Friday, August 1, 2014

The Oberoi Mall Episode

So Oberoi Mall has apologized, and the little one is back to the play area. While that is nice, I don’t think it’s enough. The scariest part of the article, to my mind, was the fact that ‘other children were scared of her’ and that ‘some parents had complained’. While it is awesome that the mall was taught a lesson, I think this episode reeks of gross parenting. And, I fear, this is not limited to those parents who visit the Oberoi Mall. What kind of parents are we if our kid says, “Look ma, what a scary girl!” and we rush to the authorities? All it takes is for us to say, “No, child. She just looks a bit different. But I think she would make a cool playmate. Why don’t we go check if she wants to play ball?” Better still, “Hey I’ve got two bars of chocolate in my bag. Come make friends with her, and you can both have a bar each. The least we can do in the name of inculcating values is teach our children that all kids are cool, no matter what they look like.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is the vedict of man applicable to God?

Ram wasn't born on that janmabhoomi. He was born in your heart, in your faith, and in your belief. If ONE act of destruction is equal to an attack on HIM, there's something wrong with your faith, not the act. So, like an advertising slogan says, move on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If this post were a person, what clothes would it wear?

I was at a research the other day. The type where a questionnaire is above all else, including the answers. Where the researcher cuts the respondents short in order to move to the next question. We ask bizarre questions to unsuspecting housewives.
If this soap were a person, who would it be?
What kind of clothes would it wear?
Where would you go to meet it? At a café or a pub?
How would you feel if it died?
Somebody tell the paper-setter that nobody cares about the stupid soap.
The housewives were looking at the researcher with complete contempt, sniggering at the questions.
Some of them were veterans.
“Mai iss concept ko dus mein se saat doongi.”
And we hadn’t even reached the ranking waala question!
These women had made a career out of being respondents. They were sympathetic to the poor question paper-wielding researcher who sheepishly progressed through the painful questions.
So, these women who attend, say, 4 groups a day as respondents for various products, and are so used to this kind of questions – what must their life be like?

Picture 1:
“Mummy mai yeh bhindi nahi khaoonga. Achhi nahi hai.”
“Agar yeh bhindi insaan hoti toh kaun hoti?”
“Toh yeh Rahul hota. Kyonki wo bhi mujhe achha nahi lagta?”
“Toh bhindi, jo ab Rahul hai, wo kis tarah baat karta?”

Picture 2:
“Bahu, zara meri dawai laa do.”
“Babuji, iss dawai ka aapki zindagi mein kya role hai?”
“Pagli, yeh mere blood pressure ko control karti hai na.”
“Babuji, kal se yeh dawai aapko na mile toh aapko kaisa lagega?”

Picture 3:
“Thodi shakkar milegi?”
“Agar tumhe shakkar se nahane ko mile, toh kya tum try karogi?”
“Shakkar se bhala koi nahaata hai?”
“Agar main kahoon ki ek naya sabun aa raha hai jisme shakkar ke crystals hain, toh kya tum us-se nahaogi?”

So, dear researcher, bring on the questions. Who cares about the answers anyway?

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to write a letter in Telugu

Respected (never use ‘dear’ for elders) Uncle,
I hope you and (insert family details - eg. aunty and the children) are fine. By the grace of (insert God of choice - eg. Lord Balaji) we all are fine at home (I repeat, fine at home). I pray to (again, insert God of choice) for your health and that of the entire family.
Things are fine at our end. Amma’s joints are much better, thanks to your idea of (insert alternative therapy/home remedy). Naanna’s diabetes also is under control now. What would we have done without you?
I am writing to you to convey the good news. I (have passed with distinction/ have been accepted by reputed American university/ am getting married to a Telugu boy my parents have chosen/ am pregnant/ am pregnant again/ have chosen a suitable match for kanna - insert situation you are in). With the blessings of (insert God of choice again. And you bloody well stick to the same God throughout the letter) everything will go on as planned. We seek your blessings.
With this letter, we are sending tickets for the whole family. (Note: the tickets will be ONE-WAY). Please grace the house with your auspicious presence. Also, the mamidikaaya pachhadi you brought last time is over. Tell (insert uncle’s neighbour’s name) I asked about him/her.
Saashtaang namaskaram to you and aunty. Blessings to the children. Amma and Naanna send you their blessings.
I remain
Your loving niece,
(your name – eg. Bhanupriya, Meghalata, Suvarnaratna or anything but a cool name).

Note: You’ll agree this is not English. Not by any stretch of imagination.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I’m related to people I don’t relate to.

