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Monday, November 19, 2012

Misfortune by a SNAP

There is someone - a denizen of the skies, seated up there on a throne-like royal couch resting his massive hirsute legs on the soft fluffs of a cloud. Not God or some divine existence – Being an agnostic, I don’t spend hours mulling over let alone writing about the existence of God. 

So going back to the clouds, on one huge greyish-white cloud, there is a golden throne, draped in red velvet, adorned in silver and gold satin – nothing short of what I imagine the legendary throne of Apollo to be. Our mammoth protagonist is comfortably seated devouring seedless green grapes, pausing only for sips of scotch. There’s a 24hrs catering service to satiate his palate when the grapes get boring. There’s the typical manservant seated in an ordinary yet golden chair a couple of fluffs below. There are small TV screens all around, needless to say, LED and HD supporting as well. This hulk like figure is glued to his new phone- an Android Ice-cream sandwich model which he ordered on Flipkart simply because the OS had a name that goes well with the fluffs of his abode. All day, he basks in all this comfort while flirt-texting a lady ogre he’s trying to hit on.

The screens in his abode relay random scenes from a blue, pretty-looking orb called Earth. Earth has many many many small insignificant creatures called humans who live a few years doing incomprehensible and strange things before disappearing into nothingness. The screens play scenes from the lives of these creatures like a TV soap, thus entertaining the manservant constantly, and the hulk too when Whatsapp is down or when the lady is busy with something/someone else. The manservant uses a remote control to switch to another scene from another mass of land on the Earth. The hulk is more powerful and influential. He casually flicks his fingers to alter the story of the scene. He can change anything. Everything.

One day they were watching a female human walking. She was dressed up. The Hulk realized dressing up was a lady thing, universally; it happens in the clouds and far away on Earth too. The she-human was not half as pretty as the Hulk’s special one, yet she looked so proud and haughty. He flicked his fingers, SNAP. The she-human tripped and fell flat faced into a puddle. The Hulk and his manservant burst into fits of laughter.

Another day, millions of miles away, on Earth, I woke up to a bright and pleasant Sunday morning. I was going to take my unresponsive iron box to the electronics shop; I hated having to wear clothes I disliked only because they were the only ones crisply ironed the way I liked it. I stepped out of the house. SNAP. The sun shone brighter than ever and it sent down heat waves that quite burnt my skin. I walked almost a mile hunting for the shop. The weather was so bad; I was almost drenched in sweat. I reached the shop. The guy behind the desk plugged the iron box in. SNAP. It worked perfectly like it hadn’t, in weeks. The manservant giggled so much seeing the bewilderment on my face that he snorted. I walked to the tailor’s shop. SNAP. It was closed. This seemed like so much fun to the manservant. Even the hulk was smiling; he needed something to keep his mind off the lady issues. I had woken up early on a Sunday for no good reason. I cursed the Gods under my breath; little did I know who was behind all of this. I came back home, frustrated. I decided to do some laundry, simply to cross something off my to-do list. I filled water, soap. I dumped in the clothes. The machine roared for five seconds before it began to whirl and whirl. Five minutes passed.  SNAP. The power went off. I was so mad, I didn’t know who to punch; I was alone at home. The Android vibrated, the lady had texted. The ogre smiled like a toddler would at the sight of a new toy train. He asked the manservant to program the SNAPs to a randomize function. The manservant reluctantly obeyed. The ogre went back to his phone. The manservant simply watched as SNAPs happened in random scenes on random screens.

I binged on the tub of half-melted ice-cream I had saved for the day. I drew in my pretty red curtains; there was no sign of the sun outside. I cursed my way to deep sleep.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The half-truth

I watch Gossip Girl. All the time. I don’t care if I’m almost 22, I love watching it.

Now that I’ve said it out loud, I can write this post in peace, proudly and shamelessly, with no feeling of stupidity.  

