Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AB and his baby

For someone who has thrived on media and critics and box office, to slam all of them at the same time with this entry in his blog is baffling.

He says 'The sincerity of the work must come through. That is what pays eventually.' Why then, AB are you so worried about the views of a couple of critics? Did you say it was unfair when the same critics were falling over each other praising you, the junior and the bahu for your over-rated roles in Sarkar/Sarkar Raj?

It seems like Delhi 6 really got reviews that were on both ends of the spectrum. Case in point is where one reviewer calls it 'Silly' and the other says it is a 'Good follow-up to Rang De Basanti'! Owing to such wide ranging reviews, BIG B asks: 'So how feasible is their report when their observations differ to such an extreme and large extent.' My thoughts on this? With all due respect Mr. B, reviewers are also 'people' and their reviews are in fact, their personal opinion. So when you say 'I can understand personal opinions that respondents make, but what baffles me are the reviews of critics.', that baffles me, because critics' reviews are their personal opinion and there is nothing wrong with that. Cold hard truth, we all pay to read their personal opinion!

'There is then the quotient of bias and deliberate intent, where personal equations come into play in complete disregard of the code of journalistic conduct.' Why does AB believe the whole world is out to get him and his family?
Why does he say 'If you have through no deliberation spoken to one electronic channel in some priority of time, you will most certainly be reduced to rubble by other rival ; merits be damned. Planted vox populai, or what is now commonly termed as ‘voxpox’ by the community, will be brought in front of visiting camera crew to spew venom and to deride creative effort.'? Why does anything anyone says about him or his family in purely 'career' terms always taken to be a personal affront?

And why does he go on and compare Slumdog and Delhi 6? I have not seen Delhi 6, but find it odd that he has to compare the reception of Delhi 6 to that of Slumdog. Why Slumdog? There are 1000 other Indian movies whose subject comes close to that of Delhi 6. Loosely, Swades comes to mind. Why is he so obsessed with Slumdog?
Why would AB crib, crib and crib so much about the extreme reviews his beta's movie is garnering? Why is he taking these things so personally? Methinks the beta should finally grow up and deal with his life himself rather than pa and ma holding his hands every time he needs to take a step into the big bad world.

first movie got all negative and appalling reviews(not that the movie was any good), she was in the news for all the wrong reasons(break up with Ranbir, depression, drunken revelry), but did we hear a peep out of Anil Kapoor? Did we see him slam all the critics of her movie, the journalists and say that they are personally biased against him and his family? I did not!

PS: My intention in writing this was to just put my thoughts on paper(blog), not to demean AB! For a long time I have been meaning to write about the things AB writes on his blog about how the media treats him and his family. I always thought it comes with the territory. You reap the benefits of being a celebrity, bear the brickbats of being one!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Of being PC

If you are at a party, would you argue with a person who says something positive about an incident that you hold in absolute contempt? A few years ago I would have said yes. Now I don't. Not because I have grown wiser, but because I now believe you cannot hammer sense into a person in a setting that is meant for harmless social interaction. Parties are not for serious debates. I have seen that gossip and meaningless chatter goes well at a social do, than meaningful argument about current affairs, local, national or international. PC(political correctness) is the name of the game. Agree with everyone and say yes yes or keep your mouth shut. PC has ruined all intellectual debate that there could be among people. I remember in movies of the 70s where men and women would be gathered in circles, spirits in their glasses and in their hearts, debating away about some topic that they are all passionate about(don't remember which movies exactly.) That, in my opinion, is real social interaction, not the 'hello ji, how are you, sab theek?', 'did you hear about so and so's son?' or 'I love the jadau set you wore the other day'! What happened to the good old arguments between friends about the economy, politics and things like that? Have we become so scared of an argument that we embrace PC like never before?
I think PC also makes us boring. If you are the type who does not like gossip in any way, shape or form, all you have left to discuss is sports or the weather. (on a side note, imagine talking about weather in India. It is so warm today, it has been warm for a long time now, it will be warm tomorrow...etc.) If you are in the US and attending an American party and are in a group of non-Indians, you cannot even discuss sports if you have no idea of football or baseball or ice hockey.
The idea of PC is to not hurt the sensibilities of anyone around. Since there are different kinds of people at a gathering, better say things that are mundane than things that might raise an eyebrow. That I understand. But PC among friends and family? I have seen friends who will speak either about a third friend, a celebrity, sports or weather but not about politics or any other topic that might instigate a debate. Are we afraid of debates? Are we no more interested in conversations that make us think long after they are over? Have we become so robotic that we do not need an intellectual conversation that is food for thought?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Deep dark secrets tag!

