Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Texture of Injustice

On the 23rd of March, I made & then reversed an electronic transaction of a fairly large but not catastrophically huge amount of money. Even as the store owner handed me the 'Transaction Void' slip I had a niggling feeling that I was entering into the black hole of Indian banking.
I was right.
On the 29th of March, I called the bank's customer service. The first lady I spoke to blew me off by saying that the servers were down, which is code for : Fuck off please, can't you tell I'm playing Freecell? I called back again and got a heavy breathing gentleman who assured me that the servers were in fact, working.
I then lodged a complaint at the bank's (one vowel, one consonant in alternating series) customer service and got a request number (to numerically assure me that someone somewhere gave a damn). The Heavy Breather told me to xerox the void slip, write a letter and fax both these pieces to the bank's Mumbai branch. I expressed my displeasure at having to fork out the money to fax these documents and then hung up.
The next morning I discovered that the fax number HB had given me didn't work.
I stomped in the heat to my nearest branch. All I wanted was a fax number. It took me an hour and twenty five minutes to get this number in spite of the bank exec calling HB back and threatening him with dire consequences (he just transfered her to another department, which transfered her to another department which informed her that my case would be resolved on the 19th of July. Finally after some more passive aggressive banter, she had a number in hand).
Perhaps it was the kindness of her heart or my dark, murderous glance, but she agreed to fax the letter from the branch itself. She failed.
Near tears, she asked me to return to my fax guy and keep trying from there.

I could've socked her in the face but it wasn't her fault. I could've tracked down HB and grievously harmed his ballsac but he's just a call centre guy. Short of planting RDX at the bank's headquarters, I realised, there was not much I could do to get my money back except spend the day trying a bogus fax number from Chopra uncle's shop. The helplessness was excruciating. The apathy of a corporation too huge to touch was killing.

And this is just a very privileged girl taking on a bank that will eventually capitulate to her demands and return her money, an amount that can't really break her either way. This is, in all probability, the maximum extent of 'injustice' I'll ever face.

But the frustration I felt will remain for a while. And the next time there's a headline of children dying of starvation in Bolangir or a story about the survivors of Best Bakery, I'll remember this moment, magnify it by a million and then, just barely understand the real texture of injustice.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Give Me Your Poor, Downtrodden (M)Asses

The Kumbh can be an entirely moving experience, it can be one of communion, reconnecting with one's spiritual self, of finding solace in truths higher than our mundane routines can offer us.

As you can imagine then, it attracts its fair share of looneys.
Case in point: the man in the above photographed billboards.

This person is a crusader. He is here to save every downtrodden, stamped, stomped and spat upon upper caste Hindu that ever walked the earth. You may be familiar with this long-suffering demographic. They've seen so much prejudice, suffered so much at the hands of those evil minorities, they've been screwed over so often by the communal and caste-driven democratic process of this nation....
...that now they - led by aforementioned crazy sadhu - want theirs back.

He's erected massive billboards all along the National Highway 45 from Roorkee to Haridwar. Each one follows the same template of panic and branches off into individual whiny messages fueling hatred:
The Hindu religion is in PERIL!!!! (because)....Hindus don't have equal opportunities in educational institutes/ job markets, they aren't schooled in their religion from an early age, they don't have financial advantages over other minorities, they're being corrupted by the evil forces of secularism and of course, they are the only victims of terrorism. 

Now, I've done this trip 4 times in the last 2 months and these billboards are beginning to have an effect on me. As a persecuted Hindu myself, I feel the pain this man is talking about. I think back to all those times when I was politely denied a job the minute people heard my last name, or when people refused to hand me the bill in a restaurant every time I was accompanied by a male Hindu. I have cried silent tears on being denied my graduate degree at the end of three years in Delhi University just because I did not appear for my English subsidiary exam. And when I visited the Levis store 24 hours after their sale had ended, management refused to extend it JUST because of my religion.

So, as I drove into Haridwar this time, I gave serious thought to joining this dude's cult. I took out a pen and paper to note down details of his website/address/crazycult name. I was all ready to take up the saffron robes. Then I saw crazy sadhu's name:

'Ananth Shri-blah-blah-blah-Acharya-yadayadayada-Swami-saywha'?!?!-Maharaj'

I knew then & there that I couldn't enlist. Because this broke the one cardinal rule of cult-joining that I live by:
'If you can't spell it, pronounce it or even recall it - you can't join it'
So close I was.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Too Lazy...(Twotes from Twavels - Rishikesh/Haridwar)

