Monday, October 31, 2011

Thought Experiment

Try this. Try being absolutely non-racist, non-sexist, non-elitist, non-homophobic, non-sizeist - non prejudiced in every way possible. It's is not easy, I know. You have my sympathies...empathy rather, because I struggle too. Sometimes, I forget and an atavistic discomfort with the other creeps in. If you're like me, you might make a tasteless joke or become flustered & confused. Or you could swing the other way & be patronizing of the other. It's okay, get back on your feet and try again.

But try.

I liked this post a lot. It's fun. Also true: Important Truths For Your Consideration

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Really, people...Part IV: Look Ma, I'm Racist

Saw this in the papers today and thought - Wow! India has truly become a global superpower if it's beginning to exhibit classic signs of xenophobia in the mainstream:

Excerpt: Speaking to DT, Bhatt said, "There are similar apprehensions in Bollywood and everyone is planning to come together and fight this practice of Hollywood films being dubbed in Hindi or Tamil. We cannot allow them to have a right over our mother tongue and use it to their advantage just because they have the budget. Hollywood studios have big budgets for promotions and we can never match that. Hindi film producers are now planning to come together against this. Letters have been written to the I&B ministry secretary in the past also, and I can say with full certainty that something similar is on the cards now. We face similar issues in other states at times. For instance, I cannot get my movie dubbed in Bengali."

Hey Mahesh, here's a revolutionary thought - Let's make films that are less crap and maybe audiences will actually want to watch Bollywood rather than Hollywood films.

Yeah, that'll be Rs. 500. Come again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Low Angle

It's been a difficult couple of days and I knew I had a solid cry coming. 
This evening I went to a screening of a documentary on Henri Cartier-Bresson. Once the lights dimmed and opening credits rolled across the black screen, I found the darkness & comfort I was looking for. I had me a quick & efficient weep.

And as the folks around me nibbled on their popcorn, tears fogged my spectacles and I thought - "It's been a difficult couple of days and I knew I had a solid cry coming...."

"There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment" - Cardinal De Retz

Monday, October 17, 2011

One Of A Kind

This one's for the sweet gentleman who left a comment on this blog about how sad I sometimes sound.
I'm one of those awful people who uses stories about her mother to get a laugh/ sympathy from people, when I'm in attention-seeking mode. Truth is, my mother is much more than the quirky, mooh-fat woman I paint her out to be. I love her dearly. She's strong, independent, generous, loving and tremendously funny - sometimes intentionally, sometimes...well...

Crank calls are a big problem for many women in this country. If you're female & own a cellphone, chances are that you've had your fair share of dedicated blank callers, heavy breathers and verbal abusers who call you up when their bosses/ wives/ dogs have kicked them around too much. I've tried many strategies to get rid of them: handing the phone over to male friends, shrieking loudly into the phone to deafen the caller, cutting the call (once, up to 27 times in an hour) or taking the call, putting the phone under a pillow to cut ambient sound and letting the motherfucker run up his phone tab.
None of it really works.

The day before yesterday, some poor sod decided to make an obscene phone call to my mother's cellphone. Phone rings, she picks it up pissed off (she's always pissed off when a phone rings, no matter who's on the other line) and barks into it: Hello!

Obscene Caller (OC): kshhhhhhhkkkkkhhhhhhhhhh

Mother: Hello? Hellohellohello? Hello! Hello? Hello? HelLO! HEllO? hELLO!!!!

OC: Kaun bol raha hai? (Who's speaking?)


OC: Main aapko dekhna chahta hoon. (I want to see you.)

My mother's a doctor and has many strange people calling her on a daily basis, asking to see her. She decided to continue the conversation.

Mother: Toh clinic me aakar dikhana. (So come over to the clinic for a consultation.)

OC: Main aapko chaddi ke bina dekhna chahta hoon. (I want to see you without your underpants.)

Mother: Accha? ACCHA?! Main bhi dekhoongi tumhey! Main bhi DEKHOONGI TUMHEY.....MAIN BHI DEKHOONGI TUMHEY CHADDI KE BINA!!!!! 



I guess you had to be there.

As for the crank calls, Ma hasn't had a single one in over 48 hrs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Crossing Over

Hands held tight, they crossed the crowded street together. Him leading, as she adjusted her most stylish 'going incognito' gear - a pair of over-sized sunglasses, a massive grey poncho & skin-tight black leggings. Her hair was gathered rather messily at the top of her head. A couple of pimples that had appeared overnight had been camouflaged by an expert hand. She bent forward, leaning into him as they speedwalked through the crowd. Her ploy was working, the more she dug into his back, poky sunglasses and all, the less passers-by seemed to care.

And she said: "....I feel like a fool walking around with all this makeup on my face."

He replied: "Take it off then."

"I can't. If do and someone takes a picture, I won't hear the end of it in tomorrow's papers."

"Like what?"

"Like how old I look, how much work I need to get done. How the work I have had done is so terrible."