So, like any other Saturday, I spent the last one watching Gossip Girl and lazing around aimlessly taking breaks only to gobble up home-delivered fast food and Biryani. Gossip Girl is a gripping tale of the past, the scandals and secrets in the lives of the elite society of New York. The show deals with an assortment of emotions and scenarios - vendetta, vengeance, betrayal, hatred, jealousy, unchastity  and among all of this- pure unsullied love. It is an intriguing rendition of real human emotions - a little more of the negative ones maybe. I watched so many episodes of this that day that it was almost like I was a part of the Upper-East side. I was in their world like one of them; it was Nate, Chuck, Serena, Blair and me. I got how they protected each other; it was okay to wrong someone else to protect another of their own. Unconsciously or sub-consciously, I sided Blair in my own head and hoped to see her find happiness in NYU. I knew how she felt when she had a tough time fitting in. It didn’t matter that Blair was the most cunning, scheming and devious person in the real and fictitious world put together. I wanted Chuck to win her back. They were beautiful together. They might be two egoistic and obstinate people, but while together, they were invincible and nothing less than lovely. I knew even Blair had a good person inside her somewhere, even if it’s deep inside. Oh and needless to say, I hated Jenny. I hated the sight of her, that expression; I hated everything about her.

And in the evening, drowsiness took over me, completely – what else could I have expected after a spending a whole day glued to my laptop!

I felt like a sloth. I didn’t even get up when my roommate brought home a box of strawberry cheesecake flavored ice cream. I moved a little, maybe an inch, only to lift my laptop n place it on the floor. Then, I just lay there. Soon, I was deep in thought.

Why did I wish good fortune for Blair and not for Jenny? They were both unkind and venomous to the same extent. Blair is queen B after all and Jenny, just little J. Yet, I liked Blair. – Only because I had seen bits of her nice side, because the show had shown me her nice side and her aspect of the story behind her machinations. I got Blair. Not so with Jenny.

I was deeper in thought, now.

How different is life in actuality? Stories are always one-sided. One-sided is different from biased; One sided stories can be completely true, but they show you just one side or maybe both sides from one viewpoint. We don't hesitate to make judgments/decisions based on these stories. While at our creative best, we extrapolate these one sided facts to add our interesting suppositions and far-from-real conclusions. Sometimes, we slander the person who looks like the bad one in the story. And this snowballs to a mammoth story that’s no more even remotely similar to the truth. I have been there too, on both sides – the slanderer and the slandered. We all have.

We never wonder if the bad person in the story has his/her own reasonable story or an acceptable reason or a past that justifies his/her doings. Half-picture can be misleading. When has a partly solved jigsaw puzzle ever made sense? Getting to know the complete picture some day might make one regret in retrospect.

Everyone has a story – Tigerwoods, Shiny Ahuja, every other person on TV, you, me - everyone. That does not in any way justify anybody's doings, but let's not be in a hurry to belittle anyone. Let’s try to see the best in people. Let’s try to fathom both sides before getting judgmental; Or let’s just stop judging. Let’s make this world friendlier and kinder.

The upright protagonist of a story might be very moral like it appears. Or he might just be really really clever.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dialogue in the dark

Mukund was here in Hyderabad. He is one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. I’ve known him for more than four years now. Yet he has not ceased to amaze me; he can be anything – the coolest friend to spend an evening with, the pain in the neck, the flirt, the know-it-all fellow who takes less than a second to guess what I’m upto, a punch bag that serves as my vent and a non-judging friend I can always always confide in. And justifiably, I was excited.

The weekend finally arrived and so did this guy. Then dawned the realization that with Ganesh Chaturti, the Telengana bandh and Gandhi Jayanthi, this was unarguably the worst weekend for anyone to visit Hyderabad.

Quite typical of all my plans, this was quite a dud. It was an almost completely boring weekend, at least for him who traveled quite a distance hopeful about seeing the best of a new city. I spent every second, hunting for some way to turn things around. Soon I gave up.

I settled for a typical dally-in-the-mall-and-watch-a-quick-movie Sunday. We went to the only mall in vicinity – Inorbit - only to realize the movie tickets were all sold out. So we grabbed a quick snack and walked around aimlessly looking for some way to pass time.

We came across a small crowd next to a counter in ‘Dialogue in the Dark’. The curious side of me could not walk past without knowing what it was about. We enquired and got to know it’s an exhibition that takes you through 6 scenarios – Jungle, Super Market, Shaking bridge, Boat ride, Cricket game and Café – in complete darkness. We were to make best use of our other senses through the exhibition. We paid and waited, solely because there was just nothing else to do in this city that day. We waited till our names were called out; we deposited our phones in the locker and we were given a walking stick each. Secretly I was very apprehensive about what was ahead.

