Ban Ban Ban..

Since so many things are randomly getting banned in our democratic country, why not fantasize about banning even tiny little annoying things that irk you?

Because larger things like poverty, gender discrimination, child malnutrition, education for all, employment rate, environment protection etc. are not important enough to excite our dear government, so might as well indulge in this harmless time pass.

1. Goatee beard on round-faced men: it. just. annoys. me.
2. Net sarees and dupattas: same as above
3. People who make faces at animals: actually why ban when we can maybe BANish them?
4. Bermudas on round assed men: it looks so hideous that I can’t stop staring. Especially if they are wearing sunglasses and floaters.
5. Men in 40s calling each other ‘BRO’ and ‘DUDE’: It just is.. forget it, just ban it.
6. French manicure: It looks so bizarre- since I don’t understand whats so special about it, let us ban it.
7. Random dick and Harry pretending to be Andaz Apna Apna fan just because its cult value has become mainstream: I am fierce about AAA. And will not allow people with bad sense of humour to claim fandom.
8. Gelled hair on kids: shudder..
9. All buildings with that bluish glass exterior: No, it doesn’t look futuristic unless your idea of future is derives from the Divergent series. It just looks hideous.
10. Gentlemen and ladies who have nothing better to do but twiddle their thumbs as they come up with innovation ban solutions.

There. Today’s list. With more to come as and when fancy strikes me ( read: when I am bored)

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Definitely not Zen..

All my Zen-ness has disappeared today.

Same old enemies. Perfectionism. Worrying about worst possible scenarios. Stressing about things rather than getting to do them.

In general a weighty feeling of thorough dissatisfaction coursing through my body. Heaviness in heart. Irritability. Breaths held in and exhaled loudly. A desire to just go and smash something.

Anyway. Maybe it is PMS- if it is, great. Or maybe it is delayed homesickness. Or maybe it is the old habit of stressing for perfect finish to the project, rearing its ugly head. Maybe it is the thorough unprofessionalism rampant here.

Whatever it is, it has to go by tomorrow morning. Because it is just not worth it. And I don’t want to spend even 2 days sucked into same old shitty anxiety.

Boss….

Oh I am sure you have already seen and ranted on this ad. It is actually so bad ( one who got what product is being advertised will get a gift of Manchurian Masala), that it is surprising for it to have hit so many nerves.

Perhaps its pseudo-realstic- pretentious progressivism-gone-horribly- wrong is the reason for the mass rants against it. And perhaps the fact that we are smarter in spotting sexism these days.

This is why I am going to link it and proceed to rant about it myself:):)

After years of ‘woman is the CEO/boss of the house’ useless-pat-on-the back trope, we get a ridiculously sexist ad that shows a female boss telling her subordinate-at-workplace husband to stay back to do extra work at office, and then proceeding to go home and cook him a delicious meal and seductively asking him to come back to enjoy the said food.

Lest you think this lady is somewhat cuckoo in her head- because didn’t she ask him to stay back herself? Short term memory a. la. Aamir Khan in Ghajini? Or someone with a split personality like Aparichit? ( Hey, these popular Indian movies are totally accurate in depiction of any mental disorder, OK? Don’t be so snooty).

Noo… you realise she is a good Indian wife, who makes it up to her subordinate-at -work husband by cooking for him. After all, aren’t we all Indian women supposed to do that? Get good grades, earn well, look pretty in short hair and go on to cook perfect meals for our husbands?

Note ladies, that she softly says ‘sorry guys, you will have to just do it’ when her team complains about the timelines. Those of you whose boss said sorry to you, before asking you to stay back after-hours, please stop reading the post now.

OK, now for the rest of the 99% of the mortals who have continued reading this post- note that she looks slightly abashed- especially when she sees the disappointment on her team’s face and even asks her teammate ‘how is it going’, with a kind and considerate tone( we don’t know he is her husband yet.) Because if you want people to like a woman, especially a woman in power, you have to show her ‘soft’ side,lest people call her a bitch.

She looks tranquil in the car. Soft. Pondering. Soft. Sensitive. Soft.

And then she launches into WIFE MODE by asking her husband ‘Rohit’ ( the 21st century default Indian male name that replaced the erstwhile ‘Rahul’ of the 1990s) about what would he like to eat tonight. Because the moment a woman gets a free moment after a gruelling day at work, she likes to think about her husband’s dinner. It is totally natural. All of you, who after a long workday DON’T sprawl on sofa watching your favourite TV show over food cooked by someone else, or at least fantasize about it, please stop reading this post now.

OK, I see 99% of my readers are still reading.