....to blog. Too exhausted to have integrity of any kind. Too in love with myself to resist making a post out of my tweets. Too unoriginal to give them even the minimum required spin. Copy-Paste, how I love thee...
28th March 2010

...and followed up his #epicfail with 'hummey SAB jaankaari hai'. Hey. Ram. via web 

Our driver lost his way 4 times: getting out of Delhi, entering Haridwar, Locating Rishikesh and getting back into Delhi. #truestory via web 

and if you're going to have 24,000 verses of anything in a song, then switch up the melody once in a while, wouldja? via web   

I now know all about the Luv-Kusss story because a squeaky manchild from Gorakhpur decided to cut an album with all 24,000 verses of it. via web 

20 hrs straight in vehicle on UPhighway that Mayawati didn't build, most of it stuck in Kumbh traffic with driver who digs Ram Kathas. #hell via web 

Kumbh once more via web 

Sleep Deprivation Phase Three: In which an innocuous statement like 'that haircut suits your face' is misinterpreted as'You calling me fat?' via web. 

@_vasu : ya man...and i have a killer road trip tomorrow...but i shall overcome. via Twitterrific in reply to _vasu 

Sleep Deprivation Phase Two: In which she accidentally switches to Times Now but is too exhausted to change channel. via web 

Sleep Deprivation Phase One: In which she makes the fatal mistake of snorting a cup of black coffee. via web 

fuck. follow friday falready? via web 

John Lennon was right when he sang 'I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink' #lamelyricsthatseemprofound   via web

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Look at our house.
There's water seeping in through the concrete. The paint is peeling off. The flowers in the wallpaper are falling to the floor, shriveling up into a dry heap.
The windows are caked with greybrown grime. No one can look out, no one can look in. The bolts have long since fallen off, the hinges have rusted into paralysis. Can't push them open, can't pull them shut.
The air is dust. Every breath we take is punishment. We can't see for the haze all around us.
We had a cat once. Or was it a fish? I know we had flowers, maybe even a garden. Big, yellow chrysanthemums. Can't find them anymore. What are we tending to then?
Sometimes I think we might be hamsters in a cage. Running on that darned ferris wheel, endlessly, thinking we're covering vast expanses of land. Thinking we're getting somewhere. Except we're in a tiny cage, barred in - going nowhere, playing the same song again and again and again. And it's the worst song you've ever heard. Cacophony in syncopated time.
Remember when we danced standing still? When we cooked without heat? We smiled crooked smiles at each other - or was it our teeth chattering in the cold?
Remember when we closed our eyes tight shut and tried to wish each other away? Only to frantically unwish it in the fraction of a second before we reopened our eyes?
Remember how we waited for each other? Seemingly forever. At the time.

Right, so. I've done a load of laundry. The pantry's full. The bills have all been paid.
Now I have to go.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Apologizing: For Dummies

When our mummies and daddies were teaching us to say 'Sorry' and 'Thank you' to gali-waley-Uncle & next-door-Aunty, many of them neglected to explain the finer nuances of these niceties. I'll save the 'Thank You' for another day...
...Because saying sorry, to steal a page from Elton Uncle's songbook, sometimes really does seem to be the hardest word.

An apology incorrectly made can cause more damage than good. Therefore I've prepared what I feel is a comprehensive of Do's and Don'ts in the aftermath of a blunder that needs to be atoned for:

1. Inflection:The tonal quality of your apology is of paramount importance. Before you craigslist 'vocal coaches near Shalimar Bagh', let me assure you, you don't need the chops of a Groban to do it right. 'Sorry' is a word that's said slowly and with deliberation. Not to be barked out in an 'eat my shit' tone. If you choose the latter approach do not be surprised if the Wronged One throws you a swift one-two in the 'nads.

2. Prefixes and Suffixes: Sorry is often accompanied by words either preceding or succeeding it. Choice of these words is indispensable to an effective apology. Words like 'Really', 'Extremely' and 'So' are great when used before the sorry. The word 'Fine!' and 'But' are counter-productive to the apologizing process when used before and after the sorry, respectively.

3. Facial Expression: All veteran Fucker Uppers know that a solid sorry is only complete with the appropriate sorry face. This does not mean channeling the Olsen twins (circa 1990) and making poochie faces. An insincere apology can be spotted from a mile away - especially if your eyes wander over her shoulders to catch the umpteenth rerun of the friggin IPL. The apologizer MUST channel the adult in him (hard, but worth the effort), look deep into the eyes of the Wronged One and take responsibility for being a champion bozo.

