Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baby Steps

Concerns and desires
Dreams and ideas
Frustration and anger
Demand a better world

Where conversations don’t stutter and halt
Where friends don’t need to think twice
Where loved ones don’t move away
Where relationships don’t fray due to pride

Where friends don't lose touch
Where out of sight doesn't mean out of mind
Where love doesn't wear thin
Where people don't get left behind

Where plane tickets don’t cost so much
Where just once in four months is not the way
Where seeing someone after a year
Is just the same as after a day

Where a woman can drive late at night
And not be questioned or threatened
Where her character isn’t judged so easily
Where expectations don’t suffocate dreams

Where fat is just a word
Where straight doesn’t win over curly
Where Pepé is the same as Calvin Klein
Where pink doesn’t mean girly

Where short dresses and formal shirts come in my size
Where three neat shots don't make me puke
Where cigarettes don't kill
Where parents don't disapprove

Where my mind is clear and sure
Not so jumbled and confused
Where clarity and confidence
Replace cruel doubt and insecurity

Where libraries are huge and near
Where bookshops serve free coffee
Where there’s always time for reading a book
Where writing well is easy

Where Patrick Dempsey lives across the street
Where Grey’s Anatomy just doesn’t end
Where laziness is not so tempting
Where chocolate isn’t unhealthy

Baby steps towards a better world

Friday, December 18, 2009

Long Holiday Post

I'm home for a month for my winter break. I hadn’t expect this month to be a lot of fun. Most of my friends are either not coming home for the winter, or still too busy with exams and travel plans to meet me very often. I expected to get bored within a couple of weeks. But thankfully, that hasn't happened yet. In the summer, when I had three months of nothing to do, I ended up feeling too lazy to do anything remotely productive. But this month has actually been different (so far). I still haven't done anything too "productive", but I'm not bored.

First, there was the Kailash Kher concert in Pragati Maidan last week. I found out about it just one day before it was to be held, and my mom and I decided to go, even though we've seen Kailash Kher perform live once before. And the concert was amazing! Not only did Kailasa perform my favourites, Jana Jogi De Naal, Saiyyan and Dilruba, but the band also performed Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Tere Bin Nahin Lagda (with a lovely violin piece added in the middle), and Tu Jaane Na from the movie Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, which I had only heard on the radio before and did not know was by Kailash Kher. I don't think I've ever seen anyone with more stage presence. He was completely at home on the stage, jumping up and down, running from one band-mate to the other, even skipping occasionally!

Then there was the family picnic. I've never understood my some people regard a picnic as something to be laughed at, or an activity restricted to children. I went with my parents, sister and grandfather, and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. We went to Lodi Gardens, found a nice spot that had just enough sun and shade, and settled down for nearly three hours. My sister and I bought big orange and green balloons, and my father stole my balloon and started playing catch with my sister. We bought two more after the first balloon burst and I spent a very relaxed afternoon watching my usually serious father completely relaxed and laughing as he tried to sabotage my sister and me in a balloon-yo-yo competition.

Then there's the shopping. We've been to GK and Sarojini Nagar and the new, fancy DLF Place in Vasant Kunj, and I bought, amongst other things, a pair of black boots with heels higher than I've ever worn before and a Tantra t-shirt that has a picture of three people dancing with the line "Support wild life. Throw a party." under it, both of which make me very happy. And I found a t-shirt that says "I'd rather play records than break them", which I'd always wanted since I saw it on the Threadless website.

And then there was the discussion about Dilip D'Souza's new book, Roadrunner, at Crossword bookstore. I'd never been to a book discussion before, so the whole process really excited me. I hadn't really intended to buy the book before I went to Crossword, but the whole conversation about the book, and the things that the panelists (?) said about it got me interested and I bought it. It's my first signed book. And Mr. D'Souza recognised my name (from my comments on his blog, I'm guessing), which made me feel ridiculously happy. I haven't started Roadrunner yet, but I plan to tonight.

The most interesting thing about the vacation so far has been my work with Vidya. I'd heard about the NGO through my mom's friend whose daughter had volunteered there, and all I knew was that they have some interest in education of slum children and that they have a centre very close to where I live. My meeting with their Voluteer Coordinator got me placed at the Vidya-run school Rainbow Montessori, teaching basic Maths to two classes of Class 2 kids. I've been going there for about ten days now, and it's been quite a lot of fun. It's a little unnerving to have kids stand up and chant "Good afternooooon, maaaaaaam" when I enter the room, and stick out their hands and ask for permission to enter the room, exactly the way we used to do in class 2. And it's very unnerving to realise that I'm actually trying to teach them, which is something that I'm not sure I should be doing since I'm not sure how good I am at it. How am I supposed to make a child understand exactly what place value means, rather than have him memorise the way to answer the questions? And seriously, is there a trick to making students listen to me and not run around class and throw paper balls at each other? They seem to be fond of me, clearly enjoy talking to me and telling me about winning races and Santa Claus coming to their Christmas assembly, and get inordinately excited when I hand out worksheets for them to do, but I'm not sure whether I'm really getting through to them or not. And many times, it's clear that some students understand the concepts I'm trying to explain and some don't; what do I do then? My respect for teachers in general has risen significantly.