Voila, she twists her hair in a pony at home, ponders about the contents of the fridge philosophically and rustles up a decidedly Udupi looking Chinese meal.

Then Rohit – the same team mate forced to stay back for work gets a call from ‘Wife.’ He sardonically replies ‘ Aaj late hoga. Boss ne bahut jam diya hai.’ ( Biiiiitch!!!)

Wife, who turns out to the said boss( Creative minds!! fantastic idea!!! whatta genius conceptualisation), sends him the video of the meal she lovingly prepared for him.

NOW, NOW, NOW WE GET THE PRODUCT which paid for this ad.

Those who DIDN’T think that the ad was for electrical kitchen appliance or a new brand of Indo-Chinese sauce, please stop reading this post.

OK, now for the rest of the 99% mortals still reading this post. The wife whispers seductively on the phone, ‘Boss ko bolo wife ne ghar bulaya hai’.

Then, the airtel tune starts and you realise that this piece of shit was actually an ad for 3 G connection. You sit quietly contemplating thousands of years of human evolution and how you always hated that Airtel tune and how right you were to pick up Vodafone. (Because how can this brain-dead ‘modern couple’ even compete with a cute pug?)

For all of you who DIDN’T think this woman is quite scary with her short-term memory loss and split personality and Udupi meal, a round of applause. Maybe you haven’t been watching instructive movies like Ghajini and Aparichit.

And a moral of the story for the remaining 99% of mere mortals. Here goes. Quite unintentionally , the ad makers have hit on the exact disorder that our society suffers from. That women are expected to have two distinct personalities: Modern professional woman outside and traditional wife/ mother/ daughter at home. They need to have a short term memory. Wipe out the BOSS identity as soon as you leave office and slip into WIFE identity.

You can be a boss with a corner office, have short hair, wear Sonia Gandhiesque sarees, ride in a chauffeur driven car, earn more money than your husband. But you have to slip into the ideal Indian wife mode as soon as you are in private sphere.

Otherwise, the balance of power just might tilt and patriarchy will shake. SCARY THOUGHT!!!

The ad stupidly celebrates the schizophrenia of our patriarchal society and I won’t even link the garden variety dumb excuses of ‘ WOMEN LIKE TO COOK FOR THEIR HUSBANDS SO WHAT IS WRONG IN SHOWING THE REALITY WHAAAAAA WHAAAA’ thrown by the ad makers and supporters of this ad alike.

But the good news is, that the ad has ruffled many feathers. And people are debating the ad, which has opened up a dialogue about the double shift many Indian women are ‘forced to do’ ( unlike ‘choose to do’ according to defenders of this ad). This is good news that ads like these don’t get a free pass for being covertly sexist. A debate on this ad is especially welcome because,

Because it pretends to be realistic unlike hundreds of ads that show sparkling women talking about detergent or their kids schoolbag as if it was some life-or-death issue.

Because it pretends to be progressive by showing a lady boss and goes on to justify the prevalent sexism in the society by perpetuating the worst and most dangerous stereotypes about women.

Because showing short-haired-lady-boss doesn’t make you a progressive.

Because it refuses to show a powerful woman who doesn’t look guilty in front of her subordinates for doing her job.

Because it reflects the pseudo-equal modern Indian marriage that women are calling out for what it is- a pseudo equal relationship built on age old stereotypes.

Because it champions the ultimate status of modern Indian man as ‘ boss in marriage’ and brushes his insecurities about the rising power of women.

And ALSO because it comes across as advertising CHINGS UDUPI SCHEZWAN CHAUPATI SAUCE and not a 3G CONNECTION.

There.

Supreme Court asks why are mothers ignored?

Thank you Supreme Court!! And thank you Madhav Kant Mishra for stating the obvious:

Mothers hardly match the authority a father commands in official documents necessary to prove a person’s identity. While the father’s name prominently figures in government documents, the mother is usually given the go-by.

And you know what? This bias ties back to my favourite rant. Why do kids, even in today’s day and age always take their father’s last name? Especially, when their mother hasn’t taken her husband’s last name after marriage? 99.99% cases of women I know who haven’t changed their last names after marriage, have given their husband’s last name to kids. Why? why? why? They are usually the ones who take most of the burden of childcare, their lives- physical as well as social- change more dramatically than those of their husbands.

Then why do husbands get to be umbrella identity markers? And please don’t tell me about exceptional cases like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, we are talking of the norm here. Also none of the ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter because last names are just formality/ relics of bygone era’. When majority of children carry their father’s name and not mother’s – it is clearly institutionalised sexism.