4. To the Pros: Some smarties amongst us figured out long ago that the best away to reduce time spent in the doghouse is to immediately apologize. They've got the inflection, prefixes and facial expressions down pat. However, they are eventually recognized as repeat offenders and much like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, get a rather gory ending.

5. Intent: And so we get to our next essential point:Apologize only when you mean it. Only when you acknowledge that your actions messed someone up. If you don't get it, save your breath for when you go hunting for new friends.

6. Sorry isn't a standalone word: Just saying sorry without conveying what you're sorry about makes no sense. The bigger the mess, the longer the discussion must be. Sorry boys - try to stay awake.

7. Sorry cannot be replaced with expensive gifts: This does NOT however mean that it can't be accompanied by them.

8. Sorry cannot be said via email or sms: Do not - I repeat - do NOT use the internet or a pager to do your dirty work - unless you are trapped under a 20 tonne truck and have just enough life-force left in you to text the Sorry template to the Wronged One.

9. Sorry cannot be conveyed through Third-Party: Saying sorry through beloved sister, mother or best bud is wrong. If it's done through an ex-girlfriend, that's even worse. There's no excuse for third-party-apologizing unless there's a restraining order against you; in which case you've made bigger messes than the one you're apologizing for.

10. Follow On: An apology means nothing if your subsequent actions don't back up the apology. "Sorry I frolicked with Seeta" does not work if you're out partying with Geeta 2 weeks later.

PS: One will notice that this blog assumes that most of the apologizing will be done by men. Since, it is in this blogger's experience that 99.93214% of the times it is in fact the male Homo Sapien who fucks up (and since said blogger is only 0.06786% imperfect), this post has been tailored accordingly.
For those who disagree, two words: Jesse James.
For those who still disagree: Sorry.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

Disclaimer: This could be perceived as a pretty mean-spirited post. But it's 2am and my misguided sleep-soaked brain thought this was funny.

So it's pretty well established now that while I think I'm an alright writer, I don't really believe I'm all that.
And like every writer who puts themselves out there, I'm often confronted with examples of genius so astounding that it's all I can do to not spontaneously combust from jealousy.

Below are a list of blogs I found on the internet. I must confess that I haven't actually read any of them, so dazzled was I by the sheer brilliance of the titles: (cue drum roll)

Where the Hell i Kept My Halo
Care Your Personal Computer
etc. etc.
The piggishness that is My Life
Me me and more Me
Anything & Everything
Mukul's blog (actually I read this one - it's not by Mukul)
For all my fellow human beings
Life Sure is a Snoozefest
My Effusions
My Memoirs of Mesmerizing Memories (eh?)

Inspiring. Methinks if I were to rename my blog, I'd probably call it: P's Profusion of Profundity.

And if that doesn't float your boat then there's the My Lifes, the Random Thoughts, the Scribbles, the Whatevers and my personal favourite -

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Birthday Blog

When I turned 25 I realized life was short.
By 30, I realized that there was no point trying to micro-manage big things like career graphs and finding a drug & alcohol-free life partner.
So as I turn 31 today, I have come up with a short list of things I can do to make this world a better place; things that are in my control. Sorta.

1) Learning to flirt: I am the world's worst flirt. I used to behave like a 6yr old around men. Now I manage adult behaviour when attempting to charm but dissolve into blubbering foolishness when the charm is redirected my way. The key is to find a way to display the full spectrum of my sizable IQ & EQ without becoming a simpering git.

2) Not discriminating against people who can't discriminate between 'Its' and 'It's':
That's right. I judge people by how they spell. And I'm ashamed.
I must learn that the path to world peace does not rest on humanity's ability to spell the word 'piano' correctly.

3) Raising my voice against South Indians appearing in Fairness Cream Ads: Because, really, someone must take cognizance of this travesty.
Having endured the taunts of 'Oye Dravidian' growing up and having learnt to love my dusky Bipasha-esque hue for what it is, it is abhorrent to witness Deepika Padukone and Genelia D'souza peddling their Death-To-Sunlight potions.
May their newly un-melanin'd skins shrivel up in the tropical Bombay sun. May the colour of their upper arms not match that of their toes.

4) Ending the scourge of the 'Summer of 69' playlist in Delhi pubs: I don't know how I'll manage this, but I do believe the world will be a better place if the following tracks are permanently banned in Delhi's watering holes: Summer of 69, Hotel California, that Linkin Park track where everyone screams 'and in the end, it doesn't really matter', 'Roadhouse Blues', 'Comfortably Numb', 'California Dreaming', 'That Thing You Do' and anything by Def Leppard.
I will, however, allow 'Smack My Bitch Up' to remain on the playlist, unharmed.