And of course, there's all the reading that I finally have the time (and energy) to do. I re-read most of the Harry Potter series and my favourite The Grand Sophy. I spent a day and a night glued to Gone With The Wind, which I'd been intending to read for a long time but never got around to reading. While I loved the book, I closed it feeling a little... cheated? I haven't decided whether I liked the ending or not, but I was definitely left with a feeling of frustration and a little depression, which I tried to get rid of by reading an [extremely] silly Mills and Boon. The plan didn't entirely work since I still spent the next day thinking about Gone With The Wind and trying to decide whether or not to read the sequel by Alexandra Ripley; I have (for now) decided not to. I will spend tonight finishing off Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and starting Roadrunner, Airport by Arthur Hailey and/or Digital Fortress by Dan Brown.

Oh and the driving. I have finally been allowed to take the car out alone, and despite a couple of disagreements with a wall and a tree, and a minor skirmish with an auto, my enthusiasm in driving remains undiminished. I'm driving to Vidya every afternoon, I drove to the book discussion in Crossword, I'm even willing to be put on "chauffeur duty" (as my mom calls it) to pick up and drop my sister to and from her various classes. Driving is fun, isn't it?!

And then there are the movies. I haven't seen as much TV as I had thought I would end up watching (I did see the last few episode of Bones; it’s definitely vying with Grey's Anatomy to become my favourite TV show), but I did see some movies. I finally finished Some Like It Hot, which I didn't like as much as I liked It Happened One Night. I saw The Hunchback of Notre Dame, re-watched Cinderella (which, I realised, is a lot stupider than I remember), Mulan (which is still wonderful), and Pocahontas. I started (but couldn't finish) Man On Fire, and last night, discovered State of Play in my movie collection, which is exactly what I'd been looking for for quite some time (I've had a hankering for a conspiracy theory movie for a while).

So, all in all, a good holiday so far. :D

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I need you sometimes
More than you think
I can’t always take
Mistakes that you make

We have different beliefs
We have different ideals
We want different things for the world
Why can’t you respect me?

You don’t read what I write
You don’t hear what I say
You don’t see when I’m sad
You don’t care when I’m mad

Your issues above mine
Your theories over mine
Your wants over mine
Your opinions and thoughts above mine
You over me

Don’t call me a bimbo
Don’t call me a slut
Don’t laugh it all away
It’s not always okay

I was sad in the morning
It wasn’t your doing
But I’m sad now
And it’s your doing

You mean so much to me
But I don't know if that's enough
I may not regret
But you'll be hard to forget

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ghost Butts

My roommate and I spent our unusually free Wednesday night watching the movie Ghost. I had her assurance that despite the name, the movie could not possibly be classified as "horror", and it was, in fact, quite funny. (I refuse to watch horror movies. I think the last "scary" movie I saw was Kucch To Hai when I was 13. Among my group of maybe 10 friends, no one else found it even remotely creepy; I, however, was shrieking and leaving nail-marks on my friends' arms through most of the movie.)

Anyway, Ghost wasn't a bad way of spending some unexpected free time, even though I realised halfway through the movie that I've seen it before. And it raised an interesting question: how do ghosts stand?

In all the movies I've seen that feature ghosts (and yes, I do accept that there haven't been too many), the ghosts can never touch anything. They can't throw rocks, they can't pick up a glass, they can't poke their loved ones, they can't beat up enemies threatening loved ones. If they're lucky, they can be seen or heard (or both), but the touching is always a problem. Then how is it that they can always stand without falling through the ground? Sam (in Ghost) does learn how to throw and hit and poke, but he was standing on the ground long before he learn to "focus his emotion" onto physical objects and pick them up. How was that happening? Even if we say that the earth is solid, you can't fall "through" it the way ghosts "go through" doors and other objects, how does a ghost stand on a train, or a bridge, or the second floor of a house without falling through and hitting (so to speak) the ground below?

To carry this on, how do they sit? Ghosts are always sitting on chairs and tables and sofas. How do their ghostly butts just not fall through? How do ghosts lean on stuff while making sarcastic comments? How do they kneel on the floor while desperately pleading the aforementioned loved ones to hear them?

My roommate thought that maybe it's because they pass through objects only when they want to. To which I triumphantly pointed out that most of the first half hour of Sam's post-death appearance (in Ghost) was spent by him trying to poke and hit every object he could see, to prove that he was still real; most of that half hour was a pointless exercise. So while he desperately wanted to touch something, he could not; his hand would simply go through it. So why didn't his butt go through the sofa or the chair?

I did try googling this. But if I type "ghost sit", google thinks I've misspelled "site" as "sit", or gives me some video of a ghost sitting in a corner. Typing "ghost stand" tells me what ghosts stand for, but isn't particularly illuminative of the secret-of-physically-standing issue. My research skills, however, aren't all that great (a fact that shows in term papers and essays), so maybe someone can help me out? Is this a glitch that movies have just not able to fix or explain away, or is there some ghostly secret that I don't know about?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A few days ago, I wrote about how I think I’m not changing in the ways that I should be. I’m not seeing or doing or reading new things, I’m not growing. But another thing that I’ve been thinking about is whether I’m changing in the wrong ways. I’m not the same person that I was a year ago, but am I becoming someone that I don’t want to be?

