Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rowing That Darned Boat

Was talking to a close friend yesterday about being chronically single and battling a horrific fear of intimacy at a rapidly advancing age.
I told him how, just that morning, I'd walked into a book store (my path to inner peace goes via the shopping mall) and stumbled upon a touching tableau - a mother buying her infant daughter her first book.
Now I've seen squealing babies in the park, I've seen kids snuggling up to their mummies and daddies, who lovingly wipe the snot and spit off their faces and I've gotten sentimental enough. But this image was mine. This was supposed to be my thing to do with my kid - bonding over Dr. Seuss or See Spot Run or Jataka Tales. It made me very weepy (I've been a bit of an MCD tap lately - waterworks when least expected, dry when required).

So, as I was saying - I spoke to my friend about my moment and he seemed most unimpressed. He's a couple of years older than I am, as woefully single as me and I suspect, as clueless as I am about what goes into making a healthy, grown-up, intimate relationship with a member of the opposite sex. When I told him I felt I had missed the boat he was vociferous in his belief that I was very much on that boat, that I'd not tipped overboard yet.

How do you know?
Because I'm rowing that boat. And there are plenty others on it.
I'm not alone?
You're not alone.
So, you're rowing this boat and you're sure I'm on it with you?
And you say there are others right with me?
Yup. The boat is abso-friggin-full.


So we're on this boat in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by a bunch of people all headed for the same destination,all hoping to stop feeling alone?

That's right.


Sunday, January 17, 2010


Just so the Yanks feel more at home...

Kumbhed out

So I'm back from Haridwar. I thought I was there for some festival that happens once every 12 years. Luckily for me it turned out to be a lot more.

Like, I would've never imagined I'd see so many half-naked aunties, disrobing without a care in the world...and not a single Indian male giving them the Shakti Kapoor stink-eye. I never thought I'd be in the middle of hundreds, no, thousands of people and not have a panic attack. I never thought that the police would actually keep the crowds moving AND check everyone's bags for bombs AND be polite through it all. I never dreamt I'd be able to witness an annular solar eclipse unfolding right before my eyes.

I never thought I would get goosebumps from a mass religious event.

And then, the next morning - Rishikesh....and suddenly all the struggles of last year, all the second guessing, all the exhaustion from just having tried so hard for so long, seemed to melt away. I realised that my life didn't need to be such a chore.
Looking at the Ganga chuckle past me over rocks and pebbles, I could've sworn she was speaking directly to me. She was grinning and saying - Take a load off, girl. You didn't think you were all alone in this, did you?

The nicest part of the whole 2 day trip, however, was on the ghats of Haridwar the evening we landed. Slipping and sliding on the filthy tiles (Hinduism is a messy religion - a lot of milk and sweet stuff sloshed around), I held my hand out to help an old lady find her balance on the steps leading into the river. She took my hand as if she'd been expecting it and had been waiting all along for me to show up at that precise moment & give her my arm so she could take her holy dip. She looked up at me with the kindest, sweetest eyes that drew me in and instead of thanking me, said - "Khush raho, mere bacchey." And in that moment, it all made sense and tears flooded everything around me...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I used my best lines on Twitter and Facebook

I'm a little annoyed with myself.
For the last two days I've suffered many types of mental trauma, amongst which was a severe case of writer's block. Or so I thought. After all, writing 12 episodes of a quiz show on climate change (and not being allowed to use the word 'trivia', like, EVER) does take its toll.
But as I struggled to cloak doomsday predictions about our planet in teen-friendly banter, another bunch of words was straining to come out of me. A bunch of words that explained my combined experience of being heartbroken, hungry, excited about attending the Kumbh, working on a brand new mac and scared of going back into therapy again. Recipe for genius, right?
Except, instead of pouring out into a masterpiece blog entry, it came out as useless crap totaling up to not more than 140 characters.

Will report back post-Kumbh. I wish I was staying there long enough to grow dreadlocks.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Really, people...Part II

I'm so sick of aam janta badmouthing politicians and distancing themselves from what those 'evil parliamentarians' do.
Yes, leaving a bleeding cop to die on the side of a highway as you drive away with your convoy of vehicles is despicable. Yes, you may call it inhuman and absolutely inexcusable.
But for fuck's sake can we not turn into this - 'them dirty netas' shit?
Who are these bloody netas anyway? Didn't we kinda, sorta elect them? Didn't we in effect say - you dudes are the guys I choose to take care of me. Then what's all the drama about? They're not from Mars. They're just like you and me.

And they did exactly the same thing that millions of us do on a daily basis when we see a road accident happen and drive by, when a woman is being sexually harassed in broad daylight and we look away, a dog being beaten with sticks and we walk past.

There's no difference between us and the inhuman politician. So enough with the self-righteous witch hunt already.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Just by the way

I'm making plans to go watch Avatar today. These are plans that've been in the making for 3 weeks and have caused me to ask big questions like - am I not worthy of love?
If they succeed today, I will know that the universe loves me.

