Friday, March 30, 2018

Judgy McJudgerson


Ever had that hair-raising, goosebumpy feeling, of having two eyes pierce down your soul? And just when you turn around, to catch their gaze, they look away? But it begins again in less than 5 seconds? Welcome to the world of Judgy McJudgerson. 

Married but don't wear a mangalsutra? Hawwww! Coloured and cut your hair so short? Hawwwww! Wearing dresses with sneakers? Hawww! It's time for the "Hawww" to STOP! My body, my choice!

Just because a woman is married, doesn't mean she has to look like a Christmas tree everyday. She can keep her hair as long as Rapunzel or as short as Peter Pan. Her choice! She is a girly-girl and a tomboy, so she can wear dresses with sneakers or saree with sneakers if she wants to. Her damn choice!

It's time for all the Judgy McJudgersons in the world, to snap out of it and grow the hell up. While women demand equal rights at workplaces, do they treat their own kind with dignity? I'm afraid not. It is women who put down other women everywhere. And I mean, literally everywhere! Be it at home, at work, at beauty parlours and even in the 2 second ride up the elevator. 

You don't have to squeeze out personal information from a person, however close he/she is to you. If someone wants to talk to you, they will. Poking and prodding incessantly, just makes you less approachable to them. When will people understand this?

I've never been clingy. I never call my husband during the week, even if all hell breaks loose. I don't understand clingy people. When people ask, "Oh no Gayu, how will you manage without Raj for the next two months?", or "Don't you feel lonely, with Raj in another city altogether", my response is, "Firstly, I'm not two years old. Secondly, if my mother in her early 20s could live all by herself in god-forsaken hill stations, plagued with panthers that too, had no clue about when my father would return or even where he was, I think I can survive in a metropolitan city." 

Being independent and staying in a positive frame of mind, is all in your hands. Man comes alone in this world and goes back to his creator alone. So, you could have 20 children and 5 husbands if you like, but you are alone in this world. And that, is completely okay. 

Stop judging, stop criticizing, stop prodding for information and most importantly stop with the incessant staring. It's not cool. NOT. COOL. 

Friday, March 09, 2018

Poetry In A Ceramic Mug


Four years since I discovered the bliss of sipping on thick, molten hot chocolate. My life has never been the same since that fateful, sweltering hot afternoon in Mumbai. Whoever says hot chocolate should only be had in freezing winters, should be shot in the head and punched on the face, twice, by Hulk.

Chocolate by itself is a divine thing. Imagine it being melted just the right amount, to give it that beautiful, thick, slurpy consistency which of course must be relished slowly and deliberately, in a pretty looking, thick, ceramic mug. I shiver just thinking about it. There’s nothing a well-made cup of hot chocolate can’t solve.

If only Adolf Hitler had been served hot chocolate during World War I and II, if only Ed Gein was given a cozy cuppa split seconds before he committed those heinous murders and closer to home, if only the Stoneman or even Gandhi Ji had one sip of hot, heady cocoa, countless lives could have been saved, wars could have ended and the history of mankind as we know it today, could have been re-written. Who knows! 

A well-made cup of hot chocolate, is potent. It lingers in your mouth and lives on as a happy memory, long after you’ve consumed it. You could even call it a beautiful dream, which you wish never ended. But end it does, unfortunately, like most things dreamy and too good to be true, in this cruel, unforgiving world. And all you can do, is wait helplessly for your next cup of steaming, hot, molten cocoa.

I’d like to believe, hot chocolate is 100% fat free, because it has zero carbohydrates. It’s always best to drink your calories, than to gulp it down, because then the fat flows straight out of your body, as opposed to accumulating in god-awful nooks and crannies, you didn’t even know existed. This is what I tell myself, each time, I drink a sinful mug. 

Whoever invented this glorious dessert, deserves nothing less than a global recognition. If ever mankind ceases to exist, hot chocolate is what we should be remembered by. This is our legacy to the world. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Life Lessons from Beauty and the Beast


As little girls, we were continuously spoon fed, larger than life, syrupy fairy tale romances that almost always had a happy ending. Then how can you blame us, when we grow up and want the same in real life? Each fairy tale, taught us that prince charming was head over heels in love with the not so financially stable girl. He fought against the world for this girl and he changed completely for her, sometimes from a beast to a man. And we lapped it all up, with absolute glee.

If we look at relationships in the real world, it's sadly a whole different story. The girl is expected to sacrifice her entire identity, starting with her name, her lifestyle, her home, her likes and her dislikes. Suddenly, there's an overbearing man in her life who doesn't want to change the way he lives. Why should he, he is the breadwinner and the man of the house, correct? (Indian logic!) 

The little girl is suddenly told to "adjust", "give in", "sacrifice" and "blend in", while her whole life she has been reading stories about prince charming who will and can be changed. While the Beast doesn't exist in the real world, I think he is symbolic to ego, selfishness, being stubborn and self-centered. For a relationship to work (any relationship - be it friendship, family or with work colleagues) one has to let go of these wonderful beastly characteristics. 

