Saturday, January 25, 2014

We Are All A Little Yo Yo

So this happened on Twitter last night:

Following which the gentleman tweeter faced a fair bit of ire from a section of the Indian female population on Twitter.

And that's where the politically correct part of this post ends.

My first impression when I read the tweet was discomfort, like an itch you can't track the source of, that has you scratching the back of your left leg when the itchiness is being felt in your right ear.

So I stared at the tweet some more. This came to me:

We all know how problematic this is. I mean, I wish they'd just COMB THEIR HAIR!

So anyway, I thought some more.


I have never been 'beautiful' (except in a Maya Angelou/ My Mama Thinks I'm Beautiful kinda way). Therefore, I have pretty much always cared.

I have always cared because I have seen the more beautiful girls get advantages I never could, in spite of my sparkling personality and dazzling wit.

(Sidebar: Conversly, because of my sparkling personality and dazzling wit, I have had advantages that beautiful girls haven't - like a chance for someone to get to know me, a chance to be appreciated for who I am rather than what I look like.)

Inside me, live two people (well...more...but I'm only bringing two to the table).
There is a 13yr old fat girl who is trying SO hard to be validated by men because everything she's ever been surrounded by has informed her that men have the final word in how she measures her worth. Sure, she will also learn that getting a good job and having her own independent thoughts makes her valuable, but by and large she's figured out that she is not quite 'right' unless a guy tells her so.

Sucks coz guys never really end up telling her so.

What they do say is: she's too fat, she's too dark, they wish she'd dress up better, show her cleavage off more, trim her eyebrows, show her cleavage off less, grow her hair, wax her moustache, join a gym, smoke less, be cool and share a smoke.

Of course, they are stating a preference and what kind of a world do we want to live in if we can't let a human being state a preference? Besides, us women appreciate beauty too, don't we?  This Guy Vs. That Guy

I digress.

Point is, I wish this preference would be just that: a preference in a world of infinite choices. Just an opinion. Unfortunately, the 13yr old fat girl living inside has come to understand it as a form of 'quality control'. In fact, it's all so messed up that she can no longer tell the difference between a preference and QC.

Now, this pisses the 34yr old woman off. She thinks: I'm not an object dammit. I'm not on some assembly line! My whole is bigger and more complex than the sum of my parts. And 'preference'? Like seriously? There's no such thing as a preference anymore. You can sugarcoat the opinions all you like, boys & girls, but it will always be a bit like saying: "It's just that I don't like when a Dalit drinks from my well. Am I stopping her from going to Venkatachallapthyrajulu's watering hole? Hell no! Am I telling her not to hydrate herself? Hell-er no!"

Here's my politics (which, as we all know, is always personal): A 13yr old confused fat girl, who's been dealt with cruelly a LOT. And a pissed off 34yr old who has no patience for anyone telling her what constitutes 'beautiful'.

Even if that definition of beautiful implies not caring about being beautiful: like piling on truckloads of 'natural' makeup to look like you just fell out of bed.

So here's my two cents, fellas. Perhaps there will be a time in the future where we will not be asked to take a magnifying glass to each definition of female beauty. But today is not that day.

And I know it sucks, but if you could, just take a hit. Take one for the team.


Also read: Dark Spots and Confessions for a more nuanced explanation of the itch I was trying to scratch.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Girl In Box

“Wait…sir! Sir! Don’t walk away…here, sir, here! I have one last piece to show you, then you decide. Just one more, sir! I think you will like it.”


“Yes, surprising no, sir?”


“No-no, not GIB! She’s not a piece of hardware or management jargon.


“It’s alright sir. Everyone makes this error. Trying to simplify something that’s simple enough to begin with. But simplification is an art no, sir? Do it carelessly and you end up mistaking cutting-edge innovation for a glitch in the design, no, sir?”


“Of course sir! No time to dawdle.
What you have here is the very latest in downsizing. Yes. You thought ‘downsizing’ was a dirty word, didn’t you? But it’s really just making something smaller and smaller and smaller until it fits in your palm just so. That’s all this Girl is. Tell me, sir, what do you wish Girl In Box to do? Don’t hold back.”


“Yes of course, sir. This isn’t the only…she comes in many aesthetically delighting designs. Now I can see you’re a man of some taste – not ordinary taste. Give Girl In Box a chance. She will configure to your imagination.”