Motherhood is all about sacrifice a la Gajar ka halwa!! However, when it comes to real power- mothers can go take a hike. Because from religious rituals to government documents to last names for kids to Bollywood movies to corporate policies, it is the fathers who rule the roost. After all, the word Patriarchy is derived from the all mighty ‘father’.

The petition, filed by journalist Madhav Kant Mishra from Allahabad, says ignoring the parenthood of the mother in government documents is in gross violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. It sought an ordinance making the mother’s name compulsory in documents.

Why are we asked to name FATHER OR HUSBAND in every frikkin document: from passport to nursery leaving certificates to bank accounts to medical tests to pan card to voter’s card?

Because father ( or husband) is used as a marker of identity.

‘ Whose daughter/ son? ‘
‘This man’s.’

Sort of like when in ancient times a person would be first a part of the community/ caste/ village/ family and then an individual.

It would have seemed quaint has it not been 21st century. And had mother was also used as a marker of a person’s identity.

But it is done rarely. It is not ironical but outright fucked up that while a woman’s femininity is validated the most when she is a mother, her identity as a mother is not good enough to be acknowledged as a marker for her own kid.

She is not good enough to preside over any traditional ceremony, the kids almost always take father’s last name, and she isn’t considered parent enough to be mentioned in any official document concerning her child.

So hope that social, legal, official and cultural norms change to acknowledge mothers’ rights in meaningful manner rather than melodramatic lip service.

The Monkey on the Gravy Train…

So you always know that people, well, most of them, are ‘KURSI KO SALAM’ types. They will be nice to you as long as they think you ‘are’ useful to them or ‘will’ be useful to them.

As soon as you drift away from the conventions of silly power play- they just delete you from their self-important lives. And hope that you’ll struggle like crazy to come back on track and hope that you can’t no matter what, and prove them right that disembarking the gravy train is leaving it ‘forever’.
They hope that you will call them ten times in sheer desperation, and they will not take the call and pretend to be in the meeting.
And they will laugh at you over drinks and claim how you were never right in the head anyway and hope that you are able to get some low-end opportunity which will bring you to their thick corner office door once in a while to get humiliated.

After all, you have seen them doing it a billion times to the best of the people and have seen these best people getting demoralised till they doubt their own capabilities.

They hope that you be the example they can quote till they are 80 years old. Example of how the worldly wisdom they live by is the ONLY way to live happily.

You have always known that since these people are almost always the most boring, and mediocre of the lot anyway, you are glad to be rid of them. After all, in today’s highly networked world, being away from ‘everything’ essentially means being away from people in that particular ‘thing.’

Some people surprise you because you naively thought they were your real friends. But the fact that you don’t miss them eventually, and they make you feel like a lost cause, makes you realise that they were just your bunkmates and all they ever wanted was to crib pointlessly as they licked as much gravy as they could.

You jump off the Gravy train a la Harrison Ford and relish the walk. And see the train from afar and see that it is, after all, just 2 tracks and a stupid train. And that it is just going round and round and round. And you realise that you are not missing the pace and you can see that the train is just there to take you forward and that it is not your life but just a stupid locomotive.

And you realise your own power firsthand as you walk, you drift, you bend down to pick up an interesting pebble, you sleep under starry sky, you make love to your dear ones, you drink crystal clear water, you play , you jump, you dive, you fly.

You look in the clear waters and you see your grinning expression and you realise- voila!!! You are a monkey. Not a human. You look around and notice, for the first time, that your loved ones are monkeys as well. The artists you admired- ditto. The people you adored- ditto.

You are a pack of monkeys. Why and how did you ever think you were a ugly,naked, no-fur, no tail human being? Were you suffering from some sort of identity crisis that made you believe you were a totally different species altogether?

And all the negativity, all the boredom, all the expectations, all the disappointments shed from your body as you run in fresh air with your pack, glad to be alive. Shivering happily to have discovered that you are a monkey- free from the burdens of so-called evolution to the hoity toity humanity.

A monkey life. A monkey joy. You are a monkey who likes to jump and clap and eat the juiciest of fruits with the juice running down your wrist just for the fun of it.

You just enjoy being on your feet again and feeling the ground beneath. You sit tight with your loved ones and take deep breaths of pure, fresh, natural air.

You know you might need to ride the train again for a while,and spent some time with the humans- but now you know it is just a stupid locomotive and are cool about it.

And then one day you decide you are ready get back on tracks for a few more years. Maybe, hopefully, so that you can say goodbye to the train forever at the end of the said few years. And gather all the fruits and come back to the tree.