Before we talk about equality at work, let's re-look at the equality in our own homes. Let's raise feminist sons and all rounded daughters, who have the empathy to play ball from both sides of the gender. After we achieve that, we can talk about catching up with Japan and truly stepping into the 21st century as a broad minded, technologically advanced nation. 

(Image Source : http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Farewell Sridevi


24th February 2018, was a dark day for cinema lovers. India's dream girl Sridevi passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest. She was India's most successful multilingual, multi-generational actress. She broke the North-South divide with absolute ease. The notion that all South Indians are short, curly-haired, dark and unattractive was broken down by her with multiple, swift whiplashing strokes (imagine that crazy whipping scene from Chaalbaaz right about now)

While much has been written about her success in the movies, let's talk about Sridevi, the mother. How could she possibly give up such a well established place in the movies, just to raise two children? That's called the power of motherhood. Even the thought of becoming a mother or having a desire to have children, brings out in you, your most protective instincts. If you thought, you're a killer at work, try being a mother. You will stand up against the whole world, for your child. 

So coming back to that question, of how she could give up her entire life for her children, it's simple. It's called love. Unconditional, undying love a mother has for her flesh and blood. 

Her death felt personal. I felt a dull ache in my chest, that lasted for 48 hours straight, after reading and re-reading all the pieces of news that kept pouring in about her final moments. I felt sad knowing that I'll never see that raw, versatile talent, lighting up my television screen again. I cried along with her in English Vinglish, when her on-screen daughter made fun of her broken English and watched with eyes wide open, her suggestive "I love you" number. 

Sexy yet innocent. A helpless mentally challenged child one minute and hilariously funny, the next.  A meek, ready to be dominated upon doormat and an opinionated, head-strong fighter of injustice, all in one frame.  There has to be a better word than "versatile" to describe her effortless, flair for acting. 

We will miss you and your big expressive eyes, Ms Hawa Hawai. Women everywhere have lost a  beautiful, strong role model. But like you rightly said, "Jeevan ke kis modh pe, kab koi mil jaaye, kaun keh sakta hai?" So, hoping to catch you in the afterlife. Rest in peace, India's forever Chandni. 

(Image Source : http://www.rediff.com/movies/special/sridevi-the-10-best-songs/20180225.htm) 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My Husband, The Musician

I've always liked musicians, especially guitarists (along with the entire female population across the globe).  I will marry a "long haired rocker dude", I would emphatically tell my family while busily thulping down on some sinful number. "But first lose some weight", would come the reply. 
Luckily for me, I did lose weight, a whole lot of it. Ten kilos to be exact. While looks don't matter and so on, at 21 everyone was shallow. The more weight I lost, the more confident I became. It was during this time, that I decided to pursue my writing dreams and shift to Mumbai on a whim. 

So, with nothing but a head full of dreams and one too many clothes (with matching accessories and shoes), I relocated. I soon realized, that I was barely making enough money to pay for my paying guest accomodation, let alone buy a decent meal. I quickly packed my bags and ran back home to mommy and daddy. 

Despite the hardships (of being broke, living alone and pissing off my parents), I met quite a few interesting people during my short stint. One among them was my husband (which of course I didn't know at the time). My first assignment as a reporter was to interview an upcoming humour metal band from the city. My husband was the lead guitarist of the band. He was a happy-go lucky, bindaas college student, who had ample time on his hands to pursue his musical dreams. He had formed multiple college bands over the years, had met fellow musicians from the Mumbai "metal scene" during his college festivals and managed to form bands, even outside his college circuit.

Over the years, I've seen this young man record, mix, compose and perform live. He along with his bands have created full length albums, band T-shirts, posters, badges and what have you. The glitz and the glamour you see on-stage takes a lot of effort, man-hours and hardcore practice. They put in their sweat, blood and sometimes even money to sell their music. 

In the past decade, the biggest constant in his life has been his love for music. From a carefree college kid, he has morphed into a responsible family man. He manages to play shows in multiple cities despite his hectic work schedule. And while I say hectic work schedule, I don't mean 9am-6pm. He works 24 hours, Monday through Sunday, flies to multiple cities during the week and still finds time to meet his bands, make new music and record them. 

I've heard him play his guitar, at all odd hours of the day and night. He constantly invests in valuable musical equipment, to improve his craft. And the happiest I've ever seen him, is on the days he goes to meet his bands for jams. 

While I don't align with his musical preferences, his dedication and commitment to create better music everyday is something I truly admire. Salute, to you and all your band members who lead this gruelling dual life. If this isn't raw passion, I don't know what is. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

My Everyday Superheroes


While I'd like to believe that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman exist in the real world, the reality is that we deal with some everyday superheroes, who look less glamorous, are more sweaty and toil in the sun, day in and day out. I'm talking about those men and women, who fill our dreary, monotonous lives with some colour and excitement. 