Although I have just finished a 25 things tag, this one, tagged by IHM is different in that I need to write 25 things about myself things you were better off not knowing :) I have borrowed a few from my old 25 things tag and most reveal the kind of person I am.

1. I cry whenever I see a character in a movie cry. No matter how silly the acting is, I cry.

2. I am a workout junkie. I like running, walking, the elliptical trainer, weights, abs exercises and everything else under the sun. BUT I hate working out outdoors. I need strict climate control to be able to sweat it out!

3. I am fairly tall for an Indian girl(5'8") and am also broad shouldered and wide. Most of my life I have been the tallest and the biggest girl around. My feet are huge too. While I was growing up, my mom had to buy clothes at least 1 size big so they fit my height and shoulders, consequently, all my clothes were loose elsewhere. I also find it difficult to find footwear that does not look like man-sandals.

4. I am a horrible singer but I love to sing. I have been warned not to sing in public.

5. I argue with anyone who I feel is undermining women, irrespective of the social setting or my relationship with them. As a result, I come across as a rude, arrogant woman to a lot of people who are not used to women arguing.

6. I love to dress up only when I want to. I hate to do it when I am 'needed' to. I might put flowers in my hair by myself but if you ask me to, I won't. Ditto with wearing traditional outfits, bindi etc.

7. If I feel like I am getting hurt, I do not speak out. I keep it bottled up and go and cry in the bathroom.

8. I feel most comfortable in sweatpants and a tee or a kurta and jeans.

9. I have a little sister and sometimes I treat her like she is my daughter , sometimes we are like friends and other times, she gives me advise on what to wear and what not to!

10. The husband has a better sense of fashion than yours truly. He also has infinite patience to wait outside the trial room for hours while I try out outfits. He also gives suggestions as to what looks good and what does not.

11. I love organizing. This does not, however, apply to the closet which is as shabby as it can get. Give me papers and files and folders and clips and such stationery and I am off!

12. I think I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to walking on a tiled surface. I try not to step on the lines, always try to place my foot INSIDE the tile. Imagine my consternation when I find tiles that are too small for my foot!

13. I dislike Indians who break out into their mother tongue the moment they realize you know the language even when you are with other people who do not. I hate it when I feel left out of a conversation so I hate it when someone does it to others.

14. I have a bad habit of assuming things about people. Most often my instincts are correct but there are times when I have had to reassess a person after spending time with them. I am working on trying not to jump to conclusions about people.

15. I do not believe in assigned traditional roles for the sexes. Although I might do things that seem more female oriented than not, it is because I want to do them, not because i HAVE to do them.

16. I have begun to love the idea of having a baby. I get overwhelmed with emotion whenever I see a pregnant friend.

17. I am averse to socializing in big groups. I do not mind small, close group to socialize. I'd rather sit on the couch and read a book or watch the news or chat with the husband than go out and party!

18. I get embarassed and red faced when someone other than the husband praises me. I do not take very well to praise that is heaped publicly.

19. I hate being in the limelight. I cringe and my worst smile comes to the fore. Imagine my status on my wedding day then, where I was the center of all attention. I am seen smiling awkwardly, shying from the cameras in all pictures. I also have a terrible fear of the microphone.