A few years ago, in the inevitable ‘what do you want in your future boyfriend/girlfriend’ discussions, I had categorically stated that even the tiniest bit of sexism, communalism, racism would turn me off. I said that I can’t be with someone who discriminates, or expects me to do something just because I’m a woman, or goes against everything that I believed in. And the same “rule” should apply to my friends too, not just a boyfriend.

But today, my two best friends are not who I would have “chosen” keeping that “condition” in mind. They often make fun of others’ fatness or less-than-perfect looks. They crack sexist jokes, say things like ‘he’s from the South, how cool can he be?’, disparage hair styles and laugh at people for what they choose to wear. V thinks that the strong south Indian accent that another friend has is hilarious, M refuses to eat at a Muslim restaurant because “they are unhygienic about their food”, and a few weeks ago, V told me that he’s extremely glad that I’ve learnt “how to dress” in the year that I’ve been here.

But I am extremely fond of both V and M. They are great in so many ways, brilliant fun to be with, always ready to help when I need it. They laugh at my funny behavior and bad jokes, and crack enough of their own, don’t make me uncomfortable to show the weird and often bitchy side of me. The three of us are very close, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m not questioning that friendship here: I’m just wondering whether that friendship is indicating something bigger about me.

Am I changing? Have I become more accepting of the fact that there are chauvinists and racists and communalists in the world, and that I just have to live with it? My friends say that their sexist/racist jokes are just that: jokes. And I know that. But jokes are also rooted in something deeper, right? I’m not calling my friends sexist or racist; they’re definitely not that bad. But they do have some... tendencies might be the right word.

More than the sexist/racist aspect, it’s all the talk about appearances that really bothers me. I’m not the girl who laughs at the fat guy; I’m fat myself and I don’t care. I’m not the girl who discusses the gross factor of stretch marks and dark underarms; I have them myself. I’m not the girl who makes fun of a dress that emphasises a big tummy, or a t-shirt that has too much “bling”. I’m not the girl who walks home talking about how shabby another guy looks, and how he really needs to change that. I’m not that girl, so why am I getting sucked into it? Because my worry is not just that my friends feel the need to laugh at an ugly dress, it’s also that sometimes, I laugh along.

Why am I suddenly trying to go to the gym regularly? It’s not the health factor, or the discipline, or the all the endorphins that actually make me feel good. It’s because my weight and jeans size is starting to bother me. Why am I saying things like “You made out with her? Really?” when I really have nothing against the girl in question. I can’t even justify it in my head when I think about it later. And if I am participating in a discussion about someone’s dressing style, there’s always that faintly uncomfortable and guilty feeling at the back of my head, and ignoring it bothers me.

I know that these jokes are mean and wrong. I know that it still doesn’t matter that someone is fat, or dark, or has a strong accent, or likes bright yellow band-aids, or that a guy has a fairness face-pack and fruity moisturizers in his toiletries basket. My beliefs (so far) are the same. But I’m starting to question them a little too. Are looks really of zero importance? Is it really wrong to laugh at fluorescent green shoes worn by a friend? Is it good that I can look past the fat-jokes and become friends with someone who might, on the surface, believe in everything that I don’t?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts on College (2)

I haven’t written anything for a long time. Nothing voluntarily and happily, that is. I’ve written an article for an application, a paper for a course. I haven’t written anything that I wasn’t specifically asked or required to write.

College is supposed to be a time of expanding opportunities, right? It’s supposed to be a time for experimentation, for growth and development of the mind. It’s supposed to be the time when I start trying to become the person that I want to be. At least, that’s what I wanted college to be. I wanted to find things to love and be passionate about; I wanted to try new quirky activities that may or may not lead up to something; I wanted to learn more, about my subject and others, about people, about the world. I wanted to wake up and go for classes that I genuinely found interesting and enjoyed. I wanted to spend my days with interesting people who make me the better off for knowing them. I wanted to spend wild nights with friends, at the beach, or at my apartment, having the most fun I could have.

But college didn’t exactly turn out to be that. Some of my classes are interesting; some of the professors seem to genuinely care about teaching and their subjects. But the thought of the “future” generally makes me panic. I don’t know whether or not I’ll like a “career” in economics. I don’t even know what such a “career” would entail. And because thoughts of what is still a far-away time for me make me panic, I try not to think them at all. I avoid and I distract and I tell myself that I have enough time to worry about the future in the future, that I don’t need to be thinking and deciding and worrying now.

I did meet interesting people, but I found that I have a lot to learn about talking to people. I can’t talk to different people- I always run out of things to say. I’ve met many “social” people, the kind who can walk into a classroom knowing no one and walk out with five peoples’ numbers and plans to meet up with three of those people later. I can’t do that, and it bothers me. My friend circle is entirely Indian, and living in Singapore, that really cannot be a good things.