You strut back on the track like a drunken monkey Jackie Chan style, and jump on it fairly easily because you are not ashamed of falling down. You know if you fall, you will just brush the sand off your palms, laugh at yourself and jump again. You are now a monkey- relishing the jumping and not bothering about where you land.

And you land your springy feet on the train and swing on the bars and pick up the banana from your back pocket and sit on the roof munching on it, oh you do.

And then all those humans who wanted you to be the example of deviant failure notice you again. ‘Hey- look at her. How is she back on the train? She didn’t call us. We didn’t get to humiliate her. We didn’t even get that banana.’

When they see you back on track, back on the train, munching your banana- their ugly noses quiver with surprise that is soon replaced by envy which is soon replaced by opportunism.

They shamelessly extend the hand of friendship again. Precisely because you don’t need their freaking hand. And they want a piece of that banana too.

And then you laugh when they clamber all over themselves to get re-connected with you. ‘Hey,’ they think, ‘ she wasn’t lying when she said she wants a break from the gravy train and walk on her feet. She meant it. And now she got a better place on the train. I want to be her friend again. So what if I didn’t give a shit about her during one year when she was doing great interesting things which I have no interest in or comprehension about. So what if I don’t give a shit about her even now. She might be my ticket to the first class bogey of foren country and tax free salary’.

You are surprised that you are not bitter and disappointed in humanity. You are a fully developed monkey now. Willing to take most fellow humans as they are. A dumb species full of useless emotions and goals.

And they wiggle and they joke and smile their fake smiles and try to connect and make plans.

And you.. you just wave at them, bare your teeth in merry monkey smile stained with yummy banana pulp and go back to your compartment.

Knowing fully well that you will be jumping off it again very soon once you have enough gravy in your monkey tummy.

Puh-leeezeee people…

This is a highly convoluted rant about the ‘PUHLEEZE’ people.

The PUHLEEZE people are characterised by the smug sense of ‘been there, done that’ superiority over anything and everything which seems like a new or a different idea/ lifestyle/ choice. They usually roll their eyes at people. They usually are aggressively sarcastic. They get defensive about people’s choices that have nothing to do with them. I suspect envy and self-doubt must be pre-dominant emotions they have.

Confused? Here goes.

‘PUHLEEZE- I am so over that Narmada Andolan and the activist types in Khadi zolas.’

‘ PUHLEEZE- I am so over people talking about women’s right to dress as she pleases.’

‘PUHLEEZE- I am so bored with 16 year old girls going on Greenpeace whale rescue mission and deciding to follow a career in Environmental Management, it is like so passé.’

‘PUHLEEZE- loving your dog is like so 90s.’

Got the drift?

When PUHLEEZE people were 14- they thought about revolutions. French cinema. Wild orgies. Adventures. Commitment to social cause.

Sincerely.

They felt they were ‘oh-so-superior’ to all the others who spent their teens stoned and trying to get a girl/boyfriend. But they were sincere. They were Sort of like kids in Secret History. They wanted to change the world. They wanted to be John Lennon. They wanted to write the next Second Sex. They wanted to turn Budhdhists. They wanted to work in UN Peace mission.

Then they turned 20 something and realised that they are not going to be able to do any of the above. Some out of choice. Some out of compulsion. Most because they grew out of their dreams and grew into something else. This is where they, like majority of us differed from the kids in Secret History. Well, these kids murdered their friend, but it was all in the name of Greek Classics and they are really cool kids, so.

And now they can’t take someone else doing the same things. Leading a life which they have chosen not to.

They want to show, every chance they get, that they have BEEN THERE…. they have DONE THAT…

‘PUHLEEEZE… I could have been an Mountaineer( insert any interestingly unique thing one can do) like that, but I just decided to be a stay-at-home mother at 25 and obsess about my kid. Now I get defensive every time someone extols the virtue of female Everest climbers, because to me it is a 100% proof they are not looking up to my choice to be a stay-at-home-mum. So PUHLEEZE, every time my mountaineer friend puts up her picture on Everest, I passive-aggressively put up 1508965’th pic of my kid grinning at camera. And expect everyone to be equally interested. Because hey, if you are more interested in the climber- you are undermining my choice.’

Or they cynically snigger at people participating in morchas as ‘those candlelight types’ and go on to vote for stability and sexy leadership. ‘ Puleeze- I wrote poetry in college and dreamt of equality. Now I go to my 8 figure 9-5, 24 hr stress job which contributes nothing to society and snigger at the losers who still dream about something other than their next investment option. I feel my heart contract when I hear them talk about their ideals and I retort by being sarcastic and smug and will argue about how dumb the naxalites are over a single malt. Puhleeze- I have been there and done that and everyone is born unequal and malnourished kids are responsible for their own fate no matter what Marx says.’