20. I like the idea of me cooking up a great traditional meal but I lack the requisite skills.

21. I always feel like I am the most boring employee of my office. Also the most nerdy and geeky!

22. I have 2 left feet. I was enrolled in a Bharatanatyam class when I was 14. I learnt for 2 full years before the instructor ran away(yes he did). My family says he ran away because he could not bear to see the dance form being butchered by my clumsy moves!

23. I read more women-authored blogs than mens'. The husband says I am biased towards women. I hope it is not true.

24. I never forget people who have been nasty to me. I have a very sharp memory and I remember their deed for life.

25. There is a certain 'type' of women and men I absolutely hate. I shall refrain from saying what the exact type is, but if I talk to you or read your blog, it is not you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random thoughts...

Rediff creeps
I have a bad habit. As I arrive at work 8:00am or so, I open my laptop, connect the power cord and the LAN cable and open my Firefox and type in '' on the browser and hit enter. Then I spend the next few minutes looking at the headlines, and sometimes, if a headline is sensational enough, go read the story. I also admit, sometimes, during the course of reading the story I glance at the comments. That is when I am magically transported back in time. Back to India, and traveling in that crowded bus, where one creep passes comments on how nice I look, while the other whistles and makes annoying noises and one more is desperately trying to get close. The comments are almost always creepy, weird, with sexual undertones. Even a fairly harmless story about a movie release gets these creeps out of the rocks under which they hide. Once out, they cannot keep themselves from commenting on practically every aspect of the article, the author and anything even remotely related to the article in question, in a morally decrepit manner. And whenever I read those, I have a seriously string urge to find these creeps and laugh on their face. Do look at the rediff comments when you have nothing better to do and need to pass your time!

Ever notice how most mass 'gaalis' are related to women in one way or the other, Ma*&^, Behen%*&^%$ etc? Does it not bring back the age-old idea that a woman is the chief protector of family as well as personal dignity? A 'gali' given to a man is almost always tied to either his mother or his sister. He loses his dignity when the women in his life lose theirs.

A random tag

I picked up this tag from Ritu who tagged all her readers.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1. I cry whenever I see a character in a movie cry. No matter how silly the acting is, I cry.

2. I love to workout and eat what I want, no wonder I haven't reached my goal weight yet!

3. I think I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to walking on a tiled surface. I try not to step on the lines, always try to place my foot INSIDE the tile. Imagine my consternation when I find tiles that are too small for my foot!

4. I used to paint and draw well and was something of an artist during undergrad. I haven't painted/drawn in the last 6 years.

5. I hate waxing. I'd rather be a hairy gorilla than undergo the torture.

6. I love my fingers. To me, they appear long and thin and beautiful.

7. I used to hate being the tallest girl around when I was in school. Now I love it!

8. I love Sonu Nigam's voice.

9. I am a pathetic singer(I really mean pathetic) but love the idea of singing, so I subject my spouse to the torture every so often.

10. I am not traditional at all.

11. I love doing the Hindu crossword. Never managed to finish it, but it gives me a good challenge.

12. I like coffee more than tea but drink tea more every day.

13. I am hooked to reading Indian blogs.

14. I like to read movie gossip.

15. I hate it when people undermine women. I have taken up many a fight when I was in India. Sometimes, fighting to lose!

16. I like politics.

17. I can read anything. I can even read the fine print in a credit card statement if I do not find anything else to read.

18. I love masala movies. The more jhatkas, matkas, the merrier. The more slapstick, the better.

19. I am a BIG fan of Akshay Kumar, even now.

20. I absolutely hate Aishwarya Rai and her newly acquired 'family'. I think they are more tamasha than necessary.

21. I am a foodie.

22. I love to cook when I am in the mood. Mundane, everyday cooking makes me yawn!

23. I love to dress up sometimes, but am not a girly girl at all.

24. I don't think I can survive without the Internet or phone or both.

25. I love earrings - small studs, dangerously long danglers and everything in between. That reminds me, I need to organize my earring collection better!