My wild nights did work out. I’ve been out dancing all night, I’ve been on long walks with good friends, I’ve had deep, meaning-of-life-and-existence-of-God conversations (with or without copious amounts of alcohol); I’ve been to a couple of the really wild “college parties” you see in movies. I’m mostly happy with my social life.

What scares me the most is that I’m really not growing the way I had thought I would. I’m not doing twenty different activities outside of school, I’m not working student jobs to meet people and make some money, I’m not reading about different things, I’m not watching anything very different. In many ways, after a year of college, I’m the same person that I was before college. And that is not how I wanted things to be.

That’s why I love coming home. It’s not just meeting my family and old friends. Every time I come home, I spend time thinking: evaluating what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. A friend asked me once whether this was a habit with me: thinking about my life to change it for the better. I told him that it wasn’t really. All this thinking started after I came to college and realised that everything that I wanted is not exactly right there and easy for me to get. So, every couple of months, when I come home to Delhi, get some space from the school and the people and everyday life in general, the doubts about that get pushed down by the demands of that everyday life resurface. I spend time thinking and evaluating and talking to my friends, and I go back to college “rejuvenated”. I go back with fixed “short-term goals” and plans to achieve those goals.

And every time I do get back to Singapore after a week or a month or more of being home, I find that it’s not that easy to remember those goals. It’s not that easy to have them at the back of your mind. College saps energy, even when I don’t have that much work. I find it hard to summon enough energy and initiative to write out something I’ve been thinking about because it’s just so much easier to spend that free hour watching Bones or Grey’s Anatomy for the millionth time. It’s hard to generate any interest in the book on Pearl Harbour that looked so interesting when I found it in the library, because it’s so much easier to just reread The Beekeeper’s Apprentice for the millionth time. It’s hard to make that long overdue call to an old friend because it’s just so much easier to call that college friend with whom I don’t have to fear those awkward conversation pauses that come after three months of no contact.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten around to writing this either. I did spend the entire past week at home without much work, and not too many people to meet, and didn’t write a single word. If I hadn’t been stuck at the airport with a delayed flight, a boring book and a headache that prevents me from listening to music, this piece might have been pushed to the back of my mind, added to the ever-growing list of Things to Do that somehow, I never have the time to get around to actually doing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

That Still Only Counts As One!!

Of all the stunts Legolas performs in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this is by far the coolest!

I recently got the extended versions of all three LOTR movies from a friend. And I was horrified to find that there were so many scenes that I'd never seen, despite the fact that my LOTR DVD set is probably one of the best buys I ever made! It's disappointing to think that I don't actually have the movies as well memorised as I had thought... I don't know all the dialogues and all the scenes. I didn't even know that Aragorn is 87 years old!

While I do understand that some scenes have to be deleted to control the length of a movie, they could have left this scene in. It is seriously cool!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Hour in Heaven

One of the things I had decided to do over the summer was organise all the stuff on my laptop: have all my music in neat folders labeled properly with artist names; removing the many, many duplicates of songs; getting rid of old programmes I never use, which just slow my laptop down. I also went through an old external hard drive to see if there was anything there I want, and I came across this piece I had written when I was about 15, in the summer of 2006, I think, entitled An Hour in Heaven.

Reading things I wrote years ago generally makes me cringe: I hate reading my old diaries! But I'm kind of fond of this piece, so I've posted it here without any editing. There's very little exaggeration, and as far as I remember, the dessert items have been described quite accurately. I'm glad I haven't started caring about my weight enough to start counting calories yet: I am going to go eat a lot of chocolate now. :)

An Hour In Heaven
Everyone has different ideas of what their perfect Heaven would be. My Heaven would basically comprise of thousands and thousands of books, my favourite music playing lightly in the background, and every sweet dish ever created available for me to eat. And though I still haven’t had the chance to experience full Heaven, I have spent an hour in what I can call “one-third of Heaven.”

I was spending a couple of weeks of July in Bangalore with my family. We were going shopping everyday, I had bought enough clothes to (hopefully) last me for the rest of the year, and the weather was perfect. And to top it off, Papa had just announced that we would be going to the Leela Palace, the best hotel in Bangalore, for lunch. What more could one want??

We were driven to the Leela in a Lancer (not a limousine, but nearly good enough) provided by Papa’s company. All dressed in the best clothes we could find, we entered the truly royal looking doors of the Leela Palace. The corridors were lit dimly by chandeliers, the huge French windows were hung with crimson satin, and the sweeping staircases reminded me of the castle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The passage had several doors leading into various restaurants, one Indian, one Chinese, one Italian, and a coffee house. None of us were in the mood for a quiet, dignified Indian lunch, or for Chinese, and my proposition of eating Italian was outvoted, so we chose to go to Citrus, the coffee house, for our lunch.

We were seated out in the sun by black clad waiters and duly given the menus. After carefully scrutinizing the menu, I decided to go for the lunch buffet. The rest of my family followed suit. I went inside to inspect the rows of dishes for the buffet which were laid out on several tables. There were curries, and pies, and some kind of Thai soup, and a lot of bread and salad. But what I was interested in were the desserts. Sugar and sweets have always attracted me, and needless to say, the sight of the mouth-watering, delicious-looking, chocolatey desserts set out on a counter, all ready for me to eat, made me completely forget about the rest of the lunch. I picked up a plate, and began helping myself to a piece of everything that I could fit.

A piece of the most delectable chocolate cake, which looked as if it would simply melt in my mouth, was the first on the plate. A large helping of chocolate pudding, all soft and gooey, and a big, fat chocolate-and-sugar coated doughnut went after the cake, followed by a piece of cheesecake smothered in sauce. A collection of small wine glasses containing chocolate mousse and what looked like jelly were standing beside the cheesecake, and one was cruelly separated from its companions, its contents soon to enter my stomach.

My mother appeared on the scene just as I was trying to decide whether or not to heap a piece of chocolate and banana pie onto the tiny white space I could still see on my plate, and looking scandalized, sent me to our table to “kill myself eating all that chocolate”. Looking around, I realised that there were several waiters observing my actions with austere, disapproving expressions frozen on their faces. Blushing, I fled from the scene, carrying my plate, to eat my way through heaven in peace.

My parents adamantly refused to believe that I could finish that huge helping by myself, but believe me, not only did I finish it, I went for more. By the time the bill was presented to us (by one of those judgmental waiters), my mother was crimson with embarrassment, my father amused with the proceedings, my sister regarding me with some awe, and I had successfully managed to drown myself in chocolate for the first, and probably the last time, of my life.

I checked my weight when we finally returned to Kanpur three days later. It had increased by two kilos, and even my friends were insisting that I had gained weight. It was not exactly a perfect ending for my Day in Heaven, but that experience was definitely worth every gram of those two kgs, and every word of teasing that I had to endure from my friends for the next two weeks!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Misuse of The "Elegant Sari"

A friend told me about this article in the Calcutta newspaper 'The Telegraph' today. The article talks about how the Bengal government didn't take any action against bandhs organised by "so-called Congress supporters" in Calcutta; how the police stood to one side and let the bandh supporters torch buses and ransack private property. I don't know anything about this claim, and that's not what my friend wanted me to see in the article. He thought that I would like to see the picture that the Telegraph printed with the article, on the front page of today's newspaper. He was right.

The article doesn't interest me as much as the picture does. The photo is a depiction of the Police Commissioner, Director General of Police, the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary of the Government of West Bengal. All wearing saris.

The article doesn't explain the picture, but it seems clear that the saris are meant to emphasise the inaction of the administrators the article holds responsible. The masculinity, strength, power and abilities of the five men have been challenged by showing them in saris. The picture says "Depict the men as women, because after all, their inaction and inability to control the bandhs shows that they are women". Women are the ones who are incapable of handling a tough job and helping run a state or a city. They are the ones who should stay home in their saris and leave the real work to the men, so how are these men any different from women?

And to top it off, the caption below the picture reads "We apologise to women who may feel the elegant sari has been wasted on our administrators". Because, of course, the first thing that will enter a woman's mind after seeing the picture will be "Oh my god, how can they waste our precious saris on such useless men?? They are not worthy of wearing them!" Annoyance and indignation at the gender discrimination and the extreme sexist statement made by a state newspaper are unlikely to occur. Since, you know, our job is to wear the "elegant sari" and stay home while the men are taking care of the country.

This pictures brings up something I've always wondered about: why is that for men, being called a "girl" is such an insult? There is a guy in my college that a lot of us don't like. To make fun of him, many guys (and some girls also) say that he's "such a girl trapped in a guy's body". I don't understand why this is such an insult. Even if, for the sake of argument, I assume that having an interest in fashion and cooking, and shaking your hips and hair while dancing, and liking to shop, are "feminine", I still don't get why a guy being "feminine" is something to be ashamed of and made fun of.

So, while I mull over the inexplicable ways a guy's mind functions, I think I shall write to/email the Telegraph and ask that instead of apologising for wasting my "elegant sari" on people so unfit to wear them, they might apologise for practicing gender discrimination right on their front page.

Friday, July 17, 2009

But I know Viola! I kissed Viola!

I’ve had quite a lot of time on my hands this vacation, and as usual, a lot of that time has been spent watching movies. Over the past few days, I watched a lot of “romantic comedies”. The string started with The Accidental Husband, went on to include 100 Girls, She’s The Man and Chasing Liberty, and ended with The Proposal today. And while all these movies left me with that fuzzy feeling inside that I always get after watching/reading a romance, and a stupid smile on my face, none of these movies are going to stay with me. I doubt I’ll ever even watch any of them again. I just didn’t like them that much.

The first problem that I’ve noticed in a lot of “romantic comedies” is that the protagonists seem to be able to get to know each other enough to fall in love. Realistically, I mean. They do fall in love in the movie, but the time that they spend together, the time in which they apparently get to “know” each other, always seems way too short to me. Take The Proposal as an example. Margaret (Sandra Bullock) blackmails her assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) into marrying her so that she can get a visa-extension and stay in the Unites States. Andrew duly agrees, and the “happy couple” visits his family in Alaska to announce the engagement. Except, of course, Margaret actually falls in love with Andrew, and runs away from the fake wedding, only to be proposed to by Andrew who comes after her. They get married, she gets her visa extended, and they “date” and presumably live happily ever after.

In this movie, Andrew has been working for Margaret for three years, and has hated her for all of those three years. She’s shown as being “tough”: she’s the office bitch. But in the three days that they spend together in Alaska, Andrew apparently sees the “real” Margaret and falls for her. But there is nothing that happens in those three days that could negate the effects of a three-year-long hatred. She shares a couple of personal stories about her past and tells Andrew about her tattoo, and that’s that, apparently.

There’s one scene that really bugged me in She’s The Man. The movie is about Viola who impersonates her twin brother Sebastian in order to join his school’s soccer team, and in the process, falls for her [brother’s] roommate. In the scene in which “Sebastian” is revealed to be Viola, a girl, the roommate Duke is duly shocked, though not because he spent so much time with her without realizing that she’s a girl. No, his disbelief was because “I know Viola. I kissed Viola.” The only contact that Duke knowingly had with Viola was a kiss they shared at a “kissing booth”. That, apparently, is all Duke needs to know Viola.

The second thing that annoys me about these romantic comedies is that the heroine never seems to have enough of a personality. There is nothing that comes across in the movie that would make someone fall in love with them. In Chasing Liberty, the First Daughter of USA runs away with a photographer to get away from her ever-present bodyguards, not knowing that the photographer is also a Secret Service agent. The couple spend a few days traveling around Europe and end up falling in love. Throughout the movie, the only aspects of Anna’s personality that we see are a demand for independence and a penchant for creating “theories” of life, neither of which seem to me to be enough for Ben (who did display some personality) to fall for her so badly.

This is something that I’ve disliked in many books I’ve read too. The heroines never seem to have a personality! In nearly every Mills and Boons I’ve read, the guy is always a handsome, strong, rich playboy-type, generally sarcastic and arrogant, with an inclination to play Knight in Shining Armour. But the heroines don’t have a personality at all! They’re all beautiful, of course, and seem to love being the Damsel in Distress often, but beyond that, there’s nothing!

Georgette Heyer’s romances are really good with respect to time the “couple” spends together and personalities of the women. The main romance is always developed properly, over a long period of time, even though the stories of the side characters may be hasty and synthetic. Her main heroines are always more than just a pretty face (several of them are not even pretty, which is a massive step up from many other romances). This is also one of the reasons why I love Jab We Met. Kareena Kapoor does have a personality, a very memorable and strong, though fairly annoying, one.

I’d like to watch a light-hearted romance in which the story seems real and plausible. Made of Honour is a movie that I really liked: Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan were friends for ten years before they fell in love. I can’t think of any other romantic comedies I’ve watched that had a reasonable storyline, but I’m sure there are some. Recommendations?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Some Thoughts on Writing

One of the biggest problems I faced while writing was a lack of ideas. I just didn’t know what to write about. At that time, for me, “writing” meant fiction- novels or short stories. I hadn’t started reading any blogs then, so that was the only form of writing I was familiar with. I wanted to be like JK Rowling and Enid Blyton, and create worlds for readers like my favourite authors then had created for me. So while I knew that I wanted to write, I didn’t know what.

Then a friend gave me the link to his blog, and I became a regular reader. The links he’d posted on his blog led me to new blogs, and those blogs led me to more, and suddenly, a whole new world of writing opened up to me- a world where people wrote about their thoughts and ideas, their observations and everyday lives, as well as fiction. That’s when I realised that a lot of what I write can, and maybe should be about what I know, even if it is fiction. I cannot write a story about a girl living in Nigeria, or a poor child living in a slum, because I don’t know much about life in Nigeria or a slum. Anything that I might write about it will be improbable and maybe even implausible.

Not that this epiphany helped me suddenly overflow with ideas. Even after I deicded to write about myself and my thoughts and observations, even after I started my first blog, I had no idea what to write about. My blog lay untouched for days on end: I just didn’t know what to post about! Why would people want to read about my life and my thoughts? Then I decided to stop thinking about what people want to read, and just write. But I still didn’t have too many ideas.

In the past few weeks, however, this seems to have changed. Ideas are coming running at me, many times just before I sleep, so I keep a pad next to my bed and groggily jot down some words to help me remember the idea the next day. I’m seeing things to write about everywhere, from a trip to the mall to a conversation with a friend. And I really, really hope this lasts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Of Butts and Long Legs

The numerous, often un-explainable glitches in the Indian fashion industry continue to baffle me. For one thing, I’ve never understood why when one style is “in fashion”, it’s impossible to find something of a different style. For the past few months, low-waist jeans have been “the fashion”. And for the last few months, I have been unable to find any jeans that are at my waist, not four inches below it. Today, I tried on nine pairs of jeans (I counted!) before I found one [hideously expensive] pair that I could wear. “Madam, aaj kal to yeh hi chal raha hai” (Madam, this is what is being worn these days) was what I was told every time I asked for jeans that were not low-waist.

Besides, I can’t even understand why low-waist jeans are so popular. Unless I’m wearing them the wrong way, low-waist jeans seem to be especially designed to display my underwear to the whole world. Of course, it is entirely possible (probably, in fact) that these jeans are designed for girls with butts significantly smaller than mine. On their small-sized butts, maybe the jeans look stylish, instead of bordering on inappropriate or obscene. And since I haven’t seen many girls showing off their Jockey or Enamour underwear, I guess those jeans really aren’t meant for me.*
Whatever the case, I refuse to believe that there are no girls who don’t want the entire world to know the colour of their underwear, or alternatively, girls with butts as big as (or bigger than) mine. Why oh why won’t Jealous 21 or Pepe Jeans realise this? How can they not see us and our [big] butts?

Another phenomenon that continues to mystify me is the utter non-existence of shorts for women in the market. I went to Globus, Lifestyle and Pantaloons today, looking for jeans and shorts. After spending half an hour in the trial room in Pantaloons (and severely testing the patience of the guy who was assisting me), I did manage to find a pair of jeans. But the only shorts for women that I found in any of these shops either reached three inches below my knee (too long) or three inches below my butt (too short). Where were all the knee-length-or-slightly-shorter shorts that so many girls need in the Delhi summer heat? I finally came home with three pairs of grey and black cotton shorts for men, found in Big Bazaar.

There is, of course, the chance that I am shopping in all the wrong places. I did try Sarojini Nagar for shorts, came home with shorts meant for men again. Delhi-dwellers, any ideas?

*Which brings me to a complaint I’ve always had: the problem of not finding clothes in my size. I’ve written about it here, though today, for a change, I actually found nine pairs of jeans in my size. And a dress.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

My term ended last week, and I finally got home after about three months on the 1st of June. My summer holidays are more than two months long (and this is after I did an extra term for five weeks!) so I came home with Plans. Lots and lots of Plans. I made The List of things I wanted to do over the summer. Guitar classes, driving lessons, a loooong reading list, cooking lessons at home etc etc etc. I was fully prepared to make sure that I didn't "waste" my summer, but used it productively.

Now, it's been four days since I've been home. The "Summer To Do List" has been stuck up over my desk. All the books on my reading list are sitting in a pile next to my bed and on my bedside table. Four more books that I bought yesterday have been added to that pile. I have an article to write and submit by the end of this week, several ideas for pieces I want to write for myself, and some studying to do to be super-prepared for next semester. The guitar that tested the good humour and politeness training of the lady at the check-in counter at the Singapore airport is just sitting at one end of the room, looking desolate and unused.

Yet all I can seem to find the energy to do is play endless games of Bubble or Crazy Taxi on my laptop, trying to beat all my friends' high scores, or make fun of Aishwarya Rai in Bride and Prejudice (and sigh over Martin Henderson) or sleep for countless number of hours in a day. Or try and figure out a weekend on which the calendars of my considerably busier family members are empty, so we can go on holiday together (and laze around some more).

What is it about summer that makes one so lethargic? It's not the heat.. I haven't really left my relatively cool room in the last few days. I think it's just the knowledge that I have two-and-a-half months to accomplish all that I want to, so really, there's no need to start right now, is there?!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Facebook it!

I know many people who, after every vacation, insist on showing me each and every picture they took. I am obliged to sit for half an hour looking at photos of people I don't even know, and to add to that, listen to the background story behind every picture! Why do people assume I'd be that interested? I mean, for my close friends and family, yes, I'll ask for the photos myself. Butwhy do people I spend next to no time with think that I'd really care enough to look at photos of them in their new house, with their new dog, with their old friends or vacationing in Shanghai?!

What people should do is put up their pictures on Facebook. That way, I can go through them if I want to, at my own pace, skipping as many as I want. This is the one actual good use of Facebook that I can see.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Dark Side of Grey's Anatomy

Before I reached my rebellious, I'll-do-what-I-want phase, I had to follow the rules that were implemented at home. There weren't too many of them.. just some general curfew rules, and some about studies. I didn't have a problem with most of the rules. But the one rule I remember that irked me was the 'No-TV-on-weekdays' rule.

My father was always the anti-TV person at home. He believed that TV was a waste of time, especially for kids. He wanted my sister and me to do something "constructive" with our free time. He always told us to get out of the house, play something, try something new, do anything other than spending an hour in front of the TV. (He still says that, actually). And that was the time when IIT had just gotten many new channels on cable... Cartoon Network and Disney Channel were the new "thing" amongst the kids. And so, that 'No-TV-on-weekdays' rule really irked.

Then, when I grew past the age of having to follow the rules, I entered an obsessive TV-watching phase. I discovered the wonderful, wonderful world of downloaded episodes, fell in love with Patrick Dempsey and spent most of my after-class-10th vacations making my father hover on the brink of shouting at me by obsessively downloading and watching the entire series of Grey's Anatomy, among other shows. College in Singapore put a halt to my excessive downloading, but then the online streaming of Will and Grace and Two and A Half Men started.

After years of all this, I have, of course, realised that the world of TV-watching isn't as harmless as I had claimed when I argued with my father about his rules. I don't know whether all the violence on TV influences teenagers or not, or whether the "Western beliefs" showed on TV are infiltrating and corrupting my "Indian culture". I do, however, know that these TV shows can be highly depressing.

I don't generally wish that I had a guy as perfect as Derek Shepherd from Grey's Anatomy in my life, or go "Awwww...." when Derek and Meredith's legendary love overcomes all obstacles (such as Derek being married) in the show. It's not the love stories that make me jealous or melancholy. It's all the drama in TV series that I find depressing. I find myself wishing that my life had some of the constant drama that exists in Tree Hill or Seattle Grace Hospital. I want my life to be more interesting. I want something, anything, to happen!

That's why I think watching so much TV is bad for me. Not because it wastes a lot of time that would be better spent doing the work I have piled up, or because it gets me very involved in the lives of people that don't exist, but because the hectic and dramatic lives of those non-existent people makes me feel bored and unsatisfied with my own normal life.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm Actually an Adult!

It's a little weird how living so far away from home is forcing me to do all sorts of things I never would have had to do if I was living at home. For example, I wouldn't have to pay (or bother) to do my own laundry, nor would I have to hunt for vegetarian-food-serving restaurants (or cook for myself). I wouldn't have to walk to college while it's raining bloody cats and dogs, and get completely soaked on the way, or pester my hostel-in-charge to come and fix the blocked sinks in my unit.

I also wouldn't be in a situation where I would find myself homeless in a month unless I arrange for some accommodation myself. I wouldn't have to call a dozen real estate agents, searching for a decent, affordable apartment that meets the varied specifications and expectations that my 4 flat-mates and I have. I wouldn't have to negotiate the rent down, pay commission to the agent, or sign leases.

But, after a couple of weeks and $60 worth of phone calls and messages, I finally have an apartment. And a really killer one at that. We sign something called the 'Letter of Intent' today, and the official lease/contract sometime next week. I have to say, I'm a little proud of myself for doing all this work. Even though I didn't actually manage to negotiate the rent of this place down by much, I did talk down the rent for two other apartments that we didn't end up taking, and I did it all almost by myself.

I don't know whether this experience and all the other experiences that I personally don't believe I'm old enough (or sensible enough) to be having right now are teaching me anything, or making me more mature and sensible. But I do hope they are. Starting April, I will be living completely unsupervised in an apartment with four other girls, and I really hope I'm ready for all the expected responsibilities (such as paying the bills and the rent on time) and the unexpected responsibilities that we will all have to bear. I'm actually an adult now; I'm growing up!

On a slightly related note: sometimes, the amount of independence I have here overwhelms me. It hits me at random moments: how I'm completely free to do almost anything I want. I have complete control over my expenditure. I can buy things that my parents certainly wouldn't let me buy if I was at home, I can go out and not have a curfew, I can skip a lecture and go shopping instead. I think this freedom actually teaches me more responsibility than I could ever have learned living at home. Maybe I actually can deal with having my own place better than I think I can.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Man On The Flight

A man was sitting next to me in my flight home last week. A fairly annoying and talkative man. Every time I tried watching a movie, he’d start a conversation that would force me to pause the movie and talk to him. He started with “Your good-name, please?”, and then went on to ask me what I do in Singapore, how long I’ve been there, and how much I paid for my ticket home. He then proudly informed me that he was a doctor and proceeded to advise me to not bite my nails or play with my cuticles, because doing so greatly increases the risk of infection.

I have never been very open to advice, especially the unasked-for variety, so the free medical advice was the first thing that irritated me. Then the various, un-encouraged attempts at conversation turned me off. And then came the touching.

Jet Airways allows very little personal space to its passengers. So, I couldn’t be sure whether the ‘touching’ was intentional or not. But throughout the 5-hour flight, I was at edge, on my guard. There wasn’t a lot I could do at this point, except pointedly putting my cushion on the arm-rest between the man and me and keeping my knees tucked away from his side. But I kept thinking about how sad the whole situation was. Here I was, sitting next to a man who could easily be perfectly respectable and decent, but I just couldn’t convince myself that he was perfectly respectable and decent. As far as I was concerned, his elbow that was always ever-so-slightly on my side could as easily be a precursor to more contact.

I’ve been felt up in crowded markets and malls more than once. So has almost every girl I know. And because of this, I can’t trust any stranger. I’m always suspicious, always on my guard. Was the elbow that poked my ribs supposed to do that? Is his knee touching mine under our meal-tables intentional? Is he getting some perverse pleasure from leaning forward when I do and leaning back when I do? Is this man trying to make a pass at me?

The sexual harassment most women face everyday doesn’t just affect us at that moment, or spoil just one day. My experiences at the markets and malls affect how I look at strange men everyday. Every invasion of my personal space is a potential threat; every seemingly innocent touch has a deeper, uglier purpose. And every male neighbour on a flight is potentially a reason to call a steward for help.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A New Use for Pink Thongs Has Been Discovered

I was in the middle of my Technology and World Change class when my Times of India epaper homepage informed me about the the Chaddi Campaign. Believe me, not bursting out in laughter in the middle of another group's presentation was very, very hard.

The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women are hilariously cheeky, and amazingly creative. I shall try to send my newly bought hot-pink chaddis in from Singapore. So please, read about the Campaign, buy pink chaddis, and send them in!