We entered the first scenario – jungle - and I could see just black space. Nothing more. Not my hands, or my nose. Not even my bright red chappals. I felt uneasy in the gut of my stomach. I was too scared to move, I could see nothing. I held Mukund’s collar from behind and tagged along like a toddler. Every time I lost him I called out for the guide who was there to help. I was afraid of getting lost or being left behind. It was some comfort to know that the guide will take me back to the group if I yelled. Obviously the guides could see somehow. Not me, and worse, my brain’s wheels stopped moving like they always did when I needed them the most. After a while I realized I was holding my stick half way up in the air instead of using it to move around. I felt ashamed for a minute. But that was blanketed by a much stronger feeling of paranoia that was setting in. I can’t even recollect how the jungle scenario was; I was too afraid to notice. I felt the floor with my foot cautiously, checking for a change in level, before every step I took. I felt handicapped and helpless. There was no beauty in the jungle; Just darkness and fear.

The supermarket scenario lay ahead. We had to move along the racks and shelves to identify objects by smelling or feeling them. This was fun. In the line, Mukund was ahead of me and behind me was Shipra – a tamil girl I met in darkness. This was easier.  

While walking to the next room for the next scenario, I had to walk bending down just a bit. I felt too tall, the corridor had a low ceiling. I walked this way a few seconds. When this got uncomfortable I shot my hand forward to make sure there was someone there I wasn’t lost. The person ahead wasn’t bending. I shot my hand out, this time upwards. And there was no ceiling. I was imagining it all along. I felt like I was being fooled. I was hallucinating. I didn’t know how to feel – stupid or more scared. Surely I could no more trust my senses.

We played a round of cricket with a ball that was filled with something and hence made noise. I swayed the bat randomly in the air and I wasn’t surprised when I heard the ball hitting the wall behind. I was so pathetic that the guide joked about my skills. While I was fielding the ball hid my ankle with a hard thud and I jumped up for a second in pain. I think that was Mukund’s four and I ‘m certain that he was beaming in pride. While I was waiting in the corner hoping I do not get hit a second time, Shipra dropped her crocodile hair clip and despite the darkness pervading, the guide walked across and found it in no time. That just confirmed it for me, the guide could see. God knew how, but he could.

We were led to a table in the café. There had to be some science behind the guide’s vision. Mukund supposed that they could have some type of infra-red glasses on. We handed over a currency note which the guide identified it as a twenty rupee note. We sipped some hot coffee enjoying the comfort of the chair. It was such a relief to not feel lost, to not be afraid every moment. It felt so good and safe to just stay seated. For the first time ever, I appreciated something that simple.

The exhibition was over, we were going to be led out of the dark world. The guide politely thanked us all. We cheered, mostly in relief that it was the end. The guide wasn’t done, he went to give a short speech that inspired me like nothing else ever has. It left me with a feeling of awe. 

He told us that ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ was an initiative to make it possible for people to see a world that you can’t see. It’s done so that people learn to appreciate the other four senses. And behind the darkness, facilitating this is a group of visually challenged people who’ve taken it up to show the world their aspect of the world. He went on to tell us that he was not born with the disability, he was blinded by an accident. And life after the accident began the way the exhibition began for us.

I was hit by some massive force. I couldn’t say a word, nooone could. We all sat in the darkness, in silence. I was more than inspired. It is inexplicable, how much I respected the guide in front of me, at that instant. There was no pity, no sympathy; pure respect, nothing less. The whole time during the exhibition, I was at peace knowing he was around; I looked up to him, like all of us did. He was our guide, he guided us through when we felt helpless and lost. All this, when every moment of his life, he feels every emotion I felt that one hour.

Mukund and I, we got back after that. Not a word was spoken on the way back.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Logic and reason -> Raped

Some blog-assessment time I spent last week awoke me to a realization - My blog reeks of feminism, quite strongly. Not my fault, the recent happenings on our side of the world, have made anything women-related, an unavoidable subject. Still, I stuck a sticky-note somewhere on the insides of my head to remind me to mellow down a bit. I told myself in a stern mind-voice to widen my focus and write on varied topics, essentially to mitigate the turning of my blog into a feminist one.

I confined my strong feelings opposing the increase in violence against women, to my Facebook status messages. It was a self-imposed blog post restraint. I read other articles and blog posts that said all that I wanted to say. The vehemence in them made my anger stronger. If not me, someone had done my job. I felt a little bit of vicarious satisfaction. The abstinence mode went well. However the recent events haven’t ceased to hit the headlines; every new day sees more interesting news than the previous day. All this while, the TV guys had a tough time juggling many rape cases, to cover them all in a one hour news show. Now I suppose, is analysis time. The enlightened minds of our country are proposing their ingenious theories and recommending never-thought-of solutions. And I can resist no more.

