it done in next golu. (brother skips this step)
·    Compliment loudly on something normal. Mostly stuff like..oh maami, the thoranam is just perfect or these dasavatharams are so lakshnam. (brother usually over acts for extra sundal here)
·    Evaluate sundal; this is an expert process of tossing exactly three lentils and analysing the kara-saram levels. If it meets expectations, continue with rest. If not, politely ask maami for plastic cover and dump sundal with a sheepish smile. Everyone assumes you are packing it home and is happy.

·    Get into vehement protests to the oru paatu paaden ma..and start intently concentrating on the sundal or the park. Here, I wish to record that I have NEVER sang at a golu. Even during my paatu class days. Thank you.
·    Get the pink plastic dabba or the 10,000 km well-travelled pachai blouse bit and make exit. Oh, don’t forget to take some kumkumam.

The ritual worked perfectly for us, with minor deviations when one golu had a PS2 set up and another gifted geometry boxes.

This post will end with one of my favourite pictures of the season. The brother with his shiny new SLR has taken fantastic photos. This is a small sitting area in the living room, now refurbished into a mini krishna-leelai set. There is also a raavana’s durbar to the far left. I had to miss posting pictures of the national integration set, the village and the dessert because this post has become super long!

I hope you are all having a fantastic navaratri there. Mine is mostly office, home with strangely, some sundal for lunch boxes. Have a festive time, and look all pretty. I am only a little homesick. Curable with copious amounts of payasam-tea.

Note: If you are interested to know the spiritual significance of Navratri, please read this post by Chitvish.

P.S : I had italicised with an idea to provide a glossary. Now, I fear that will run to a post. So feel free to ask ( and not assume) if you do not get a word. I appreciate it, truly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Krishna Key - A book review, the first's here!

Thanks to Blog adda and my slightly demented facebook post, me and two other lucky ones got the book shipped to Singapore I mean, in these days - who ever does these kind of things?

Go on, feel all jealous now.

So, I never do reviews on the books I read. I do scribble a bit on my goodreads account. But not so much here. However, this is a gift so as promised -  here I go!

I must confess - I was probably the last person on this planet to read Dan Brown. It is not so much that I liked or disliked the idea, but I am not one of those who can manage and process so much information at one sitting. After reading this book, I am told not to pick it up for I will find similarities on a high. I did watch the movie earlier, though. 

I like books that can transform me. The kinds where I forget to have lunch( will do my waist some good), or where I smell magic in it. Books like those, keep me hooked. The Krishna Key did not disappoint at all.

This is my first book of Ashwin Sanghi. (Update in Dec 2012: I read The Chankaya Chant. It was brilliant. No review on it, though).

In The Krishna Key, research is the middle name.The level of research is amazing in this book. He writes not merely from papers, but from knowledge gained from reading and researching on it. He links mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, mythology, symbols and so much more. To embark on a project of this magnitude  complete it with a clear picture and write in simple terms is fantastic. 

The book revolves around linking mythology to facts and the author does a brilliant job in weaving a net over it. I love anything mythology and this book was like walking in the Mahabaratha period. Every page has revelations, turns and twists and the entire book got me hooked for a weekend. They predict the exact time Kurukshetra was fought, the people who lived then, the India then, Krishna's death, his life and so on. I have always been fascinated by mythology and the book offered it in doses never read earlier.  

I do not wish to divulge the story, but the outline is around how a middle aged professor tries to get four seals left by Krishna together. The story takes turns between Mahabharatha and present day and is narrated from perspectives of Krishna, the historian, the archaeologist and the gene scientist. All perspectives carry informaiton in sacks, the kinds which takes more than my saturday mind to process. I had to resort to Ms.Google to co-ordinate most of the clue and when I did, it was shocking. It was so beautifully woven and has left me with doubts on the stories we have heard so far!

The climax was a dissapointment. There are no ways about it. I had built such high hopes after all the travel research on DNA, Kailash and Somnath. I found it lacked a bit of punch and had too much information to process. I would certainly recommend this book - if you love history, India and of course, Krishna!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.comParticipate now to get free books!

Friday, October 12, 2012

English Vinglish – Glorious; Feel Good

I will gladly give you all my barfis if you give me a movie like this every week. This film is a feel good not just because it shows glossy images and a pretty actress. The movie talks and subtly indicates a lot of aspects Indian cinemas conveniently choose to ignore.

In no specific order, the fine touches that make the movie stand out

·        It makes a heroine out of a home maker. We should do this more often. In reality.

·        The movie gave a short kick on the ass of families that perennially believe in taking the parantha/dosa making mom for granted. The film actually teaches manners and how to treat people and at times, it is very reassuring to see such simple stuff in movies. ( esp, in her last five minute speech)

·        Every now and then, we meet people who take great pleasure in criticizing others spoken language skills and creating a dinner table discussion out of it. While being a good friend and correcting them in private is all kudos, bringing one’s pronunciation as a joke reflects mediocrity. Personally, I have had some one do that to me and I have felt too meek to respond.

·        The film probably makes many of us relate to a mother we know. It seemed like the perfect thing to do.

And, finally huge thanks to Mehdi Nebbou for being so irresistibly cute and motivating me to pack my bags and reach NY for an English class. Except that, I will probably be a teacher. Oh yes, that little kid never overacted. A rarity, these days!