5) Getting the perspective right: There will always be someone older, uglier, stupider, more cruel and insensitive than I am.
And there's no shame in using the weakness of others to make oneself feel better.
(Except when it comes to economic disparity, caste divide or racial bias. That just makes you a Nazi. Or Mayawati).

(World Domination and Dessert)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Trying out a new shade of potty for my blog template.
So uninspired I am.
Life must move.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Golden Girl Globes

So I'm turning 31 in 10 days and I don't really feel old, whatever that means...but tonight I realized I was definitely not the same person I was at 18 or even 25...

Because I stayed up late (by my standards) to switch channels between the Golden Globes, the Filmfare & SAG Awards. More than halfway through I began to get the feeling that my overriding takeaway was going to be 'Wow, that old guy/woman looks FABULOUS!' Meryl Streep, Sophia Lauren, Paul McCartney, Jeff Bridges, Rekha, Shashi Kapoor - and I'm thinking 'What is it about this evening? How come they're all looking so good? Can't all be about the Botox'

And then I realised it was me. I was the one with the problem. The lens had shifted. Or gotten more cataract'd. It's like my hormones had automatically begun to disqualify the 30-and-unders. Worse still, it was beginning to appreciate 'character on faces' and 'wisdom in eyes' over tight bums and bad attitudes. It was all about the dignity now and I was like Huhhhhh??? When did this happen? When did I become unshallow? When did I begin to measure 'success' in terms of inner peace vs. ability to score weed on weekdays?

When did I become the girl who switches channels from tight close ups of Neil Nitin Mukesh to see Betty White and her Golden Globes?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Winter's leaving....

Took this snap from my cellphone as I was walking back home this evening. A pathetic effort to capture how gut-wrenchingly divine this city can be as winter says goodbye...
There's a cool breeze blowing...in a few weeks (or days) that'll be gone.
The neem trees are shedding and if you're lucky, like I was, there'd be a gush of wind just as you walk under one of them. You'd be consecrated by a yellow shower of leaves that'd make you so batshit happy that you won't help but look up.
And just as you do, the magnificent moonlight will reach into your chest and grab a hold of your heart so sweetly that you'll wish it never let it go.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Where are my comments?
Are people deleting comments off this blog?
Is that even possible?
So many questions.
Call the cops.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Girl Crush

Dear Madame Sarkozy,

I am unclear on how to address you - Your Excellency? Your Eminence? Ma Cherie?
You see, I have a little girl crush on you. And it came out of the blue.
It was a full moon and I was nursing a semi-broken heart. In my naivete I decided to watch a little film called 500 Days of Summer. I won't bore you with the details, the royalty cheques might give you a clue to what happened next.

Your husky, almost-not-there voice filtered in through the speakers of my beautiful white Mac as two very Caucasian actors kissed each other on screen. The girl didn't really love the boy and would go on to irrevocably damage his idealistic heart - but that's not important. See, the thing is you began to sing and I forgot everything else.

Let's cut through the bureaucratic bullshit. I'm totally in love with you. I can't understand a damn word you're saying in spite of having studied French for 6 years in school (Mrs. Swaminathan had a good heart but she ladled sambar on all her French pronunciations). But I don't really have to do I? Can we get together sometime? Maybe when Nick is pulling an all-nighter (wink, wink). I know I'm not the President of anywhere and I'm not Mick Jagger but I do bring a certain exotic je ne sais quoi to the table (which, incidently is spelt the same in English and French).

We don't really have to do anything much. You could strum your guitar, wear that white linen shirt you wore on the pants-optional cover of No Promises. You could sing Quelq'un M'a Dit - it's my favourite song. I could just sit there and hear you make love to the microphone (how that husband of yours manages to get any work done with you around, I do not know). You could do that gravely little laugh you do at the end of Le Plus Beau du Quartier and I swear, I could die happy.

You see, till this afternoon (when I illegally downloaded two of your albums - forgive me Carla, I come from a Third World Country where we don't have money to buy CD's but have pretty decent broadband) I was madly in love with a boy, who wasn't good for much else except walks in the moonlight. But the more you sang, the fainter his memory became, replaced instead with all those images I found of you on Google.

However, reality is such...sigh...you strum your guitar seven seas apart, you belong to a man who scares women into discarding their burqas and you frolic with the likes of Nelson Mandela.
Who am I but a simple albeit voluptuous girl from New Delhi, India. Neither rich nor particularly gifted at anything except illegal downloading activities.
I have nothing to offer except humble efforts at resurrecting my knowledge of French. Right now, all I've got is:
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?