So here, as I begin, I bow to the leaders, especially the khap panchayat leaders; I stand up and applaud, for the reason that I ‘m uncertain if the best Business Intelligence systems in the world would’ve uncovered the pattern that you identified in no time. (i.e.) As the amount of chowmein you eat goes up, so does the probability of you turning into a rapist. Chhatar saar, #respect.

Some other khap panchayat leaders and former CM of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala have come up with an incredible solution : early marriage. The logic is simple, yet brilliant. “Parents can decide” when to marry off their teenagers. The girls can marry very early “if they have physically grown up”. This way the boys and girls “don’t stray” and they won’t have the “need to rape”. Mind blowing, I say! Child marriage and rape - two evils make a positive, doesn’t it?

There’s more. Our beloved Mamata, a woman herself, blames the media for glorifying rape. She is an optimistic and a brave woman. Maybe we should stop cribbing; If we look at the brighter side, the pathetic side will vanish, won’t it? You TV guys, stop being obsessed with rape cases. Don’t you malign her government and make it look bad. How is it her fault if her state has rapists loitering about? She doesn’t need to watch her back all the time, she has an entourage following her everywhere. How is it her lapse that we don’t have one? And if we want to be a part of the “open and free market” that our society is, we should be open to everything. We can’t have freedom and safety too, we gotta be brave and positive; we got to make a wise choice.  

Wait, is rape even an issue of concern? 90% of the cases, it’s consensual. HPPC member Dharamvir Goyat says so. And someone’s coined a new term for it: “legitimate rape”. Let’s stop blowing this out of proportion. Women, stop making a fuss. Clearly, the increase in the number of rape cases is a clandestine and Machiavellian plot to slur the government; and nothing more.

God, please kill me. God I get that people can be stupid, I do. I just don’t get how people can so proudly put their stupidity on display. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Eat Chennai Eat - The big street food festival

Featured in Dashing Magazine

Chennai on one side and the Bay of Bengal on the other, the sunset and hence an orange backdrop, countless stalls serving scrumptious, mouthwatering delicacies from all over the country, throngs of foodies around - some leisurely relishing the food and some rapaciously gobbling it all up, the aroma of grilled food and a strong scent of spicy street side chaat in the air, the hum that’s typical of excitement and of Chennai.  This is exactly what Chennai is going to see for three days from the 12th to the 14th of October.

Rotary International District 3230 in association with Red Chariots brings to Chennai’s Besant Nagar beach, ‘Arusuvai Thiruvizha’- South India’s largest All-India street food festival ever. Nearly hundred culinary experts from all over India have arrived for the carnival, bringing along with them distinctive flavors and recipes to local favorites.

All the earnings from the event will be directed to ‘Happy Village’ which is a project that adopts villages and works towards making them self-sustained. The ‘Happy Village’ team aspires to bridge the gap between rural and urban India, and by doing so it hopes to make a visible difference in the lives of many people. A cause, as inspiring as this gives us a stronger reason to show up for the street food fest.

The food is moderately priced. And “street” food does not imply unhygienic food, rather a high level of hygiene is ensured. Even better news, Dashing Magazine is covering the entire event. Our photographers will capture all the excitement, merriment and the fun as they freeze for eternity, moments from this awaited weekend. So who knows, you might be featured in Dashing’s post-event report.

This weekend, placate your palate; it’s time to treat yourself well. Right now, Chennai is the place to be.

Event: Arusuvai Thiruvizha
Venue: Besant Nagar beach
Date: 12th,13th and 14th of October
Time: 6 PM to 9 PM

Friday, October 12, 2012

The big day for homosexuality - 11th of October

In one of the LGBT protests, an Indian said, “pyar hua ikraar hua, queer hua to kya hua“ J

Twenty five years ago, far away in Washington D.C., ‘The Great March’ happened. It was a political rally with demands including legalization of homosexuality and an end to sexist oppression. With about half million people on the streets, this rally turned out to be massive. ‘For love and for life’ is a very well appreciated documentary that takes one through the passion and the emotions experienced while dramatically narrating the events of the national march. This was a huge step up the ladder, largely because of the power the event showed in response to the homophobic mind-set pervading in the world and to many episodes of discrimination and exclusion. This was the second such march, a sequel to the first one in 1979 that wasn't as big.

The outcome of ‘The Great March’ was that it laid a carpet for the years ahead. It set a platform for people to come out in the open and to struggle to be let free. Since then, there have been many such acts of remonstrance. Several countries have decriminalized or have at least considered decriminalization of homosexuality. For twenty five years, which is a quarter of a century, this might not seem colossal. But taking into consideration that in those days, homosexuality was believed to be an aberration and nothing short of an act of debauchery, it is quite a BIG deal.
Today being gay is still not entirely accepted. Half the world and perhaps more is against it. And out of the minority that’s not against it, the majority gets uncomfortable when having to face it in real life. But homosexuality is no more a taboo. The 25 years have brought it from an unspeakable, horrifying matter to a debatable issue if not an acceptable one. For that, we know we have half a million people to thank.

In memory of the march in 1987, today is internationally known as the National Coming Out day. Ironic, I know.

Today is the day for one to understand, accept, get comfortable with one’s sexuality and come out with it, proudly. Today is the day for all of us to accept each other irrespective of sexual orientation. Today, we will stand up for anyone who is embarrassed or hesitant or afraid to come out. Today, we will cease to discriminate. Today, we will love; we will respect. Today it’s time to let go of fear, for it’s time to come out.  It’s National Coming out day – the 11th of October.
Source :

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October is here!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekendan initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Every new day is a new opportunity and every new month brings with it, many such new days. And hope.

But there is something more about October. October brings in a wisp of freshness, the scent of rain and a gleam of hope.

For my dad, a Chartered Accountant from a lineage of Chartered Accountants, the end of September is anticipated. September 30th is the deadline for income tax return filing. Hence, September is a taxing and a hectic month for every Chartered Accountant, and a pain in the neck for his/her family. The whole month, Dad is NEVER at home. Weekends and weekdays become indistinguishable. The family dinners don’t happen. Going out becomes a rarity. For me or my brother, buying new stuff becomes unworkable. Everyone at home gets happy at the wake of October. For a family like mine, it beats the excitement of any other new month, tenfold – leaving out New Year’s, of course.

This year, I ‘m miles away from home and that changes it all to a different story. This year, I waited all September, for it to end. My best friend was going to visit me. The wait and the pre-visit last week panicking and planning were all worth it. I had a beautiful weekend. The dawn of October was much more to me this year, than any other.

Not just that, October is going to be a tremendously challenging, yet exciting month. The coding phase of my project in my first job ever begins this month. The anxiety I've been going through the last couple of months has reached its climax. I’m nervous and scared as the start was such a fiasco. If not anything else this month is going to decide if I want a career in the software industry. And that’s something.

All my life I’ve been a fickle minded and a confused soul. I've always wanted to do so many things – journalism, law, computer science, sociology, blah blah - I've never been able to decide on one.  My whole life, I’ve tried to change that about me. Finally, I have embraced the fact that that makes me, me. When I can try a hundred clothes in a mall, knowing I will buy none, why can’t I do the same in life! I’m going to do all that I've wanted to: I’m going to write, code, read everything I want to, travel, party and so much more. If work doesn't keep me hooked on, I’m going to go hunting for something else that does.
I’m going to explore.
And just saying that feels SO good.

Waking up, now that September has ended, there is so much to do. There is so much fun ahead. There are so many amazing people to meet. There is a beautiful life to live.

Green Day’s song plays in the background as I write this. Nothing, not even October is as inspiring as music is. I feel so good now.
The song has ended, I m done with my post. It just hit me that the weekend is over too. The thought of a Monday morning – such a mood dampener. Is October really any different?



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rants of an Indian girl

Featured in Dashing Magazine and YouthKiAwaaz

            “So how short can a skirt get”, a friend asked me. That got me thinking.

We shunned them as narrow minded, cheap and petty when they complained about Sania ‘s skirt’s length. We hate it when people tell us what not to wear. We believe in freedom of expression and we believe that dressing is a way of expression. We protest against dress codes and claim that they serve no purpose. Some of us think clothes are all about comfort, and some of us go for looks and some of us just don’t care. But all of us unanimously think it’s our business, what we wear and no one else’s.

While freedom is a birthright, a society can’t function as one, unless there is a decorum maintained. We can’t have Poonam Pandeys walking on the street, we are a sane country. We are a civilized society and we do need a bit of propriety in the way we go about our lives. That brings ‘appropriateness’ into the picture. Most of us do know, or at least we believe we know what’s acceptable and otherwise.  We think we are old enough to decide that for ourselves and we detest free advice.

Every occasion/place has a dress code bound to it. It goes untold. No one asks one to wear sober clothes to a funeral or formal clothes to a meeting, one just knows it. The general belief that skimpy/tight-clothes-are-indecent is illogical. Yes, I’d look like a lost my head if I walk into office in beach clothes. The same way, I’d look ridiculous in a ‘pattu pavadai’ at a pool party. It’s all about the occasion, and understanding this is not cumbersome. However, this, I believe is not enough to decide what is okay and what isn’t.

I have always believed it’s not what one wears, but how one wears what one wears that determines what’s okay and what’s not. There is a thin line between looking good and looking vulgar. India’s accepted formal attire – a sari, also happens to be known as the sexiest outfit for a woman. Yet, half of India points fingers at the girls in jeans. A sari can be worn to a party, a meeting, a temple or anywhere else in the world. So can a pair of jeans or a skirt. How appropriate it is, depends on how’s it’s worn. We’ve seen enough of that, to not know it.  Haven’t we watched Parineeta and Dirty Picture? If nothing else, Vidya has taught us that much.

However, the first to be blamed when it comes to inappropriate clothes is not the person in the attire, but the “the western culture” that’s supposedly creeping in just to corrupt the morals of the youth. Sadly, this doesn’t apply to the men in the society. When a woman walks in, dressed in a tank top, she’s judged and ridiculed. Comfort is not an acceptable criterion, I suppose. When it comes to women’s clothes, our Indians get too fond of the Indian culture. At other times, the love magically evaporates. Have you heard of anyone comment about a man in a shirt and trousers? Of course not, how could you have? No, he isn’t blindly aping the “American culture” like the women do. He’s a formally dressed gentleman. Dear Indian sister/brother, use some logic please!

Let me ramble just a little more about the injustice women are forced to live with. Have you ever trekked all the way to a water fall, eager to get drenched? Or have you been so excited to jump in the waves of a sea? I have. And most of the time, reality fails my expectations. Every fun place has some uncivil men who with no consideration of decency/shame, jump in to the water after almost completely stripping (I thank the Gods up in the skies that it’s just almost). I wish someone told them swim trunks are available in the market. Ironically, our Indian friends don’t find that appalling. They prefer to have debates on national television about the cheer leading attire / bathing suits women wear these days.

While some men disparage a woman for her “unacceptable” attire, they gape at her secretly.  Hypocrites, I say.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

That bloody son of a bitch

Featured in YOUTH KI AWAAZ

A while back, I got down at the bus stop after a not-so-good day at work. I had so much on mind as I gloomily walked on the non-existent sidewalk of my street with no street-lights. I had a whole kilometer to walk, and that’s a lot especially when spirits are on the lower side. I plugged in my ear phones, played my favourite song and pressed the volume-up button repeatedly till the music was blaring inside my ears. I walked more, trying hard to keep random crap off my mind, while playing pebble football by myself.

It was dark. I walked and walked and walked. Abruptly a bike from behind me stopped next to me, maybe three inches from me. I looked up and got the shock of my life. Three inches away from my face was an ugly face making a very very disgusting kissing face. I was horror struck. I shrieked, I moved back as far away from the guy as I could get in one second. I don’t know what I felt, I was too shocked to feel anything. I freaked out. I stood there with an undescribable expression till the yucky fellow did the “cool” DRRRRRRRR thing on his bike before he disappeared into the darkness.  Two random men across the street stared at me amused, as if I was doing some puppet show here.

It affected me badly. I couldn’t get that ugly face out of my head (Yes I will call him ugly and any vituperative word that comes too my mind. I can throw shoes at him. I can do anything). Then I was afraid and also angry at myself, for being afraid. But I couldn’t do much,I was still scared. I looked all around cautiously before every step I took. The two-member audience across the street, looked at me like I was some thief. I ignored them and walked as fast I could, yet very carefully. The darkness was eerie. I was alone and this man could be dangerous. I walked a little more hoping I’d never see his face again. But how often do wishes come true!? Ten metres from me, down the street was the yucky guy waiting to harass and bully me or any other girl passing by. He stared, dirtily. I took my phone out and held it tight, ready to make a call should any problem come up. I hurried across the road, I don’t know if I walked or if I ran. I made a call, I think I just pretended to. This man rode off. I thanked the Gods and the spirits and the guy who invented mobile phones.

I wish I had thrown at him, the pebble I was playing with. I wish I had called him a bastard on his face, for the whole road to hear. I wish I had made a scene, I wish I had humiliated him. I wish I had done something that would haunt him the next time he tries to intimidate a girl.