My idli anna and naariyal paani bhaiyya top this list. Not a day goes by when they don't greet me with a warm smile. They've allowed me to buy food on credit, given me change for Rs 2000 notes (not a mere feat in post demonitisation India) and even served me first, despite their long line of customers. 

One smile and a packet of warm idli-chutney-medu wada from my idli anna is all it takes, to warm both my stomach and my heart. It also helps that he speaks in Tamil now and then, whereby making me feel right at home. I could hug him, but he might stop serving me his delicious, fluffy idlis.

My naariyal paani bhaiyya on the other hand, is most likely a caped crusader by night and vigorous coconut cutter by day. Why I say this, is because he senses me hovering around him , even before I come in clear sight of his eyes. And before I can utter the words, "Bhaiyya ek paani wala dena", he viciously chops open a juicy looking coconut, making the paani spill around him in a crazy 360 degree angle and while I nurse my paani clogged eye, bhaiyya would've placed a fat naariyal in my hands. 

Their bindaas attitude about giving customers credit is something that amazes me everyday. Their tiresome jobs might earn them a few thousands, with which they would be feeding more than one mouth. Then how are they so warm in person and so casual about giving credit?

Hats off to you idli anna and naariyal paani bhaiyya, I am a fan. A lifelong fan. 

(Image Source : http://www.theplayfulindian.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=275 and https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/coconut-water-cartoon-207717748)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hong Kong Hopping

Hong Kong, a bustling metropolitan city, with busy people and roaring businesses. No one has the time to look up from their smartphones or even stand still, on their quick as lightening MTR escalators/walkators. Hong Kong comprises of multiple islands namely Kowloon, Lantau, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Lamma and of course Hong Kong island. The MTR or the Mass Transit Railway makes travelling inside Hong Kong a complete dream. 

Five days is all you need to discover this intriguing city, filled with shopping, entertainment and relaxation. We stayed at the IBIS hotel located at Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan, which was a one minute walk away from the MTR station. 

On day 1, we explored the immediate neighbourhood of our hotel, which comprised of a variety of meat markets. Dried and fresh meat ranging from seafood to red meats, were hung enticingly for potential customers. We even stumbled upon a local bakery, that had Hong Kong's famous Egg Tart, Pineapple Bun, Wife Cake, Moon Cake, Sausage Roll, Baked Cheese Tart and Swiss Bun. The breads on both the sweet and the savoury items had a generous hint of sugar. At night, we stepped out again and explored the Harbour City area which comprises of office complexes, a large shopping mall and of course the futuristic skyline of Hong Kong, that one can gape at for hours.

On day 2, we hopped onboard the MTR and headed straight to Victoria Peak. Similar to India's history, even Hong Kong was under the British regime as late as 1997. The cold-loving Britishers, decided to build a steep Tram line, right on the dangerous mountainous terrain of the Peak, just so that they could go up and down as they pleased. Riding this Tram, is a thrill in itself as it goes up and down a dangerous slope. The lush green view of the picturesque looking Peak, will drive all your vertigo fears away, as you ride on the Tram. Next, we headed to the Ladies Market, where I had a whale of a time, shopping for face packs, body lotions and even a cute looking, bright red dog eared muffler. The husband entertained himself, by gorging on the local street food comprising of vanilla egg bubble waffles, curry fish balls, octopus tentacles and noodles in a bag, while I shopped to my heart's content.

On day 3 or as I'd like to call it, "the happiest day of my life", we headed to Disneyland which is located on Lantau Island. The entire experience, starting with the Disney train which had Disney shaped windows, Disney shaped hand holders for passengers standing afoot and rich looking Disney figurines (which was probably made of Teak), was a magical experience. The child in you, will thank you a million times, for posing with and hugging the iconic Disney duo - Mickey and Minnie, chowing down Mickey shaped waffles, taking a 5D ride with Iron Man with the help of his "Stark Vision Glasses", walking up Tarzan's tree house, strolling through a magical Disney forest, taking a scary Grizzly Gulch ride and much more. I shopped extensively at the Disney gift store, to forever remember these happy, innocent moments. 

On day 4, we visited Times Square, which is loosely modeled around the Times Square in New York. It is one of the largest shopping hubs of Hong Kong. You can pick up clothes, shoes and bags for all budget ranges. At night, we headed to Temple Street, Night Market to pick up trinkets for family and friends comprising of Hong Kong fridge magnets, curios, ladies handbags and jewellery. Haggling is the name of the game here. Be a bargain pro or go home, empty handed.

On day 5, we headed to Man Mo temple, to pay our respects to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo), both of whom were worshipped by ambitious students, who hoped to succeed in their civil exams of Imperial China. We ended our religious sojourn, by thulping down on some delicious momos, which the Man Mo temple street area is famous for. 

Visit Hong Kong, if you are an experimental foodie, an enthusiastic shopaholic or a hardcore fan of Disney. 

How to get there : Mumbai to Hong Kong by Jet Airways takes you exactly 6 hours
Hotel to stay in : IBIS Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan