RAIN…

It rained last night… hurrah!!

This year the heat has been ABSOLUTE TORTURE..Many people, self included, resorted to spending as much as time as we could in air-conditioning for the first time. Otherwise I hate AC and used to put cardboard strips on the AC vents in my cabin- so that it used to be hotter than rest of the office and people would start sweating 5 minutes into meetings.

I am not a cold weather girl- though the my most favourite places are in Himalayas. But there you accept things and bundle up and the surroundings more than make up for the bad weather. I am batshit crazy about Scandinavia but when I travelled there- the cold numbed my bones. It is so unnatural for people to live in that kind of cold. Really. It is OK for Polar bears and Saint Bernards- but for us humans with no fur or fat pockets- it simply makes no sense to me that civilisation flourished in northern hemisphere.

So I don’t really mind the heat. In fact I love it. I even love the blaring sun. It just makes things so blindingly alive. I don’t mind sweating, tanning or feeling light-headed from heat. I like Mumbai summer.

But this time Mumbai was punishing. It was that suffocating, oppressive, draining heat mixed with humidity that really punctured me and almost everyone. It was virtually 12-14 hours of AC at home and I felt entitled and guilty. But not enough to switch it off!! And so I conveniently blamed it on the dog and husband.

Dog hated it. He would stand in the middle of the room and stare at me and his tongue lolling for about a metre on the ground, panting like a zuk-zuk-zuk train, till I switched the AC on. The starting sound of the AC would make him sigh loudly, sit on the floor with relief and then he would sleep curled up for hours on end. Husband sweated and changed shirts every few hours . And he stank- especially when after his tennis sessions. And not the sexy, musky smell of slightly sweaty man- but the full blown fainting stink that makes one breathe out of one’s mouth.

We welcomed the news that Monsoon reached Andamans on 17th May. Friends from Kerla told us that it started raining heavily from beginning of June. 2 days before brother’s wedding there were rainstorms in my hometown. Which gave rise to panic- because we would need to shift the lawn venue to a hall and already there were arrangement and what the fuck is wrong with this rainstorm in MAY?????. My father spent all his time going out and coming in cursing at the dark clouds and brother for not getting married in April or better in December.

In Mumbai- the dark clouds teased us every day for last 2 weeks. There were clouds and there was no air, not a single drop. Then to make matters worse- it drizzled in many part of Mumbai but here- the place next to SG National Park- where it rains the hardest otherwise.

Every day we would wake up and look at the sky and predict rain. Every night we would talk about how it was raining in this city and that but not Mumbai- city known for madcap rain.

Because see- Mumbaikars love monsoon. People like me, who have walked in chest deep water on that fateful 26th July flood or have suffered countless waterclogged roads and falling in manholes and all- still love monsoon. Because Mumbai monsoon is a drama, an epic and a sensuous experience which is not for the faint-hearted. It beats you in shape and makes you bow down to nature which is unusual for this city.

So yes, it rained last night. And today the sky is clear of clouds. But it is Friday the 13th and it is just one day left for the official debut date of Monsoon 2014.

Hope hope hope…

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Women’s safety and media

The recent incident of an assault in Mumbai local train has brought forward the concern of women’s safety to fore again.

People are questioning whether Mumbai has become unsafe for women?

The city has one of the longest traditions of women in workforce. And not just salaried women, but also the of unorganized industries. Even today, presence of women on streets almost up to midnight is a striking feature as compared to other Indian cities. The very nature of Mumbai includes long travel and long hours. Women in Mumbai are typically believed to be more safe in public places.

So has it changed? I have been using public transport, rickshaws at all hours, and personally, I still feel extremely safe in Mumbai. Maybe it is because I live here, but many friends from outside Mumbai have also felt relatively safe moving in the city, especially at night.

I am not trying to say everything is hunky dory by the way. But I think the reason we are questioning status-quo, lies in the increasing awareness and coverage that women’s well-being gets in media these days. Because media is positioning the victims as, well, victims of harassment. And not evil rakshasis out to destroy Indian Sanskruti, who need to be put back in their place by the virulent male protectors.