Alas, I did nothing, all I wanted then, was to get home. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Confessions of a shopaholic

This post is a part of the contest at in association with

What is my hobby? Shopping. At least, it’s one of them.
I shop only when I need something. Only, I can very easily convince myself that I need something.

I love and enjoy shopping. I get so happy, shopping. Nothing can make me feel better than a new bag or a shirt or even a pair of chappals. The vibrant colours, the life these shops add to the world around, the crowds they attract, these shops (the ones on malls and on the streets as well - I don’t discriminate) are amazing. Sometimes I force myself to walk past the mannequins, ignoring my urge to take a second look, in an attempt to dodge the consequences – the buying and the after-buying-guilt. And here and there, when I give in to desire and go for another look, I hope against hope that the it fits me, because there is no decision tougher than the ‘to buy or not to buy’ one. It’s said isn’t it, that the right thing to do is never the easiest one. When I'm shopping, it makes so much sense.

One day, I had to hang up on my dad to avoid a conversation that was inching towards my account balance.  Some retrospection told me what was draining my account. That’s the day I decided to bring it down, to stay home a bit, to stay away from malls and shopping-places for a while. Barring Shilparamam that sells not-so-expensive and pretty stuff, I didn’t shop, at all. I stayed home, I tried cooking, I listened to music a lot, I blogged, I read, I Facebooked, I Youtubed and so much more.

I really did try to stay away, but it’s not my fault if Facebook, Google and every other site on earth is smart enough to know exactly what I want. They don’t show me phones or random stuff I don’t give a damn about. They show me exactly what I want, on every page I visit. It’s all right there, in breathtaking colours with huge discounts plastered on the ads. I did restrict myself to online window shopping (or should I call in screen shopping) for a long time, till one day when I gave in.

It was a royal blue short jumpsuit with a very elegant braided orange belt. And it was on discount :D. I do know how they raise the price to some exorbitant number and then dramatically slash a chunk of it and call it discount. Yes, I do know that, deep inside somewhere. But at that moment, all I saw was the discount. I wasn’t going to get another chance, was I? And who knows if I will ever find a jumpsuit as cute. And this was just a click away. It would be a perfect summer outfit, and who knows, I could visit Goa sometime. It would be so amazing. And I went off into a walk-in-the-beach-in-the-jumpsuit reverie. Back in reality, the ‘buy it’ button was gleaming on my screen. I clicked away happily.

I waited three long days. The courier was in my hands. I was excited and eager.  I unwrapped the packing hastily and tried the jumpsuit on. And it all ended so abruptly. The tailor at the end of Pitchumani street in Salem would’ve stitched something better. I looked like a joker.

The online shopping guys have amazing photographers. Beware. L

P.S. I haven’t given up. I still e-shop. *facepalm*  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The brutal murder of Aarushi

Numerous scandals and acts of crime have been brought to light by the media. The media has not always succeeded in bringing about justice, but it surely has done one thing amazingly well - It brings people together for a cause. The unity that a crisis brings about is inspiring. It’s beautiful, how random Indians from random cities get together to stand up for another.  We are a remarkable country. Yet injustice happens in this country. 

Of all those many cases that the Indian media has made unforgettable, there is one that has intrigued me more than any of the others: The Aarushi Talwar murder case.  I’ve been a keen follower  since day one . Here are a few reasons why.

1.       This is not a case that’s still in the courts, but based on some antiquated incident that happened long before I was born.  This is recent. It happened on one unfortunate day in 2008, sometime after my boards, before I left for university.
2.       Aarushi was 13, almost 14 - a kid. She wasn’t some rowdy woman involved in a drug/money dispute. She was a charming little girl that was excited about her 14th birthday party. I couldn’t get how someone could be so cruel and callous.
3.       The crime was so heinous, so heartless, so merciless that it hooked me on to it for the next many days.
4.       A group of girls I made friends with referred to me as “the Aarushi looking girl” the first few months in college.

Initially, there was no uncertainty about who the murderer was, none whatsoever. DUH, It’s got to be the Nepali servant, Hemraj. Why even search the house, let’s just give it the most typical story - “Illegal immigrant and servant rapes and kills pretty daughter of dentist couple”. The world cursed the servant and Nepalis in general. Some even fired their poor Nepali servants. Later, one policeman walked up to the terrace with a cigarette between his fingers and a smirk on his face, simultaneously judging the Talwars’ decision to hire a manservant in spite of having a daughter. Just that moment, his whole world fell apart seeing  what lay there in front of him. There was the body of the Nepali servant. He was murdered too. Their clumsiness and the sloppy conjecture got the police into big trouble.