I hope the film doesn't suck, though...

Next day:
1. The universe loves me.
2. The universe loves me like an annoying elder sibling that enjoys when I suffer mildly.
3. The universe enjoys a bit of buttered popcorn while watching me suffer mildly.
4. Avatar is an alright movie that at times is stunning and at times nausea-inducing (I saw the 3D version. Dizziness is part of the experience.).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

While Walking

Listening to Tori Amos’ ‘Happy Phantom’ (a happy, happy song about death) and it occurs to me: If when we die, our souls migrate to another world where they convene on a regular basis post mortem, what happens to our identities?
Maybe there’s a place where each and every identity is dumped – a Salvation Army for lives lived. Imagine them mingling at a soiree, bumping into others that gloved the same soul at different times.
A ditzy South Indian, then, bumps into a soldier from the East India Company (if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from Raaz-Pichle Janam Ka, it’s that everyone was at some point either a British or French soldier in the 1800’s), a Navajo Indian and Billie Holiday (hey, a girl can dream) and they are all wondering just how long it’ll take that soul to learn that if a guy doesn’t call back after a date, he’s just not that into you.

Also while listening to Tori: walked past a pretty young girl who was all dolled up (read, not dressed up in oversized frumpy clothing like me) and just out of nowhere, thought, “skinny bitch!” Obviously, the thought was more verbal than internal because she looked up startled and really, really hurt. So, skinny bitch, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I hate it when people judge me on the basis of my looks too.

Opposable thumbs

Current status: mammal without opposable thumb. Sprained (or strained, whatever yanks your medical chain) the muscles that attach my thumb to the rest of my hand. The cold makes it turns me into one of those painful Delhiites who brag about the winter ('at least we have seasons') in summer and then use it to garner sympathy when it actually arrives.

Back to the lack of opposables. I can't change gears in my car (good thing I rarely drive, then), I can't open a jar, I can't change channels (yes I can, don't know why I said that), I can't do the dishes, I can't knit or play the saxophone. I can't fly a Sukhoi.

Bummer. I'm cold.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Yes, I have an opinion too

The 3 Idiots controversy fascinates me. It even delights me. It's wonderful to see the infringement of a writer's rights become front page/ Breaking News. I never thought I'd live to see the day.

We're a whiny lot, us folk who write for a living. We bury ourselves in our caves, are obnoxiously anti-social; we use not just ours but our loved ones' private experiences to gain personal glory, are disdainful of the more 'business-minded' folk to whom we happily relinquish our fortunes and then bitch & moan when we get exploited. Yes, we're truly an ungrateful bunch of sissies. Why should anyone care?

And they don't. They really, really don't. Films get magically made (especially if Aamir Khan is the lead actor), stories get plucked out of the stratosphere like babies get dropped by storks. Throw in a wad of cash (never enough, I can assure you. Chetan Bhagat's reported 10 lac fee is in my book, peanuts) and one's responsibility towards the (un)friendly, neighbourhood writer is over. What do we want anyway? An award???

Yes, well, we kinda do. We want to be acknowledged as the progenitor of the idea that you twisted and morphed into your film. We want you to admit that without this seed of an idea, you wouldn't have the bushels of profits sprouting up in your bank accounts.

As someone with an idea of the dynamics of screenwriting, my first instinct was to side with Raju Hirani and Abhijat Joshi. When a work of literature is adapted to big screen, the screenwriters, in effect, create a whole new work of art. No matter how much of the book is infused in the script, writing a successful screenplay is a subtle craft that requires the skill of true artists. No one should ever, ever forget that when viewing 3 Idiots.

Also, I have never really enjoyed Chetan Bhagat's writing; even within the light-hearted, popcorn genre he occupies (Nick Hornby, who also navigates the same space is a far superior writer who manages to keep things simple and then craftily sneaks the emotion in). I remember watching an interview of Bhagat's, when another film based on his book was being released. He came across as a slightly crass and, well, classless dude. Also, for such a highly educated man, he made a colossal blunder by signing that ridiculous contract. He made the classic mistake that I've made a million times - signing something without reading the fine print. He's an Idiot (haha) and he deserves what's happening to him.

But, here's the thing. It was his baby. No matter how deformed, banal and stereotypical in form, it was his. He's the guy who dreamt up of these characters from the static in his brain. He's the fellow who took the time and the effort to stare down a blank MS Word page and fill it up with plot, dialogue and life. This is not a man whose name should appear as byline after the still photographer's. That's just wrong.

Which is why no matter how much he whines and no matter how valid the argument that he shouldn't have signed that godawful contract, by making a ruckus, he performs a very important function. He sheds light on a form of injustice that's rarely brought to light. I wonder how his case would hold up in a court of law or how much respect & credibility he'll be left with after taking on India's Conscience, Aamir Khan, but I for one will be grateful because he didn't choose silence, that he didn't keep his big mouth shut. By shouting "Injustice!" from rooftops, he gives the Big Idea a right to live. And for that, he gains my vote.