PUHLEEZE people like other people they can look down upon or criticise openly without feeling that pang of defensive self-doubt. So if you are an Asaram Bapu- they would love you because they can criticise you freely. If you are an unsuccessful web designer- they would love you because they love your lack of success. If you are in a frustrating 9 to 5 job and have a horrible husband- they would love you.

But if you are someone who has made some different choices ( especially the ones PUHLEEZE people dreamt about in their teens) and are happy about it- woe upon you. Puhleeze people will take out all the passive-aggressive weapons from their envy-ridden treasure of negative energy. And try to put you down. And point out how passé your achievements are in the annals of history. And most important of all- THEY COULD HAVE DONE ALL THAT LIKE DECADES AGO… IT IS JUST THEY CHOSE NOT TO… SO NOW SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS OR I AM GOING TO GO TO THE WASHROOM TO CRY…..

The PUHLEEZE people can’t accept the fact that they resent others for leading adventurous / meaningful/ carefree lives and constantly feel a need to validate their own life choices by belittling others.

Get a life PUHLEEZE people… and leave others alone.

Nouveau Travellers

It sounds totally snobbish and snooty and politically incorrect and historically erroneous, but I will say this.

All this mass mania shouting ‘be adventurous.. be a traveller and not a tourist’ has totally put me off travel.

Because now everyone has decided to be a cool, authentic traveller and to visit ‘craaazzyy’ places nobody has heard of, although the same place is swarming with the similarly ‘authentic’ travellers, who have rushed there in their cool groups after reading about ‘the place to be in’ in newspaper/magazine/ blog/ Lonely Planet’s crappy Indian version.

The problem, which sounds little elitist, I have with this mass enthusiasm for ‘ authentic travel’ is this.

9 out of 10 times, and I say it with some first hand experience, the people who try to be authentic travellers are as cool as Levis low waist jeans. Mass produced, commercialised, lacking any originality and flaunting wannabe ness all around their new-found travelling freedom .

The platforms which urge everyone to discover their inner Heinrich Harrer might be genuine, might be commercially motivated or might be just plain ole tour operators gone savvy with times.

What they do, invariably, is pimp out the experiences of travellers who have genuinely ( remember that word?) found that tiny cafe because they were thirsty, tumbled across that bookshop because they read about it in a book, spent weeks on the beach when they lost their way on road, visited that ruined chapel because they are curious about the frescos.

All these experiences are dished out as ‘the thing to do’. People are constantly told to be crazy, to be cool, to be spontaneous. Anyone would want to bury their head under the sand by this bombardment.

But these 9 out of 10 people go to that tiny cafe and mill in the bookshop and chapel because that is what these platforms extol as the ‘authentic travel experience’. These are the nouveau rich people too cool to do ‘Europe in 7 Days’ but not genuinely invested enough to discover and take risks themselves.

I have noticed as upsweep of these wannabe authentics- puffing up their chests and whining about their city lives and bringing their competitive big city slicker attitude to places which they would haven’t even looked at, had it not been the ‘cool authentic fad’.

They then breezily pour their experiences on social media or travel accounts, characterised by ornamental writing, a tendency to put coolness above genuine experience and ironic emulation of firangs.

Most glaring and most annoying aspect of this writing is the very self-conscious coolness soaking every word, like MTV VJs, these ‘travellers’ want the world to acknowledge their absolute ‘I DON’T CARE AND I AM A DUDE’ ness from the first word.

Many of them project themselves as ‘dying to have that existential experience while travelling’ (so what if they support Modi when they are back and would die to fit in with the bosses clique).

They have made the whole genuine travelling bug such a cliché. And have crowded some of the best places which were limited to really genuine travellers. You know, the kind who are quiet and mingle in their surroundings without standing out like sore thumbs. Those who never rush to google locate themselves and put a self-important status update before their bum settles down in a place. Those who like to keep these finds to themselves and not look at travel as replacement for showing off your diamonds in cousin’s flashy wedding.

9 out of 10 people, yes you who rush to backpack around the world, couch serf , have to have to bungee jump, have to eat Rajma Chawal in the cave in Arunachal, have to sip the Chianti in the tiny Florence cafe- please back off all this bastardisation.

If you truly enjoy what you do, refrain from making it into a silly fad. Have fun because you like it, because you are surprised by it, not because you know it is the cool thing to do according to Lonely Planet.

And keep quiet while you are at it, will you??