I have noticed a big change in the tone and scripting of harassment stories. While no sane news story ignored the ‘injustice’ earlier as well, these days the media is actively championing the need to change the system. And more people are responding. More stories are getting on front page or primetime. Words like ‘gender sensitisation’ wouldn’t have been uttered in regional news channels just a few years ago. Young girls wouldn’t have come forward to assert their right to be in public places at all hours. Sadhus and babas spouting moral pearls of wisdom wouldn’t have been publicly shamed by celebrity news anchors. Police and politicians wouldn’t have gotten flak for being negligent. Feminist would have been an ugly word.

It is a small but definitely sign that media can bring about a very desirable change if it doesn’t give up on the issue. Media makes personal opinions possible to be brought to public forums. Mass media is still the strongest communication medium in our country and more focus on women, the better.

Sex and the city in Mumbai..

Kareena came to Mumbai to be a writer. She got some money from her mother and thought she would pay her own bills in a few months. She still gets money occasionally from her mother to be able to pay rent for her Kandivali one room kitchen.

Kareena wanted to write about modern relationships from women’s point of view, for print. She writes kitchen soaps and backbiting reality shows, for television. Like everything else in Mumbai, television has swiftly buried a reality sword in Kareena’s creative dreams.

Kareena loves fashion, and regularly shops at fashion street, that is, when the production house pays her.

She sits with a cup of coffee in Lokhandwala CCD for hours with her friends and hopes that her script will be picked up by Anurag Kashyap or Kiran Rao. She sleeps with her fellow strugglers since in this one billion plus city you hardly meet anyone outside your own industry.

Kareena had a fling with a rich, sexy, vegetarian stockbroker. But he objected to her non-veg diet and wanted her to wear salwaar Kameez so that his family would approve. Kareena rejected him and repents till date. He was better looking than all the Delhi chaaps her family forces her to meet.

Kareena will get married very soon and move back to Chandigadh if she doesn’t want to spend her life in one room common toilet in Mira Road.

Maryam is a top notch lawyer from Bandra. Her family is one of the oldest Parsee families in Mumbai and is constantly disappointed that she hasn’t married a nice Parsee boy yet. Maryam often hangs out with her non-Parsee friends and hopes to meet an interesting boy , preferably a non-Parsee. She loves good-looking north Indian hunks as long as they do not open their mouths. Which they do. All the time.

Maryam has a dry sense of humour which turns off the good-looking Punjabis she favours. She hasn’t told them that she is a top lawyer fearing it would end her chance of meeting any cute man ever. She tells them she is a struggling actress. She tries to ignore their sniggering at her obviously non actressy looks.

Maryam will get married very soon- and to a Parsee, since she doesn’t want her future kids to be cut off from their tradition just because their mother married a non-Parsee.

Sharmila is a rich Gujarati from Worli who wanted to get married and have a kid.
She did get married and has 2 kids. She lives with her in-laws in a large house on World Sea Front.

She was a curator at an art gallery, one of the best in the city. But her father in law objects to her working and she gave in after a few fights. She is on board of her father-in-law’s charity with her mother-in-law. Sharmila has to snort coke every time she is with her in-laws. Which is all the time really.

She hangs out with Kareena and friends, and when she can’t – she spends hours on phone, listening to their wild stories about men, sex , midnight drives on bandstand and Bollywood parties. She still doesn’t know that her friends sometimes exaggerate for her benefit.

Salma loves sex and real estate. She has four apartments in Mumbai and her own PR company. She has refused to get married or get involved with anyone. She has also seen all her friends and lovers get married and have 2 kids each. Since she doesn’t have kids, nor a steady partner , she can hardly socialize with people of her age. She is worried that it may have a bad effect on her business.

Very few men she likes want to sleep with her now, since she has crossed forty and it looks bad for them if they are sleeping with a forty-year old single woman, however gorgeous. She is increasingly getting stuck with 50 + paunchy , balding men , something she is trying hard to overlook if she wants to have sex. They  cry after sex and tell her their wife is like a goddess, and they shouldn’t be doing this, but what to do, a man has his needs and being married to goddess doesn’t guarantee fulfillment.

Salma recently tried to buy another apartment in her building, with 100 % down-payment, but was refused by the society members , citing her bad behaviour. They politely suggested that in fact, she moves out from her present apartment since this was a respectable society with families and what would be her influence on kids??