“Not too flashy eh? In your league, you say? Smart choice sir, good choice. Fully damage-proof, scratchproof. Toss it about & see. See? The ergonomics are just…I mean I still get a bit emotional about this product. I’m very attache--- yes, yes – you’ll need to do that...customized programming – I mean, that’s the whole point of Girl In Box.”


“Technology can be intimidating, sure. I understand what you’re saying. But there’s really no wrong you can do. Girl In Box has self-correcting features built in. Very little headache to you. Plus you look like someone who’s not afraid of reading the manual. Ha ha ha true, sir, true. We only read maps to pick a direction to point in – we choose the routes ourselves. You’re a man after my own heart…

“So as I was saying, Girl In Box is a highly intelligent machine. She has an advanced parallel computing system – multiple CPUs that splinter up complex problems…distribute the fragments to individual processors, get answers, put it all back together again like a giant puzzle made up of tinier puzzles made out of tinier puzzles made out of---

“No, no – it doesn’t matter how arcane your expectations are. Once programmed, you don’t need to spoon-feed Girl In Box with too much data. She can access your deepest needs, your expectations by - there’s an algorithm for that.”


“Oh no sir. Nothing is ever that! Too good to be true ha ha. Of course, the Girl In Box requires maintenance. But we’ve been trying to minimize it with each version. The version before this? It would send out periodic audible alarms – beeps – if it needed to be charged or if some part was failing. If its juices were running out, you know? But users felt it was too disturbing, too distracting – I mean, if something were wrong, it would beep loudly at regular intervals until the user addressed the problem. Maddening, am I right?

“So now we have a new feature that runs on Suppression Technology™. Sounds fancy, no?


“Basically, Girl In Box identifies what she needs before you’re even aware of it. Her motherboard takes necessary action to repair itself without alerting you. Business as usual, as far as you’re concerned. In a meeting? In a movie? Out for drinks with friends? Chatting with the mum? You won’t hear a peep. You’ll never need to concern yourself with all the circuitry inside; you have more important things to worry about, am I right? You see, we understand – leave the nuts & bolts to the geeks, let the user’s experience be smooth.”


“Well yes, ok, I won’t lie to you. This latest feature has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. There were some kinks with making the logic board compatible with Suppression Technology™. But I assure you – those kinks have been ironed out. Absolutely.

“How, you ask? Two revolutionary features:
Number One: we’ve put the power of calibrating her responses in your hands. If the battery needs charging and you haven’t kept track of it but you don’t want to be nagged every 5 minutes, you can click on the option to turn the reminders off. What’ll happen is, just before the battery discharges, she switches off with a brief warning…

“You don’t look too impressed. It’s a very popular upgrade. Market research has shown us that users prefer the temporary inconvenience of sudden death, over the persistent annoyance of periodic reminders.

Number Two: We’ve made the user interface so minimal, noiseless & efficient that beyond satisfying your immediate needs, you really don’t have to interact with Girl In Box at all. She betrays virtually no signs of her internal circuitry – not unless you desire to see it, of course. I mean, we’ve embedded icons in the display that could provide you with that information. Their invisibility feature can be turned on or off as you desire.”

“May I ask you sir, are you intrigued yet? Even remotely enticed?”


“Sure. Sure. I understand. Information Overload. Ha ha. Ok, let’s talk about something less tech-y. I hate needlessly convoluted chatter too!

“Girl In Box is constructed from highly futuristic materials synthesized for super-elasticity & durability. How does this make your life easier?
Answer me: How big or small is your life?

“Fit her in the tiniest corner of your one-bedroom apartment or expand her to suit the high ceilings of your bungalow. The bigger your home, the bigger Girl In Box gets. Your world is smaller? She squeezes up real tight too.”


“Now you’re just playing with me, sir! Why, you can do just about anything with her in your pocket (or wherever else you choose to install her). In fact I find it difficult to answer ‘What’s she really good for?’ not because she hasn’t a purpose…but because there are so many it’s difficult to mention them all.

“But let me try anyway. Everything you are, everything you want to be, everything you need, everything you like, every effort you desire to make, every effort you don’t desire to make – she will find a way to make it simpler, easier and more fun. She will calibrate herself to you, she will grow with you and she will fall with you. She will exist for you. She will perform her function and nothing more…but you can always rest assured that she could be bigger, better, stronger, wiser. If you so choose.”


Hmmm. Tough one to answer. Between you and me, sir? Nothing breaks Girl In Box. She learns and she learns and she learns. Just like a summafabitch, she learns.”