So said Calvin, the cartoon character. But I don’t think he faced half the problems I do. He wasn’t born in a traditional South Indian family, you see.
Recently, I had to attend a cousin’s engagement ceremony. I rushed straight from Famous to Matunga (where else?). Along with my family, my kanjeevaram and those kilos of gold were caught in traffic. So, in the blasphemous jeans-and-tee avatar, I made an unintentionally dramatic entry.
As I was slinking in, I heard the pandit say, “Sarva mangala maangalye shive, who-is-this-and-why-is-she-here?”
Spewing more venom through her eyes than a planner whose brief one rejects, peddamma, my aunt, said, “Ignore her, panthulu gaaru, she is like that only. What to do? We had to invite her.”
So panthulu gaaru continued the mantras, looking askance at me every now and then. As I was sitting there, head hung low, the most sympathetic of my aunts sat next to me.
“Coming straight from office aa?”
Just as I was about to breathe a sigh of relief, she spat out the words,
“You go to office like this only? Cotton clothes? You don’t have silk t-shirt or something?”
I was about to mutter some explanation but she continued,
“You wear plastic spectacles? At least you can afford gold-rimmed glasses like your uncle’s?”
I took off the specs, “Actually, athai….”
She launched into a harangue, “Whaat actually? Your visiting card has some fancy post no? And your earrings are so small! Your boss is not embarrassed to see you like this? They agree to take you for meetings?”
Quickly, she blew the clarion, and a herd of aunts surrounded me. Within two minutes, I was suddenly looking acceptable. Jeans and tee, 6 huge gold bangles on each hand, huge gold earrings that reached my shoulders, hair parted in the centre and in the parting, a huge golden thingy that covered half my forehead. As you’d know, I have not a single photograph of myself in the ceremony!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My first glimpse of Kolkata

That city talks to you. At least it did to me. It jeered and sneered at me. Barely 10 minutes away from the airport and on the way to the city, a huge, well-lit artefact pierced the darkness and hit me in the eyeball. What was it - you might wonder. Incredible though it sounds, believe me that artefact was a huge Rubik’s cube. Only Kolkata would have a bloody Rubik’s cube for an embellishment.
“Do you have the IQ to enter these exalted gates?” the city asked of me.
“Look I’m only here for a one-day shoot,” I said to no one in particular. I felt it necessary to explain my presence there. Another 10 minutes and another huge Rubik’s cube looked me in the eye.
“You don’t get it, do you?”
I was suitably daunted. Dotted with yellow amby taxis, the street seemed to shrug me off. “What is Bangla for ‘slow down’?, I screamed in my mind.
Slowly, I gathered myself. It’s just a city like any other – I told myself, unconvincingly. Thanks to multi-national banks and telecom communication inundating the streets, every city looks the same. Airtel, Aircel, Indicom collectively made me feel at home.
But after every few blocks, Kolkata in its real avatar would rear its head up. In the dark distance I saw a huge enclosure with a fancy sign board. Colourful and bright, it kind of cheered me up.
“Looks like this city has an amusement park.” I said aloud.
When I was finally able to see the sign at close quarters, to my horror it said – Science City Amusement Park. Through the clouds in my head, words like observatory, space and planetarium hit me in the temporal lobe.
I could instantly picture bespectacled Bong fathers dangling their kids on their knees and saying, “Bollo, A for Agoraphobia, B for Borborygmus, C for Collywobbles.”
The driver mumbled something in Bong. Considering the only Bong word I knew was Boka*&#@*, I kept shut. Better still, I shut my eyes.
Finally, I heard the driver say, “We’re almost there.”
I opened my eyes, curious to see what Park Street looked like. And another sign assaulted me.
Shakespere Sarani street.
“When was the last time you even mentioned Shakespere in a conversation?” the supercilious street asked me.
I forgot all about the shoot.
“When are we flying back?” I asked my colleague.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sri Ram Super Mario

‘So, you tell stories to your little one?’ asked an ageing aunt of me.
With a nod of the head, I got into trouble that very minute.
‘Have you told him about the Ramayana yet?’
‘Have some appams, peddamma’ I tried valiantly.
But she wouldn’t budge.
‘Tell him about Sri Ram, and Laxmana, and Seethamma’ she continued with a wistful look.
I muttered something about getting appams and scurried towards the kitchen.
Look, I have no problems with Sri Ram and family per se.
I grew up praying, and singing all those Sri Ram bhajans.
But I really don’t know what to tell the kid about him.
I usually prepare a story in my head before I actually narrate it to him.
So, I tried whole-heartedly to mentally play back the Ramayana in order to tell him the story.
And you know what I discovered?
The story bears an uncanny resemblance to the Super Mario game.
Level 1: Sri Ram & Co go to school. Kill demons.
Level 2: The aforementioned Sri Ram & Co go with Rishi. Kill more demons. Also break a bow. Get bonus – Seethamma.
Level 3: Go to forest. Kill more demons. And a monkey-king.
Level 4: Look for lost wife. Kill a lot more demons. And then some.
Last level: Face to face with the biggest demon of them all. Kill him. Come home.
Now, how am I supposed to pass on this story?
We worship this guy (I’ve done it all my life).
And yet, he left home because dad said so, left his post and went hunting because wifey said so, threw the wife out because the dhobi said so.
For God’s sake, we’ve got Creative Directors like that.
And we call them spineless.
I don’t know what to tell the kid. I don’t know if I’ve got it all wrong.
So, please excuse me now.
I’ve got to go concoct a story about a crow and a sparrow for tonight.