After the initial debacle, the police could no more fool around. By this time, the world started to curse them for their inefficiency. And the ones who fired their servants, cursed the police more. Meanwhile, the media caught up. Every piece of inside information leaked out. The police could no more dally. They had to buck up, and they did.

However, after medical reports ruled out sexual abuse, and after some other tests/investigation ruled out the involvement of certain other suspects, the light turned to the Talwars themselves. The police and the media considered all the typical Indian motives (honour killing, et al). But investigation ruled out some and there was no evidence to corroborate the others. Aaj Tak probably found the story too boring and decided to add some masala. It brought a new suspect into the picture. The police ran their usual rounds of tests and interviews and declared that he was not guilty. The only people left were the Talwars. The slit on Aarushi’s throat, they said, looked like it could not have been done without dexterity. And that made the doctor couple look even more guilty. Aarushi’s dad was arrested and later released on bail. The couple has been making routine trips to jail. The CBI could find enough evidence to neither prove them guilty nor prove them innocent. Her mom is still behind bars.

I still watch every piece of news that’s aired. I read every article that’s published. The investigation still goes on. The progress is meager.

If it really was the Talwars, I have no words.

And if it wasn’t, I don’t think there has ever been a more deviously committed crime.

Either way, it’s an unsafe world. And justice is difficult to find. Let’s just hope she rests in peace.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear moral policeman...

Featured in YOUTH KI AWAAZ 

Before I start with so many other things that I want to say, thanks a ton for worrying about us, our culture and our morals. My heart swells in pride to see your selflessness. I can’t name too many Indians who would care so much to help us this way knowing it’d land them in jail. We are very very grateful to you and the least we could do is to return your favour – No we’re not brave enough to go to jail, just some friendly return advice. Gratitude, you see. That’s virtue number two that we were taught. Poor us, the Indian youth, very few morals we have, so might as well show them off every chance we get.

So what’s virtue number one, you may ask.
Friend, the first virtue we were all taught as kids is called ‘tolerance’. You missed that lesson, eh? It’s alright. It’s not your fault, you were taught too much about the “Indian culture” to remember such silly things. Let me explain. Have you read “Live and let live” anywhere? It’s in one of those books you borrowed from the ashram that has Gandhi’s picture right on the outside. I know it adorns that bamboo table in the corner of your simple house. Your neighbor thinks you’re some big overly intelligent guy reading history and philosophy and all, yet a simple guy wearing dhoti. Ideal Indian, friend! We’re proud of you. When TLC comes to your village, take them to your house and talk about Gandhi. Pakka it will be!

Friend, let me warn you, the world has changed. You have been the sole  “bearer, follower, preacher “ of our culture. But it’s no more that easy. It is a competitive world today.

  1.        Orange clothes don’t cost too much these days. Also, you might want to change the colour, orange clad people are associated with sexual harassment cases these days.
  2.        You get Gandhi and even Vivekananda books for free in some shops, I hear.
  3.        Everyone loves to run on the roads yelling things. Even we did that in college.

You ‘ve waited all these years, the time has come to actually open and read those books.

‘Culture’ is deeper than you think. ‘Moral’ is a word that’s even deeper than that. Understanding of either of these two words is impossible if you don’t get the meaning of tolerance. Tolerance is what holds this world together. It is what keeps India, a secular country together. The wars are because of people like you, who are too intolerant to embrace this virtue that the rest of the world preaches.

Friend, you live your life, while we live ours. If you think sitting in your front yard gossiping about how short your neighbour’s daughter’s skirt is, is fun, we pity you. But we aren’t going to send our dog to bite you. It’s the same way friend. If we think partying is fun, mind your business. Gossip about us, if it gives you so much pleasure. But sending people to hit us? Violence is bad, did no one tell you?. And you were so audacious that you publicized this to the whole world, by stupidly getting a shameless cameraman to accompany you. Poor fellow, his TV channel must’ve desperately needed this to help its falling TRPs.

Did you forget that Gandhi’s favourite word was ‘non-violence’? Or wait, You didn’t even know!

You don’t know non-violence or tolerance.
And you are the moral police? LOL
Your existence is affecting our tolerance levels.

Friend, Go get a life!

With love and gratitude,
The Indian youth

P.S. This is some friendly advice, friend. Take it. You don’t want all of us taking you down, trust me.