I tag anyone who would want to get tagged!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And here is one tight slap for you...

"Since they are women, stooping to the level of gifting undergarments will defame them only," he observed.

FYI, Mr. Head-of-the-hooligan-sena,

Since there are a lot of men who are also 'stooping to the level of gifting undergarment, may you have the sense to not just 'defame' the women.
Also, the very beginning of this statement, 'Since they are women..' does in fact HIGHLIGHT a BIG 'issue of Indian culture that I have raised' and makes your point of view very very clear. That if there was a woman and a man performing the same actions, in your book, the woman would be 'defamed' 'Since she is a woman'!

You know what? If you have a daughter, I PRAY to the same Lord Ram that you so cherish, that she sends you a pink, pink chaddi with cute hearts on it. Hell, even if you no daughter, I pray that your SON(s) also sends you some love!

That the whole point of the protest would be lost out on your non-existent brain was well known, now you have proved by uttering this rubbish that your brain(or whatever performs the function) does not do subtle. It only understands the third degree. So maybe the next 'protest' will be something you will understand very well!

With lots of love....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Domestic violence

Continuing on the topic of Women in India, today I want to share my views on Domestic Violence.
I grew up in an atmosphere where no one beats anyone else, for any reason. But we had a maid who came everyday with bruises and black eye, and when I asked her what happened she would say her husband came home drunk and beat her. That is how I knew 'some' husbands beat their wives when drunk. I grew up with that notion. I only saw domestic violence on the TV and thought it only happens to the lower 'class' women who do not have the education or support from family to walk out on their husbands and come back up on their feet.

Then, a few years back, 2 incidents happened. To two of my very good friends. And the way their families 'handled' it has been a study in diametric opposites.

One of my friends is a younger daughter of a very well to do scientist in a prestigious establishment and she herself is an engineer. Her parents are like mine, and have always treated their daughters like friends. You could not find one moment in their upbringing where you could think they regret not having a son. She was free to do what she wanted and they only started 'looking' for a suitable boy to get her married only when she was finally ready and said yes. She got married to this guy who was working in the US and his family was back home in India. Post marriage she was at her in laws' place for a few months until she got her visa and left to join her husband in the states. While she was in India I chatted with her a few times and I remember she telling me her in laws were like friends and treated her very well. I was happy for her. Then one day, my dad called me and asked me to talk to her and find out 'what is going on'. He then told me that she was always crying when she talked to her parents during the weekly call home. Always wanting to come back home. Her parents thought it was because she was in an alien land for the first time, and was a housewife so missed her husband all day! Little did they know that he had her under a 'house arrest'. She was not allowed to go out, did not have a license to drive, her passport was locked up by him, she was given money only enough to do groceries, not allowed to call home when she wanted and did not have a computer while he was at work. He also taunted her and her parents because she could not cook very well (threw the plate on her face once). He did not beat her ever but this was enough to make her life a living hell. This was domestic violence she was facing. The last I heard, her parents talked to her husband and coaxed her to stay on and try to change him.

Another story is that of my dad's good friend's daughter, who is also my very good friend. She comes from a very simple middle class family, father, mother and younger brother, living in a small flat in Mumbai. She is also an engineer and worked for a few years before the marriage bug bit the parents. They found a suitable boy in the form of this son of rich gujju parents. He also was working in the US and came to India to meet her once. The next time he went was to get married. Cut to 2 years later, I get a call from my dad saying he is in Mumbai at his friends' place and they are trying to get a visa to the US URGENTLY. The reason? Their daughter was being beat up everyday by her husband, AND he was having a much too intimate a relationship with a female colleague of his. My friend was under 'house arrest', was on a dependent visa and had nowhere else to go. Her parents and brother swiftly managed to get their visas to the US and joined her soon. The first thing they did was to contact a south-asian women's domestic violence cell and got a restraining order against her husband. They then started proceedings for legal separation. Meanwhile, the women's cell also managed to get her a special work visa and a job. In a few weeks she was divorced and earning her own living. Her family went back after a couple of months. Now she lives independently and is much happier than she was when she was married. Her family visits her whenever they can.

Two similar stories, but the way they were handled was drastically different. Both victims of domestic violence. One still trying to make her husband see sense, the other, moved on in life. Both were independent women who were treated badly by men from 'decent' families. I don't know what is the 'right' thing to do in these cases but I strongly believe in one thing. A man who, regularly or intermittently beats his wife never changes his ways. A man who, regularly or intermittently, causes mental trauma to his wife never changes his ways. A man who does not respect his wife will never see any reason to change his ways. It works in movies, where a good Samaritan gives the bad guy a lecture about women and wife etc and the husband changes his ways and becomes good. It does not work like that in real life. Some women move on, others keep struggling all their lives. The cycle of violence, apologies, more violence, never ends. And do not think it happens only to women who are not educated or aware of their rights. It can happen to anyone.

I don't know what is the 'right' thing to do in these cases....
I was contradicting myself here. I KNOW what the right thing to do is. And that is to walk out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Does this picture look weird to you?

This was taken at the Pink Panther premiere in London(Courtesy: High Heel Confidential.) The moment I saw this, I though...oh! It is freezing in London, Jaya, Abhishek and Big B are bundled up in the warmest of coats. Look at the Bachchan Bahu....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being a woman.

My parents have 2 daughters. I was 6 when my younger sister was born, and I remember people telling my mom, 'It's OK', etc. Growing up, no one at home made us feel that we were inferior to boys. I studied in a co-educational central government school where we were taught that girls and boys are the same really. Ten years of schooling were a breeze. Boys and girls played in the same playground, sat in the same class, and YES a girl and a boy(possibly of different religions) shared a desk in school. We did not care if someone was called Praveena or Parveen. We did not care about religion or caste or the colour of the skin. Nor were we taught by our teachers to care. In civics, we were taught the fundamental values on which India is based.
We memorized the preamble and parroted it out in class-

'WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.'

Contrary to what a lot of culture protectors feel, no girl converted to another religion, no one was snooped away to another country. Our parents did not bother that we were not playing just with 'Hindu girls', that we had boys in our group. No one told us that as girls we need to be careful about who we associate with, because if someone does not like us having male friends, we would get beaten.

After 10th grade I joined a state board junior college. I had to travel in the city bus and there I had my first taste of eve-teasing and worse. The first time a guy brushed past me in an empty bus, I thought it was a mistake. Maybe he didn't see me there. The second time it happened on an empty road and I shouted at the man. 'Dikhta nahin hain kya bey?' He smiled and kept walking. I was a shouter. I never kept silent in spite of the frequency of the incidents. One time a guy on a cycle slapped by back from behind. I ran and kicked his bicycle and he fell. Instead of feeling embarrassed, he called me names(bad ones in hindi) and cycled away. I got angrier. One time I shouted at a man in a bus and the lady sitting on the seat beside me asked me to ignore such people, and that by shouting, I look like the bad person. That was my first lesson at being an Indian girl.

After college there have been numerous instances of men misbehaving, touching, trying to touch, staring etc. And each time I have shouted or made myself heard. And each time there have been people around me who stared at me like I was the one who touched a man improperly. Those piercing eyes that seem to say 'why doesn't she keep silent like the others?'