"So what if they do?"

"You think this is vanity? It's not. I'd just as soon be out for dinner with all my wrinkles & warts on full display."


"It's the machine. The machine can't function if I stop caring. One bad piece in the press, one paranoid producer. One paranoid producer, one film lost. One film lost, another piece of bad press. It snowballs and before you know it - you're done. Finished."

"Aren't you overstating things a bit?"

"You think? That's because you're not running the machine. You're not responsible if it comes to a creaking halt."

"Aren't you attending those prayer sessions? Don't they tell you, there is no machine?"

"Yeah, everything's a's all changing, I'm changing, you're changing. Nothing's permanent."

"See? You're not supposed to sweat the small stuff."

"Like the death of my career? Like letting down everyone who works for me? The loss of respect...bankruptcy?"   

"Well...hmmm...maybe 'nothing's permanent' doesn't necessarily mean 'nothing matters'...."

"I don't understand what you're saying. Are we there yet? How much further? People are begining to stare at me - I must look like such a freak with all this stuff caked on my face."

"Almost there. You're right, I don't get it either - how do you give a fuck about this world without giving a fuck? Don't worry, you look beautiful.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Note To Self

It's alright to accept that you're not all that. That the things you write about are neither very exciting nor relevant. That you're not as skilled with language as you'd like. That you make horrendous mistakes in grammar & spelling. That your blog is just a blog and not a stepping stone to anything more meaningful like a book or a script. It's alright if you can do this calmly, without self-pity, without loud proclamations of "I will never write again!" It's fantastic if you decide, in the face of all this, that you must never stop doing what you enjoy so much. That nothing can stop you from writing that book or script or from correcting your spellings.

When a story needs to be told, it will compel you to do the needful. Till then, go finish reading all those books you promised you'd finish. There's more than enough grammar to be learnt from those things.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Shit They Don't Tell You

It's taken me 32 years of living to realise I know nothing of love. At least not in the way they tell me I should.
I love both my families - the one I'm born into and the one I've cultivated. I also know that I'm loved back. I have felt deeply connected to creatures of all kinds, even objects. I've hugged my fair share of trees & even said "I Love You" to my Ipod and meant it. I've experienced what can only be described as love, when a piece of favourite music reaches its crescendo or when I read a sentence that's written so surprisingly, it takes my breath away.

But the kind of love they write pop songs & billion-dollar grossing films about? I've never known it.

I finally watched BBC's adaptation of 'Pride & Prejudice'. I hoped it would help me learn lessons about love, lessons I might have missed when reading the novel. It was very pretty, very charming and very infuriating - all the ingredients for a good romance, I suppose. Then came the most highly anticipated, deeply intimate moment the lead players had shared so far. After 5 episodes of waiting, this was it:

Surely Liz Bennett & Mr. Darcy had traces of anal-retentive South Indian DNA floating about
He's just proposed to her. She's just said yes. Super. Let's never talk about our feelings again okay? Okay.

Then there's this:
My route to understanding love, as you may have guessed by now, had more pit stops in popular culture than in real life. I never grew up with functional, positive examples of romantic love to learn from. I never knew any other templates of 'love' besides the ones pictured above. My 20's, therefore, were most exciting. 
I messed up all over the place. Misunderstanding what romantic love meant, what partnership entailed and what I needed to look for in a healthy relationship. By 28 I was most decidedly, and dangerously, on the brink of failure. So I gave up.
Then my friends started partnering up one by one and suddenly I had new templates to observe and learn from. Some crashed & burned spectacularly (because they, like me were following the above two templates of 'love'). The ones that stayed afloat opened my eyes up to a whole new world.

There are some who understand the real texture of intimacy more easily than I do. They seem to instinctively understand the unglamorous bits of being in love, the every single day hard work, the non-grand gestures that end up being more memorable than anything in a lovesong. I observe as these couples respectfully give each other the space to be the best individuals they can be, how they resolve conflicts, how they set ground rules, how they become a team, how they go about their normal lives. There's a distinct lack of melodrama, there's also a lot of talking (not as much 'reading of the minds' as I'd imagined) - in short, nothing that fits anything I've been taught 'love' to mean.

Maybe it's time to get real about how we tell love stories. Not just in films or on TV, but even the stories we tell each other, the stories we tell our kids: the little girls & little boys. Maybe in the tales we spin about grand gestures, we can sprinkle in some magic of the everyday kind. Maybe mention how loving oneself is as integral as divine luck in finding true love. Perhaps talk about how thrilling an argument can be when it leads to greater closeness. How sexy it is to know that someone truly sees & respects who you are. That love - any kind of love - is life's work, neverending & immensely rewarding.

It's taken me a while to get to the starting line. Even though I'm a little behind in the game it's not in my interests to look back or regret the lost time. What I can do is celebrate the fact that I'm no longer on the sidelines. 
This happy ending may or may not be like the movies, but I have a strong feeling that it will ultimately & profoundly be okay.