I have been here in the US for the last 3 years now, and even now, when I visit home, I have at least a few such incidents. None of trips are complete without that shout to that man who tries to take advantage of the situation. And now, I can tell when they are about to do it. I can tell when they do it on purpose. And when you shout, they turn around and smile, like they have won something. Or they look irritated, like you disturbed their pleasure. When you wear a trouser, they look at you from top to bottom, sort of like optical scanning. They do it when you wear a salwar kameez with dupatta pinned to your shoulders, covering your chest, they do it when you wear a saree. They do it to a 15 year old, a 21 year old, heck even to a 60 year old. They really spare no one. I have lived in three Indian cities for a considerable time. Hyderabad, Mumbai and Trivandrum and experienced this everywhere(although to a lesser extent in Mumbai.) You go out and you cannot come back home without having been felt by a stranger. You cannot come back without having been scanned from top to toe, stared at because you wore something that makes you look good. You cannot come back without people making judgements about you because of the way you talk in public, or the way you dress. You cannot talk to men by looking straight into their eyes(they way you are supposed to talk, anyway) and not be termed an aggressive woman. You cannot wear skirts or a well-fitted top without being labeled as wearing 'nude clothes'. And NOW, you cannot go anywhere you please, anytime you want, without being afraid of being beaten, clothes being torn, by the moral police. And it is not so shocking that they are invoking the name of Lord Ram while doing this. The Lord they know made his wife walk into fire to prove that she was pure. To prove that she was not 'soiled' by Ravan, even though she was the victim! Such is their Lord, such are their values and such is their culture. It is NOT my culture to limit the social movement of women. They, in unison with the politicians, and NCW should probably re-write the preamble.

'WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN HINDU REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens EXCEPT WOMEN: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, as long as they are hindu men; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity to all hindu men; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual(hindu man) and the unity and integrity of the Nation.'

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ban women from public places.

After seeing the way the Mangalore incident was handled by the Karnataka government, I thought nothing would shock me now. I was so wrong. Here are some words of wisdom by a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW). As expected there are some things IHM said that provoke thought.

Ms. Venkatesh is so right. Why should these women go to pubs, discos, malls and 'places like that'? Should the women not know that the place did not have a license to sell liquor? Why should they go to a place that does not have security? Did the women not know that wearing jeans and a tee is considered 'semi-nude'?

Whoever said the solution to such problems is to prosecute the molesters and bring them justice? No! So sir! The only solution to this is that women stop going to 'such places'. Ms. Venkatesh even mentions malls among the places women should not go to.
When the interviewer(Rajdeep Sardesai) asked her what if such a thing happens to someone in her family, you know what she said? 'My family women will not go to such a place!' Is that not a lesson we all women need to learn?

She met the culprits in jail and 'even counseled them', in her own words. So it is NOT the responsibility of the NCW to find the victims, counsel them, and make them feel more secure and safe, but to counsel the goons. She said "The culprits said they did not go with then intention of beating the women. They said they wanted to stop the live band and other activities that were spoiling the girls. They said the women were wearing skimpy clothes and dancing and that is the reason the incident took place. They are now repenting their actions."

Did the women not know that when some men ask them to get out of the pub they should immediately run out or risk being beaten and insulted by the men? These men have taken the 'theka' of all the women of this world, and when angered, would have to beat some sense into the women.

Finally, the lesson learnt from this incident is not that we need more laws against ill-treatment of women and making our public places safe, no! "The lesson to be learnt for women out of this incident is that we should try and safeguard ourselves," she concluded.
Ban women from public places to safeguard them.

Little joys

Isn't this the best moment in sports?

A winner consoling a loser. I cried when Roger said, 'God it’s killing me', I started to feel sad, and when he cried, I cried. I did. And did not stop until Rafa said sorry for having won! That made me smile and when I looked at the screen, this particular scene froze in my mind. A winner consoling a loser. Have you ever seen anything like this before? I have great respect for Roger's brilliance on court and Rafa's power play. But today I became a fan of these two for the emotions on court. For the largeness heart that Rafa demonstrated. It is hard to get up there and apologize for having won. Much less, when the guy you defeated cries. It would not even have struck another player(think Roddick), to go up there and say sorry and console the loser. Only a true sportsman, a true winner can do that, and Rafa really demonstrated that today. And Roger, really, showed he can be so emotionally vulnerable and show his weaker side to the world so easily. It takes a grown man a strong heart to cry in front of the world. To show that they are so emotionally overcome is not easy for men to do. And I respect Roger for that. Its hard to see a grown man cry and not cry with him.